Kelly wrote a brief blog post titled Random unrelated thoughts that are actually quite related.
I had been musing on the same theme. Specifically, his second point: “Americans are very, very, very bad at seeing how societal problems tie into one another.”
ITEM: Per this 2021 article: “The gas tax has not been raised in 28 years, and America’s infrastructure network is suffering the consequences. The tax was last raised in 1993 from 14.1 cents to 18.4 cents per gallon, where it remains today.
“Because the gas tax is not pegged to inflation, its purchasing power has eroded significantly over the past 28 years, and the tax is now ‘worth’ 45 percent less than in 1993; if the tax had been indexed for inflation each year since 1993, it would be approximately 15 cents higher in 2021.”
This is why the vast infrastructure bill became necessary. And of course, certain people – OK, Republicans – are taking credit for a bill they voted against. But there would have been no need for the massive legislation if the gas tax had been raised periodically.
ITEM: The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees has been $7.25 per hour since 2009. That is insane. Several states have a higher threshold.
When market pressure to raise wages occurred, the general argument was why that kid working at Mickey D’s should make $15/hour. It became a shock to the system for many employers.
However, employers would have more easily absorbed the increase if the rate had increased incrementally.
A related topic: the ideal CEO-to-Employee Pay Ratio. This article notes that “The phenomenon of firms with overpaid CEOs and underpaid employees is not new. In 1977, the late Peter F. Drucker, arguably the most famous management thinker, suggested the pay ratio between CEOs and employees be a maximum of 25-to-1.
“However, in 2011, he scaled it slightly back to a ratio of 20-to-1. Drucker said at the time: ‘I have often advised managers that a 20-to-1 salary ratio is a limit beyond which they cannot go if they don’t want resentment and falling morale to hit their companies.'” Yet the ratio is ten times that. Hospital executives are overcompensated, while nurses are underpaid, for example.
From THR. “A-list actors are known to pull in larger paydays, but SAG-AFTRA advocates for all of its 160,000 members, including background actors, singers, dancers, and stunt performers. Only 12.7 percent of SAG members make the annual $26,470 needed to qualify for union health insurance, according to some guild members. Actors made a median salary of $46,960 in 2021.”
Meanwhile, “when he re-upped at Disney as CEO, [Robert] Iger’s 2023 pay package was valued at $27 million. [Warner Brothers’ David] Zaslav’s 2022 compensation package hit $39.3 million.” So Iger is making over 500 times the median SAG salary, yet calls the unions’ demands “just not realistic.”
ITEM: With more indictments of djt come more defenses by the usual suspects. The former prez speaks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, “who leads the House GOP’s messaging efforts,” and their responses parrot their handler. The term “unpresidented” – I mean unprecedented – is thrown around a lot. No president has been charged so often.
But this article from Foreign Policy was helpful. “Trump is just one of 78 political leaders in democratic nations who have faced criminal charges since the year 2000.”
“In the past five years alone, South Korea has convicted two of its former presidents on corruption charges… Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of bribery in 2021… Just last year, former President of Bolivia Jeanine Añez—who stepped forward as a proposed interim president in 2019 following the resignation of her predecessor, Evo Morales—was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was accused of illegally taking over the presidency.
Possibly most instructive: “Prosecuting a former leader can also ignite political tensions and destabilize domestic politics. One of the most contemporary examples is Israel, where the charges of corruption against Benjamin Netanyahu sparked a political crisis in 2019 that continues to run its course. It resulted in a tumultuous power swing that saw five elections in four years with Netanyahu returning as prime minister in December 2022 despite his legal troubles. It’s unclear whether he’ll be found guilty, or whether the courts could enforce a guilty verdict.
“Now back in power, Netanyahu has proposed a sweeping judicial overhaul that would give him final say over judge appointments and his government the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions. The proposal led to mass protests this year, and opponents call it a conflict of interest as Netanyahu remains a criminal defendant.”
When leaders aren’t held to account, bad things can happen to democracy.