Monday, July 19, 2010   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Michael Duke is the Big Wally of Walmart. As CEO of the low-wage behemoth, he siphons some $19 million a year in personal pay from the global retailer.

How much is $19 million? Let's break it down in terms that Duke's own workforce can appreciate. While Big Wally's workers average about $9.50 an hour, Duke's pay comes to about $9,500 an hour. So he pockets as much in two hours as Walmart workers make in a whole year! But Walmart doesn't give a damn about such gross pay gaps between privileged elites and the rest of us. As a spokesman scoffed, "I don't think Mike Duke... needs me to defend his compensation package."

Really? If not you, who?

Those who think that the hoi polloi don't notice, much less care, about America's growing income disparity, should take a peek at a recent opinion survey run by the right-wing, corporate-funded Peter Peterson Foundation. This outfit intended to show that the general public backs the teabag agenda slashing of government spending, including balancing the federal budget by putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

But – woopsie-daisy – the survey of thousands of Americans went badly wrong for the Peterson ideologues. For example, far from wanting to gut Social Security payments, 85 percent of the people favored extending the program by the making rich pay into the fund, like all the rest of us do.

And – hey, Mike – this one's for you: nearly six out of 10 of the folks involved in the foundation's "America Speaks" survey want a new, higher tax bracket to make millionaires pay their fair share of providing for the common good.

The foundation tried to bury these surprisingly progressive results, but you can see a good analysis of them at the Center for Economic Policy and Research:

"Americans Care About Jobs, Not Deficits -- When Will Obama Listen?", June 28, 2010.

"Walmart CEO Pay: More in an Hour Than Workers Get All Year?", July 2, 2010.

"Executive Profiles* Mike Duke,", July 6, 2010.

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