Monday, January 3, 2011

The wage gap between top paid CEOs and average workers in Canada

This article, which critical of the wages received by the highest paid CEOs in Canada, is reminiscent of a lecture by my intro to sociology prof that was part of what got me interested in the discipline to begin with.

The article states that
By about mid-afternoon Monday, the 100 best-paid chief executive officers in Canada will have already earned the equivalent of an average full-time salary in this country.

The gap between the executive suite and minimum-wage workers is even larger. The average CEO had earned a full year’s worth of minimum-wage work by about 3:15 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

In the lecture for my first year class, a brilliant professor (who occasionally reads this blog and has yet to distribute the final grades for our last class) began by asking the class of about 100 first year students how many of us expected to be earning more than $100,000 in 10 years. A large portion of the class, probably more than half, raised their hands. Keep in mind, many of them were sociology students, and the liberal arts are not exactly known for high salaries. He proceeded to show tables of statistics about the actual income of average workers with a bachelors degree in the social sciences, and I think the average income 10 years after graduation was something like $30,000, not even close to the 6 figures that most of them assumed they would be earning.

In this lecture, he also presented us with information on income inequality in Canada, and the most telling statistic for me was this same one. Sometime on the morning of January 2nd, Canada's top 100 CEOs have earned more than I am likely to earn with my degree in an entire year.

This was among the first steps in the process of me going from being a relatively leftist, but pro-capitalist, social work student to becoming a Marxist sociology student... which, I have to say this prof strongly discouraged for financial reasons. I was sitting in his office telling him that I felt as though I couldn't continue on with social work after having taken his class, but he said that because I was recently divorced and had 2 children, he was of the opinion that social work would lead to employment, whereas a BA in sociology would not. Another prof that stopped by his office while I was there said that a sociology degree would get me a job at the mall. They weren't the best recruiters, but when I decided that I could spend the additional 2 years working on a Masters Degree, they were both more than supportive of me switching programs.

Still, I guess this professor has earned the nickname Dr. Doom (which, despite his suspicions, I did not come up with, as much as I would like to take credit for it). However, I think a nickname like that would come with some pretty cool backgound music that follows every time he walks into a room holding a stack of graded papers (he is also known for being one of the toughest markers in the department).

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