THE BLOG

Here's What The Rich Don't Seem to Get

01/15/2012 03:24 EST | Updated 03/16/2012 05:12 EDT
alamy

For those of us whose jobs come without a little extra "cushion," congratulations on slugging out your first weeks back. Lady Gaga was right, you ARE on the right track baby. That is, of course if only you'd work a little harder, smarter and quicker. The magic number is 189 times harder. Sleep when you're dead! Can I interest you in a coffin in the lucrative French Polynesia?

Have you procured your first pay stub for 2012? You probably should be used to the chill by now because it's been nearly frozen for years. That is, according to a study compiled by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which says the average Canadian hasn't seen a meaningful pay increase in 30 years. The top 100 CEOs, however, saw a 27 per cent pay increase in 2011 (189 times more than the average salary).

Shame, however, seems to have a silencing effect on this bunch, for it is not their lips flapping with untenable explanations but their supporters, a hefty chunk of the "99 per cent." Some think this group is worth every penny.

Roy Green of the National Post is one of them. He cites "opportunity inequality" and asks, "Is the deck stacked against personal accomplishment?"

Why is it always the white males with such insight into the inner workings of the labour market? The world we live in is not a derivative of the computer game, SimCity. Right-wing economics are so firmly predicated on the notion that we enter this world with equal opportunity. These conservatives continually espouse the notion that we are born completely separate entity from our environment unaffected by poverty, racism, homophobia and affliction.

Sorry Roy, some of us get "cheat codes." I'm sure that group of CEOS is just overflowing with diversity.

Most importantly, it's called the one per cent for a reason, because 99 per cent of us don't get a seat. It's a colossal game of musical chairs and in this round the odds are nearly insurmountable.

Herman Cain famously said recently that if you're not rich, you should blame yourself. Bill Maher retorted ever so cogently when he explained that the rich are where they are because of fluke, timing, resources and networking, a great deal of which is beyond their personal dominion.

It's an allegory to teach to our children that determination and drive is an absolute recipe for conquest in commerce. Career advisors instilled the idea in my generation that if we studied hard in university we would reap financial rewards.

Merit, it seems, is a virtue of generations past. According to a study in the Journal of Labor Economics, 68 per cent of the sons of the one per cent work at their father's company. Canada has a litany of examples of nepotism overload in which "sons and daughters" showed they were more than undeserving of their position. See: Aspers, Eaton and Godfrey.

Here's another thing about CEO salaries: The board of directors votes on them. This is most often a group comprised of people who grew up in the same neighbourhoods and went to the same country clubs with the most convergent of interests.

Fellow HuffPost blogger Brendan Steven explains it's because of their "value." If such an argument is to ring true, then our nurses, paramedics and doctors who literally save lives should be on the highest of pay scales.

Here's the real reason why those in the 99 per cent advocate for this travesty: Deep down they believe the canard that we can all become millionaires -- a belief fuelled largely by their own arrogance that the seat is their very own for the taking.