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Income Inequality

Frank’s take on income inequality

When I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1972, I had a number of friends who were engineers; one Ceramic Engineer, one Nuclear, and two Aerospace. They all four went on to "high paying jobs" of $12-14,000, while I barely made $9000. Fast forward 30 years, and three of them are earning six digit salaries $200-300,000, while I earned much less ($90,000) as a public educator. Adjusting for inflation, I'm close to 10x my original earnings, while they have leapfrogged to 20x. And though those with more money, buy more stuff, we also save and invest a lot-so much for the consumer society.

From the Land Down Under -Australia

My third engineer friend was recruited and emigrated to Australia after graduation. He reports that, “… my salary rose hugely over 20 years working as an engineer and manager, when I decided to get into teaching, I took a 10% drop in salary. No problem as I had a four day week and 10 weeks leave each year and we were encouraged to do work outside our colleges, so I was a partner in three businesses and taught at the University over those years as well. But …by the time I finished teaching, I was earning less than half of what I would have earned in the job I left in 1990, which was well into six figures by then. That's one of the reasons teachers usually want to get out of it after ten or so years, they reach their ceilings early, and the only way past is to get into management.”

Those who can do, and get paid a lot more too!

It seems that engineers were more valued, and therefore more highly compensated than even the ones who taught them their skills in the first place. When you consider the salaries earned by trial lawyers, and hedge fund managers, and oil brokers and CEO’s whose salaries reach in the seven figure range, and beyond, the gap becomes almost too much to comprehend. Consider someone making minimum wage at $8.50 an hour. That translates to $340 per week or $17,000 on an annual basis. Compare that with someone who makes $500,000 a year ($10,000/week $250.00 / hour), $1,000,000 a year ($20,000 a week - or more than our minimum wage guys earns in an entire year or $500/hour). Just think about all these high price corporate lawyers who pull in that much in “billable hours.” It gets even more ridiculous when you start moving into the tens of millions, but I’ll let you do your own math.

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