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A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES
By ARNOLD A. McMAHON
U.S. - the CEO of major Fortune 500 companies makes in one day what an ordinary worker makes in a year. The average compensation ratio between CEOs and workers is 354-1. In 1965, it was 20–1. It jumped 875% between 1978 and 2012. Bonuses magnify this many times over.
Switzerland – in March of this year, citizens of Switzerland voted to give shareholders of Swiss companies a binding say on executive compensation, and banned bonuses for these executives when they either joined a company or left. Violators could get fines totaling up to 6 years of their salary and free accommodation in jail up to 3 years. A referendum proposing to reduce the current CEO compensation rate from 148-1 to 12-1 failed at the ballot on November 24, 2013, but the fact that it was even proposed was significant.
U.S. – the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Because of inflation, it is only worth $5.25 in buying power today. The income of the bottom 20% grew by only 18% between 1979 and 2007. The income of the top 1% grew by 275%. Working at minimum wage brings in about $1,240 per month.
Switzerland – the Swiss will shortly vote on whether to guarantee a basic income of $2,800 for every adult. That is about $16 an hour.
U.S. – currently, more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance. This may change somewhat with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Switzerland - it has universal health care. Everybody is required to have basic health insurance, covering the cost of medical treatment and hospitalization. Insurance companies cannot make a profit from selling this insurance. For an adult over 25, the premium is about $240 a month. If this exceeds 8% of a person’s income, the government subsidizes it.
U.S. – many politicians claim that the U.S. has the best medical care system in the world. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund of 11 developed countries debunks this claim. 37% of U.S. adults who were sick did not see a doctor because of cost.
Switzerland – only 13% did the same.
U.S. - the U.S. has fewer doctors per capita and fewer hospital beds per capita than Switzerland, even though the U.S. spends almost 18% of GDP on health care. The U.S. spends about $8,500 per person per year on health care.
Switzerland - spends 11.40% of GDP on health care – about $5,700 person.
U.S. – number 33 in life expectancy – 76 for men, 83 for women.
Switzerland – number 2 in life expectancy – 80 for men, 85 for women.
U.S. – university students in the U.S. are over $1 trillion in debt. 7 million are in default.
Switzerland – yearly tuition at Swiss universities is about $1,300.
U.S. – there is no federally mandated paid maternity leave. A few states, e.g. California have 6 weeks. Afghanistan has 90 days at full pay. Only 4 countries in the world do not require paid maternity leave – Lesotho, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and the U.S. Only 6% of U.S. employers offer paid maternity leave.
Switzerland – 14 weeks at a minimum of 80% of pay for maternity leave.
U.S. – prisoners per capita – 715 per 100,000 people
Switzerland – 72 per 100,000 people.
Many political leaders, including President Obama, claim that Americans are “exceptional”. In light of the above sample statistics, that word takes on a different – and very unflattering meaning.
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