Monday, June 16, 2008

CEO vs Worker Pay

As we discussed in class, this New York Times graphic is illuminating. We are able to see how the salary of the American CEO has outpaced the pay of the average worker over the past 60+ years.

Think of the questions that many of us asked. What's fair? What multiplier of CEO pay seems right to you? Does it really make a difference whether the CEO started with or founded the company?

Please make sure you click on the image and then, once you are taken to a new page, click on it again in order to see all of its detail.

UPDATE (October 10, 2011): The Washington Post, in a series of articles called "Breakaway Wealth", has created another "CEO vs Worker Pay" graphic that utilizes more recent statistics, including what happened during the recession, and the actual dollar amounts earned by CEOs at specific companies. Be sure to explore the other examples of income inequality on the site.

UPDATE (January, 2014): Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich recently released a film entitled, Inequality for All, which features, among other things, illustrative animations of the issues discussed above. Watch this clip regarding the growing gap between the average male worker and the 400 wealthiest Americans (you'll need to click through to the original site):

INEQUALITY FOR ALL - The Wealth of America from OAKES on Vimeo.

Monday, June 09, 2008


The embarrassing coverage of Hillary Clinton's exit from the presidential race made me recall the notion of pseudo-events, first coined by the historian Daniel Boorstin in the 1960's. Boorstin used the phrase "pseudo-event" to describe what he saw as a disturbing trend in journalism — not "fake news" such as the Colbert Report or the Daily Show, but the manufacturing of stories whose only point of reference is not found in the real world but in the media itself.

In his book The Image he says: "A pseudo-event, then, is a happening that possesses the following characteristics:

  1. It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted, or incited it. Typically, it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview.
  2. It is planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced. Therefore, its occurrence is arranged for the convenience of the reporting or reproducing media. Its success is measured by how widely it is reported. Time relations in it are commonly fictitious or factitious; the announcement is given out in advance "for future release" and written as if the event had occurred in the past. The question, "Is it real?" is less important than, "Is it newsworthy?"
  3. Its relation to the underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous. Its interest arises largely from this very ambiguity. Concerning a pseudo-event the question, "What does it mean?" has a new dimension. While the news interest in a train wreck is in what happened and in the real consequences, the interest in an interview is always, in a sense, in whether it really happened and in what might have been the motives. Did the statement really mean what it said? Without some of this ambiguity a pseudo-event cannot be very interesting.
  4. Usually it is intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The hotel's thirtieth-anniversary celebration, by saying that the hotel is a distinguished institution, actually makes it one."

Network media spent more time covering Clinton's decision to remain in the race and her subsequent exit from the race than they did covering the war, the mortgage crisis, and the price of oil combined. 

Why was this? According to Boorstin — and I think he's right — the media invested so much time making predictions (when will she leave and what will the consequences be?) that the news became a discussion of why the prophecies were or were not fulfilled. All this at the expense of a public that faces some of the most dire economic and moral challenges seen in our lifetimes.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thank you!

Hey, I know it's summertime, but I wanted to say a big "THANK YOU" to the AiS Class of 2008. Remember how we would tell you that your blogs were making a difference? Well, thanks to you and the OC, I was one of 50 teachers worldwide to be selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy, located in the "Googleplex" in Mountain View, California (Google's world headquarters). I created this 1-minute video (see below) about your efforts and they must have really liked what you did this school year!