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Out of the castles, into the ditch

Out of the castles, into the ditch

A report released Monday shows what you're likely already feeling: CEOs of major corporations are taking all your money and leaving you with squat.

The annual Equilar 100 list shows that CEOs of the top 100 U.S. companies last year took home 254 times more than the median salary of their employees.

The biggest pig at the trough is Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who brought home $177.9 million in total compensation. Apple CEO Tim Cook got a mind-numbing 569 percent raise last year, bringing his annual draw to $98.7 million, according to Equilar. The other 98 on the list are equally sickening.

It's a party, you're just not invited
It is a great time to be rich. Federal data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) last month reported corporate profits are the highest since 1978. Despite this, corporations such as Amazon, Starbucks and Dollar Tree have recently announced they're raising prices, citing "inflation." Meanwhile, regular people continue to struggle with rising prices that have erased what little gains have been won by working people.

Equilar's list is the latest evidence of a 40-year economic gift that just keeps on giving to the rich. Since 1978,  CEO pay in the U.S. rose 1,322 percent, while typical worker pay grew just 18 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Out of the castles and into the ditch
At the end of the Black Plague, 14th century European peasants found themselves with new economic power, owing to the vast numbers of workers who had died between 1347 and 1351. Those workers who survived rightfully used the labor shortage to demand higher wages, better conditions and greater respect. Peasants walked off their jobs, or left their master's land in search of a better life.

The rich weren't pleased. The powerful of all stripes passed a flurry of hasty legislation in countries from England to Italy trying to re-establish pre-Plague norms. New laws made it illegal to walk off a master's land, or to flee or really any reason.

That's when shit got real. Peasant uprisings exploded and a good many lords ended up without their heads. Notably, a diverse and large group of workers -- from farmhands to guild artisans -- took over the famous Tower of London, beheading its chancellor and mounting it on London Bridge in what became known as The Great Uprising of 1381.

Now, despite vast social and economic similarities between now and the end of the Black Plague, I'm not necessarily advocating for the beheading of greedy, over-fattened corporate CEOs. But shouldn't they at least be afraid?