An heiress to the Disney fortune has taken a swipe at the world’s CEOs, claiming they are earning far too much.
Abigail Disney, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney co-founded The Walt Disney Company with her great uncle Walt Disney, spoke out about the “unacceptable” wealth inequality in the US today during an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box program recently.
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She told the panel “CEOs in general are paid far too much” — although she declined to comment on the fairness of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s own salary.
“If your CEO salary is at 700, 600, 500 times your median workers’ pay, there is nobody on earth, Jesus Christ himself isn’t worth 500 times his median workers’ pay,” she said.
She also hit out at the tax system, which she said benefited the rich at the expense of the working class.
“The problem is that there’s a systematic favouring of people who have accumulated an enormous amount of wealth,” she said.
“I think that the top rate right now is as low as it’s ever been … and if I’m paying a lower effective rate than my assistant is, something is fundamentally not right.”
The discussion became heated when one of the hosts asked Ms Disney if she wouldn’t just “voluntarily” write a cheque herself, given her personal half a billion dollar wealth.
“It is ridiculous to say that,” she argued.
“The problems are structural. My measly few hundred million dollars will do nothing to address the roads, infrastructure, schools, hospitals …”
Instead, she said the government had a responsibility to invest more heavily in things that would “benefit the middle class”, such as health and education.
This week, Mr Iger agreed to a new contract that slashed his maximum yearly pay by $US13.5 million.
It also cut his potential bonus pay.
Meanwhile, Ms Disney, a philanthropist and filmmaker, is a long-time, outspoken supporter of reducing executive pay and raising taxes for the wealthy.
Earlier this year, she signed a petition calling on politicians to introduce a “millionaires tax” for people who earned more than $5 million.
Supporters of the proposed tax argue the money should be spent on education, infrastructure and other programs that would benefit the wider public.
“We millionaires and multi-millionaires of New York can easily invest more in the Empire State, and lawmakers like you have a moral and a fiduciary duty to make sure we do so,” the so-called Patriotic Millionaires wrote in the letter.
“Raising taxes on high-income New Yorkers like us in order to invest in our people and our communities is not just the right moral choice, it also happens to be in the long-term economic best interest of everyone, including millionaires like us.”
“The taxes we’re talking about will not affect people’s quality of life,” Ms Disney told the New York Times last month.
“They will not have any fewer private aeroplanes or boats because of this tax.”
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