Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Money, It's a Gas!

I read the webcomic, xkcd, faithfully. Any comic with the following warning is a-ok in my book...
Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).
The author, Randall Munroe, is another entry in the fine line of geniuses-who-turned-to-cartooning-instead-of-saving-the-world. If I were half as smart as Randall, I'd be a ba-jillionaire...or I'd draw cartoons...who knows!

Anyway, every once in a while, Randall will produce a graphic that is so intricately detailed and mind-blowing that I can't stop thinking about it for a few days. This time around, he produced an infographic all about MONEY that has blown my mind for at least a month. The poster-sized image covers everything of a monetary value that you've ever wanted to compare. Everything. From $1 all the way up to the aggregate value of mankind, $2.4 quadrillion dollars.

I realize this graphic is way too small to pick up any useful knowledge, so go to the website if you have an hour to spare. You'll be amazed.

However, if you don't have an hour, below is one tidbit that I can't stop thinking about. Keep in mind that all values in the graphic are adjusted to 2011 dollars to facilitate comparisons. Each green box represents $1.

Wow. Good golly, an increase in wages of  0.5% over 42 years. I think I'll go buy me somethin' nice!

Apparently it pays to be "The Man". A 1965 CEO was making 25 times more than his production workers. I'm not sure if Randall bases CEO pay on actual hours worked, but even if you try to compensate for an assumed 8 hours per day by reassessing that CEOs work an imaginary 24 hours a day, that's still a salary of 8 times more than his laborers.

But that's 1965. Surely CEOs earn a little more in comparison to laborers in today's complex world. As the laborer wage increase was 0.5%, I'll be generous and say that a reasonable CEO wage increase would be 20 times that for the same period, which would be an increase of 10%...

I'm setting you up...

Because here's what CEO pay is like in 2007...

Try an increase of 1005%
There is no way on earth to convince me that this disparity is ethical.

This is just one lesson from xkcd's amazing infographic. And I'm too shocked to say anything else right now.


  1. Oh, this makes me want to cry. No wonder I feel so poor (both monetarily and physically--now that I read your post!) Hahaha, good one.

  2. I know this is a month old, but amen, brother. It's interesting how little of this global "wage leveling" applies to the people those who have the power to decide to not raise the underlings' wages for 42 years. Those without power get stomped on so the others can live with excess. That's the new American way, apparently.