Unfortunately, we know that defined benefit pensions have been declining rapidly in the private sector. And we know that some irresponsible politicians and anti-pension ideologues are trying to gut pensions in the public sector. What we didn’t know until recently was just how big the gulf is between the retirement accounts of corporate CEOs and those of working families.
A recent report co-authored by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies reveals the extremely large retirement accounts of 100 top corporate CEOs. Their retirement accounts are so large that they are equal to the retirement accounts of 41% of American working families! 100 CEOs have savings equal to that of 116 million working people.
The sad reality is nearly half of all working age Americans have no access to any retirement plan at work. For those who do, the median account balance in a 401(k) plan at the end of 2013 was $18,433, enough to generate a monthly retirement check of $104. In contrast, former YUM Brands CEO David Novak has the largest retirement nest egg, with $234 million, enough to generate a monthly retirement check of $1,318,605. Meanwhile, the many thousands of YUM Brands employees at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC have no company retirement assets whatsoever.
The “Tale of Two Retirements” report lays bare the rigged rules that allow corporate CEOs to contribute unlimited amounts- tax-deferred- to their retirement accounts, while the average worker can only contribute $18,000 per year. Let’s hope this report serves as a wake-up call to irresponsible politicians, who write these rigged rules, and a warning for those who wish to force public employees into risky 401(k)-style systems.