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Letter: Citizens United ruling fuels income inequality

Citizens United ruling fuels income inequality

A recent article in The News revealed information about the differences in pay for CEOs at well-known corporations, specifically S&P 500 companies. The CEOs’ pay was 200 times their workers’ median pay. An earlier study that included more extensive data culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed CEO pay was more than 300 times that of the average worker.

Are CEOs really 300 times smarter than their workers? Is the CEOs’ workday 300 times longer than their employees’ workday? Are ordinary working families better off today than they were 35 years ago? Most of us know the correct answers to these questions. No!

We are experiencing gross and increasing wealth inequality in the United States due in part to manipulation of the U.S. tax code by lawmakers who take so-called campaign contributions from the financial elites. Lawmakers rig the system to make the elites even richer. Reforms to create a fairer tax code remain a mirage. Who is looking out for the average Jane and Joe? Nobody!

A major enabling factor in growing inequality is money in politics, including campaign contributions that may be secret, massive and decisive. How did this happen? The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are “people” and that money is “speech.” The Citizens United case, decided by a narrow majority, stimulates inequality. Citizens’ voices are not equal because money resources are grossly unequal.

One outcome of the decision was clearly predictable. Supreme Court majority justices in the Citizens United case should have known their decision would accelerate gross inequality among citizens. I urge the legal community, including law schools, to consider whether grounds exist to impeach the sitting justices who decided this case.

Lynda Stephens

Buffalo