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Tough at the top? Not really

Capitalists love touting the benefits of trickle-down economics. It is a rationalization of inequality. By linking the welfare of the working-class  directly to the prosperity of the rich, they can protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash.

The investment banking hierarchy is essentially a large bureaucracy. At the bottom are the manual unskilled maintenance staff like security guards, the janitors and the cleaners who keep the offices safe and warm and clean. Then there are the administrative assistants, who support several bankers at one time and make about $35,000 a year. Above them are the analysts, college graduates whose life consists of 120-hour work weeks and an endless stream of menial tasks for $65,000 to $90,000 a year. Next up, and supported by the analysts, are the associates -- freshly minted MBAs with more than a $100,000 in school loans hanging over them -- who can look forward to taking home between $100,000 and $175,000 a year. If these young men and women, who work 90-hour weeks while trying to juggle a family, survive long enough to become vice presidents, their compensation can rise to $200,000-$300,000 per year.

Above the vice presidents are the directors, which is a training zone for the next pay grade (or a graveyard for those who don't have what it takes). Directors rely on the workers below them to do all the grunt work, including research, financial analysis, and client presentations, while they mainly babysit clients and occasionally come up with ideas to pitch to them. Their pay for these relatively cushy tasks ranges from $350,000 to $500,000 per year; but even this is meager compared to what their superiors make. Managing directors, who work even less and spend more time golfing instead, can make anywhere from a million to several million dollars a year.

Finally you have the really big fish -- the CEOs, presidents, executive vice presidents, and others who manage the entire circus, think deep thoughts, and schmooze with politicians to get regulations loosened. What makes these gigs so coveted is not just the fact that few ever manage to join that echelon but that the pay-scale jumps to tens of millions of dollars (even hundreds of millions) per year for work that is only moderately more challenging than that of the managing directors. It may be lonely at the top, but it's  lucrative.

It should be clear from the above that the wealth generated in these organizations gathers mainly at the top of the pyramid, while the people at the bottom, who do a lot of the heavy lifting and are instrumental in building that wealth, receive only a fraction of those riches. Sure, the pay scales in investment banking are pretty good by the standards of other industries, but it is the proportional difference between the compensation at the top and the bottom that makes a difference. This large income gap leads to an exponentially faster accumulation of wealth in a few hands, which in turn widens the prosperity gap even more. In other words, prosperity is not really trickling down but trickling up.

The more wealth trickles up in the capitalist system, the more it frustrates those at the bottom -- without whose efforts that wealth could not be created in the first place.

Taken from here


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