Jeff Beezos absolutely could afford to pay his employees much better

You occasionally see arguments that, while CEO’s are spectacularly rich, those riches are drop in the ocean compared to the quantum that would be required to give a real pay rise to workers.

Of course the main reply here is that CEO’s are emblematic of a whole bunch of people who are overpaid relative to the working class- shareholders, upper and middle management and so on. It’s not that CEO pay, income or wealth could literally make all the difference by itself, it’s just a symbol of the underlying problem

But sometimes this argument isn’t true even on its own terms. Consider Jeff Beezos, CEO and founder of Amazon. Jeff Beezos could personally finance a significantly better deal for his low paid workers, if he wanted to.

Jeff Beezo’s networth is about 110 billion dollars. Amazon has about 647,000 employees. Beezos has 170,000 dollars per employee. Assuming each of those employees works 40 hours a week, the cost of giving them a 5 dollar per hour raise for a year would be:

40*52*5*647,000= 6,728,800,000

Six point seven billion dollars- or about six percent of his total wealth.

This would raise the minimum salary to 20 dollars an hour. Of course, if Beezos only targeted workers already below 20 dollars an hour, it would cost even less, since a relatively small portion are hovering at the minimum 15 dollar mark. I’d be very surprised if it cost more than 3-% of his total wealth.

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