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Sam Pizzigati is the editor of Too Much, the online weekly newsletter on excess and inequality published by the Institute for Policy Studies. He writes at Could 2014 Be Year One of the Pay Ratio Era?

From the White House to the Vatican, everyone these days seems to be talking about income inequality. But our politics hasn’t kept up. Concrete proposals that could actually narrow the gap between the rich and the rest of us haven’t yet moved onto our public policy center stage.

Students and allied faculty and staff at Maryland’s St. Mary’s College are working to limit their college’s top compensation to ten times the pay of the institution’s lowest-paid workers.

That could change in 2014.

We saw the first rumblings of that change this past fall in Switzerland, where young activists ran a spirited referendum campaign to cap Swiss CEO pay at 12 times worker wages. This 1:12 pay cap proposition was running even in the polls until a lush corporate ad blitz sent the measure down to defeat late in November.

That setback hasn’t at all doused the growing global interest in pay ratios. In Germany, France, and Spain, activists are now working on their own versions of pay-ratio income caps, and the ratio cap spirit has even spread to the United States, home to the world’s most generous CEO paychecks.

Major U.S. execs now pull in, on average, over 350 times the pay of America’s rank-and-file workers. How high does that CEO-worker pay gap go at individual corporations? We’ll soon know.

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission, after four years of delay, will likely release this year new regulations that require America’s top corporations to annually reveal the ratio between their CEO and median worker compensation, a disclosure that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act mandates.

The new SEC ratio disclosure regs will kick in for the next corporate fiscal year. But activists aren’t waiting for the new pay ratio numbers to start emerging. They’re already mobilizing to build compensation ratios into the fabric of America’s economic life.

In Massachusetts, nurses have collected over 100,000 signatures for an initiative that would levy fines against any hospital in the state, profit or nonprofit, that compensates its CEO over 100 times the hospital’s lowest-paid worker.

State lawmakers now have until May to advance the nurses’ plan. If they don’t, nurses say they’ll collect the additional 11,000 signatures necessary to get their pay ratio plan on the November 2014 statewide ballot.

Similar ratio organizing has also hit another bastion of America’s growing inequality: college campuses. These campuses today reflect the same basic pay gaps that ail America’s corporate economy. Compensation for academe’s top executives has been riding a steep up escalator at the same time pay for faculty and campus staff has been struggling just to keep pace with inflation. […]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008We Won the Debates:

I'll get the declaration of winners out of the way first: the Democratic voters won tonight.  

All four of our candidates were very strong. They all came across as likable. They are extremely sharp, incredibly well-informed and thoughtful. They have visions for how and where they would lead the country, and the role of America in the world. They want to challenge the American people by appealing to the sense of the common good.  

They didn't attack government and demean its potential for positive change. They showed that they can all inspire Americans to strive for a better future for all of us. There couldn't be a more stark contrast between our tremendous field and the horrible Republican field than the back-to-back debates that just aired on ABC.  

Our candidates also conducted themselves like responsible adults. They showed respect to each other, and in doing so showed greater respect for the viewers and the voters. Unlike the Republicans, who were mean and nasty to each other, the Democrats were almost unfailingly calm, they didn't take nasty tones with each other, they complimented each other, and they didn't interrupt. There was only one moment of significant crosstalk, when all four were trying to interrupt, but they were trying to interrupt ABC's host Charles Gibson, to reject the premise of one of his questions.

Tweet of the Day:

Actually used geometry today, determining the shortest distance from car to building. 7degree weather brought it all back-angles and all.

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