In the important book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty First Century, it is pointed out that in the US, the great rise in economic inequality has a higher component of wage inequality than in other countries. Much of this is the enormous pay packages of the CEOs of corporations, and the huge bonuses of the financial industry.
But how much of this is really wages or salary, and how much is simply management simply diverting capital from the corporation to its own pockets? A recent example is the $58 million dollar severance package received by former Yahoo COO Henrique do Castro after only 15 months in his job. Most of this was in the form of stock. According to orthodox economic theory, wages should correspond to the marginal productivity added by the worker to the revenue of the employer. Can anyone say that this guy, after 15 months of a job he was fired from, had added $58,000,000 more value than any of the other people who could have done that job for much less money?
What is really happening is that the upper management of American corporations, especially financial businesses, now have total control over their businesses, and are using this control to transfer as much of the wealth of those businesses to themselves as they can get away with. This is no longer wages, this is diversion of capital. This situation is becoming more institutionalized. Just look at the utter failure to close the hedge fund manager tax loophole, the largest and most obvious special favor in the tax code.
With the concentration of wealth comes increasing separation of the wealthy from the rest of society. Will the current group of corporate and financial upper management become a de facto hereditary class?