There's no easy way to talk about CEO pay. But Tony Stark GIFs are a good start.

They may be paid like Tony Stark. But they're no Tony Stark.

In 2014, CEOs of the top 350 U.S. firms made 303 times more than their average workers.

Chart by Economic Policy Institute.


First of all, are we talking about hundreds of Tony Starks? Are we dealing with f**king Ironmen? Because payouts like that could make sense if they're saving the world like everyone's favorite "genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist."

In Stark we trust. All GIFs from "Iron Man 2."

But they're not. There are no arc reactors MacGyvered in desert caves to keep their hearts beating. No flying armored suits with rocket-propelled, evil-seeking missiles.

These are just regular human people who happen to make tons of money.

They're the ones steering the companies that source our groceries, genetically modify our foods, pipe in our oil and gas, throttle our Internet service, drape us in sweatshop denim, and invest in ways to keep society more or less the same: unequal. Among other things, of course.

Why do we pay them so much?

It's not all a matter of choice, some might say. It's the market at work. And the ultimate payouts are just the costs of top talent.

That's what they all say. But again, they're not all Tony Stark.

But in the Harvard Business Review, John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, suggests we need to rethink how CEOs are rewarded:

"A bias to focus only on the external market in recent years has helped push executive compensation way out of whack. Because of the yawning gap between the leaders and the led, employee morale is suffering, talented performers' loyalty is evaporating, and strategy and execution is suffering at American companies."

Mackey says Whole Foods uses salary caps to "keep the external and internal equity perspectives in balance." Today, the company's salary cap ratio is 19:1.

Maybe you're thinking, "These CEOs run the nation's largest companies, so maybe they deserve a pass?"

True. They run huge companies with a lot at stake. But the fact that they lead the largest companies is precisely why they matter most on this issue.

"The reason to focus on the CEO pay of the largest firms is that they employ a large number of workers, are the leaders of the business community, and set the standards for pay in the executive pay market." — Economic Policy Institute

These folks are the spearhead of rising income inequality. The Economic Policy Institute found that 41.2% of people who are heads of households in the top 1% are executives or high-level managers.

If their pay packages look like they've been struck by elephantiasis...

"Oh my god, is that elephantiasis?!" No, Tony. That's just an outsized pay package.

...that's going to affect how a lot of other companies pay their leadership.

All of this might be a non-issue if all workers received a fair and living wage, which they should.

But they don't. Until they do, to anyone who argues that top CEOs deserve 303 times their average workers' salaries, Tony and I have only this to say:

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The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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