Michael Duke is the Big Wally of Walmart. As CEO of the low-wage behemoth, he siphons some $19 million a year in personal pay from the global retailer.

How much is $19 million? Let’s break it down in terms that Duke’s own workforce can appreciate. While Big Wally’s workers average about $9.50 an hour, Duke’s pay comes to about $9,500 an hour. He pockets as much in two hours as Walmart workers make in a whole year!

But Walmart doesn’t give a damn about such gross pay gaps between privileged elites and the rest of us. As a spokesman scoffed, “I don’t think Mike Duke…needs me to defend his compensation package.”

Really? If not you, who?

Those who think that the hoi polloi don’t notice or care about America’s growing income disparity, should take a peek at a recent opinion survey run by the right-wing, corporate-funded Peter G. Peterson Foundation. This outfit intended to show that the general public backs the tea party’s agenda of slashing government spending, which includes balancing the federal budget by putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

But–whoops-a daisy–the survey of thousands of Americans went badly wrong for the Peterson ideologues. Far from wanting to gut Social Security payments, 85 percent of those interviewed favored extending the program. They want the rich to pay a tax on their whole salary which goes into the fund, like all the rest of us.

And–hey, Mike–this one’s for you: nearly six out of 10 of the folks involved in the foundation’s “America Speaks” survey want a new, higher tax bracket to make millionaires pay their fair share of providing for the common good.

The foundation tried to bury these surprisingly progressive results, but didn’t succeed. You can read a good analysis of them at the Center for Economic Policy and Research: www.cepr.net.

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Jim HightowerBy

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.