What is it about billionaires and multimillionaires that make them so clueless about the impacts of their greed?

Even when they occasionally make a stab at doing something right, they tend to get it all wrong.

For example, while some major corporations rushed out PR campaigns at the start of the pandemic, loudly proclaiming “all-in-this-together” solidarity with their workers, most have quietly and quickly resumed their pre-pandemic policy of separating their rich fortunes from the well-being of their workforce.

Take supermarket giant Kroger.

Last March, as the pandemic spread across America, Kroger honchos publicly hailed grocery workers for staying on the job, despite the health hazard. They ran national TV ads announcing a $2 pay hike for employees, calling it a “heroes bonus.” Nice!

But only six weeks later — shhhhh — the honchos killed the bonus pay, even as the virus spread. Not nice. And more recently, the chain closed two Southern California stores altogether rather than pay locally mandated hazard wages to their front line workers.

Well, you might think, the economy was collapsing, so maybe the bosses had to skrimp. Hardly.

Grocery sales and profits have boomed in the pandemic. As the investigative newsletter Popular Information now reports, Kroger’s profits have zoomed up by $1.2 billion since the disease surged last year.

Where did that bonanza go? To fat-cat executives and shareholders.

Last September, Kroger spent a billion dollars on a stock buyback program — a corporate manipulation scheme that artificially jacks up stock prices, enriching the already-rich handful of investors and executives who own most of the stock.

How rich are they? One example: Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen’s latest annual paycheck was $21,129,648.

One man, one year. And, unlike the typical Kroger workers who draw only $27,000 a year, McMullen is not on the frontline putting his life at risk.

And yet, those on top of America’s financial heap wonder why working families spell “boss” backwards: Double-SOB.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

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