You can all calm down, boys and girls. The economy has improved. Everyone says it has. The stock market continues to remain pretty high — despite jittery ups and downs. Some 165,000 jobs were added to the market in June Folks at the Federal Reserve are predicting great things coming down the turnpike. The economy has improved... and is improving. So why does so much seem the same? Why is it that nothing seems to have gotten any better in the Real World? Why is it most folks can’t get out of town; travel too far from home; or plan on finally getting the roof fixed or the septic tank replaced? Wellllllllllll... it’s because the economy has improved ENORMOUSLY for some people, but has not improved at all for most people. Here’s the deal. The general economic situation has improved so much for a very, Very, VERY small group of people in this country that it actually skews the statistics and makes the situation look completely different. Let me give you an example. But first, a question. How much did your pay increase last year? How much did the average pay for a working Joe or Jolene go up last year? According to the Department of Labor the average salary in these United States DID NOT increase at all. Rather, hourly wages around the nation dropped by 3.8 percent — a record decrease for any given year. And the buying power of that money dropped like a rock as well. So let’s do a bit of math. If pay levels are dropping, and buying power is decreasing, and prices for basic food stuffs continue to rise, and you can’t afford gas to get to the grocery store anyway, and your kids are completely sunk in debt before they even collect their diplomas... How does that equal an improved economy? It’s simple. We are talking about the wrong people. Millions, and millions, and millions, and tens of millions of the wrong people. If you want to see why the economy is improving — look to the CEOs of this nation. While the average working stiff’s pay check has actually dropped 3.8 percent, the average CEOs salary has increased some 16 percent. And to make matters worse, that 16 percent increase isn’t from a starting salary of $50, $75, or $100,000. The average salary for the CEO of even a nominally well-known corporation in these United States is $15.1 million! That’s $15,100,000. Now... the average salary in the United States is just over $51,000 — the median household income. You need to keep in mind, however, that this average, this median income, is skewed by the guys making the huge salaries at the top of the list. The true household income is much, much lower than the statistical average. The truth of the matter is, while you and your kids are struggling to pay off student loans that have just doubled in interest rates; while your kids are still living in the basement and are unable to buy a car because they have suddenly been shackled with an interest rate they and you never agreed on; while all this is going on in your life, the richest people in this country are just raking in more and more money. The Economic Policy Institute published a study some time back noting that while back in the “glory years” — the 1960s — CEOs made 20 times more than what the average employee earned. Today that part of the economic picture has “improved.” A CEO in 2013 — on an average — pulls in 273 times what his or her employees are paid, (almost always “him” by the way.) The highest salaried CEO in these United States, Larry Ellison of Oracle, (computer stuff), saw his salary increase by 24 percent last year, all while the value of YOUR salary was dropping by 3.8 percent. His pay stub recorded an increase from $77.6 million in 2011, to $96.2 million in 2012. And yours? Wanna talk about a pay bump? How about Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, a leader in the interactive entertainment software industry. His salary was “adjusted” from $8.3 million to $64.9 million! Nike’s boss, Mark Parker, got a 219 percent pay raise in 2012 — up to a paltry $35 million. The Starbucks dude, Howard Shultz, basically gave himself an 80 percent salary increase — now earning $28.9 million. And on... and on... and on... So, hey! Stop whining. Things are getting better. Much, much better. And just because the situation hasn’t improved for you... well... stop being so selfish! This is America. You can still dream of making $96.2 million a year. Anyone can. Your kids can still make that kind of money even if you can’t — if, If, IF they ever pay off that student loan.