Friday, February 23, 2018

The National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre and America's Elite

On February 22, 2018 at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Wayne LaPierre, current CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, made the following comment regarding the gun control debate that has once again flared up after the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead ( 1 minute 58 second mark):

"They hate the NRA.  They hate the Second Amendment.  They hate individual freedom.  In the rush of calls for more government, they've revealed their true selves.   The elites don't care not one wit about America's school system and school children.   If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them.  For them, it's not a safety issue, it's a political issue." (my bold)

Here is his speech in its entirety:

 

In this posting, I'd like to focus on the highlighted section of Mr. LaPierre's speech in the excerpt that I have provided in the second paragraph, where he refers to the elites, a clear tactic to divide the United States into two contrasting parts, the haves and have nots as you will.  

While Mr. LaPierre and his viewpoints do make the news cycle on a fairly regular basis, what is rarely discussed, is how much he is paid to proffer his opinions by the National Rifle Association.  Given that he refers to "the elites", let's just look at some interesting data that will help us put Mr. Lapierre and his disgust with "the elites" into perspective.  From the United States Census Bureau, we find the following information on the median household income in the U.S.:


In 2016, the median income for American households was $57,617 but, as you can see, the median ranges widely wider as shown on this table:


In fact, median household income in 2016 ranged from a low of $44,344 in Arkansas to a high of $78,945 in Maryland

Let's look at the average hourly earnings of all private sector employees in the United States and how they have grown over the past decade:


On average, at the end of 2015, the average private sector employee was earning $25.95 per hour.

Now, thanks to the laws that apply to organizations that are exempt from paying income tax, we can get some inside information on the finances of these non-profits from their annual Form 990 filings.  In the case of the National Rifle Association, the entire filing for the 2015 tax year can be found here. Let's look at the first page of the NRA's 990:


At the bottom of this page, you will note that, on average, Wayne Lapierre spends 60 hours per week on NRA business:


Now, let's look at Mr. Lapierre's compensation for 2015 along with the compensation for the rest of the NRA's executive team:


In 2015, as the NRA's Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President, Mr. LaPierre's base compensation was $1,090,515.  In addition, he earned $15,000 in bonuses and incentive compensation, $3,810,734 in other reportable compensation, $19,605 in retirement and deferred compensation and $40,131 in nontaxable benefits for a grand total of $5,110,985.  This is up substantially from 2014 as shown here:


...and 2013 as shown here:


As I noted, according to the NRA's 990 filing, Mr. LaPierre worked an average of 60 hours per week on "company" business.  In 2015, his average hourly earnings worked out to $349.52 per hour if we use his base salary and $1638.14 per hour if we use his total compensation package.

Given that Mr. LaPierre's total compensation for 2015 was 89 times that of a median American family and that his hourly earnings were 63 times that of an average private sector worker, it begs the question, who are really the "elite" in Wayne LaPierre's world?  If it's not someone who is making seven figures in a year, then I don't know who it could possibly be.