The pay disparity between CEOs and workers is far too great because few executives value physical labor, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura told CNBC on Tuesday.
"We somehow diminish physical labor. We call that 'unskilled' and therefore we can pay so much more less for someone who has to physically sweat and labor, digging a ditch, whatever it might be, " Ventura said on "Closing Bell." "But where you're educated and you push a pencil, well then you make big money."
Ventura clarified that CEOs have the right to pay themselves as much as they'd like. He just hopes executives will recognize that physical labor takes skill and should command decent pay.
"Most CEOs are incapable of doing physical labor. They sit around with suits on all day pushing pencils," said Ventura, who served one term as an Independent governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. "CEO pay has gotten way out of line compared to the people that work for them."
Ventura called on executives to pay physical laborers a "living wage," though he didn't specify what it might be.
—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm.