FRENCH-FRIED AMERICAN FAT CATS: A RESPONSE

My apologies in advance. I've long been accused of being a bit long-winded. I'm not sure where that comes from exactly, but I did at one time write novels. And so it happened in this case that a response to a comment made by a reader of my last hub, "Today's Special: French-Fried American Fat Cats" got long enough that I decided to make a separate hub out of it. Besides, one can never have too many hubs, right? And mine are a little thin at present as I signed up for this Hubpages thing about a year ago and only now started to use it.

You can read the original hub at http://www.hubpages.com/hub/fatcats. Maven101, who you can find at http://www.hubpages.com/profile/maven101, had this to say:

"i was with you all the way until you mentioned " entitlement "...The word sends shivers up my leg...what do you think is a " fair " wage..? Based on what criteria..? Is it the number of hours one spends on their feet..? Or is it based on what shift you work..? There is no " entitlement ", only opportunity...the opportunity to get an education, to participate in the public lottery of grants, scholarships, and other avenues to improve your life...if you are unhappy with your wage then do something different...and comparing CEO's with workers, you are very mistaken about being " Fat Cats "...most I knew were extremely hard working, putting in the extra effort at school to graduate at the top of their class, then continuing the hard work, putting in many more hours on the job than their workers...most workers lack the self-discipline to focus on education as the route to financial security and personal accomplishment...you mentioned that workers should be rewarded for their hard work...isn't that what is to be expected, hard work.? I don't consider a sales persons' smiling customer service to be exceptional, I expect it...

You can close the door now, and throw away the key..Just leave me some tuna fish sandwiches and a beer...Larry"

The following is my response:

In my view a fair wage is one that is monetarily proportionate to the income generating contribution of each employee. McDonald's Corporation, for example is a $68 billion dollar company with around 400,000 employees. Each individual employee brought in approximately $60,000 worth of revenue for the company in 2008 based on around $23.5 billion. Based on the average wage of a fast-food worker in America, a full time employee at McDonald's, on average, earns less than $16,000 a year. After you take benefits and income taxes out, their take home pay ends up, IMO, being abysmal at best. Certainly this is not a livable wage, nor is the wage necessarily proportionate to the contribution they have made to the company as a whole. By comparison in 2008 the CEO Jim Skinner earned $13.6 million. Not only is his compensation 850 times that of the average worker, even if you were to make the attempt to justify that his compensation was justifiable due to a longer work week, consider that even if the CEO worked an average of 100 hours every week, his pay would be $2,615 every single hour he worked. Also consider that, generally speaking, the CEO is not an owner of the company. It's not the basis for his pay anyway. He is an employee of the company just like the guy manning the cash register. The CEO can OWN shares in the company and probably does. But that's not the point. His compensation is not risk based. It's performance based. Or is it? Is Jim Skinner really 850 times more important than the guy at the register, or the guy who slaps a customer's hamburger together? Is he more important? Yes. 850 times more important? I think that's very questionable.

As for the 'entitlement' thing, I tend to not like that word much either. But what I was getting at, really, is that if somewhere along the line, in this country, we have decided that we can survive as a service economy, and that we don't need an industrial base which provided robust economic growth and created jobs with great benefits and great pay to the average American, then we need to act like it. If progress is the way out of the industrial age than why have wages taken a dive? Why have they stood still in other sectors? Why does the average American worker count his blessings when he gets a 2% pay raise, and Jim Skinner rejoices when HIS earnings were 44% higher than the year before? Why does Bob Nardelli walk away from a company he nearly ruined with over $100 million in parachute bennies and the average UNDERperforming American worker has to fight for his very unemployment bennies? At which point does one draw the line and say I don't think it's really based on merit anymore? I don't think its even based on hard work. It's someone arbitrarily deciding that he/she is more important just because they hold a certain position or title, and everyone else is simply a pawn in the grander game.

Back to my earlier point about this service economy thing. I fully agree with you regarding the concept of opportunity, and going after things to better yourself before waiting for those things to come to you. In my earlier hub, "As A Matter of Fact Companies in America Should Be Patriots" I stated exactly that. That if I'm unhappy with my wage, my benefits, or my work environment I have a choice I can make at that time to change my situation. The fundamental problem with that argument, however, is that the amount of choice and the amount of opportunity is vastly different now than I think it was before. We ARE a service oriented economy with the industrial base only comprising approximately 12% of the entire workforce. If we truly believe as a people that service is the way of the future, then we need to act like it. We can't call it progress if we take away all the good jobs and send them overseas and then leave nothing behind but THESE kinds of jobs, and then look back to the people in those jobs and say "hey, it's your fault."

Hey, this is what we have left to work with. Everyone for the global economy said this would help us all.

By and large it IS the burden of the individual to make his own life better. Invest in a stock, get an education, start a company. But again, I cite the more limited choice and opportunity. Someone has rigged the system, and the guy at risk is the worker. Now it's either take it or leave it.

What I was saying about 'entitlement' is that a person is entitled to a real and fair opportunity. And a person also deserves to be appreciated and compensated for the contribution he/she makes for the company. Even the janitor, because let's face it. I don't care how good the hamburger tastes, or how smart the CEO is at making the building look pretty, if the bathroom is a dirty pit, no one is going to want to eat there."

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Comments 5 comments

maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

To my mind, fast food employees, other than the managers, should view their employment as a learning experience and a motivation to improve their life styles...not as a standalone job that will provide for a family or generate enough cash to buy a house or car...I worked several jobs as a teen that paid little, but taught me lifelong lessons of hard work resulting in strong study habits and a desire to " better " myself.

If you want to condemn anybody of rewards for incompetence I would point you to most government employees, an overpaid, underachieving group if there ever was one...the average government employee is now making 70m a year, plus a Cadillac medical plan unavailable to the general public...Union officials routinely skim millions off members retirement plans, yet where is the outcry for their scalps..?

We have a bureaucratic nightmare in DC, yet nothing is ever done to streamline, cut the deadwood, or provide innovation...instead we continue to add more layers of bureaucracy that provide untouchable rice bowls for more and more folks feeding off the public teat...when was the last time you have heard of ANY bureaucracy being terminated..? Never, is the answer...So most will complain about some CEO's receiving golden parachutes because they are an easy target, and in some cases, should be...But how many understand the corporate world and its compensation packages that are contractually binding if and when termination occurs..? Boards of Directors are legally bound to provide these golden parachutes and have little wiggle room to do otherwise... Larry


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

On both sides of this hub I have generally agreed with you. And generally speaking, I agree with most of what you are saying here as well. I have made most of my money investing it. I count working as merely a means to obtaining more capital to keep the wheels turning. I've discovered that, at least for me, careers are fairly dead-end in that, unless you do something other than simply work for a better wage, or work for someone else, you will work forever. I feel that I've been smart enough to figure out on my own that there's more out there for me if I work as hard as I can, take on as much risk as I can afford, and never look to someone else to get me to where I want to go. If I'm not where I want to be it's largely a part of my own design.

Your second response causes me to draw the conclusion that perhaps I didn't convey that thought very well in either of the three hubs I wrote on the subject. Gotta go back and figure that one out. :)

By and large my point was simply that I do not think that CEOs deserve the pay they get. Owners? Yes. Shareholders? Yes. Employees? No.

I also do not agree that regular bottom line employees, for the most part, get a fair piece of the work they do to contribute to a company's overall profits. When the top gets 850 times the bottom, I think there's a very systemic problem there. And if you go back historically, I can also assure you that the gap was less in the earlier days...discounting Rockefeller, but actually he became the richest man after the gov't decided he needed to break Standard Oil into 34 separate companies. That's for another day.

McDonald's should not necessarily be a career. But then again. Why can't it be? This is no small company. It's a $68 billion one. And where ARE the good paying jobs? Again, it's about what we've done in this country to make other alternatives and opportunities less available.

I'm not saying give anyone anything. People need to work for everything they get. What I am saying is let's at least compensate them fairly. If the hamburger flipper wants to be successful then he can take the money he earns to buy company stock, purchase an education, whatever...

The CEO can do the same. I say let's give him $1 million a year, period. I EXPECT you grow my company as you expect the guy cooking the hamburger to not burn it. If you want to you can take some of that pay and buy shares in the company. If you perform well, the bonus you'll receive is the same one the regualar employee will receive. An increase in the share price and overall value of the company.

That's all I'm saying.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

Springboard - Employees will ordinarily be paid what they are worth to the owners, and CEOs are paid as little or as much as what they are worth "on the employee market." If a minimum wage earner wants to earn 850 times as much as minimum wage, then that employee has to work like crazy and learn 850 times as much as he or she already knows(and generally they know quite little at the start).

Gus :-)))


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 6 years ago

it really depends on where one lives and whether there is any opportunity to earn more...

in rural areas, manufacturers set up their factories with the intent of making big profits at the employees expense.

I'm a transplant in a small rural town and I see and hear first hand how people are taken advantage of.

Everyone must work 12+ shifts ,on their feet, with few breaks. 8. an hour is considered good money and no benefits are given.

How un-American can they be!?

Third world practices right here in the heart of America!


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I've long held that the divide is widening in America between the working class and the rich, and I say that having absolutely nothing against the rich. What bothers me is when we have millions of dollars being made at the top, with huge bonuses being paid out for going above and beyond, and yet employees who work very hard and go above and beyond rarely get anything for that effort. By that same token CEOs usually get great, outlandish severence packages when they muck it up and end up fired. When that happens to you or I, the working class, we have to fight the company to get a lousy unemployment check. Companies need to bear in mind that while customers are important to sales, they can sell nothing without the workers making the products and interacting directly with the customers. I'd say those folks are pretty damn important and all too often companies lose sight of this.

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