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.
"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."