Monday, October 6, 2008

A Choice We Can Believe In?

4 comments:

Nader Enthusiast said...

So many people are influenced by looks rather than brains. I wish Ralph was prettier:) and Palin was homely.

wagelaborer said...

I wish that people valued brains more than looks.
That said, we are continually told that Obama is good looking and Kucinich is funny looking.
What???
This is the Emperor's New Clothes in action.
Obama is smart and funny, but not good looking, in my opinion.
Kucinich is smart and clever and politically correct. I think he's good looking.
Nader is not handsome, but he's not ugly. He has regular features and his intellect shines. So he looks good to me!

Nader Enthusiast said...

I tried to listen to your podcasts before and they would only run a couple minutes and then cut out, so I knew what your voice sounded like, but actually couldn't hear too much of it. I got rid of a couple spybots and now I can review them. Oct. 1 was excellent and I am going back to listen to the others.

In 2003, a friend sent me an essay by a writer/pig farmer from Minnesota about CEO's salaries. I thought you might like to read it:

I have to stop reading the papers. It's just not good for my blood pressure.

Actually, maybe the thing to do is read just one. It's when I start comparing stories that I get tense. Nothing like getting all the facts to confuse the issues. And math -- math is a big mistake. Mr. Melby did me no favors by being such a good math teacher.

Here's the deal. I read an article about how the factories that opened in northern Mexico after NAFTA are now starting to shut down. Companies left Detroit and many other big cities because they said they needed to hire cheap employees in order to remain competitive in a global market. That was about ten years ago; and now those employees in Mexico are getting too expensive. Why, some of them are making over $4,000.00 a year. In the past two years, nearly 500 plants have shut down – many of them moving to China -- because there a worker will assemble computers for $1,182.00 a year.

"So," you might say, "it's a hard old world. I like my cars and appliances cheap. By all means, we need to keep the labor bills low."

That's where having two sources of information becomes such a bother. The same day I saw the factory story I read a different article, on a different topic, but the two linked together. I couldn't believe the figures in the second article, so I looked up the data for myself. In 2002, the average pay of a CEO was $10.8 million. That's not the top five, by the way. That's an average from the top fifteen hundred publicly traded companies. Now, granted, when a few guys make $3-4 hundred million, it does skew the curve a bit. But, still, these boys are doing okay.

I started doing some math. If you multiply 10.8 million by 1,500, you get 16.2 billion (that's with a B) just for head-guy pay. I'm not including all the other members of top management; my calculator doesn't have enough digits to figure that amount of money. Now if these guys could take, oh, let's say, a million dollars a year in salary, which, frankly, many of my friends would consider a fair living wage, we would free up $14.7 billion for other uses. That's a lot of money. That amount would give about 3,500,000 jobs, or if you wanted to bring jobs back to America it would provide $40,000.00 a year jobs for 330,000 Americans. It seems reasonable. Fifteen hundred guys, and a few women, are cut down to a million a year, and in exchange, we put 330,000 people back to work at good wages.

I think a million a year sounds fair. It's not as if these guys are football players, one torn ligament away from the end of their career. Executives can keep working as long as they're capable of knotting their ties. After taxes, even in Minnesota, a million-dollar paycheck would give you about $2,000.00 every day in spendable cash. If you can't live on that, you're too dumb to run a major corporation.

My point here, and I have a couple, is that we've put up with moving so many of our manufacturing jobs overseas because we've been told, repeatedly, that's the price we need to pay to remain competitive. Actually, that's the price we pay so CEOs can line their pockets. That puts a little different spin on it. Keep in mind, some of those $11,000,000.00-a-year guys sat in boardrooms and made the decision to move factories from Detroit to Mexico and blame the unions, then moved the same factories from Mexico to China because those Mexicans were making, at $4,400.00 a year -- too much money.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not some old-line Commie, urging that the wealth of the owners be distributed to the people. I actually like rich people, particularly the ones who start with a good idea, take risks, and become extravagantly wealthy. I'm not talking about them; I'm talking about the hired hands with the nice suits who run the companies built by other people. These are publicly traded companies, meaning the people who buy stocks, probably some of the same people who've been laid off, own them. It'd be interesting if at the next stockholders meeting there were an agenda item like this: "Which would you prefer, that we pay our CEO $11,000,000.00 or use some of that money to keep people working?"

I know how I'd vote.


Copyright 2003 Brent Olson

wagelaborer said...

I'm glad you liked my podcast. All I have to do is wake up my son before I leave. (So that he can do the computer part). But that isn't an easy task.
I should be paid millions, it's so difficult.

CEO pay is so ridiculous. I love the part where they claim that CEO's need millions to be motivated to do their jobs!

But ordinary workers just need the fear of unemployment to keep them working hard.