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Wanted: An FDR for the 21st Century

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A friend of mine, not long ago, was discharged from a major oil company (in the top 20 largest US corporations) after a freak accident. This, despite a spotless record and fast advancement up the management chain. The dismissal was from the corporate office itself and was idiosyncratic and so utterly dismissive and devoid of human concern that it shocked his co-workers, including some of his immediate superiors who had to choke back emotions on hearing of it.

All in all though, it was simply another injustice, one of no doubt thousands committed that day by those with the power to do so – and who have little, if any, concern over facing real retribution.

My friend is a single parent. At the time this happened he only had one kid left at home, fortunately. But he also had taken on the burden of caring for an ailing mother.

My friend was known in the company for being able to “fix” personnel problems. His superiors at corporate were always mystified at how he was able to accomplish this. Perhaps it was because they had long passed the time (if there ever had been one) in their lives where they could take some simple joy in a day's job well done. Even though the pay was laughable…

I say “laughable” because even though by our State's standard it is just a little below median, in comparison to senior management of the energy giant he worked for, and especially its CEO, it is as if he was quite literally a slave.

My friend made, with bonuses (which, mind you, were stripped away, 20% at a time should any of a laundry list of objectives not be met), approximately $40,000 per year.
You might think, “Well, $40K a year, that isn't bad…” I won't go into the struggles he had even then in paying for his mother's medicines (once the wonderful Medicare Part D kicks out… something no one it seems was told of prior to it passing. Now, each year, millions of seniors find that the medicine that was costing them $10 or less last month is costing them now $200, $300, or $400). While he was left to wonder exactly how to make up this difference the CEO of this company is making $15,104 per hour.

My friend will have to work 790 years to equal what his CEO made this past year.

His situation made me think of an amazing day, seventy-one years ago. It was June 27, 1936 in Philadelphia. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had, despite the pain, been assisted to the podium to give a speech expressing his concerns about the real problems which faced America which, were it given today, would be universally considered instant political suicide. 

Man's inventive genius released new forces in our land which reordered the lives of our people.. The age of machinery, of railroads; of steam and electricity; the telegraph and the radio; mass production, mass distribution-all of these combined to bring forward a new civilization and with it a new problem for those who sought to remain free.

 For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital-all undreamed of by the fathers-the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.

There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer. Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things.

Throughout the Nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.

An old English judge once said: "Necessitous men are not free men." Liberty requires opportunity to make a living-a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

Perhaps we could at one time, Mr. President.

Workers in this state are fortunate to at least have the second highest minimum wage in the nation. A wage mind you, that Corporate America has fought tooth and nail to deny workers. My friend was so remarkable in creating a positive, even cheerful atmosphere that district managers were constantly commenting on. Normal attrition at this division is actually 135% a year. Not much of a surprise given the standard “retail” atmosphere. At the stores/stations he managed the attrition rate was 15% per year.

His workers would need to work 2,000 years to make what their esteemed CEO made last year.

This particular energy company has been posting quarterly profits well north of $5 billion. Yet, at this time, it kept telling the managers that “profits” were razor thin. Some managers actually fell for this. It seems to have never dawned on them that an oil company that drills the oil, pumps the oil, tankers the oil, refines the oil and ships the gasoline from their own refineries to their own stations was not – some how – losing money somewhere along this unbroken line!

Anyway, this particular company suddenly decided that it was spending too much money on wages and other non-essentials. All managers were forced to cut back drastically. Yet, this same “concern” never seemed to translate to the company's Palm Springs Weekend Getaway for management where well over $2,000,000 was spent for three days of frolicking in the sun.

Two thousand years… at $8.00 per hour. Here is where the lap dogs of Big Business will bark gleefully. Brilliant sound bites heard on right-wing radio stations will be howled:

Let them work somewhere else!

They should lift themselves up by their own boot straps!

They're too lazy to go to college and earn a degree… or too stupid!

Where would they go, I wonder? To Wal-Mart? K-Mart? Albertsons? Safeway? Target? 7-11? Factory jobs that are disappearing? Really, where is the end of the rainbow that these whores of Big Business keep insisting exist?

Roosevelt saw and confronted the same problem in his day:

A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor—other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

 Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government.

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.”

Government in a modern civilization has certain inescapable obligations to its citizens, among which are protection of the family and the home, the establishment of a democracy of opportunity, and aid to those overtaken by disaster.

But the resolute enemy within our gates is ever ready to beat down our words unless in greater courage we will fight for them.

Today we have to ask the question: where is the FDR for our times?

Make no mistake. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I belong to no party. I believe partisan politics are a blight on this nation.

Still, where is the man or woman with the balls, here in the 21st century, to say what this man said?

The answer is simple and sad: we have no leaders with the guts to rail against what we clearly suffer under in this day: economic tyranny. Big Business works and has worked desperately to cloud our vision. It would have us believe that every tiny gain or protection offered to the average worker strikes a terrible blow against their noble efforts to guarantee us gainful employment. These are the same people that have railed against the minimum wage, universal health care, sane work weeks, safe work environments, employment insurance, social security and worker's compensation to name just a few.

Review the legal and judicial history for the past 120 years. Witness how Big Business has, during that time, done everything in its power to crush any and all attempts by the American worker to have something even remotely resembling a real opportunity to fulfill that sacred promise of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

No doubt the insanity of religious fundamentalism – in all its forms – is a threat to all of us. But a big portion of the fuel that stokes the fires of frustration and anger around the world (and increasingly here at home) is the soul numbing, utter callousness of American corporate greed.

Let no one doubt this: I am a firm believer in capitalism. I believe each person should work hard to fulfill their dreams. Those who choose to be lazy deserve their lot in life.

But when a man simply rises to the position of CEO on the endless wave of the old boy network, when he has taken no risk and indeed had no role in the formation of said company… When he also risks absolutely nothing should he fail at the helm of this company and is indeed promised a severance package that would be unimaginable to the kings and queens of old — a mountain of riches even Caesar would be stunned by — while one of his “employees” – an 18 year old kid trying to scrape some money together to attend community college half time in the fall – is standing out in the freezing rain, coat-less because the company can't “afford” to buy the station any coats…

All I can wonder is how much longer can our complacency last?

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About Marlowe

  • Mooja

    You err in suggesting this is something for government to fix. The corporate BOD and ultimately the shareholders are responsible for CEO pay.

  • marlowesbeef

    Mooja:

    No where did I suggest government “correct” blotted CEO pay.

    Thanks for the note.

    P. Marlowe

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You do suggest that the disparity between CEO and worker pay is some sort of a problem which ought to be addressed.

    The question for me is exactly who it’s a problem for? If the pay of the CEO of a large oil company were taken away and distributed to the workers it would add less than a dollar a week to their paychecks, so that’s clearly not the solution.

    As Mooja points out, if CEO pay is inflated the concern is really one for the stockholders who are paying him. And they do have control over it. The thing is, stockholders usually think a CEO who is bringing in profits is worth the inflated salary he is paid.

    The fundamental mistake of this kind of thinking is in assuming that there is any relationship at all between CEO salaries and low-level worker salaries. There isn’t. The salary of your pump jockey and his store manager and their district and regional managers are all set by the wage market. Those folks get paid EXACTLY what it takes to hire them and exactly what they would get paid in a similar job at another company or in another industry.

    The company is not at fault for paying that wage if it seems low. The person who really controls that wage is the worker, who has complete control over whether he chooses to work at that job or look for something better, or heaven forbid, get more education and improve his skills to move up to a better job.

    In America today a great many workers are failing themselves. A weird sense of entitlement has developed where workers expect jobs to be handed to them regardless of their qualifications or expect some sort of guarantee of a job in perpetuity with no special effort on their part.

    Up through the 1960s workers were used to the idea that if they wanted to prosper they needed to be prepared to take their experience and move from one job to another if they didn’t advance at the job they were at. And they even accepted the idea that they might have to move to another part of the country where more and better jobs were available.

    That basic level of rudimentary ambition seems to have disappeared, and instead people complain that opportunties have been denied to them. Yet the truth is that the opportunities are still there and more numerous than ever if you’re willing to make a minimal effort to seize them.

    If you just got laid off by GM and are sitting in Michigan trying to figure out what to do with your $140K severance package, get off your ass, move to Florida and buy a Subway franchise and stop bitching. Or send yourself to college or technical school and move to Austin and work in the high-tech industry. Or get a 2-year nursing degree and you can write your own ticket just about anywhere in the country. And you can do all of these things regardless of your age unless you’re already past retirement.

    Take responsibility for your own life and stop bitching.

    Dave

  • Peter L

    We do not need another FDR/ That’s the last thing we need. Unfortunately it took segregationist Governor Wallace to reveal the truth that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between” Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats willingly went along with the War in Iraq, suspension of Habeas Corpus, detaining protesters, banning books like “America Deceived’ from Amazon, stealing private lands (Kelo decision), warrant-less wiretapping and refusing to investigate 9/11 properly. They are both guilty of treason.
    Support Dr. Ron Paul and save this great nation.
    Last link (before Google Books bends to gov’t Will and drops the title):
    America Deceived (book)

  • marlowesbeef

    Peter…

    Ron Paul certainly offers some “interesting” concepts. I don’t want “interesting”. I want a real leader. I need a real leader.

    I will agree though that I – as ALWAYS – am not impressed much by the Dems and am generally horrified with the Reps…

    P. Marlowe

  • marlowesbeef

    Dave!

    As always, a WONDERFUL job of misdirection!

    First off, I quoted FDR because hearing this kind of political speech literally doesn’t exist anymore – unless you do quote Ron Paul, who has not a chance in hell, so can afford to say what he wishes…

    Second, the “shareholders” line. God Dave! Haven’t we tossed that old shoe out yet? Should we do a study on the MONUMENTAL struggle it takes for any REAL stockholder activism to make any REAL changes?

    The “shareholders” ARE the SOBS in charge. Or, they’re your buddy over at Boeing, or at AIG, etc, etc, etc. And of course there’s all the TENS OF MILLIONS of stocks held by that oil company’s SENIOR MANAGEMENT…. So, yes, I can see how those shareholders would be TERRIBLY eager to bring some sanity to CEO wages…

    As to the OTHER old shoe you dropped, “Gol-darn it! Get yer gumption and get out there and DO it…”

    I think millions and millions of Americans don’t need this “advice”. They wouldn’t notice anyway, because the ARE already too busy working their asses off.

    I’ll guarantee you that the those men and women slaving away in the freezing rain today were working a helluva lot harder than the CEO. And let’s ask, “how did you get here Mr. CEO?” We know the answer. It is the same all over this country – he got there via the Old Boy Network. He sure as hell didn’t come out of the wastelands of middle management. No, he slide over from some other company. He slid in there too…

    I am talking about what is equity. I don’t have real problems with a man or woman who has LITERALLY built the company and now rewards themselves handsomely. They DID do it – it literally WAS their baby.

    But the vast majority of the CEOs of Fortune 1000 didn’t do this – did they? Of course not.

    Don’t get me wrong: I certainly am not advocating some Godforsaken notion of Communism. If you work hard, you are rewarded. If you lay about, too bad.

    But what FDR was talking about was a literal establishment of CLASS society. Something the Founding Fathers fought to destroy.

    We live AS a community. This “rugged individualism” is crap. No man is an island. No man does it ALL by themselves.

    As Americans we owe it to ourselves to insist on equity. Economic justice.

    No one deserves to make $15,000 per HOUR while their workers – whom they DO depend on is frantically (mentally) wondering if he can possibly find a THIRD F***** job to help put food on the F****** table!

    P. Marlowe

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You’re missing the point as usual, beefy. It doesn’t matter whether the CEO works harder than an employee or ‘deserves’ what he is paid. Someone is going to be doing that job and getting paid what the board feels that job is worth.

    There is no economic injustice here. If you take away that CEO’s salary it would do nothing to improve conditions meaningfully for a single worker in that company. There’s just no relationship.

    What you’re getting outraged over is symbolic and entirely without meaning.

    The “rugged individualism” isn’t crap, because unless you’re born into CEOdom, that’s then working really hard and being pretty cunning is the only way you’re going to get rich. It may not catapult you to the very top in every case, but it WILL put you in a position where you are better off than you would be otherwise.

    There’s no such thing as ‘economic justice’. It’s a fantasy. The economy has no sense of right or wrong, it just does what it does and it is up to each one of us to figure out how to make it work for us and to use the resources we have to make the best life we can.

    And if you try to impose some sort of ‘econimic justice’ on the economy what you will produce is oppression and stagnation.

    That said, I do agree that the FDR speech is quite inspiring, but thc conditions he was talking about are a far cry from what exists today.

    Dave

    Dave

  • Mooja

    “No where did I suggest government “correct” blotted (sic) CEO pay.”

    My apologies. From the way the article was written it appeared clear to me you were calling on someone with FDR like qualities to stand up in a political office, like FDR did, to implement some changes directed at CEO pay. Why the FDR reference and speech quotations? What do you propose as a solution, or is this simply a rant?

    We all know that following those speeches FDR implemented the SS act and created a welfare state via the New Deal. Redistributing wealth from CEO’s to workers doesn’t seem a far stretch from there.

    Personally, I’ve known that someday I would retire since I was about 15-16 yrs old. This gives me about 45-50 yrs to plan. I have chosen to take advantage of that time by saving wisely and planning ahead. Instead of rewarding me for these efforts the government in its infinite wisdom seeks to punish me for planning ahead. It taxes me on these saved wages at the corporate and individual level. It will also tax me when I eventually liquidate my savings. It forcibly garnishes my wages and redistributes my money to fund the retirement of other able bodied Americans who perhaps should have planned ahead as well.

    If this is the kind of FDR you’re calling for then I hope none is listening.

    Everyone knows there are folks in true desperate need. That’s what charity is for.

  • Archie Punker

    Good article beef. We need a new Henry Ford too, cept without the anti-semitism.

  • Clavos

    What Ford did (paying the then highest wage to auto workers) was decidedly NOT for his workers; it was entirely self serving, and aimed at increasing the size of the market for his cars.

    It had nothing to do with concern for his workers, yet it DID benefit them.

    An excellent example of the benefits inherent in capitalism; increased wages=increased sales=increased profits=increased capital investment=increased jobs=increased production=increased sales, etc.

  • STM

    I realise exactly what this story is about, but the truth is, FDR’s great claim to fame was leading the greatest American generation ever in its sacrifice.

    A bit like his mate, Winston Churchill, who did the same thing on the other side of the pond, although one could argue that the previous generation was Britain’s greatest. Still …

    If ever history called for two men of similar ilk to pool their not-inconsiderable resources of leadership and intellect, that was the time. One without the other, and in different circumstances, would hardly have been remembered today.

    Instead, one day they will doubtless be remembered in the same vein as historical figures like Julius Caeser.

    And it’s sad that the vision they had for a lasting peace and a free world never quite came about.

  • STM

    Clavos: “An excellent example of the benefits inherent in capitalism; increased wages=increased sales=increased profits=increased capital investment=increased jobs=increased production=increased sales, etc.”

    Yep, it’s worked down this way for a century. And it still does.

    A well-paid worker is a happy worker is a loyal worker is a hard worker. And lo and behold, the boss makes more bucks too.

    Your good staff are always your greatest asset as a boss. Without them, you’ve got bugger all.

  • marlowesbeef

    FDR was warning us our country was being hi-jacked. Fortunately for us he managed to keep it from happening THEN…

    But now…

    The middle class in this country is disappearing. Deregulation has NOT made the “market place” a benevolent god but rather a demon that prays on us all.

    Oh, I meant to say… Thanks Clavos, STM & Archie… Mooja, you’re an interesting cat…

    Dave will likely try to offer all sorts of stats to show me how wrong I am here.

    One example here – since this article started with my friend working for an oil company…

    Way back in the early days of Reagan (a man destined to be one of the best political puppets of all time – no matter which party he worked for) took the oil companies at their word and deregulated them so that they “can reinvest our profits in America’s energy infrastructure!”

    Not ONE oil refinery has been built since that time.

    Which is just fine for them. Because every time a refinery goes down “for repair” they can jack up the prices and make enormous profits… And where does that unregulated profit go?

    It sure has hell DOESN’T go back into the “energy infrastructure” of this country. It sure as hell doesn’t go back into the pockets of the workers.

    In 1976 the average Fortune 500 CEO made 35 times more than the average worker for his company.

    In 2005 it was 525 times more. And yet study after study shows that this insane rise of pay doesn’t even BEGIN to match the rise in corporate profits.

    Indeed, we’ve all been stunned over the last 15 years or so as one CEO after another has effectively ruined their company and then bailed with so much loot they needed a C-5 Galaxy to haul it home.

    What my little (true) story was meant to do was to point up that the tyranny that FDR warned us about in 1936 did come to pass. It began in earnest during the Reagan Era.

    Lastly, Dave, I am FINE that you live where you do. YOU have worked hard (I am taking you at your word) to get there.

    But what I am addressing is the economic tyranny of a class that has virtually complete control over the lives of hundreds of millions who are watching the “American dream” receding away from them at light speed.

    I am seeing millions so desperate to try and get some piece of a pie that is now essentially GONE that they put themselves on a fiscal suicide ride with the ONLY thing that can generate serious income in their lives – their HOME. Why do they do this?

    Because the “dream” they’ve been sold is an illusion. It began disappearing nearly 30 years ago. A part of them KNOWS this but still it can’t really be believed. Because there is NO other place in the world to go where one can WITH HONEST hard work really have a little piece of heaven. THIS IS IT. There are no other countries where it can truly happen… And they can’t bring themselves to accept that IT NO LONGER EXISTS HERE for the VAST majority.

    And that’s the thing. You ask most people and once the joking stops they nearly all admit that “no, I don’t want to be filthy rich” they say… “I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to have to work like a dog – constantly. I am tired of always treading water, of worrying daily HOW the HELL I’m gonna get my kids through college, etc.”

    We’re to a point now that the carpet baggers are everywhere. Inside the government and out. What was the figure I heard last week? Over the past 5 years 230 former members of congress and senators are now paid lobbyist on the Hill?

    And someone wants to convince me this is all INNOCENT “business” going on? That these people have the best interest of the Joe & Jane America at heart?

    THAT is the kind of bald-face lying we have today in our government.

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

    P. Marlowe

  • Baronius

    Marlowe, Edwards is saying this kind of stuff. I’m pretty sure I’ve even heard Clinton comment on CEO’s salaries. I think they and you are wrong, but it’s being said.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Describing CEO pay as an economic injustice may be off-target. But overpaying bad CEOs is endemic in corporations now, and it’s symptomatic of bad management. Many of them get paid additional tens of millions just to go away.

    Dave, as he often does, oversimplifies with an ideological bent. He’s usually answering someone who is looking at the issue from the opposite ideological side. But just re-distorting the picture from a different perspective is not the same as correcting an inaccuracy.

    And the fact that the ratio of CEO pay to average-employee pay has skyrocketed in recent years is not irrelevant. This doesn’t mean government intervention is required, but pretending it’s a non-issue is equally wrongheaded. [It’s not just people in menial jobs who face this disparity; it’s middle-management workers in office buildings, getting bare-bones 2-3% raises while their CEO rakes it in, not nearly always deservedly.]

    From The Economist:
    Rare, too, are the companies that submit executive pay to a vote or allow shareholders to vote down a director (in most companies, all the No votes are “withheld”, meaning that they do not outweigh a single Yes vote)…

    …Companies everywhere urgently need to take steps to ensure that top executives’ pay is seen as fair and deserved. That means opening it up to scrutiny and giving investors votes, rather than erecting barricades as if to hide some guilty secret. The standing of business itself is at stake.

  • Sue Sudio

    It all centers around the American wish to have cheaper goods and not incur any economical cost such as inheriting the labor sector effects. We want our cake and want to eat it to as the old saying goes. Its Economics 101, but government doesn’t want to recognize it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Marlowe, I do indeed see the point you’re making here, but my problem is that it’s just not true. It may appear to be true to you, but the statistics don’t seem to support your basic assertion. Certainly if you compare the history of the era which FDR was talking about and the current environment the differences are manifest.

    Indeed, we’ve all been stunned over the last 15 years or so as one CEO after another has effectively ruined their company and then bailed with so much loot they needed a C-5 Galaxy to haul it home.

    I don’t think you quite grasp how many CEOs there actually are in America. The score of highly publicized overpaid CEOs who have drawn attention are a miniscule fraction of the total number of CEOs and most of them are not overpaid and well worth what they are paid, and do a good job at a fair wage. The average CEO salary is only $96K a year. That means that for every 1 CEO paid in the millions per year there are hundreds who are paid under $100K a year. Condemning CEOs as a class based on the few who are massively overpaid and saying that the disparity between workers and CEOs is a real problem is just not accurate. In the vast majority of businesses that disparity is NOT huge, and the high profile cases of excess are very much the exception rather than the rule.

    What my little (true) story was meant to do was to point up that the tyranny that FDR warned us about in 1936 did come to pass. It began in earnest during the Reagan Era.

    I’d argue that it’s not tyrrany at all, but the entirely impersonal forces of the market at work and that nothing you could do to the top levels of management would do a thing to change it.

    But what I am addressing is the economic tyranny of a class that has virtually complete control over the lives of hundreds of millions who are watching the “American dream” receding away from them at light speed.

    Except that it is a class which for all practical purposes does not exist, and your alarmism about the american dream disappearing is pure fantasy.

    The entire idea of this CEO ‘tyrrany’ makes no sense at all. CEOs don’t set salaries and working conditions for the average worker in a large corporation. They’re set by industry groups and researchers and middle management. They hire consultants to determine how to run their offices efficiently they consult industry studies to determine wages. They do studies and research on issues which include things like worker satisfaction and retention and motivation. And the only role the CEO and his big fat salary plays in this is to supervise the guy who supervises the guy who supervises the guy who implements all these recommendations.

    Your suggestion that there is a direct connection between the behavior or lifestyle of the CEO of a megacorp and the hardships of the baseline worker just isn’t born out by facts.

    I am seeing millions so desperate to try and get some piece of a pie that is now essentially GONE that they put themselves on a fiscal suicide ride with the ONLY thing that can generate serious income in their lives – their HOME. Why do they do this?

    And I’m seeing millions working hard and advancing themselves and trying to leverage their hard earned money to a higher level with ill-considered get-rich-quick schemes, which often involve their homes. I’m also seeing an awful lot of people not well educated about how to handle their finances and sucked into speculative loans they ought to be informed enough to avoid.

    I agree that this is a problem, but it has nothing to do with the unavailability of the american dream, it has to do with people looking for a shortcut to get to that dream.

    Because the “dream” they’ve been sold is an illusion. It began disappearing nearly 30 years ago. A part of them KNOWS this but still it can’t really be believed.

    Odd, it hasn’t been disappearing around here. Around here where there are no oppressive unions or excessive taxes and jobs go begging, opportunities are everywhere and the American Dream is a given not an illusion.

    Because there is NO other place in the world to go where one can WITH HONEST hard work really have a little piece of heaven. THIS IS IT. There are no other countries where it can truly happen…

    Stan will be along shortly to disabuse you of this notion.

    And they can’t bring themselves to accept that IT NO LONGER EXISTS HERE for the VAST majority.

    Because the vast majority don’t seem to have the same skewed view of reality that you do.

    And that’s the thing. You ask most people and once the joking stops they nearly all admit that “no, I don’t want to be filthy rich” they say… “I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to have to work like a dog – constantly. I am tired of always treading water, of worrying daily HOW the HELL I’m gonna get my kids through college, etc.”

    Most of the people I’ve talked to about this seem to agree that getting to the point where life is ‘comfortable’ hasn’t been all that difficult, and they’ve reached that point by many different means. And a good portion of them have worked like dogs, and liked doing it. The work ethic is still enormously strong in many Americans. I know people who work 3 jobs not because they need money, but because they can’t imagine not being as active and productive as they possibly can be.

    We’re to a point now that the carpet baggers are everywhere. Inside the government and out. What was the figure I heard last week? Over the past 5 years 230 former members of congress and senators are now paid lobbyist on the Hill?

    If you were hiring someone to lobby congress who would you hire?

    And someone wants to convince me this is all INNOCENT “business” going on? That these people have the best interest of the Joe & Jane America at heart?

    Who was trying to sell you that line? I certainly never said that. They’ve got their own best interests in mind, always. But the best interests of business and the best interests of workers are NOT necessarily at odds.

    Dave

  • marlowesbeef

    Dave… OH GOOD LORD! You make it seem as if these damn CEOs just STEPPED into a PILE of $50 million dollars! Somehow the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, the condition of health care – and while mentioning that, the 2nd largest health insurance company in this country and the CEO made $1.3 BILLION last year???? – you act as if Adam Smith’s idiotic “invisible hand” were responsible for all this! I’ll tell ya where that hand’s been!!!

    No Dave, it doesn’t happen like this. Stats can be twisted and turned however you want.

    And I’ve already stated that I have no problem with people making great incomes – if a.) they EARNED it, e.g., they actually STARTED the company… or b.) they took a company an order of magnitude higher in profit, etc.

    There are INDICATORS of a society’s health that cannot be ignored.

    When you have nearly 50% of all bankruptcies in this country (personal) due to MEDICAL costs…

    When increasingly the “middle class” either can’t send their kids to even state colleges – OR if they do have to go into SEVERE debt in order to do it…

    When you have MILLIONS of people turning over the equity in their houses to SEND the kids to college, to PAY medical bills, or to try and live up to a DREAM that is increasingly only attainable by the richest in our society…

    When you have the CEOs of these Fortune 500 making 525 times their average worker’s wage where only 30 years ago it was on 35 times…

    I could go on for pages… THESE are signs that CANNOT be “explained” away – which it seems is what the Republican lap dogs of the Corporate Church are CONSTANTLY doing (along with explaining away WHY more of our rights should be taken away…)

    NO Dave… This CANNOT be explained away. And to do this is not only an insult to your readers but an insult to your own self… You’re a great guy! You care about issues, about people… It won’t kill you to admit you SEE these problems…

    After all – are we not after the truth of things – or simply toeing the party line???

    P. Marlowe

    PS. Great show today!

  • STM

    “Because there is NO other place in the world to go where one can WITH HONEST hard work really have a little piece of heaven. THIS IS IT. There are no other countries where it can truly happen…”

    Dave: “Stan will be along shortly to disabuse you of this notion.”

    Yes, Dave, you picked it nicely. Now tell me which horse is going to get up in the fourth at Belmont Park and we’ll be even better mates (despite our wildly differing political views).

    Dave is right – whoever wrote the above is wrong; this is a country where it also can truly happen. It’s called Australia, and even better, it’s a slice of heaven on a stick.

    You call it the American dream; we know it as the Australian dream.

    Tio all intents and purposes, they are one and the same.

    It’s the reason just as many people are busting down the door to get in here as they are to America:)

    Hate to burst the bubble guys, as I love America … but it ain’t the only place that has the stuff it has.

  • STM

    I just realised the writer was Marlowe. And I’m sure Marlowe wasn’t being literal, rather he was making a point.

    And Marlowe, I’m sure our pommy mates Doc and Chris Rose might have something to say about it as well. Last time I was in the UK, there were a lot of people living the dream – and very comfortably, too.

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    The notion that the USA actually is some kind of land of milk and honey, where anybody can enrich themselves is partially true but mostly a fiction created by a combination of post WWII euphoria, some astute PR and a whole lot of bragging.

    My experience has been that it is actually a land full of red tape and excessive legislation that hinders true entrepreneurialism.

    There’s loads of places all over the world where it is possible to make one’s fortune.

  • STM

    In relation to your story Marlowe, I’d just like to tell you that we recently gave the bum’s rush at the last election to a Prime Minister who wanted to take away workers’ rights that have existed in this country for over a century that stop situations like that which happened to your mate. He gave all the power that had once rested in the courts (through a system of arbitration and accord) back to employers, who immediately began taking advantage of the situation by removing such things as penalty rates, long-service leave, etc, through a system of individual contracts rather the collective bargaining we are used to.

    He called it WorkChoices in a bizarre piece of Orwellian spin. The rest of us called it NoChoices.

    The people he had courted earlier as voters were what we called John Howard’s “aspirational Australians”, or “Howard’s battlers”. Sadly, they were the people with the big mortgages, so-called “McMansions”, the boats, the two or three cars and the private-school fees. Many of them achieved all this by having both partners working, earning overtime, etc.

    He also did away with laws that stop companies from sacking people like your mate. Usually, if such sackings did take place, they were accompanied by nice payouts agreed to by the courts. Unfair dismissal laws were seen by some to go too far, but ultimately, it’s us – the voters – who decide what’s too far and what isn’t.

    Everyone knew someone who’d been affected by the new laws (most of them were women or school/college/university leavers).

    A couple of weeks ago, Howard become only the second Prime Minister in Australian history (the last was in 1929, and for the very same reason) to lose his own seat in a federal election – a seat he’d held for 33 years. His government was swept from power in a landslide, in one of the largest electoral swings ever seen in this country.

    The reason: he took away rights that ordinary men and women had battled for for over 100 years, and which employers liked for the most part because the good pay and conditions was always tied to productivity increases under workplace accords.

    We all kept quiet about it, and gave WorkChoices a go. It turned out to be bollocks, a system instituted for right-wing ideological reasons only and designed to curry favour with big business (many of whom were against it too).

    People like your mate have a right to have their loyalty rewarded, to be looked after in time of crisis (as I have been here when my wife became ill and they told me to take as much time off as needed, with pay) and any employer who doesn’t understand the value of a happy, loyal and well-paid employee (a business’s greatest asset) is a fool who would be better off bossing customers around at the post office.

    I’m sure there are people in America and elsewhere who think Australia’s generous workplace laws go too far in favour of the employee (and the new government is bringing them back), but in a country this prosperous, how can anyone ever argue against them on the basis that they penalise employers? Simply, we have all discovered over the past century that they don’t.

    So yes, in that respect, Henry Ford WAS right.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Re. #18. My problem with your reasoning, Marl, is that you’re taking things which are completely unrelated and trying to make connections which really cannot exist.

    CEO salary has no impact on medical costs, for example. There’s just no connection, and if every CEO lost all of his income it wouldn’t be enough to insure all of the uninsured in the nation.

    The gap between the super high income folks and average folks is also meaningless. One group isn’t profiting at the expense of the other and the super-rich are essentially outside of the normal functioning domestic economy anyway. They and their massive incomes exist in a realm of international finance which doesn’t really interface with the mundane world. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    I agree that there are problems which need to be addressed – some more than others – especially the healthcare gap. But blaming those problems on CEO salaries just doesn’t make any sense at all. I challenge you to explain the causal relationship.

    Dave

  • P.Marlowe

    Dave… DAAAVVEEEE!!!

    “The gap between the super high income folks and average folks is also meaningless. One group isn’t profiting at the expense of the other and the super-rich are essentially outside of the normal functioning domestic economy anyway.”

    Are you kidding me?!? Are there two sets of DOLLARS floating around? Last time I checked, the CEOs were paid in the same currency as the rest of us schmucks – just a helluva lot more of it!

    OF COURSE the CEO of some Fortune 100 company – making 500+ times more than his worker – effects the worker’s pocket book. It isn’t JUST this CEO: it is all the other senior management, all THEIR stock options, free interest loans, etc., PLUS the Board of Directors and on and on!

    It’s an INSULT to our intelligence to suggest otherwise. We are NOT functioning in two different worlds. I will grant you that the BARRIER that they’ve erected between us and them makes it seem as if they function in a different world… But it is an illusion.

    But just doing very rough numbers of the Fortune 500 CEOs and senior management, projecting out their salaries, stock options, etc, etc, etc, per YEAR and taking their combined number of employees and (leaving these fat cats 1/3 of their ill gotten booty… Or their ill booten-gotty) would give those same workers an extra $4+ dollars an HOUR…

    I don’t know about YOU but an extra $4 per hour is a helluva lot!

    And all that would happen is that these Fat Cats would be slimmed down a bit…

    I am SICK and tired of the neo-con MISDIRECTION game. As they steal this country BLIND they keep insisting we “look over THERE!” Or “back over THERE!”

    It’s wearing thin. Good hearted, well meaning people for years, thinking that by voting for these “God-fearing” and “American values” people was a way to address the ills of this country have been SCREWED. They’ve been losing out just as quickly as the rest – but WORSE – they put these people in power – the very people who allow Corporate America to crush the American worker…

    I just wonder how much longer Americans will believe this crap!

    And DON’T give me that “stockholder” concerns! These bastards hold MILLIONS OF SHARES – TENS of MILLIONS… THEY are the “concerned” stockholders! The price per share isn’t going to be effected one damn bit by the CEO making a SANE salary…

    In the end they’re destroying the very country they supposedly claim as their own. Since they can strip mine America and move off wherever they wish… I’m sure we’ll see an explosion of Fisher Islands (off Miami’s beach) in the near future…

    P.Marlowe
    ““Big money is big power and big power gets used wrong. It’s the system. Maybe it’s the best we can get, but it still ain’t any Ivory Soap deal.””, [Raymond Chandler, Philip Marlowes Guide to Life]

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    MB, you might want to check your math again. I’ve done the same calculation under a variety of scenarios. It’s more like $4 a month, not $4 an hour.

    Think about it. Take a CEO of a company like Marriott Corp. where J. W. Marriott gets a salary of about $1 million a year and total compensation of about $11 million a year (much of that in stock options and other non-cash assets). Let’s just pretend it’s all cash and then divide it between the company’s 151,000 employees. That comes down to $72 additional salary per employee per year, of which most would come in the form of non-negotiable stock options and about $12 would be actual cash from salary and bonuses.

    And for the record, Marriott is in the top 20 for CEO compensation but also rated in the top 5 for employee satisfaction, compensation and perks.

    I am SICK and tired of the neo-con MISDIRECTION game. As they steal this country BLIND they keep insisting we “look over THERE!” Or “back over THERE!”

    And I’m sick and tired of people misusing the term ‘neocon’. Neocons are a specific group of people who favor an expansionist foreign policy and their beliefs on the economy are probably closer to yours than they are to mine since they’re basically socialists.

    Dave

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Marlowe,

    I enjoyed reading your beef. The points you make apply not merely to your own nation, which has lost its way terribly, but to my own as well. Where you need another fellow like TR or FDR, we need a man not afraid to run his sword through a Jew worshiping a pig, which is essentially what Olmert, Peres and all of his crew are – unJews worshiping pigs…

    To approach the basic subject you write about, like you I yearn to see the day that the arrogant elites who run this nation have the smirks wiped off their faces, and are subjected to the justice they richly deserve – and make no mistake about it. Your article is a call for social justice.

    In this country, that justice means a guilty verdict and hanging by the neck (the punishment for treason). I leave you to discern what justice a man or group of men who don’t give a damn about the workers who provide their own income deserve.

  • P.Marlowe

    Dave…

    I’ve never met a CON yet, NEO or otherwise that didn’t feel sticking it to the little guy was on the first page of the Greedy Bastards Playbook…

    As to the whole BS “Well, his SALARY is only X million, and oh yah he has some stock options…” stopped working as a misdirection a decade ago. THIS is the actual fact sheet on Mr. Marriott:

    J. Willard Marriott
    Chief Executive Officer
    Marriott International Inc.
    Marriott International Inc. uses the new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) executive compensation rules.
    2006 Compensation

    Salary $1,119,506
    Vested Stock Awards $6,000,429
    Vested Option Awards $3,770,912 Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation $1,376,096
    All Others $329,865 SEC Total $12,596,808

    BUT THE POINT isn’t that we strip CEOs of their pay Dave.

    This is simply one of the more glaring example of how Americans are being trampled by the economic royalists.

    Note that his STOCK worth is over $9.7 million. Count up the rest of the senior management and lord knows what number we’re looking at – but lets say another $6 million.

    So between a dozen men or so there is being held over 500,000 shares of the company…

    So when the clarion call of “we’re doing this for the shareholders” is sounded they mean it – they’re TERRIBLY concerned about their MILLIONS in stock!

    So, if it is best for them to destroy 5000 jobs here or there – why, it’s the SHAREHOLDERS who demand it! “THEY want a better return don’t you see?”

    We’ve arrived exactly at the point where FDR warned us about…

    P.Marlowe

  • P.Marlowe

    AND… then there is the ridiculousness of the hiring of the “compensation consultant”. Average cost to a Fortune 500 company: $200,000. What do these people do?

    Well they wring their hands, they put together an AMAZING PowerPoint presentation, filled with all sorts of graphs and charts… And suggest that the CEO should see an big fat RAISE. This has become common place practice so that the CEOs and the Board of Directors don’t look as if their clutching one another in bed… They’re still in the SAME bed… Now there’s just serious fondling going on…

    Oddly enough, this past year, a number of angry but virtually powerless shareholder groups pointed out that far too many of these comp consultants wind up being hired on AFTER the CEO has gotten his new pay increase – to an average tune of $2.5 million…

    THIS while the workers down the line are LOSING their jobs, or seeing NO cost-of-living increases… Or, in the case of this one oil company I originally wrote about – the managers were told the day before their normal bonuses came out that “Oh, the bonuses this year will only by 10% of those of the past, due to the company having to ‘tighten’ its belt.”

    Meanwhile the company reported – THE NEXT DAY – quarterly profits hitting a record HIGH for this oil company… And of course the CEO was given a HUGE bonus because of ALL his hard work…. I should point out his bonus would have paid FOUR TIMES OVER every manager and assistant managers regular bonus last year.

    But Dave would have us believe that NONE of this actually effects any of us…

    Odd… How Big Business, for the last 125 years, has insisted, AT EVERY TURN that ANY effort to make workers lives BETTER will destroy American business. That it “really” won’t help them at all…

    Well here’s a question Dave: if these workers REALLY won’t benefit from an extra $4 an hour, or even $1 per hour can we ask how ONE MAN having an extra $25 million this year will “help” him?

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I’m going top toss a little more chicken in Marlowe’s soup here, Dave. My father, may his memory be only for a blessing, used to work as an “efficiency man” during the Depression. Guys would hire him to go to a shop, sit with a stopwatch, watch the workers, and see what steps could be cut out of any production process – and thus how many workers could get laid off to increase the efficiency of the shop. He explained the work in detail to me, and taught me a lot about management when I was still a teenager.

    My father had a conscience, Dave. He quit that job, got work as a truck driver for a steam laundry and organized a union shop in an era when union memberships were dropping.

    His gavel as a shop steward, and book of Robert’s Rules of Order, were the possessions he took the greatest pride in. When he died, he left me his tools (i.e. hammers and saws) his good boots, and the gavel and Robert’s Rules of Order. I count myself to have been a rich man for that.

    Compare his morals to those of stockholders who clip coupons and reap profit from the labor of others at minimal risk to themselves, and to the morals of the CEO’s who put people out of work to increase the value of a company’s stock a dime a share.

    I don’t have any trouble choosing the decent one among the bunch. You evidently do.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You guys do realize that you’re faulting companies for paying a return of profits to the people who finance those companies in the first place?

    Anyone can buy stock in a publicly traded company, and even if they don’t own as much as J. W. Marriott, they will still profit from it in proportion to their investment.

    There is no oppression inherent in this system, there’s just a sharing of the benefits of commercial success.

    You guys are like the farmer who wants to kill the chicken for a feast now rather than eat for years off of the eggs it produces.

    Dave

  • P.Marlowe

    BRILLIANT misdirection Lord Nalle!

    No one said that there shouldn’t be public stock. It is THE major engine in many of the more positive elements of capitalism.

    What I’ve been saying all along is this: the grotesque difference between the wages of an ever shrinking middle class and their economic masters is a prime EXAMPLE of the economic tyranny that FDR warned us about in his DNC speech of June, 1936.

    Every SINGLE excuse given for why the CEO should be making well over 500 TIMES what their workers make is not only ludicrous but an insult to the common sense of average Americans.

    There IS no good reason for it. None.

    And it is simply one glaring example of this overlord class no firmly entrenched in American society.

    P. Marlowe

  • P.Marlowe

    Ruvy!

    Very touching story! You know I am non-partisan. Partisan politics is RUINING this country… But when I read your story I couldn’t help thinking of my father…

    He grew up in West Texas. He was picking cotton at the age of 5. Like many – during the Depression his family came to California…

    He worked extremely hard all his life. He was bright. He built a successful real estate business in his later years… And he voted Republican. As did my mother.

    My father though would have looked upon the Republicans of the Bush(s) Era with disgust. Dad believed in hard work, in an honest days pay for an honest days work. He believed that no man had the right to lord it over another – to live like some pharaoh while his workers are struggling to put food on the table…

    My father is gone now, but my mother reads the papers daily and turns her nose up in disgust at what she reads in the New York Times business section (not to mention the national new section).

    Whatever fair-minded fair-play element that might have existed once that would have made my father want to vote Republican is LONG gone…

    P. Marlowe

  • P.Marlowe

    Here is another example of the ROBBER BARON attitude – the whole sub-prime fiasco.

    Having worked in this industry I have a perfect seat from which to see what really happened.

    It’s quite simple really. The massive real estate BUBBLE (the most recent one) was a wonderful thing – if you were a real estate developer, or an agent, or a lending institution. It went on and on and on…

    But there came a point – about 4 years ago – where those farthest up this wonderful food chain could see the end of things… They could see that that part of the consumer market that COULD afford to purchase a house had been pretty much saturated. Not only that, but the whole scam of rolling over your equity was in FULL bloom…

    Alarm bells sounded in the minds of all those who were making unimaginable profits in this bubble… But with a saturated market what could one do…

    …Except weaken the normal stringent credit rules… Just a little. OK, maybe a little more… Ah, what the hell, in for a penny, eh?!?

    So, just as some banks have been doing for YEARS with sub-prime CREDIT CARDS the real estate industry began doing with MORTGAGES…

    Go after a population that has historically been left out of the American Dream. Toss them incentives that they’d be FOOLS to pass up right?

    Fools… Very poorly educated, naive fools. Fools that had NO access to unbiased well informed second parties that could GUIDE them in these deals, ADVICE them that they were stepping into a HUGE pile…

    The trick here (from the developers/agents/banks) point of view was to slam this home as fast as possible…

    You don’t think they didn’t see that in about 24 months or so this massive shit storm wasn’t gonna come blowing right back at them did you?

    At which time they’d shrug and say, “Oh well. What can we do? Someone should try and clean this up!”

    Meanwhile, the people that truly profited from it… Where are they?

    That’s right, on their newly purchased ISLAND down in the Bahamas.

    P. Marlowe

  • bliffle

    “A friend of mine, not long ago, was discharged from a major oil company (in the top 20 largest US corporations) after a freak accident. This, despite a spotless record and fast advancement up the management chain.”

    A familiar story. I just learned that my neice, in a similar situation, was recently fired upon reaching 24 years and 11 months employment with a famous company once well-known for it’s enlightened HR policies and often described as The Most Desirable Employer In America. I won’t name the company but it has three M’s in it’s alliterative title. Had she reached 25 years she would have vested in the retirement plan. As she left her entire department, including managers, who worked for her wept openly.

  • P.Marlowe

    Bliffle… How tragic for your niece! And that is so typical. My mother was treated rotten by a major grocery chain which I won’t name but sure sounds like someone’s name… But they met their match in her. She ended up losing in the end (years) but lord did she tear them up.

    And how pathetic that ANYONE should have to resort to that “rear guard” strategy after performing as a faithful and excellent employee.

    So the bull-shit spewed by those in power wanting “good, hard-working and loyal” employees doesn’t fool anyone anymore.

    I’ll be the first one to say that America is far too litigious but I feel that if there is a shred of “good cause” an employee shouldn’t hesitate to so the LIVING HELL our of Corporate America!

    Why not?

    As a side note – and purely anecdotal: isn’t it ODD that just as the Reagan Era began, and this “new” Republican arrived on the scene, and it was clear to those with insight that the American Dream was heading for extinction… Don’t you find it odd that suddenly, in a country that had FORBIDDEN it for well over a century – LOTTERIES suddenly began to spring up everywhere?

    Throw the dog a bone… Maybe he won’t notice his dinner bowl is being taken away if you toss him the bloody thing… Maybe it will keep him clinging to the illusion just a LITTLE longer while [WE] steal the rest…

    P. Marlowe
    “He was about as hard to see as the Dalai Lama. Guys with a hundred million dollars live a peculiar life, behind a screen of servants, bodyguards, secretaries, lawyers, and tame executives. Presumably they eat, sleep, get their hair cut, and wear clothes. But you never know for sure. Everything you read or hear about them has been processed by a public relations gang of guys who are paid big money to create and maintain a usable personality, something simple and clean and sharp, like a sterilized needle. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be consistent with the known facts, and the known facts you could count on your fingers.”, [Raymond Chandler, Philip Marlowes Guide to Life]

  • P.Marlowe

    The nail in the coffin of Dave’s defense of outrageous CEO pay is as follows: A bill offered in Congress – HR 1257, giving shareholders the right to hold a NON-BINDING vote on CEO compensation passed – but not before Republicans railed against it.

    Study after study shows there is no correlation between the explosion in CEO pay and company performance.

    Instead, as I stated earlier, it is shown that BoDs usually rubber stamp pay raises after looking around the industry and getting the “average”. Well of course the average goes UP each time…

    Some Big Business lap dogs, such as Steven Kaplan of U. of Chicago, are terribly worried. Why? Because these amazing CEOs “might” leave private companies and “go elsewhere”.

    Really? Who the HELL else is going to pay they such ridiculous sums??? Indeed, who the hell COULD pay them?

    So, as Dave crows about “shareholder rights” as a powerful element of the “system” we see right here the very ADVOCATES of this (apparent) charade doing their dead-level best to CRUSH even a NON-BINDING attempt to call into question this putrid display of unbridled greed…

    But of course, as some would insist – none of this has a THING to do with the disappearance of the middle class…

    P.Marlowe

    Brass Knuckles…
    ““If you’re big enough you don’t need them, and if you need them you’re not big enough to push me around.””, [Raymond Chandler, Philip Marlowes Guide to Life]

  • STM

    Bliffle: “A familiar story. I just learned that my neice, in a similar situation, was recently fired upon reaching 24 years and 11 months employment with a famous company once well-known for it’s enlightened HR policies and often described as The Most Desirable Employer In America. I won’t name the company but it has three M’s in it’s alliterative title. Had she reached 25 years she would have vested in the retirement plan. As she left her entire department, including managers, who worked for her wept openly.”

    Bliff: one of the great things about living in Oz is that that sort of thing is not only illegal, but the courts take an extremely dim view of it.

    Not only would she be ordered reinstated with full entitlements, she would also likely be entitled to a considerable sum in compenation and the company fined and warned of its obligations to its employees. As the commissions and arbitrators who look after this stuff are employed by the government, there are no legal fees to be paid. If it goes to the higher courts, unions may pay the fees but in any case, they would be awarded costs so no employers are stupid enough to do this. She would also be awarded back pay for the amount of time it takes for such a case to go through the courts.

    Here, employers do not hold all the cards. Most are trustworthy, but some are not – and our laws exist to make sure those who aren’t can;t do this stuff.

    It’s very progressive, and while we don’t have a Bill of Rights, sometimes I feel we have a lot more rights than Americans when it comes to this kind of stuff. As you know, I am a fan of America, Americans and (most) things American, but sometimes it really does feel to me that’s it’s a society without heart and soul where the main motivating force behind too many things is the almighty dollar.

    Our previous PM tried to do away with the system (which we’ve had for over a century), and was unceremoniously booted out of office three weeks ago.

    Interestingly, he became only the second sitting PM to be booted out of office and to lose his own seat in an election (whioch he’d held for 33 years in parliament) at the same time.

    The previous one was a guy called Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929, and lo and behold, he’d tried to do the same thing.

    I love democracy!

  • STM

    Also Marlowe, there is no a trend in Australia for shareholders to gather their forces and oppose the huge salaries paid to CEOs. It is happening at the happening with one of our Telcos and may well be successful. Thus, it seems to be working.

    Tell me honestly that a bloke needs a package of $50m to run a company that basically runs itself while, having run out of any decent ideas, decides that the best way to cut costs is to get rid of staff and I’ll run naked through the streets of Sydney.

    Perhaps if every senior manager gave up say 2 per cent of their massive salaries, there’d never be any need to sack or retrench any poor bastard.

    I suspect, however, I’ll be keeping my clothes on.

  • troll

    top company staff compensation packages often involve deferred payment (and differed taxes) with much of the $ reinvested in the company stock…and since it was already moved out of the profit column the company benefits on the tax side as well

    check out chapter 4 of Johnston’s “Perfectly Legal” for a description of the process

  • P.Marlowe

    Thanks for the heads up troll… These (in my mind) evil forces, who have little or no concern for America (save for how they can manipulate the laws, public perceptions, etc., to allow them to continue to suck America dry) remind me, oddly, of a fantastic set of books by GREG BEAR. THE FORGE OF GOD and ANVIL OF STARS is an amazing set of stories… And at the risk of ruining it SPOILER ALERT! the kicker was this… The organic life forms (including us) – nearly wiped out by MACHINES gain the upper hand… And once they have the machines on the run they have to wipe them out – EVERY ONE of them because they’re like a virus…

    The machines brilliantly use misdirection and quantum physics to HIDE themselves or throw off the humans as they’re hunted down…

    Reminds me SO much of what is being done today in America. This “economic tyranny” cannot COMPLETELY rise up and simply do as they wish. They have to at least pretend to be within the bounds of law and social norms… So in order to achieve their aims they CONSTANTLY have to throw off the American public from what they’re REALLY doing…

    But they’re running out of room… Too many people know their tricks. Each time (since the Reagan Era) once they’ve placed a man in the White House they’ve become more and more bold in their carpetbagger behavior.

    It’s gotta stop. God only KNOWS what the next go around would look like!

    P.Marlowe

  • ToranagaSama

    “FDR was warning us our country was being hi-jacked. Fortunately for us he managed to keep it from happening THEN…”

    Sir, I respect the sentiment of your commentary, as well as your subsequent post, but I ask you:

    Do you believe that you are FULLY aware of the facts and realities of your assertions? Specifically, regarding FDR, government and economics, prior to FDR, during the FDR presidency, and after FDR.

    An interesting read on the subject and one I suggest is The Forgotten Man: A New History of The Great Depression by Amity Shales.

    Propaganda and Perception is something quite different than Truth and Reality.

    *If* you happen to be a Clintonian, a, ahhhh, ‘Progressive’, a Socialist or Maxist of any kind, then perhaps your pining for FDR is based upon truth and reality. That the Progessives of FDR’s administration were Marxist, and that their policies were Socialist, and that their purpose was to create an American ‘Soviet’.

    Yet, *if* you are not such, then I implore you to do your homework and study the economics of the FDR administration and put aside it’s propagandist rhetoric. Truth and reality is that in the decades surrounding 1900, the nation was, indeed, morphing from the Agrarian economic of our forefathers into an Industrial economic of the so-named ‘Robber Barons'; a time in which the concentration of capital (and income) was exacerbated and accelerated.

    I perceive from your comments, that you are of the belief that FDR (and his administration) were proponents of the ‘common man’, the “forgotten man”; and, generally was anti-industrialist.

    In this day and age, again, the nation is at a cross-roads, where we are moving from an Industrial economic to, what is being named a Digital economic; or, to put in a more political context, in the days of Hoover and FDR, from a fully Free Market Capitalism, to Social Capitalism, to what?? The “what” will be decided during this 2008 election and the following 2012 election.

    Yes, the FDR administration was certainly anti-industrialist and pro “the forgotten man”, but to WHAT aim did the FDR administration work–and to what ultimate result?

    I strongly wonder if, you, Mr. Marlowe, are truly aware of the “what” and the “result”, or whether you are totally done in by the propaganda and rhetoric?

    Is it a *new* ‘New Deal” what you desire?

    What, in your complete view, is the purpose of Government?

    Is this not the true and ultimate question regarding government? I can only glean from your comments that you believe that it is government’s purpose to right wrongs, to protect the weak from the strong, to create justice in the face of injustice, on and on and on.

    In such a view Government would be a nice face upon G_d—the ultimate morality.

    I, sir, in the contrary want no such Government. In my desire and I would say, as was our forefathers—Government’s ultimate and almost singular responsibility is to ensure and protect MY LIBERTY!

    I ask nothing less and nothing more.

    The thing to comprehend is that the ultimate *benevolent* government which would, for example, right the injustice of CEO pay—can ONLY accomplish such by limiting OUR *freedoms*.

    I ask, how, sir, would you *right* the disparity of CEO pay? How could or would you do this while simultaneously ensuring *freedom*—or, in the alternative, without limiting freedom?

    Or, are you (more than) willing to cede your personal liberty, in exchange, for the *benevolence* of government—politicians, elected or imposed?

    Are you saying what you wish for is re-institution of such un-Consitutional FDR instutitions as the ‘Agricultural Adjustment Administration’ and the ‘National Recovery Administration’ into modern guises?

    The scope and level of the pure insanity and imposition upon liberty which occurred during the FDR administration (and continues to this day) is beyond modern day belief. To examine one of the more interesting examples see, Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States. And also.

    To sum this up, given that I recall the facts clearly, during a period (The Depression) when the prices of chickens had fallen so low as to discourage investment, the Government solution was to impose a high degree of regulation and rules upon the sale of chickens–down to the lowest retail level. For example, under regulations, a shop owner could not dictate the wages nor work hours of his employees; nor the price of goods. Even more incredibly in regards to the above case, customers were not allowed to pick and choose the chicken(s) of their choice for purchase; but, rather upon government dictate, customers must blindly accept whatever chicken was randomly proffered to them.

    I implore you to really **study** FDR, his administration and the New Deal policies, rather than succumbing to propaganda and rhetoric.

    In any event, if New Dealism is what you what, Hillary or Obama should be your choice. Hillary, in particular, is more than ready to take your liberty, as well as the *owned* profits of the oil companies! As well as, make it *illegal* NOT to have health insurance? :)