For the first time in world history, the 10 highest paid CEOs in the US all received more than $100 million a year in direct compensation, and two of them took home billion dollar paychecks.
Understand, all that is after Americans went through all that public drama and soul-searching where they were holding public media events and shareholder meetings asking that those ridiculous rhetorical questions, like, is the system broken? Should management really be making 600 to 800 dollars for every one dollar an hour that a worker makes? As double-digit increases every year for top management takes place, double digit decreases in compensation benefits for America’s workers continue.
In fact, when more than 2,259 US CEOs’ compensations were analyzed, even the small to average size businesses were increasing CEO compensation at a rate of about 9% a year. But that was far from what the average worker was experiencing.
Huge blocks of stock options, stock grant bonanza-caliber bonuses and compensation windfalls of every kind for top management continues to help the US move toward an economic picture that looks more and more like a sweatshop, second-world, banana republic for the American worker.
Obliterate unions and you are halfway there. Nullify regulations that protect workers and you are a little closer. Devise ways to avoid paying overtime, create a system where you simply don’t pay health insurance, or retirement compensation. Fire your workers that have been with you the longest because you are paying them too much, and they are too close to having retirement benefits. Require that your employees work at least 30 minutes off the clock.
Shave a dollar a week or two dollars a week off workers’ checks with a sophisticated computerized program that is barely noticeable. Do that with 2 thousand employees to where it looks like real money. Have your employees buy into an Enron-style stock capital raise and then go bankrupt. And at the same time, pay your top management millions in bonuses right before that bankruptcy. All that is called sweatshop capitalism and it appears to be here to stay in the US.
Just 10 years ago, we thought sweatshop capitalism was what the US would engage in, in developing third-world countries. We expected sweatshop capitalism in places like Asia, South America or Saipan. We outsourced the most disgusting qualities of US capitalism. But what if they don’t have to outsource it anymore? What if they can accomplish worker victimization right here in the US and never leave home?
The US Chamber of Commerce in past decades has had the goal of shipping jobs overseas to break American labor. Completely refashion the world of worker benefits in America. Early on, the US Chamber of Commerce dreamed of the day where a CEO could make $100 million dollars and a key, vital worker would gladly settle for $30 thousand a year with no benefits at all.
Go back and look at the history and you’ll see that part of the US Chamber’s talking points to the behemoth corporations they speak for. Part of their talking points was that outsourcing would create job scarcity in the US and force American workers to settle for whatever terms they could get in America’s new job market.
Workers would be afraid to organize. Unions would be an idea of the past.
The American worker would take on the qualities of an abused wife, willing to be beat black and blue just to hold onto her pathetic, no court husband.
What can we do about it? Well, for 2 decades our government has been rewarding anti-worker American corporations by giving their contracts and huge tax breaks when they send American jobs to India and China. The numbers are in – we clearly see the domino effect this has on the relationship between American top management and workers. It creates that abused wife syndrome for the American worker, afraid to leave, afraid to fight back.
Lately, every time this administration has met with American CEOs and Chamber types, we’ve seen one of these “Kumbaya” meetings where he asks “Can’t you please do better?” Can’t you please just be a little more patriotic, caring, and compassionate? Can’t you please voluntarily abandon sweatshop capitalism? The answer is pretty evident, Mr. President – it is NO! Not until you punish predators with a loss of money.
A loss of tax benefits; a loss of government contracts; a loss of offshore banking; a loss of subsidies; a penalty for shipping jobs overseas. Only then will we begin to make inroads to bringing a humane balance to the relationship between the worker and America’s top management.