Praying at the Altar of Greed and Want…
Yeah, we ALL need a raise don’t we? Here’s a little essay I wrote almost a decade ago. We’re all still waiting for that raise, while the pig corpoRATeers get EVER RICHER…
Praying at the Altar of Greed and Want or WHY You Should tell the High Priests to Pay Their Employees MORE, it’s the Right Thing to DO!
There is an official religion in the United States, even though the first amendment prohibits such. That religion is the Holy Order of Greed and Want. When I speak of religion in this essay, I’m focusing primarily on the aspect of religion as a belief system used as an element of social control. As you read this essay try to see how you have been indoctrinated and eventually initiated into this religion. Perhaps you don’t truly believe as much as the high priests think you do.
A few months ago, I struck up a conversation with a mcdonalds manager. I shared with him my management technique which I call simply BLAME SYSTEM NOT PEOPLE. In this way of thinking, management is freed from the usual hunt for WHO is at fault when something goes wrong. Instead, a manager looks for what in the management SYSTEM led to the failure. I have used this technique myself. Everybody in the workplace wins with this system in place. The employees are freed from the blame and shame of the usual authoritative management style. The managers are freed from ferreting out the offending party and there is more communication and cooperation. This in turn leads to better problem solving, more time to do productive work and therefore higher productivity. Everyone is happier and more willing to talk. The manager of the McDonalds was thrilled with the results. I was even offered a job with his company. I politely declined. As a full time student, I have more then enough work to keep me busy. Besides, I never in my over 20 years in the restaurant business convinced upper level management that the second step is more important then the first. The first step is just the beginning, it works for a time by itself. In order to sustain it the second step must be instituted.
Step two USE SYSTEM TO HELP PEOPLE. By that, I mean PAY A LIVING WAGE AND OFFER THE KIND OF BENEFITS THE OWNERS TAKE FOR GRANTED. Yes, as outrageous as it seems, I suggest that people get paid more for their work. It should be obvious to anyone that looks that OWNERSHIP IS OVER COMPENSATED WHILE WORK IS UNDER COMPENSATED. I know there are some out there that will say “The owners deserve more because they take all the risk in business.” This is big lie number one, among the many other lies the high priests have convinced most of us is true. Let’s debunk this total bullshit shall we? We will follow the course of people and their families connected with the XYZ Corporation. The following is purely hypothetical. Any resemblance to persons or organizations living or dead is purely coincidental.
Sheila Sweet has worked at XYZ for three months. She has a personal net worth of around $200. She’s 19 and has one three-year-old child. She loves her child as all of us love our children. She had to leave high school without graduating due to her pregnancy. She and her baby live with her mother, a widow, in the two-bedroom house her father paid off just one year before he passed away. Since she has very few other opportunities for employment, she must work assembling McWidgets™ for the XYZ Corporation and is paid minimum wage. XYZ is what’s considered a progressive employer. She receives minimal medical benefits, for which she must pay half out of pocket. Even with her salary and her mother’s Social Security survivor’s benefits, it’s rough for this family to make ends meet.
Charles spud has worked for the XYZ Corporation for eight years, he has a personal net worth of around $15,000, mostly equity in his home, but Charles is a company man so he has bought 200 shares of XYZ stock which is placed in his self financed retirement plan. He started working for the XYZ Corporation when he was in High School, part-time at first, then full time upon graduation. He started in the same job as Sheila and has worked his way up to assistant manager. Since he is a valued long-term employee, he receives the whopping sum of eight dollars per hour. He has the same medical benefits as Sheila and the addition of two weeks paid vacation. His wife, Chive, also works. She’s paid seven dollars an hour without benefits. Both their children attend public school. The Spud’s hope to have enough saved in two years to add an additional bedroom to their now two-bedroom home so their children can each have their own bedroom. That’s if their nine year-old car holds up long enough. The Spud’s love their children, as all of us love our children.
Harvey Greedly is the CEO and President of the XYZ Corporation. He has a personal net worth, of cash and property in excess of $10,000,000. Half of that sum is stock in the XYZ Corporation. On a more personal note, Harvey has a thriving Chia™ Pet farm he enjoys as his hobby. Harvey’s wife Hymaintenance (Hy to her friends) is very active in local charities. It’s always a joy for me when rich greedy types give back a small portion of the money they steal from their employees. It never seems to occur to such people that they could give much more to the community BY PAYING THEIR EMPLOYEES A LIVING WAGE! The Greedly’s live in, as they describe it, “a regular house.” In the Nob Hill neighborhood where they live a six bedroom with an in ground pool is a “regular house.” Harvey and Hy have just returned from one of their little trips abroad. With their two grown children away at Harvard and Yale, they have much more time to travel. The Greedly’s love their children, as all of us love our children.
Now back to the big lie about risk. If the XYZ Corporation was to suddenly go out of business both Sheila and Charles would be without jobs. This would cause a big change in both their families lives. Of course since both are good and loving people, they would go out and find other jobs. They will probably suffer unemployment, the question is how long will they be unemployed. Since that is dependent on many factors beyond their control, and lack of control in one’s life is a deep suffering, the Sweet and Spud family’s bear the brunt of the failure of the XYZ Corporation. Add to this the fact that Charles retirement fund is wiped out and you can see that his family suffers an additional loss.
Lets look at what happens to the Greedly family. Since half of Harvey’s net worth is in XYZ stock one would expect his net worth to be cut in half. The poor Greedlys would have to survive on a mere $5,000,000 dollars, BOO HOO! However, this isn’t what probably would happen. You see Harvey is a high priest in the church of greed and want. With the help of the Adepts of his order called Attorneys and Accountants, he sees the collapse of his business coming. The first thing Harvey does is sell off all his XYZ stock. Let’s say this large sale causes the stock price to drop by 20%. Poor Harvey only nets $4,000,000 from this sale. Luckily using the holy writ of the religion of want and greed, CORPORATE LAW, the adepts invoke grand magic and Harvey converts XYZ CORPORATE assets, into PERSONAL wealth. Let’s say Harvey nets $1,000,000 from this fire sale. In this way, Harvey’s personal net worth holds at $10,000,000 dollars. Some would say there’s no magic in the world. This is a truly magical transformation to me. When the bankruptcy court finally convenes, all of the viable assets of the XYZ Corporation are gone. Harvey’s PERSONAL wealth is off limits to the court. Harvey and Hy are off on a world cruise so as to be “Unavailable for comment.”
Even in the extremely unlikely event Harvey is a complete screw-up and manages to lose ALL of his personal wealth, the Greedlys are no worse off then the Sweets and Spuds. After all Harvey and Hy are just as capable of seeking employment as Sheila and Charles. Of course, the rich are so much better then the rest of us. We couldn’t let them suffer the pain of seeking employment.
I hope I’ve shown, in my subtle way, that most of the risk associated with business failure is borne by the employees. Even in the worse case sited above the owners are subjected to only the same fate as the employees. Since such a worse case rarely, if ever, happens the employees are always at greater risk then the owners.
On now to big lie number two, the rich deserve more because they create jobs. Jobs are neither created nor sustained by the rich. All sales come from the customers, since the vast majority of the customers come from the ranks of employees like the Sweet’s and Spud’s it’s easy to see who really creates the jobs. Given that OUR purchases are the cause of job creation, it only makes sense that increased income to working people spurs an increase in sales. Such an increase in sales then leads to further job creation, and an additional increase in sales. It is therefore in all our best interests that we get paid more.
Big lie number three states that wage increases cause inflation. This is for me the most sickening of the big lies. Since the 1970’s real wages, which are a measure of employee pay adjusted for inflation, are DOWN. That means that the majority of price increases have been paid by working people. At the same time, executive and other owner pay is WAY UP. So are corporate profits. Under the bold leadership of Ronald Ray Gun, Bushy Sr. and Slick Willie, we have seen a massive redistribution of wealth into the hands of the few, at the cost to the many. No matter which subgroup of the Republicrat/Dempublican duality has held power in Washingtoon these last 20 years the buying power of the High Priests has risen while we, the working people, have been indoctrinated to believe we deserve less and must pay more! Under the guise of removing “welfare cheats” from the system, we have been told that the social safety net must be dismantled. Poor people are now punished for being poor and must work at minimum wage jobs without benefits in order to feed and house their families. At the same time, Corporations are given massive Federal, State, and Local tax breaks and direct government subsidies. In payment we, the over taxed and under paid, receive minimum or slightly more wage jobs. I ask you, just how stupid are we?
As if the suffering of our neighbors and ourselves isn’t enough, we now have big lie number four, globalization of corporate capitalism is good for us. I will address this simply by stating that as of the writing of this paper the 208 known billionaires in the world control more wealth then 51% of the world population. Are we supposed to truly believe that 208 greedy thieves deserve more then over three billion poor people? Millions of people starve to death every year while the Bill “Robber Geek” Gates fights with the county assessor to lower the property tax on his multi-million dollar mansion. Is the increase of the reach of such as Bill really what the world needs to solve its problems? I think not.
These are just some of the lies the high priests of the church of want and greed would have us believe. I’m sure if you look around, you can find many others. In a nutshell, I hope you can see that your personal interests as well as those of your neighbors and fellow human beings worldwide are poorly served by the church of want and greed. That most of us are left in want while the interests of the greedy are given the lions share of service should be easy to see. How can we make changes in system to better serve our interests? First we must think and speak for ourselves. We must look at how we are blinded by the corporate media (TV, newspapers, etc.) to believe the current system benefits us. We must look at our own lives and decide for ourselves just how personally served we are by a system that gives control of 90% of the worlds wealth to 5% of the population. This means the 95% of us subsist on a Meager 10% of the wealth. Having seen the light of our personal interests, we must attempt to connect to the 95% of us who are under served. We must then act in our own and each other’s best interest.
While I have in the past, and will in the future, take part in mass non-violent demonstrations, the corporate media has been very successful at reporting such demonstrations as outside the mainstream sideshows to the “real” events such as the WTO meetings and the Republicrat/Dempublican conventions. Worse, such “activists” as the self proclaimed “anarchists” of recent Seattle fame stupidly act badly and give the impression that the poor corporate interests are under attack by violent revolutionaries. This translates into the perception that such demonstrations are subject to destructive lawlessness and gives credence to the fascist reaction of the industrial/correctional complex as evidenced by the LAPD actions against the shadow convention in Los Angeles. This doesn’t mean that peaceful participation in these demonstrations is without positive effect. Just that such group activities are not enough.
This is also true of groups such as the Feminists, Unions, various racial, and ethnic groups as well as any other group that has as it’s myopic purview the shifting of more of the already pitiful 10% of the wealth we 95% of the population share to “their” particular group members. The rich love it when we expend our political capital fighting among ourselves for a larger share of the 10%. The more we fight one another, the safer the 90% they control is. We would all be much better served if we would set our sights on getting the greedy to let loose part of the 90% they control. Although I will do whatever I can to help these groups, I wish we all could unite under the flag of class and work together to build the just society. Look at the percentage of the population that your personal issue groups (if you have any favorites) can count as members. Even the largest of such groups, the Feminists only potentially have about half the population as members. The members of my group comprise 100% of the population. All of us have a class. We receive our class absolutely free of charge at birth. If we all get smart, we can come to realize that there are basically two classes. The have too much 5% and the have too little 95%. As members of the united under served 95%, we can then point the finger of shame at the greedy, thieving 5%. Faced with the moral and ethical dilemma of having too much while the rest of us have too little the 5% would be forced to face their own evil greed. To further bring home my point, a rich black woman like Oprah Winfrey can use her wealth, power and status to “opt out” of any social problem. A white male union worker has little chance to do the same. So much for the “white male power structure” and the protection of issue groups. Again, I must stress that participation in issue groups can have a positive effect. It is just not enough.
Having made my case for a change in thinking toward the direction of becoming more connected to others in the under served 95%, I will offer some suggestions for personal action to build the just society. First, if you are a member of any organized group, speak to your group’s conscience about doing things that remove your group’s share of the 10% of the wealth from the corporate greed cycle. By that, I mean do, as much of your shopping for items needed by your group at small local stores as possible. As an example, if you are planning to have a fundraising dinner for your church, try to convince whoever is doing the purchasing to buy the produce at the local farmers market and the bread from a local bakery instead of the corporate supermarket. In this way, we lower the amount siphoned off by the high priests of greed and place the money directly into the hands of our neighbors, the local family farmers and small local shopkeepers. If you don’t have a local farmers market, perhaps your group can work to start one. While you’re at it, perhaps your group can start a food co-op and remove even more of your money from corporate hands. If your group is planning a sales based fundraiser, produce the items you’ll sell yourself. Instead of buying that corporate produced candy for your next Christmas sale, make wreaths yourselves and sell them. Simply put more of your money into the local hands of your neighbors who have a higher likelihood of spending it in our community then shipping the money off to corporate coffers located who knows where to be used to further enrich and empower the greedy. The same is true of your personal purchases.
Having sought to remove as much of your money as possible from the church of greed, if you still find the need to shop at corporate stores there is something you can do that will help your neighbors who are forced to work too hard for too many hours for too little in wages at such stores. After you have paid for your purchases ask to see the manager of the establishment. When he or she comes out from whatever office they live in, proclaim as loudly as you can so all can hear PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES MORE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! If the manger says, he can’t pay a living wage because wages are set at corporate headquarters, tell the manager to pass your wishes on to corporate HQ. To be fair, many of the managers of the corporate stores I have said this to have expressed that they wish they could pay more. Ask the manager for the mailing and or email address and name of the CEO at corporate HQ. Don’t bother with the “public relations office” address. Make sure you get the CEO’s name and address. When you get home write on a postcard or letter PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES MORE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! Snail mail or email it off to the CEO. If you receive a reply with the usual tripe about how they pay “competitive wages” and how “local wage trends” determine what employees are paid in your locality, simply write across the page in red magic marker BULLSHIT! PAY A LIVING WAGE! Send it back to your new pen pal the CEO. If you would like to suggest an amount for what a living wage is, $10 per hour is a nice number. That’s about today’s equivalent of what a person working for minimum wage in 1973 was making back then. Since I’m writing this in October 2000 a little over two months from the Christmas season, perhaps it’s time we start a new family tradition and send a Christmas card to the CEO’s of the various corporations. These Christmas cards should say IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON OF GIVING, PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES MORE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
If after reading this, you can’t find it in your heart to take action for yourself and your neighbors, do it for your children. I for one don’t intend to leave this world of diminishing expectations to my sons Luke and Daniel. Do these things for our children. We all love our children
The Telepathic Crickets want a raise too…
The scientifically impossible I do right away
The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer