Americans, your patriotic duty is to ask for a raise

  • Article by: Barbara Garson
  • Updated: May 17, 2013 - 5:53 PM

Correcting an imbalance is what our economy needs now.

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hermajestyMay. 17, 13 6:27 PM

The top executives of Fortune 500 companies claim that they NEED those multimillion dollar salaries plus bonuses, or else they won't be motivated to work hard, and the company won't be able to attract "top talent." They claim this even as they are running companies into the ground.

Yet the people who do the actual work of the company--making the product, serving the customers, keeping the company operating smoothly amidst the executives' gimmicky schemes--are told

1) Most of you are dead wood,

2) We'll get rid of half of you and make the remaining employees work twice as hard for the same amount of money,

3)If you don't like it, you should have gotten an MBA so you could be an exalted superhuman like us,

4) If you don't like it, you should just be glad you have a job,

5) People like you are a dime a dozen,

6) You're so worthless that we're going to require you to train your foreign replacement or lose your severance pay,

7)You're so worthless that we're going to replace you with Third World teenagers who will work fourteen hours a day for two dollars a day and a couple of bowls of soup.

And right wingers think that UNIONS are the root of all evil?

sawmanMay. 17, 13 6:39 PM

Our company has recently given us two raises . Almost back to what we made before the big pay cuts! That's only five plus years of stagnant wages and five plus years of consistent 10-15% productivity gains. Face the facts. Workers are last in line and have had almost all their power stripped from them.

pumiceMay. 17, 13 6:54 PM

From the article: "Between 1971 and 2007, U.S. hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, rose by 4 percent.... During those same decades, productivity increased by 99 percent — that is, it nearly doubled. In other words, the average worker’s productivity rose 25 times more than his pay. But we Americans sell more than 70 percent of what we produce to one another. If the majority was earning less and producing more, who was going to buy all the stuff?" Great question, Barbara Garson! I distinctly remember reading/hearing that off-shoring and outsourcing American jobs to Asia, the largest market in the world, would enable Asian workers to take up the consumption slack. I also distinctly remember wondering what products young Asian workers would be able to afford on wages of less than $2 per day when Americans were resorting to credit card and mortgage debt in order to attain or maintain a middle class standard of living.

garagewineMay. 17, 13 7:05 PM

What was the change in total hourly compensation between 1971 and 2007?

hermajestyMay. 17, 13 8:10 PM

garagewine: "What was the change in total hourly compensation between 1971 and 2007?"--According to the charts I can find online, median household income in 1970 was $40,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. (More like $10,000 in nominal dollars.) This was in an era when most households had only one breadwinner. Now, when most households need two breadwinners to survive, the median household income is a bit over $50,000.

Furthermore, while electronic gadgets are cheap and plentiful, necessities such as housing, education, food, cars, and other basic expenditures feel more expensive than they did in the 1970s, when I first paid rent and bought my own groceries.

One year I lived in a new high-rise apartment building of the type that now charges $1000+ for a studio, but I shared a 3-BR unit with two other students for a TOTAL (not individual) rent of $375, including utilities, so my share was $125 out of a monthly income of $500, exactly at what was once considered the ideal figure of 25% of my income.

theruntMay. 17, 13 8:16 PM

Workers gain leverage in seeking higher wages when they can do so collectively. Those who feel unions damage our economy largely base that assumption on Fox talking points.

erikj3May. 17, 13 9:00 PM

CEO pay has skyrocketed over the last 40 years, productivity has increased as well, and yet, the wage of the average worker has gone nowhere. If our elected "leaders" had a clue, they'd do something about it, but the 1% has captured the whole government, and therefore, nothing will change. RIP Middle Class.

jpcooperMay. 17, 1311:13 PM

Mr Obama, Mr Dayton please cut my taxes so my take home pay will raise!....... Do you think they will listen?

gilgamesh23May. 18, 13 1:09 AM

Here is the math that we should all be acquainted with. U.S. GDP is about $16 trillion, give or take. Divide that by the number of people in the country, 300 million, and you get roughly $50,000. That's per person. But of those people, about 160 million people work. The rest are retired, children, stay-at-home parents, or unemployed. So, if you divide the total output of the country by the number of workers, it's about $100,000. When you talk salary, most people don't include the benefits, but those have a financial value. You also need to include employer social security matching. If you have a job with good benefits and earn about $80k, then your actual compensation is probably about $100,000. Bottom line: what's an average job in the United States? It pays an $80,000 salary with employer 401k matching and a good health plan. That sounds crazy to most people, which just proves how much the widening of the wage-productivity gap has been swept under the rug for decades.

jathu001May. 18, 13 4:59 AM

Problem is, the mindset of the top 1% has long ago left America in the dust and could care less about patriotism. Gone are the employers who took pride in seeing the success of their workers and their families--who saw this as a reflection of their own success. (Think "It's a Wonderful Life"). Colleges need to start teaching business economic models and ETHICS that promote success for employees too, and not just CEOs and stockholders.


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