How did we get into the problem of insane pay for U.S. corporation leaders? The problem basically originated from the title above. Every board of directors wants to pat themselves on the back for selecting that exception person who will lead their company to outperform all the others. They need to do that so that they can somehow rationalize their board being paid thousands of dollars per hour for their time. So the statement is made:
Our CEO is exceptional so we must guarantee him a paycheck in the top 20% of all CEOs.
On the surface this is a rather innocuous statement that is bound to be true for some. But the problem is that almost every board now makes this statement and backs it up with a iron-clad golden parachute to match. So when 100% of the CEOs are to be paid in the top 20% of all CEOs it becomes an impossibility to actually occur. The only thing that can happen is that CEO pay goes through the stratosphere seeking a never-ending top 20%.
The impossibility that all CEOs can be in the top 20% seems rather easy for most people to understand so why can’t the typical board of directors figure it out? Again there is a again simple answer and that is most CEOs are actually on the board of directors for several other companies. So, when the above pledge is made they also guarantee an ever dramatic increase in their own pay. This is the typical “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.
There is one simple solution to this dilemma and that is for the shareholders to put an end to it. That is where more greed comes into the equation. Everyone who buys stock in a company want the cost per share to increase dramatically so they can rake in some big profits. In order to do that they must think that the guy in charge is the best in the business. Or at least in the top 20%. You get the idea.
The only way to stop this ever escalating CEO pay is for the stockholders to cause it to end. It will not be an easy matters as the CEO and the board of directors will probably fight tooth and nail for their wealth. But it can and actually does happen once in a while. So, the next time you start complaining about CEO pay remember that you the stockholder are allowing it to happen. Even if you only have one share in a company you have power to cease this ridiculous practice.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.
Source: No guns at home, so Japanese shoot ‘em up in Guam – Itineraries on NBCNews.com.
Because guns are so hard to find, gun-related crime is extremely rare. They were used in only seven murders in Japan — a nation of about 130 million people — in 2011, the most recent year for official statistics. In the U.S., with 315 million people, there are more than 11,000 gun-related killings annually. The Japanese are proud of their low crime rate and generally support tough gun-control policies.
Given the propensity to violence in this country I can’t even imagine a country of 130 million only having seven murders in a year! I suspect there will be that many in Chicago within the next two days. How does Japan keep violence down to such a miniscule level? Part of it I’m sure is their culture. Even though Japan was one of the countries that started the last world war they basically have a very non-violent society now. They generally show great respect for each other, especially their elders. They are just not the type to have a lot of bravado as we in the U.S. seem to overflow with.
But there is also another major reason for such a low murder rate and that is guns are almost impossible to obtain in their society. The NRA is constantly harping that if the bad guys didn’t have guns they would learn to kill with other weapons but Japan seems to prove them wrong. I don’t think that Japan is devoid of bad guys. Human greed which spurns so much lawlessness is probably just as endemic in their country as it is in most others. When a gun makes killing so painless (at least for the one doing the shooting) it makes murder just too easy and a spur of the moment thing.
Too bad we can’t learn even the simplest lessons from our neighbors in other countries. If we could take the best ideas of each country and incorporate them here…. Instead we stubbornly insist that we alone are the only ones that can get anything right. How naive is that??
Unemployment Rate by Education Level
In 1992, the BLS began tracking unemployment rates by education level. Highlighted below are the unemployment rates for the following four groups…. All groups consist of individuals 25 years old or higher.
|Education Level Achieved
|High School Grad
or Associate Degree
It is no secret that the lower the education level the higher the unemployment rate. We are told that employers are out looking for people to fill their jobs and there are just not enough qualified applicants. When I grew up in the 1950s and 60s a young man could graduate from high school and if he had the connections could get a job in one of the auto factories in the area. It was a good paying middle class job. But then came robotics and foreign competition.
I’m not saying that robotic or competition are a bad thing. In fact I think it is just a normal progression through the industrial age. A hundred and fifty years ago a young boy with no education could plan on making some pretty good money by signing on to a moving cattle from Texas to Kansas City. Those jobs like the factory jobs of my generation naturally disappeared with the advent of the railroad. It is just a matter of progress that the good paying jobs of one generation are not the good paying ones of the next.
The fact that to get a good middle class job in today’s world takes something beyond a high school education is just to be expected. But, a basic problem is that our education system just hasn’t kept up with the demand for more intelligent workers as evidenced by the above numbers. This fact really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Our kids generally are just not getting the education needed for today’s jobs.
So, how do we as a country change the culture of our education system to meet the demands of the 21st century? I have never been involved in this field other than as a student but I have been exposed to some of its participants. From the teachers I have met personally it seems that the majority of them are pretty naive in the ways of today’s businesses. For the most part they are arts majors fresh out of college. Most spend their entire careers inside the educational system. If we hope to continue to compete for the middle class jobs of the world we will need to entice those who have a working knowledge of the jobs available today and a big part of that is math, science and especially computer savvy teachers. We need teacher at the high school level who have experiences outside the educational system. I don’t think that is happening to any degree right now. At least not in my local school district.
I know many teachers read this blog and I am not trying to put you down in any way. From your comments I know how difficult a job it is to be a teacher in today’s world. I know that a big part of the problem is in the home of the students. But we must face facts that our kids are generally not equipped for the middle class jobs of today.
I am have been thinking about the word ”conservative” lately and how I thought it defines me as far as fiscal things go and how it seems to define many of my friends as a general philosophy. I know like everything else you can’t put all conservatives in the same box but there seems to be some common traits I assign to that label. Let’s start out with the basic definition:
- a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas
- resistant to change
- having social or political views favoring conservatism
- unimaginatively conventional
- avoiding excess • a conservative estimate
- conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class
In the past I have identified myself as a fiscal conservative. From a governing standpoint I want to make sure that the money I send to Washington in taxes to do the people’s business is wisely spent. I don’t treat my money haphazardly and I don’t want my government to do that either. But after looking at the basic definition above maybe I think I need to find a new label. I am definitely not reluctant to accept fiscal changes or new ideas about monetary policies, in fact I would embrace one if I thought it would solve some of our problems. I definitely would not call myself unimaginatively conventional when it comes to money or anything else for that matter! If you have read much of what I have said in the blog I’m sure you would agree with that. Definition 5 is kind of muddled and without meaning to me so I won’t go there. The standards of the middle class seem to change on a daily basis especially as the conservative group continues to shrink.
But the definitions above do seem to describe many of my friends. They, for the most part, fear change instead of embracing it. Many seem to continue to live in the limelight of the Reagan years. They hate all the change in the last twenty years; especially change brought on by the “liberals”. Yeah, many of my friends are unimaginatively conventional.
Well, I seem to have decided that the traditional definition of the word “conservative” does indeed describe many of my less than progressive friends but doesn’t hack it when I apply it to myself for fiscal matter. So, what should I call myself? Maybe fiscally prudent progressive. That has kind of a nice ring to it. From this day forward I am a FPP. Conservative describes those who hate or at least adamantly resist change and that is definitely not me. But I will kind of hold on to that label for some of my less progressive friends….
I grew up in poverty and without a mother. My father was typical of his generation in that he was a pretty stoic guy who even though he had love in his heart he just didn’t hand it out well. As a result I had some rather serious love issues growing up. My younger brother and I were pretty much on our own at least emotionally through our early years. I was shy and very introverted for many of those years. I started losing my hearing during high school and then at the age of forty I went completely deaf. So I have known some adversity in my life but I generally think it has been a blessed life.
I take to heart the quote “there but for the grace of God go I”. I know I had it kind of rough but that was nothing compared to many others. I know one guy whose father got him and his brother hooked on meth before they were even teenagers. I know of another that grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who was constantly being abused. I know by comparisons I had it pretty good growing up. I realize that if a few things had changed in my life I could possibly have been one of those who spent time in our prison system.
Being that I volunteer a couple of days a week in a local soup kitchen and men’s homeless shelter I am probably exposed to more ex-offenders than most. We know that the current national un-employment rate is around 7.5% but what most people don’t know is that the un-employment rate among ex-offenders in the first year after release is 75%! Why are there no second chances for these guys? Given the almost impossible odds of gaining employment, especially anything other than minimum wage, is it really not hard to understand why 40% of felons are reincarcerated within three years of release. If only we gave some of these guys a second chance at life.
I recently came across a cable channel program called Pit Bulls and Parolees. It is about Tia Torres who runs a pit bull rescue shelter in New Orleans. She rightfully states that Pit Bulls are the most misunderstood species of dogs on the planet. Most people think they are a vicious and are only good for junkyard dogs. In reality she shows us they are some of the most friendly dogs around. Yes, some of them have been bred and trained for dog fights, especially in the south, but most are just loving and very loyal pets.
Tia Torres show us that Pit Bulls in her shelter and the parolees she hires to maintain it have a very common thread. Most parolees are thought to be vicious and unsociable. She show us, and I have also personally found, that not be reality. Most ended up in prison because of stupid mistakes that any of us might have made if we were in similar circumstances. Most of these guys just need a second chance in life. The lucky few who find that second chance are those that can escape the system and go on to happy and fruitful lives. If only more of us were like Tia and willing to give some a second chance our prisons would not be eating up such a large amount of our resources and our country might not have the largest percentage of citizens under lock and key.
Source: Lance Armstrong confesses to Oprah Winfrey about his doping – The Washington Post.
The network’s Scott Pelley also reported that Armstrong is in talks with U.S. Justice Department officials, who are weighing whether to join a whistleblower suit against him, about returning a portion of the roughly $35 million that the U.S. Postal Service paid his cycling team in sponsorship dollars.
I don’t follow sports much anymore but it is hard to not see that Lance Armstrong won a bunch of bicycle races that made him a multimillionaire and that he apparently won them because of drug use. It is also not hard to see that he has been denying those allocations for years but evidently the evidence is now so overwhelming that he is finally going to confess the truth. I also know that there are probably millions of cyclists out there that are totally disheartened by the fall of their hero. Now to see all those people out there, including our government, going after the money they gave him it also may strip him of much of his riches. More…
Source: Just the facts: Gun violence in America – U.S. News.
The big picture:
Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, according to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign reports.
Source: DNA of Newtown Shooter Adam Lanza to Be Studied by Geneticists – ABC News.
Beaudet noted that studying the genes of murderers is controversial because there is a risk that those with similar genetic characteristics could possibly be discriminated against or stigmatized, but he still thinks the research would be helpful even if only a “fraction” may have the abnormality or mutation.
“Not all of these people will have identifiable genetic abnormalities,” Beaudet said, adding that even if a genetic abnormality is found it may not be related to a “specific risk.”
“By studying genetic abnormalities we can learn more about conditions better and who is at risk and what might be dramatic treatments,” Beaudet said, adding if the gene abnormality is defined the “treatment to stop” other mass shootings or “decrease the risk is much approved.”
The successful mapping of DNA is perhaps the major accomplishment of our times. Determining what each point on that map means will prove to be even more significant. A case in point should be learned from one-hundred years ago. In the early nineteen hundreds eugenics was the “scientific breakthrough” of the times. Here is how Wikipedia defines that movement: More…
Source: NRA press conference: Put armed guards in schools (+video) – CSMonitor.com.
Mr. LaPierre offered the NRA’s assistance in putting together safety programs in schools that include arming security personnel.
Very the long-awaited response from the NRA relative to the Newton Conn. massacre is more guns. With the American flag on one side and the NRA flag on the other the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre also said that it was the media’s fault that guns are so misunderstood in the country today. More…
I am totally sick of the “slippery slope” that my conservative friends so often cling to!!
If I hear another person give me a slippery slope story I just might punch them. The idea of the slippery slope consumes so much of their lives. It is the center point for their current stands against gun regulation. It is the center point for their current stands of excluding anyone from their religious circles who don’t totally align with them. It is the center point of their current stands on taxes.
I don’t care who you are, you just can’t reach middle life without having done and said a whole lot of foolish things. 29 December 1934 Will Rogers
I have to admit that I have done some pretty foolish things in life, especially in my high school years. Things that I am not particularly proud of but I own up to them. Don’t get me wrong, nothing I did left any permanent harm on others and only a little to myself but some of them were a little bit unlawful. I used to readily admit that I drank much more before I was twenty-one than I have since. I guess now that “since” is more than 45 years I shouldn’t make that claim anymore.
Source: How Does Your State Rank for Women in Power? – ABC News.
Colorado is leading the pack with the highest percentage of female legislators serving. In 2013, Colorado will have 41.5 percent state House representatives who are female (27 female out of 65 total) and 40 percent state Senate members (14 out of 35). Thirty are Democrats and 11 are Republican….
But not all states in the union are as progressive. At the bottom of the list is Louisiana, which has only 16 women serving on the state level, making it the least progressive state in terms of female representation. Trailing along with Louisiana are South Carolina and Alabama which collectively only have 42 female representatives. More…
Source: Survey: U.S. global competitiveness falls again – USATODAY.com.
The United States’ ability to compete on the global stage has fallen for the fourth year running as confidence in the country’s politicians continues to decline. The finding is from an annual survey from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Of the top 10 nations, the Netherlands and Germany have moved ahead of the U.S. The U.S.’ ranking dropped two places to seventh this year, the WEF says.
It is sad to see that the U.S. is falling behind in yet another metric. Our manufacturing base is quickly dwindling. Almost everything we buy now comes from outside our shores. Our healthcare cost us more than any other country and still we die younger than many. Our military eats us so More…
Source: Sojourner Mail November 16, 2012
The day after the election, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler said, “I think this was an evangelical disaster.”
Not really. But it was a disaster for the religious right, which had again tied its faith to the partisan political agenda of the Republican Party — which did lose the election. But Nov. 6 was an even deeper disaster for the religious right’s leaders, because they will no longer be able to control or easily co-opt the meaning of the term “evangelical.”
During this election, much of the media continued to use the word as a political term — as a key constituency of the Republican conservative base. But what the media really means when they use term “evangelical” is “conservative white evangelical.” All other kinds of evangelicals are just never counted.
Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed. More…
I want to focus this post on the unseen and the unheard. I apologize in advance as I am in a somewhat dark mood right now and I am sure it will show up here. Sometimes even Will’s words can’t lift me up. More…
Actually listening to someone is an art form which seems to be lost in our country if not the whole world. One of the definitions of the word “listening” is the act of hearing attentively. In other words it means hearing and giving some credence to what is being said.
It seems that so many in this world, particularly in our political conversations just don’t listen. When we talk politics with each other it is usually two one-way conversations. Like two ships passing in the night the is little awareness of what is being said. It seems that when I get into political conservations on this blog I receive a number of belligerent comments from the other side of the political spectrum. They often have a long litany of reasons why I am wrong about how I see the world. More…
You know no Nation has a monopoly on good things, each one has something that the others could well afford to adopt. – November 30, 1930 Will Rogers
I seem to be locked into the political mode lately with my posts! But there is just so much material available to make it that way. But as a result I have been forgetting another major part of what this blog is about and that is to learn lessons of those who have come before us and that certainly includes Will Rogers. I will try to strike a better balance in the future.
I just recently came across this quote from my hero Will Rogers. I was pleasantly surprised by it but I guess I shouldn’t have been. I know I am an avowed pragmatist but I really never knew for sure if Will was one before me.
Many of my posts on this blog are about taking things that work well in other countries and implementing them here. We in the U.S. seem to have a paranoid belief in the “not-invented-here” syndrome. If we didn’t come up with it then it is not worth our consideration.
Thanks Will for re-enforcing my beliefs in your great wisdom.
A statesman is a man that can do what the politician would like to do but can’t, because he is afraid of not being elected. – July 5, 1934 Will Rogers
I’m sure my fellow blogger over at SatisfyingRetirment knows the source for the above post title. It is from my favorite composer Bob Dylan and was made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 1960s. In case you youngsters haven’t figured it out by now it is a song called “Blowing in the Wind”. It was one of my favorite folk songs. In that song they asked “where have all the flowers gone…long time passing” and “where have all the soldiers gone?” The song was a lamentation of good things that had gone bad during the turbulent 60′s.
When I saw the above quote from Will Rogers that song immediately came to mind. Where have all the statesmen gone? It should be quite obvious to almost everyone that statesmen are about as extinct as the buffalo once were. Our two political parties have pretty much killed them all off. More…
This being close to Labor Day I have been thinking about unions. The traditional labor unions that were so strong in the 1950s through 1970s took a pretty serious hit in Wisconsin not long ago. Was it a death blow? I don’t know? The writing might be on the wall for them as a whole in the years to come. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very much in favor of worker’s rights and collective bargaining. But, like so many things in this world labor unions just got carried away with the power they possessed during those years. When that happened common sense, like always, went out the window. It seemed like when unions became so powerful their main goal was to make life difficult for the employers rather of representing the interests of the workers and also doing what was good for the company. It became just too adversarial. More…
I have spent the better part of a week looking at the new vice presidential candidate for the GOP. Up until now I was not familiar with him other than superficially. This will be the last post in this area so I am going to try to summarize what I have learned about the man.
- Paul Ryan is definitely a passionate person who is true to his principles taught to him by his heroes in life such as Ayn Rand who says money is the source of all good and altruism is stupid. I’m also sure he thinks each one of his ideas is somehow for the greater good of the country.
- As shown by his recent convention speech he is a very articulate person to much the same degree as Barak Obama but at the exact opposite end of the political spectrum.
- He adamantly supported the stimulus packages of President Bush in both 2002 and 2008 but when a Democratic president was just continuing the same it somehow became totally wrong to him. Everything he supported during the Bush years are now somehow unacceptable. That seems highly partisan to me and that is not something I want to continue seeing in our elected leaders in the coming years.
- His budget proposal that he claims is compassionate is totally rejected by his faith leaders in the Catholic church as very uncaring for the least among us.
- 62% of his proposed budget cuts for 2012 comes from cuts to the country’s safety net. This is hard to take especially when at the same time he is proposing big additional increases in our already very blotted military spending. Since we spend about forty times more than any other country on our war machine he seems to be a hawk to the nth degree.
- He plays politics with the best of them. He gets people from the other party on board by promising things that he then leaves them out of his proposed bill when it is submitted. He then wonders why the colleagues who he betrayed object to his calling his bill bipartisan. These types of actions show he can’t be trusted to keep his word.
- His original proposal for “fixing” Medicare was to give seniors a limited voucher to buy private insurance. If the private carrier even agreed to offer them insurance they would end up paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for less coverage than their current Medicare plan. Because of the huge backlash he modified his plan somewhat but given his propensity to got back on his word I think we have to assume that the first option if it could be passed is his preference.
- He is a favorite of the radical fringe Tea Party. This alone says much about his spirit of compassion and compromise.
- But maybe worst of all is that he seems to enthusiastically want to toss aside the people at the lower end of our society in order for the upper echelons to prosper even more. Ayn Rand, who is his hero taught him well in that area.
- Finally, I’m sure Mr. Ryan is a good family man who loves his wife and children but he seems to lack even a basic empathy for so many others.
At the end of this week-long investigation I still don’t understand why my clergy friend from the past reveres him so. On the surface Mr. Ryan seems like a nice guy but when you look at his other face he has a very narrow and seemingly dark view of life.
There are three qualities I believe must be used to judge a person’s character. One is his spiritual side; does he have a moral compass? The second is who are his heroes in life are and the third is whether he is true to his word; in other words can he be trusted? Even from this cursory study of Mr. Ryan I don’t see a lot about him in any of these three categories that entices me to vote the GOP ticket this time around.