Crying, “Wolf!”

Last year, a newspaper article published the salary of my employer’s CEO—  over $3M.  That’s not $3M over the lifetime of his employment, nor is it a $3M windfall reward for record profits. It’s $3M a year, each and every year! (For the record, I will never see even $1M in my entire life, let alone in a single year.)

I couldn’t believe it. I felt as though I’d been smacked in the face, considering that my immediate supervisor had been imploring the staff to be more frugal with supplies, and the supervisors above her had authorized the replacement of good quality supplies with cheaper ones of inferior quality.  

The trend continued. They removed our fast, modern copy machine and replaced it with a slow one that appeared to have been in a warehouse, unsold, for years.  They restricted overtime, and made us take “comp time” instead of pay, when the workload required an extra hour or two. Meanwhile, the CEO resigned, and a new one came. Cost-of-living raises for the rank and file were delayed, then suspended, and we knew why.

Another CEO (there are more than one?) resigned from the same company with a $7M compensation package, and when hundreds of the staff complained bitterly, the administration published a ten-point bulletin in defense of CEO salary packages. Among other inane defenses was this: That’s what good-quality CEOs cost, and we want good CEOs, don’t we?

Eventually, most of us got our $.25 per hour raise, and one of us got a black mark on her record for spouting off to the wrong person about the disparity between CEO salaries and the salaries of the rest of us who actually do hands-on work.  The organization I work for is huge, spanning several states, marching towards a monopoly on its product, thanks to our CEOs, presumably, but I no longer buy the austerity pitch I hear from supervisors and low-tier administrators.

In fact, I no longer buy it from anyone higher up on the food chain, certainly not from politicians who cry and moan about how the United States is going to run out of money in two days. Who are they trying to fool— each other, or the working class people who are already accustomed to the “necessity” of preserving  CEO salaries?

About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
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8 Responses to Crying, “Wolf!”

  1. Issam says:

    In Arabic we say:
    المضحكات المبكيات
    They are funny things that actually make you sad and cry.

    Capitalism is disastrous and even inhumane.

  2. Marahm says:

    For the first time in my life, I am inclined to agree with your severe assessment of capitalism.

  3. Issam says:

    That made me chuckle.

  4. susanne430 says:

    I don’t think capitalism is the problem. It’s greed. You can make money and not be greedy. Sadly too many people today love money and stuff and don’t care about people. That’s the disastrous problem, in my opinion.

    It would be nice if we worked hard, made things efficient, lived within our means and were generous with others. But too many people are out to acquire more stuff and improve their lifestyles with little regard for others around them who are suffering.

    This doesn’t only happen in capitalistic societies. In fact, I’d guess it happens in many different societies when people get selfish and live for themselves and stop caring about people.

  5. Issam says:

    The problem is that capitalism does not prohibit greed. If you prohibit greed and make everyone live within his means then you are no longer talking about capitalism.

  6. susanne430 says:

    I don’t want to *make* anyone do anything. I’m for freedom. I just wish people had the inner decency to love others. It’s a matter of the heart for me. Not outside regulators MAKING me do something. I want to do for others because God put His love for them in my heart and my heart beats with HIS compassion and love for others. NOT because my stupid gov’t *made* me redistribute my wealth. Huge difference.

  7. Marahm says:

    That would be ideal, Susanne, if everyone felt as you do, but freedom calls for allowing all kinds of people to hold all kinds of attitudes, including the attitude of, “Hoorah for me, and piss on you.” When enough people adopt that attitude, and start to control more and more resources at the expense of others, you have what we have now in the United States— a gap between the classes that continues to grow through no fault of those on the bottom.

    “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Who said that? You can see it in the United States every day. When CEOs take home millions upon millions, year after year, and other people have to scavenge for their monthly expenses because they were not smart enough, lucky enough, or ambitious enough to become CEOs, you have freedom in action.

    I’m for “my stupid gov’t” redistributing wealth in the form of higher taxes– much higher taxes– on millionaires and billionaires, and taxes on corporations who boast of increased earnings while not paying a cent in taxes, not a cent, ever, because Tea Party Republicans made sure they remain exempt.

    You cannot legislate against greed, but you can legislate against the extreme concentration of wealth that assures the rich of getting richer and the poor of getting poorer.

  8. susanne430 says:

    I think those businesses should pay their fair share in taxes. I was upset reading earlier this year about GE finding loopholes and not paying federal taxes. It’s outrageous and maddening!

    I’m sorry if I seemed to defend the greedy folks. My point was more about capitalism since I don’t think greed is only in capitalistic societies. It may be more prevalent, but I see it elsewhere in the world also.

    It makes me sad to see people go without and I think our country would do well to remember the poor instead of funding a bloated government that can’t seem to do much of anything except spend money, fight and give us a way too big defense.

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