Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Trust Gap Widening

It is not surprising to me that there is a growing trust gap between employees and management.  I also think this is becoming true state regarding corporate management and the public.  We hear all the chatter about fair pay and that "employees are our most important asset" but when you see management making up to 350 times the pay of the average worker, there is something definitely wrong. 
Of course we can say but that  the few billion dollars spread over a million employees may not make a great difference in the lives of those employed.  But what about it? Really?  What if an employee could make just $50 more per week?  Another $200 in the pocket of that family could mean the world to their children.  It could mean piano lessons, math tutoring, cheer leading, baseball, hockey, debate team, field trips and all types of things that would enrich the lives of our young people.  All things that could promote better citizenship and better lives for themselves and their future families. 

What does the extra $25 million do for the ultra rich who made $250 million already the year before?  Does it change their lives in truly meaningful ways?  More charter trips to the Bahamas, a new Porsche, a new 20,000 square foot mansion?  Is that really helping the future of our country and the lives of our working class Americans?  I think not.  I think the dream of Capitalism has been squashed by the quasi political corporate run government that has little to do with the people.  People are still believing in the American Dream but the likelihood of anyone become the executive at a fortune 500 company that has not gone to Harvard Business School or another Ivy League institution is very small indeed.  The corporations and politicians rule the world and make it harder and harder for the working class to even attempt to live the American Dream. 

The recent financial crisis gave the government the perfect opportunity to do something to level the playing field.  I am saying this with a bit of sarcasm of course, because most of the government has their own future at stake by maintaining the ultra high paying executives jobs that they wish to pursue upon losing an election.  It is completely true that not one politician spends his time doing what is good for the people.  At least not the majority of his time.  One of the first things I learned as an undergraduate in Political Science was that after being elected being re elected becomes the politicians most important mission.  It doesn't matter what people say or want after the fact or that the politician has promised certain things, they will move with the wind and daily gage where they stand in poles, therefore the agenda of the people who elected them is thrown out the window.  This was from World Politics 101 class way back when at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  This concept has never left me and it has proven to be true for years.  I would have been far less likely to be so skeptical had it not been for this class.
I mention it because once again politicians had a chance to make a difference in the lives of Americans on a mass scale recently.  All the hype of the Dodd Frank bill really was just hype.  The bill has little if any teeth and has done little or nothing to address the causes of what has lead to the "trust gap" and to what caused the financial meltdown in the first place.  It really is somewhat comical to see that the "say on Pay" portion of the bill only brought about opposition to executive pay in 39 out of 2502 companies. (cascio 9ed the trust gap) 

It is clear that shareholders are not the ones that really care about the pay differences between employees and executives.  The a average employee is not a shareholder and likely makes far less money than most share holders and has a much smaller net worth.  Laws in the stock market are in place that actually discourage the average American to own stock or to even vote in yearly elections. 
Why could their not have been a law put into place that gave employees a right to have a say in the ever increasing pay gap between employee and executive?  Why could their not be a law that says companies owe a certain amount of profit back to the employees before they pay millions of dollars to the executives.  What has the CEO of Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase done to deserve millions upon millions of dollars in pay over the recent years?  I could argue that they have done just the opposite.  They did not protect shareholders or workers and created products that were bound to fail at some point in the future, but far enough into the future that it would be hard to tell where all the law breaking began. 

The trust gap will continue to widen until there are laws that are put in to place that hold executives accountable not only to shareholders but to employees as well.  The fact that there have been so few arrests after the recent financial crisis that caused the obliteration of trillions of dollars of wealth is a clear indicator in my opinion that the average citizen has no say in what is going on in the world of finance.  Until we can hold politicians and executives accountable for breaking or bending the laws, we will see the Trust Gap become far worse.

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