Rev. Nate Sprott
Power to the People
“Power to the people” a slogan generally associated when the majority of people are in struggle with the power elite. The United States has used this slogan since its inception, when the people, being the majority, are being taken advantage of, suffered unduly, being forced into servitude, the people of this great country do not hesitate to fight back. The British learned this the Southern states, and the major corporations of the 1900’s. The great depression brought upon the worst economic downturn in American history, one in which only a world war would elevate the country out of. With the end of the war Unions were strong, labor was plentiful and the value of the dollar solid as a rock. The American worker could graduate High School and find a job that would support a family with children with only one working spouse. Yes, there was still poverty, much of which had to do with racial tension.
You might be thinking what is a minister doing writing about the economy? I am not a trained economist, I am trained in Christian theology. Yet just as Jesus talked more about money than heaven or hell I think this gives any preacher of the gospel the right to speak on the matter. It is no surprise that the days of the “Baby Boomers” have ended. Today a young person goes into the work force and is paid 1/3rd of their predecessors. On top of that the cost of living has sky rocketed, the dream of a house 2 kids and a picket fence is just that, a dream.
The Myth of Hard Work
We have all heard that hard work is the way to the top. I am not saying that there is not truth and value in hard work. In fact, I am a believer in hard work and excellence. I am not a believer of hard work and excellence when the only one putting out the work is the one getting paid the least. The “common fold” you and me, have always been the ones that pumped the life blood of the country. Unfortunately, currently those who are pumping the blood are living off credit cards, forgoing necessities such as insurance, living with roommates (and not because they are lonely) and doing whatever else they can to survive; this while working to only maintain their current level of poverty. This is not how it should be, yet this is the America that young people are entering. It has become the norm; many people are making excuses for this condition. Telling the youth that they should be content, find their place, it could be worse, and the biggest lie “work hard and you will achieve success.” No, I am sorry that is not the truth. I am not saying that people are not working hard, they most certainly are, and doing so with much less. What is happening is working hard is not paying off for our workers.
At one time you would enter into agreement with a company to work hard, and in return the company would reciprocate. You knew that if you put in the years it would pay off in the end. Most workers would not make it to the top or become millionaires, but what was certain is they would end up retiring with a good wage and pension that would last the rest of their lives. In todays current market to be promoted means moving from job to job approximately every two years. One of the reasons for this is raises remain minimal, after two years the worker would find the new employee with zero experience making near if not the same as your current salary, this would not be negative if you were given adequate raises. Now it is not your new fellow worker who is to blame, it is your company who is trying to save money paying you just enough to keep you coming back or until you find something else that pays more. This creates another problem; lack of retention. Training a new employee is a very costly. Companies have decided that it must be more profitable to allow for low retention instead of giving adequate raises. One of the side effects of constant turn over is low quality. In fact, before you know it everyone is new, all the way up to senior management and without experience at the helm when the wind blows the cards will fall. To me this whole thing comes down to greed, and lack of faith in our fellow-man, that if paid just enough the worker will still do the job, he will keep clocking in because it is ultimately better than the homeless shelter or a family members couch. The bottom line is within the context of an organization hard work does not pay. Hard work does allow for personal success and is necessary for excellence, but to the worker who does not see its returns their hard work and pride in a company will quickly vanish into mediocrity.
What Companies Want you to Think
Congratulations you have just been hired! First, I want you to understand that companies are not the devil. The situation in which we live is that of a profit driven society. If a company does not continue to consistently make profits, then that company will be no more. But, let me tell you what you may not know when you agree to your new position. First you will always be underpaid. Right now, there is a movement in America to raise the national minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. Now just hear me out. Today in the United States the worker is being paid the same as the worker 30 years ago. I do not even have to go into a list of numbers to explain that the cost of living is not the same as it was back in 1987. What you might not know is that for you to be employed your employer needs to make more money from your labor than it cost to pay you. Now I do not disagree, obviously in a profit driven economy any employer must make profit from your labor. The question is how much profit? How much should a company essentially take from its employees? I do understand that employers also must pay inflated bills, yet for some reason paying the life blood of a company has remained the same.
Most employers also want you to think that management and executive positions which pay considerably more than the worker are somehow magically working harder and deserve more than “the little guy.” I have worked for a lot of people in my life, good people, people who deserve what they get paid, a good living wage. These people do have a lot of responsibilities and must make important decisions, but let me tell you first and foremost it is not as difficult as the worker. The guy making the least and doing the most, the backbone of the company who can barely pay his bills while the boss sits in banquet. I am not a complete hater, I understand that it is a dog eat dog world a good paying job is hard to get and when you get it you hold on to it like Gollum and his precious.
It is rigged
It is interesting to note a man deemed by the British media as the wickedest man in the world was probably more loving and concerned for society than many corporations. “The minimum wage shall be as such as is required for decent comfort, with a surplus for amusement & investments.”- Aleister Crowley. I completely agree with Crowley even 15 dollars an hour may not meet his standards of minimum wage with the current price tag of living. The issue is that those who defend the corrupt economic system which favors the rich and leaves the poor shackled to a job just to keep food on the table in the richest country in the world will proclaim “we choose to work.” Yes, we choose to work because it is better than starvation. We do take out loans, so we can buy a house and car and if possible take a vacation. Debt just keeps us more and more shackled to the job we only continue work because it is either that or the shelter. The employer also knows this, executives and shareholders know this. So why would anyone raise wages? It is time to stop thinking that your employer who gives a dime raise a year and expects you to be happy is looking out for you. In today’s economy we the worker must self-promote. It is becoming more common for the worker to move jobs every two years. Within a rigged economy we must find ways to fight back. One of the greatest disadvantages for a company especially when there is low unemployment is to retain employees. I will tell you what keeps employees, it is not hard, cold hard cash. There is no reason to stay at a job that pays less than the employer across the street. The game is about standard of living, and we the worker must not feel bad for the corporation, we should only feel bad for ourselves for not making the moves in order to advance. To end this rant of an article let me leave you with this. When you do achieve a position as an executive, if that be your will, make sure you start making a change. Remember what it was like. Do not think highly of yourself, and pay your employees what they deserve. Yes, the system is rigged but if we all work together we can make a difference and lift all of us up.