Daily Kos features an article by Hunter on presidential candidate Rand Paul’s explanation for income inequality. The senator from Kentucky told Chris Wallace of Fox News: “The thing is, income inequality is due to some people working harder and selling more things.” Hunter asks an important question: How much is Senator Paul’s own success a matter of his hard work and how much of it is based on the great base of support built by his father’s decades of hard work? The same question could be asked about the Walton heirs.
From a different angle, how much harder do CEOs work than the average U.S. worker? According to the SEC (as cited in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune), some of Chicago’s CEOs must be working incredibly hard:
- James McNerney of Boeing earns $28.9 million annually, 611 times the average worker’s annual income.
- Peter Liguori of Tribune Media has annual compensation of $23 million, 487 times what the average worker makes.
The rest of the top ten Chicago CEO earn between $21 million and $15.6 million, which is also 466-331 what the average American worker earns.
My problem is not simply income inequality. When Senator Paul and other conservatives talk about hard work and “takers,” they disrespect the work done by millions of Americans. They project a divided society where the lucky few deserve wealth and security and most Americans live pay check to pay check in constant fear of losing a job and have little hope for the future. I don’t think the problem of income equality is simple to explain or solve. Dismissing it as a matter of hard work is insulting to all Americans.
Yesterday’s Redeye (Chicago Tribune) featured an interesting article on the growing time between first interviews and the time a job offer is made. In 2010 the average time for the interviewing process was 13 days. Now, according to research by Glassdoor.com, the average time is now 23 days. A client who is senior HR manager told me that this process is a good thing for both companies and applicants because more time is being taken to match the right candidate to the right job. She said companies lose millions when new hires wash out in the first 90 days.
That may be true. However, from the job seeker’s prospective, this increased waiting time sounds maddening. Part of the job search now means being more patient once the interviewing process begins. It also means that while you are interviewing you need to continue looking for other jobs. Just as a company focuses on its needs in evaluating and selecting candidates, job seekers need to give themselves every advantage and opportunity. Don’t wait for an answer that you might not want to hear. Keep applying for jobs and networking. You can always tell employers that you’ve accept a position. It will feel good.
If you are looking for a new job, you might want to consider how a company is rated by its current employers. Last month, The Chicago Tribune published its annual list of best places to work in metro Chicago. This list offers great information on small, medium, and large employers. I recommend that you follow these companies and jobs they have available. Salary is always an important factor, but it’s just as important to be at a place where workers are happy. Check out the Tribune’s list, and you might find an employer who will make your new year very happy.
Last week The Chicago Tribune reported that several large companies are bringing their call centers back to the U.S. While more Americans will be employed because of this shift, the news isn't all good. Many call centers pay low wages and offer little in the way of benefits or career path. Call center workers need to be smart and articulate. They have to solve problems while an angry customer often lashes out at them. How much are they paid for this service. According to the Tribune article, the average pay is $22,000 to $45,000 per year ($11 to $22 per hour). America needs these jobs. It also needs a raise.
On Sunday, April 13, The Chicago Tribune published a long article about a new trend that is taking money out of working people’s pockets, especially those who can least afford it. Rather than print paychecks, companies are issuing their employees payroll bank cards. Employers do this to save the cost of printing, which sounds like efficiency. The problem is that the employee now is paying fees that range from $1.00 to $13.00. Too often, the people holding these bad cards are low wage workers. If the employee lets his balance run below $20, she has to wait to access funds because ATM machines only dispense $20 bills. Another employee noted that the card only has his employer’s name on it, so it cannot be used as a debit card. Does this sound like a convenience for the employee? No. But it sounds like a great deal for the employer. What else should we expect in the Second Gilded Age?
Former owner of the Chicago Tribune Sam Zell claims that the 1% work harder than the rest of us. That must be why Tribune Media entered bankruptcy under Zell’s hard-working leadership. Once again we have a very rich person feeling sorry for himself while putting down the people whose hard work have made him rich. Zell claims that "Lots of people have come from nowhere and become part of the 1 percent.” Economic mobility in America is worse than it has been in the last 100 years. No one except the super rich and their lackeys believe in the pull yourself up by your bootstraps lie anymore. I don’t feel sorry for same Zell. He’s working very hard at feeling sorry for himself.
Writing in Think Progress, Pat Garafalo reports that billionaire Sam Zell blamed growing poverty and income inequality on social programs that are “deincentivizing” the poor. Zell said that rather than blame the 1%, we should focus on programs that give people something for nothing.
Maybe Mr. Zell should look at bankruptcy laws that have let his Tribune Corporation get out of liabilities while paying bonuses to executives. The same laws are written to trap working people and the poor in debt to banks for credit card balances and student loans. Why is there one standard for billionaire-owned corporations and another for working people? Isn’t that welfare for the wealthy?
Working people and the middle class should stop buying Zell’s newspapers, listening to his radio stations, and watching his TV stations. He doesn’t deserve our support.
The Chicago Tribune has published its annual “Top Workplaces” for 2011. This page, which offers links to each company's website, will be a useful tool for job seekers inChicago because it lists over 100 potential employers. Each company has been recognized by its employees as a great place to work.
If you have a specific, non-transferable skill (airline pilot, police officer) and are not seeking a career change, this list might not be for you. For most job seekers, however, it identifies established and growing companies where employees say they are happy. That’s a valuable resource to put in your job search and career management tool box.
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