Monday, October 13, 2014

Inequality watch

alternet.org reports: "... only the rich get away with thinking that their luck and their flaws are actually strengths"

Paul Piff and his co-authors, who have done extended research on the behaviors of the wealthy,  find that lower class individuals are more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful than upper class individuals. In another study, they  find individuals with expensive cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and pedestrians. Further, in laboratory experiments, wealthy participants were more likely to take valued goods, cheat, lie and endorse such behavior. These studies have support from other sources. For instance, the wealthy actually  donate less to charity as a share of their income than the middle class. Their giving is more  dependent on the economic climate than the middle class. It is unsurprising that Christ warned, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

And then there is this, also from alternet.org:

Tyrel Oates, a 30-year-old Portland, Oregon-based employee of Wells Fargo, shot to Internet fame after emailing the company’s CEO John Stumpf (and cc’ing 200,000 other employees) to ask for a $10,000 raise… for everyone at the company.
Oates has been working at the company for almost seven years and makes slightly more than $15 per hour, working 40 hours per week excluding mandatory overtime. “Just knowing the unease of my fellow team members as far as pay goes and how horrible our pay increases have been over the seven years… I just decided to send a letter to John Stumpf,” he said.

In the letter he wrote:

This year Wells Fargo in its second quarter alone had a net income of $5.7 billion, and total revenue of $21.1 billion. These are very impressive numbers, and is obvious evidence that Wells Fargo is one of, if not the most profitable company in the nation right now. So, why not take some of this and distribute it to the rest of the employees.
My estimate is that Wells Fargo has roughly around 300,000 employees. My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars. This equates to an hourly raise about $4.71 per hour. Think, as well, of the positive publicity in a time of extreme consumer skepticism towards banks. By doing this, Wells Fargo will not only help to make its people, its family, more happy, productive, and financially stable, it will also show the rest of the United States, if not the world that, yes big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.

And the response from Wells Fargo?  Don't hold your breath.  The Washington Post's story has the bank's response.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said the company does not discuss personnel matters. In an e-mailed statement, she said the company provides "market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities." It also said the company has an annual performance and salary review and that compensation exceeds federal and state minimums.

And what does the Wells Fargo CEO make?  

In 2013, Stumpf's total compensation was $19.3 million.

In other words, ssuming a 40-hour work week, Stumpf makes over 600 times what Oates earns.

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