No Minimum Wage?

For my entire adult life, there has been an adversarial game played between employers and employees. The employees try to get paid the most for the least amount of work, while the employers try to pay the least for the most amount of work. In this situation, employers and employees are unhappy, less care goes into their products, and we all lose.

The popular solution is to increase the minimum wage, thus forcing employers to pay employees what we hope would be a livable wage for their work. While on the surface this seems logical, arbitrarily raising the minimum wage creates several issues: it puts tremendous pressure on small and micro businesses, creating the possibility that some employees will lose hours or their job entirely, and many businesses will deal with the increased cost of labor by raising their prices, thus creating inflation. For me, the real issue is it does nothing to address the underlying problem of the antagonistic game of trying to take advantage of each other.

Instead of raising the minimum wage, what if we were to regulate large corporations with an employee profit sharing rule? I would define a large corporation as one that has over one million dollars in net profit per year, but I’m open to other reasonable definitions. A regulation could be instituted that requires these companies to pay their least paid employee a percentage of their highest paid employee or consultant. (The definition of employee/consultant in this case would include board members.) Wages would include both cash and stocks, along with any bonuses. For mid-level employees companies would then set their own pay scales, which would obviously fall in between the lowest and highest paid members of the company. The exact percentage would need to be determined by a mathematician and economist. Of course, companies could choose to pay higher than the minimum percentage. To enforce the regulation, it could be verified by the already required independent accounting audit that publicly traded companies are subject to. Privately owned companies could have a line on their tax forms that verifies their compliance, which would make it subject to IRS auditing.

This is not a new idea. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream started out by linking the pay of their CEO and their employees. Although the company abandoned their ratio based pay structure after Ben Cohen retired, they proved not only can it be done, it can help lead a company to huge success both financially and in terms of social benefit.

Through a regulated employee profit sharing rule, employers are prevented from engaging in the workplace abuse of more work for less pay that has become standard practice for moneyRain-1268883_640many companies. Employees also gain a sense of direct benefit whenever their company excels, which will create better workers because when the CEO gets a raise or a bonus, so do they. This practice will help instill a feeling of pride in the work we do as employees, improving the quality of the products produced, and thus creating a secondary benefit to consumers.

A company run by employees who understand their work has a direct impact on both the company’s and their own bottom line ends the antagonistic game that plagues the American workforce. This results in happier, more fulfilled, and more productive people who are better equipped to compete at a global level of consumer trade.

What do you think? Would you trade a raise in the minimum wage for a minimum percentage employee profit sharing plan?

 

*I’m stepping off my little Soapbox now; however if you or someone you know is in a position to influence these types of policies, please feel free to use these ideas.

Please also share this post with those you know!

 

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Jenna

Petco Why Are You Trying to Poison My Cat?

My sweet boy cat has an allergy that makes him itch, and we’re pretty sure it’s corn. Each time I buy treats, I scan the label to make sure there’s no corn or corn-meal in there. Two weeks ago, I was rushing and saw a package of treats labeled “Limited Ingredient Recipe” and scanned it without thinking. Excellent, no corn. I bought the two flavors, duck and salmon.

My husband tried out the new treats. The girl cat refused the duck. They’d never had it, and she’s a picky eater. No big deal. The boy ate the duck, because he eats, or at least tries to eat, pretty much anything. After a few days, the boy is puking everywhere. Not the random hairball type of hacking, but the liquid spewing everywhere. Yuck.

I returned the duck and picked up another package of the salmon treats. Both cats love salmon. But the vomiting continued. This morning, my husband happened to read the package. GARLIC. No way. I looked at it again. Yes, definitely says GARLIC. And the treats are made especially for Petco.Treats3-20150529

Now, I’m not a cat expert, and I didn’t know until we heard it on a news segment a few years ago that onions and especially garlic are toxic to cats and dogs. I thought I must be remembering wrong, after all, this product is made for and sold by Petco, right?

A quick Google search confirms that the experts say:
“All members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage cats’ red blood cells if eaten in sufficient quantities. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions on an ounce-for-ounce basis, and cooking does not destroy the toxin…”
from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/foods-are-hazardous-cats

Also see: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/garlic/

I take full responsibility for buying and feeding the cats this product; I should have read the label more carefully. However, I never expected to buy poison for my cat. I mean, this is Petco!

I returned the treats to Petco today and pointed out that garlic is poisonous to cats. The cashier seemed unsure until I showed her the ASPCA website from my phone. She promised to talk to the manager about removing the treats from their shelves.

When I got home I called the number on the back of the treat package, which was Petco’s main phone number. I was told they no longer sold the treats. I said I had bought them just two days before. She corrected herself and said they were not available on the website. When I mentioned my cat was sick from them, she put me on a long hold. She came back and asked if I had brought the cat to the vet, and when I said, “Not yet” she suddenly relaxed. She took some information about the treats and gave me a reference number in case I wanted to “check back in with them in a few days” before hanging up.

When I searched for what to do for garlic poisoning, I found all the vet can do is supportive therapy of oxygen and hydration, which means the cat must heal himself. We’re fortunate and grateful our two sweet kitties did not eat too many treats, and they are both doing fine now.

Treatment Information: http://frontiervet.com/2013/01/01/onion-garlic-poisoning/

I’m still in shock at our discovery, and wanted to share this quick story. Please, PLEASE, read the ingredients in the food you give your pets, even if you buy it from a place you trust. Garlic and onions are toxic to both cats and dogs.

If you’d like to help, please also call Petco and/or check their shelves for Gourmet Tails cat treats, SKU#2282937. I don’t know if the other flavors have garlic, but the Salmon definitely does. Please tell them to be more careful with what they sell and ask them to do a recall of this product because it’s out there in people’s homes!

Petco: 1-855-FAQ-PETCO

Treats1-20150529

That’s all from my Soapbox; next week I’ll be back to writing my usually bright, happy words…

Thank you!

Discrimination Waiting to Happen (When Businesses Practice Religion)

Once again I am baffled by the Supreme Court’s ruling when it comes to the National Health Care law. They have ruled that a Christian-owned business does not have to provide insurance coverage for birth control pills. This decision is about much more than birth control.

The company owners argue that it is a violation of their right to practice religion without interference from the government.

In my Tai Chi class I met a woman who had a similar argument on an individual level. She was a Jehovah’s Witness who did not want to be forced to buy health insurance that covered blood transfusions or major surgery, since it was against her religion to receive blood from another person. I completely respect her and her right to practice those religious beliefs. Also, she had no interest in preventing anyone else from getting a blood transfusion.

If we follow the logic of the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, insurance companies should be required to provide insurance policies that exclude blood transfusions and major surgery to her and any business she owns. This means employees who get health insurance through this business would not have coverage for blood transfusions or major surgery, even in the case of a life-threatening situation, unless they signed up for a separate policy.

Right now, you’re probably saying, “Wait a minute, birth control is not the same thing.” But in this argument, it is the same. This issue is not about birth control or abortion or about blood transfusions. It’s about an employer forcing their religious beliefs on an employee.

You may say, “Well, the person doesn’t need to work there. It’s voluntary.” And yes, the person can go work somewhere else. However, the reason they would be leaving is discrimination.

Or the employee can find out how to get that separate insurance policy to cover the birth control or blood transfusion. They could call the insurance company directly; however the insurance company will need to verify employment, which means the Human Resources department of their employer would be notified. More likely, an employee will ask their HR person directly for information about how to get the extra coverage – if they even know it’s an option.

In the current legal case, the business owners claim they cannot facilitate anyone getting certain types of birth control; so would they purposely not tell employees they are eligible to get an additional policy that covers this?  Or do we expect the insurance company in a clear, easy to read manner, to volunteer this information to employees on their group policies with these exclusions, even though it will cost them more money?

Once HR is notified either by the employee or the insurance company, the employee has indirectly revealed their own, privately held, religious beliefs.

Asking an employee about their religion is illegal under own anti-discrimination laws. This information could then be used to prevent the employee from getting raises or promotions, or could target the employee as someone who should be dismissed from employment altogether.

In the Supreme Court’s written decision, it states: “The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero.” I have to point out that the given potential for discrimination, not to mention the extra time spent learning about and obtaining the separate coverage, is far greater than zero.

(If you want to read the ruling for yourself, it can be found here:  http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Burwell_v_Hobby_Lobby_Stores_Inc_No_13354_and_13356_US_June_30_20)

I love this country and the principles it was on founded on: that all individuals have equality under the law and the freedom to practice his or her own privately-held religious beliefs. Our country was founded on the ideal of individual freedom, and by concluding businesses are people who practice religion, that foundation is shaken.

It makes me sad to think if the example in this momentous issue were blood transfusions and not contraceptives, people would see past the specifics and understand how this ruling is not a protection of religious rights, but is really a brutal attack on our individual right to the freedom of religion without suffering from discrimination.

Of course, this entire issue could have been avoided if instead of requiring companies employing more than 50 people to provide a group insurance plan, the government required those companies instead to simply offer a voucher that could be used by individual employees to buy their own insurance plan. But that’s an entirely different topic, and I’m stepping off the soapbox for now.

Tax Political Contributions

 

This morning I heard something on the news about raising the federal debt ceiling. Not being well-versed in political matters, I’m guessing that means our federal government has raised its credit limit so it can borrow more money. I’ve done this on my own credit card when I’ve needed to make a purchase with my card, so I don’t see any great problem, provided the federal government can pay its bills.

A better solution to raising credit limits is to pay down the principal, thus making more credit available. This I have not heard anything about recently. I’ve had an idea rolling around in my head for quite some time, and I’m sure others have had the same idea. So if you are politically-minded, please feel free to use this idea. I would love to see it become a reality, but I have no idea of where to begin, so I’m starting here, on my humble blog that is ordinarily more concerned with spiritual matters. (Our political system can have an effect on our spiritual life, so it all fits.)

I propose a tax on all political campaign contributions collected. My first thought is to make it 10%, but 5% is probably more reasonable. However, even a 1% tax could make a huge difference. This tax would then be used for paying down the principal of the debt in the city, county, state, or nation in which the race is held. So, if it’s a local race, then the local area would benefit; if it’s a national race, then the federal debt principal would be paid.

For example, San Diego recently elected a new mayor. A political ad that ran on television stated one candidate had received over 5 million dollars from just one group. If we take 1% of 5 million, we could pay down $50,000 of the principal on the debt the city of San Diego holds. I don’t know exactly how much debt San Diego is in, but I do know from paying off my own debts that every little bit towards principal helps. Perhaps someone out there can do the research and provide examples of how long it would take to pay off city, county, state, and federal debt with this new tax. Even if it’s decades, that is decades sooner than the current pace.

This tax would be paid directly by the people collecting political campaign contributions. They are already required to keep records of the money they receive, so this should not be a burden. It also has the added bonus of contributors knowing that even if their candidate does not win, they have still provided a public service by making a donation.

Of course, we would need to ensure the money is put only towards the principal of the debt, and not used as a replacement for payments already in place. Once the debt is completely paid off, then the money could be directed towards improving schools and access to education at all levels. This provides a reward system for cities, counties, and states that pay off their debt. At the federal level, it could mean better student loan and grant programs, making life-long learning more accessible.

I don’t have statics to back me up, but I’m sure if we were to compare the amount of money spent on political campaigns to the amount invested in schools, we would gag in horror. I do believe we need political campaigns so every politician can get his or her message out. However this small tax would do a great public service by investing in our future.

So, anyone have an idea of how to get lawmakers pass a law that essentially taxes themselves?

If you do, please grab this idea and run with it!

One Issue. One Bill. One Vote

I’m generally not a very politically minded person. I’m much more interested in meditation and spiritual practice. However, when our government goes completely haywire, then it’s time for people to step forward with ideas to make it better.

At all levels of government, a way to keep it simple is to adopt a one issue – one bill – one vote policy. While this will exponentially increase the number of bills and votes, we now have the technology to do this. Long ago when everything was recorded by hand or typewriter, it made sense to consolidate issues into packages. With our computer technology, we now have the luxury of simplifying bills by single issues and posting the results of each vote online in an easy to access database for the public.

By separating issues into their own bills, politicians can be held accountable for how they vote. No longer will we need to wonder if our candidate voted on a bill because of the main issue or because of some “rider” that was attached to it. Instead of a huge “Farm Bill” there will be a long list of separate issues of environmental concerns and agricultural concerns. When we as the public vote on a proposition, it will be limited to one issue, which allows us to make a simple, informed decision.  No longer will politicians be able to bribe each other (or us) by holding disparate issues together and saying if you want this, then you also have to vote for that. Now of course this will still happen, with politicians making side room deals; however it will be apparent who voted on what, and we can use that information to make a decision at election time.

The budget process can be separated into its two basic issues by creating two phases. Phase one determines what items should be in the budget with a simple yes or no. (And again, the results of each candidate’s vote should be available to the public.)  Phase two will be the hard work of figuring out how much money goes to each item. No doubt this will continue to be a challenging task; however this is a main part of the job politicians are hired to do.

I’m sure others have thought of this. If enough of us demand that it happen, it will. Please feel free to share this essay, or copy it and claim it as your own if that helps get it to the people who are inspired to improve our political system.

Thank you for sharing your comments!