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Archive for August, 2005

Many thanks to all who prayed and expressed concern for me and my family as Hurricane Katrina struck. We got off pretty lightly, although it was scary for a while: Mobile Bay, normally about a hundred yards from my house, came literally knocking on the door (well, on the plywood covering the door) yesterday, but did not get in. The water came up high enough to slap against the house and then receded. As far as anyone around here can remember it’s never been that high. A neighbor paddled his kayak up and down the street. But other than a big mess and a section of fence that sort of floated up and away, we have no big problems. We even have electricity now.

Those who have had access to the Internet and TV for the past 48 hours or so know more about the situation in New Orleans and Mississippi than I do, but clearly it’s horrendous.

What I want to know, after four big storms in roughly one and a half hurricane seasons, is how much of a trend this is.

Maclin Horton

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Not So Calm Before the Storm

Maclin Horton

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The $37,000,000 Flip-off

I think a crucial point needs emphasis in regard to Michael’s account of the failing CEO who received the $37,000,000 severance package. The point is not the effect of that money on the economy as a whole, or even its direct effect on the company’s bottom line. The point is that it’s an egregious offense against justice, common decency, and common sense. Had the board of directors set out to find a way to communicate contempt to rank and file employees they could hardly have done it more effectively.

It’s also probably an offense against sound business practice, as it’s certainly hard to see how it benefits anybody related to the company other than the CEO himself, and possibly those who made the decision, who might hope for similar benevolence in their time of need. It doesn’t help customers or stockholders and certainly doesn’t help other employees.

I just don’t see how this kind of thing, which as we all know is very common, can be anything other than rich people helping themselves to more riches which they did nothing to produce or deserve. I mean, the guy probably already made multiple millions per year.

Maclin Horton

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The following observations are from Daniel Nichols’ brother Michael. "Yoyodyne" was the name of the giant technology corporation in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and no, this post did not originate in a fictitious company. Seems an appropriate place-holder, though.

–mh

While I’ve never been on exactly the same page as my brother in regards to political and economic issues, I must side with him now on several points. I believe interchanging the words "wealthy" and "employer" has muddied the waters of this thread. Having worked for Fortune 500 companies for the last 18 years I’ve been exposed to plenty of the former. I can tell you none of them "pulled me up." They’ve stood on my head in order to reach higher maybe…

Let me give you a few examples. I work in the IT field. Two years ago, our company earned record profits. The CEO received a cash bonus worth double his salary (along with undisclosed stock options). Some will say: "He was responsible for the growth, therefore he should reap the reward" which is valid until you find out how the growth was achieved. Each of us was required to up our workweek by 4 hours. Since we are salaried, we were not paid overtime. The customers, however, were charged the extra 4 hours per week times 30,000 employees. Money for nothing, as Dire Straits would say. That same year, I received, as MY reward for the extra work, a nice little 1.5% raise. The other very personal example for me happened to my wife (I hate to complain about this one because it was a blessing in disguise). She also worked for a large IT company. She was a manager for a software development group. It was discovered that "off shore delegation" (I just love corporate euphemisms) was very cost effective. In other words, you hire a bunch of guys in India and fire a bunch of guys in the U.S. (Indian guys being much cheaper). After 14 years with the company, she was brought into the office and told: "Sorry, you’re no longer needed" along with about 10,000 of her coworkers. That year was also the worst ever for the company, moving them from number 1 to number 3. They did what a company should, and fired their CEO. Here’s the best part…no, really, you’ll like this: they paid him 37 million dollars in severance pay. A large number of families could have been saved the turmoil of losing their income had the wealthy thought more of the workers and divided that amongst them to save those jobs.  Even had they only saved the jobs long enough for the employees to find employment elsewhere, it would have been a much more dignified parting.

On the flip side of this, had someone not had the foresight, bravery and capital to start these two companies, my wife and I would not have had the opportunities being employed there afforded us, such as salaries. I know when both companies were starting out, the owners actually knew their employees and were concerned for their health and well being. As they grew and the money became readily available (they became wealthy), stock performance took precedence above all else.

I suppose I could have summed this up quickly by saying I agree with Maclin’s comments on the wealthy versus small business owners/employers. However, reading that some people believe the wealthy are some sort of benevolent benefactors raised my blood pressure to the point I had to vent.

Then again, I guess it wouldn’t hurt when I finish this to shoot Ted Kennedy a quick email to see if he’ll help fund my children’s college education. It’s the least he could do.

Michael Nichols

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How Guns N’ Roses Came to My House

More sort-of-advice for parents.

Maclin Horton

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Just in case you haven’t noticed it, or aren’t aware of this feature of the TypePad blogging service: if you look at the fine print below a post, the line that begins "Posted on…," you’ll see an item called TrackBack. If the number in parens after that is non-zero, it means that another blog has linked to this entry. If you click there, it’ll show you the link(s) and a brief excerpt from the linking entry or entries.

So anyway, a blog called "Religion and Liberty" has linked to our "Religious Leaders Threaten Benefactors" entry, and, to save you the trouble of following the TrackBack, I’ve linked to their response: click here. It’s a bit long and, being pressed for time at the moment, I haven’t read it, but plainly it takes decided issue with Tom’s piece.

By the way: the title of that post ("Religous Leaders…") was mine, not Daniel’s (or Tom’s). I’m the proprietor, so to speak, of this blog, and therefore the only one who can post, since I didn’t pony up for the multi-author service. So when Daniel has something to post he emails it to me. He didn’t provide a title with this one and rather than wait for an exchange of emails I just gave it pretty much the first thing that popped into my head. So if the title is dumb or inappropriate, blame me.

Maclin Horton

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Bush vs. Benedict

There is a very fine article in The American Conservative on the tension between Pope Benedict and the neoconservatives on warfare in general and Iraq in particular: Bush vs. Benedict. Also in the current issue, though not online (yet?) is an incisive article by noted historian John Lukacs on the militarization of America from Reagan to GW Bush.

While I eschew the label "conservative" I find that antiwar thinking from
the Right (The American Conservative, Chronicles, A Conservative Blog for
Peace
) is generally more principled and cogent than that from the Left. I’m
not sure what this means. Now if they only would get over their hostility to (Catholic) Hispanic immigrants….

Daniel Nichols

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