Archive for August 23rd, 2005

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.


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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