When I reflect on the state of our society, I sometimes worry about how far we have advanced technically, but seemingly backwards in at least two areas: fundamental economic fairness and in our most difficult relationships, marriage. and the family.
Comedian Bill Maher is right when he was interviewed by Larry King on King’s 1,000th show, and noted that baby boomers hate socialism and love capitalism, and millennials love socialism but capitalism. is a bad word to them. I would add that in the full spectrum of baby boomers to the youngest of the current generation, too many people really have no idea of the complexity, merits and drawbacks of capitalism and socialism – myself included.
Additionally, and ironically, when in that interview King mentioned in a very brief aside that his friendship with Maher could have been the most cohesive thing in his life, he said it all. Marriage and a strong family are subjects that receive grossly insufficient attention from our secular society.
Perhaps Maher was the most pessimistic but insightful when he noted that we as a society may “not be smart enough to survive.”
Today I write about the intersection of economic equity and family structure – there are ways to survive and thrive.
A close friend of mine in his mid-30s worked as an Uber driver a few years ago, often in Seattle. Several times he hired passengers who worked for a Seattle company called Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company. As many readers probably knew before me, what is particularly noteworthy about the company is that its founder and CEO, Dan Price, caused a sensation when he hit the minimum annual wage at his company from 120 people, $ 70,000.
In a recent INC article online on Price, the author noted that after his announcement, “the grown men cried. Profits have skyrocketed. Then things got really crazy. This article explained that the idea started when a Gravity Payments employee took Price aside and noted to his CEO: “You are ripping me off.” The employee went on to say, “I know your intentions are bad. You brag about your financial discipline, but that just translates into my not making enough money to have a decent life.” The article goes on to note that Price, as a successful entrepreneur, went through a period where he remained shocked by this employee and felt that the real victim was himself. However, he gradually introduced the minimum of $ 70,000 and reduced his own salary from $ 1.1 million to $ 70,000.
While I’m sure there is more to the story, beyond what has been explored publicly or privately protected, Price’s unique move would certainly have impressed my father. His fictional 1968 book, “Candles for the Boardroom”, could be today, in my opinion, captioned: An antidote to Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal”.
One of my father’s favorite stories, which I never chose to authenticate, was attributed to financier JP Morgan and occurred around 1900. Apparently Morgan made a deal with a man and during the signing ceremony, he asked the man if he was making any money. on the case. The man replied that Morgan had done such a good job he hadn’t made any money. Morgan then replied that if he hadn’t done anything he was going to tear up the case and start over, and he did.
Apocryphal or not, I believe in our best times my father (now long gone) and I have tried to operate that way. In my previous role as a corporate legal advisor, I studied employee-owned companies and toyed with the idea of an expanded options program to give employees some of the action. However, Price didn’t just explore innovative ideas for getting a paid job, he acted on them.
Congratulations Mr. Price.
Still, let’s not be Pollyanna. Price’s innovations blend socialism and capitalism and must be viewed with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism. Similar experiments were attempted from the early days of the American colonies. Second, Price’s divorce in 2012 might hint at his intention: an individual-focused living wage, as is the norm today. Third, the concept of a living wage should raise the question of whether the focus should be on an individual or on a family. As innovative as Price’s minimum wage structure is, real innovation shouldn’t also consider the stay-at-home mom or dad, and compensation ideally encourages various forms of child-centered, sustainable family structures. I know of a married couple whose father has been at home for many years to raise their two daughters while the mother works outside the home. They are not at all well off financially, yet they are less and less of a rare couple.
These challenges are where enlightened capitalism and family structure meet.
It’s a tough intersection.
Contact Larry Little at [email protected]