Pass the water bucket

These days I can barely stand to watch or read the news. It’s either more harbingers of doom, or it’s stories like this one, about people who helped bring our country to such a scary moment using taxpayer money to pad the wallets of their own execs. I read this kind of thing and I think, “Seriously? Do these people have any shame or decency?”

Then I read stories like this one. It’s about the CEO of a hospital in Boston who, instead of automatically laying people off, asked employees to help come up with ways to save jobs. People have responded by offering to give up vacation time, take pay cuts, etc. to help their co-workers stay employed.

It’s interesting reading – even (and in some cases, especially) the comments section, where people praise the CEO and also ask some good questions, such as whether he and his administrators are planning on making sacrifices as well. I haven’t looked deeply into the matter but it seems as though they are, and if so, I’m glad to hear it’s not just the rank-and-file who are being asked to help out. FedEx did something similar, with the CEO taking a 20% pay cut and slashing the pay of top brass 10% until matters improve. To that, I say, “bravo!”

Also in the Boston story comments: the expected whining about “socialism.” And here begins a rare semi-political rant. (Just the other day I was telling someone how I try to avoid talking politics here since dipping my toe into the water during the election–but I don’t think this has to be a political thing. To me, it just seems like common sense.)

Here’s the deal. Nowhere have I seen anybody suggest that experiments such as the one at the Boston hospital should become some sort of permanent system. What this looks like to me is a scene from an old movie where a house is on fire and the neighbors all line up with water buckets to help put out the blaze. Our nation is in an emergency. People are trying to administer First-Aid. And honestly, I can’t understand why more companies aren’t trying this sort of thing.

Say you make widgets and/or provide a service to consumers. People aren’t buying your wares because they don’t have jobs or are afraid of losing their income. So you respond by putting even more people out of work? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get creative, make a few temporary sacrifices, and try and help people at least hold onto their health care and a fraction of their income, so more people would feel comfortable spending money on your widget or service? Wouldn’t that help get the economy going again? Then when things pick up, you’ve got the staff to handle the increased workload, everybody can go back to taking their vacations, and you can add that million back to your salary. Seems logical to me.

It also seems better than the alternative, which is more people going on public assistance. *That* seems to really terrify the folks who like to clutch their pearls over “socialism.” Many of them seem to live in fear that their hard-earned money will go to a “welfare queen” somewhere who does nothing but live off the system. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, today’s “welfare queen” is just as likely to be your next door neighbor–or even you! If you can honestly say, should you lose your job tomorrow and have trouble finding a new one, that you wouldn’t take assistance to keep your children fed or help get them medical treatment should they fall ill, then I’ll listen to you worry about “socialism” all day long. Or perhaps you’re positive that you’ll never fall into that situation because your job is iron-clad, in which case all I can say is, “Wow. Congratulations!”

First Aid, people. Water buckets. Helping each other for a short time so we can get out of this mess and enjoy a more longer-lasting, stable period of prosperity. I believe in bootstraps and rewards for hard work, and even getting rich (heck, I’d LOVE to be wealthy – maybe someday I’ll write the next Harry Potter and disappear to a castle in Scotland). I also believe in flexibility, creativity and extending a hand when good people need help. I’d love to see more companies try that out.

3 thoughts on “Pass the water bucket

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am pretty conservative in my political views and have had a few concerns over what I feel are socialist leanings of the current administration.

    However, I whole heartedly agree with the hospital that you mentioned and its handling of the current economic situation. It is definitely NOT socialism. Why? Because these people are freely contributing to help each other without mandate from the government. I think this is a fantastic example of what happens when government gets OUT of the way and lets us figure it out. Bravo to that hospital CEO and the employees for a stellar example of how to behave in tough times. I wish more companies would think to do the same.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The public school systems in most of the counties in metro Atlanta are having to layoff teachers. Initially the rule was, the newest hires got cut. But time and time again we’re hearing stories of administrators offering to take paycuts and furloughs, teachers meeting to see if they can keep a staff member on (say one who is the family breadwinner, or a single parent). Many teachers who took a few years off to raise a family, are finding themselves on the layoff list since they get no credit for the years they worked before their break.

    This is such a contrast to what most of us are seeing in the corporate world. My FIL was laid off from his sales job after 28 years (and moving his family to 5 states) due to a ‘projected revenue loss.’ He’s now pushing 60, searching for a job and wondering what happened to his retirement plans.

    I want to gag when I hear people ranting about socialism. Since when is this country about every man for himself. If my tax dollars are going to help someone less fortunate, I say take ’em. I watched a cousin of mine graduate from high-school, technical college, land a great job and buy a house, all while raising a child because she got daycare and tuition assistance. She’s now a tax paying productive member of society. If that’s socialism then I’m OK with it.

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