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.