Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here Come Those High Health Care Costs

Around the country you're hearing all kinds of complaining from conservatives about how difficult it's going to be for businesses to operate.  Health care costs are going up like crazy.  I guess we'll have to lay people off, cut wages, etc.

It's true that health care costs overall have risen recently.  The lowest amount they've gone up in about 50 years.  The Kaiser Foundation is a non-partisan health policy group.  Yeah, premiums are going up.  A strikingly low amount.  The lowest amount they've gone up in the 14 years Kaiser has been doing analysis.  Preliminary analysis going forward is that this trend of smaller health care cost increases should continue for a while.

What corporations are going to do is pass on the burden of this rise in health care costs to their employees.  We got to.  We have no choice.  It's really bad now with Obama.  Well, if that line works to trick you into thinking they're telling you the truth I guess that's what they should do since profits are the goal here.  But if you are aware of the facts you can at least call out their BS, as Jon Stewart does below.

34 comments:

Chad said...

I thought you studied these things? You know that the costs remained low because employers changed plans to higher deductibles and the full implementation of Obama's mess doesn't start until 2014. I read (and see it in my budget) the real affective increase is 13% so save it. This is like the unemployment rate - the published one and the real one that is about 18%.

How about any increase at all when families make $4k less and we are spending more / much more on gas and goods.

Thanks for the laugh though.

Unknown said...

@ Chad : Yes, it would make sense that costs start to increase in 2014... but if American's wanted real savings they should have pushed for the public option.

I'm a U.S. citizen living up in Canada... sadly I have to pay the full price for my heatlhcare because I'm not Canadian (if I were, it'd be free as I'm a student). The full-price is $64/mo. with a zero-deductible. Out of curiosity I checked what a similar plan would run me back in the States and it would run at $160/mo.

The reason the prices are going to increase in 2014 is because insurance companies will only be able to take a % of what they spend, so the system encourages them to spend more. So the good part will be that there will be more incentives for the insurance companies to spend extra money (because then they can charge more and keep more) and that any profits they are making are also meaning more money going into services, though this won't necessarily improve services...

All I can say for certain is that the system we had was an absolute joke. On the whole we were spending twice as much as Canada and getting worse healthcare outcomes. The only insurance company in the States that I know of doing a good job is Intermountain Healthcare, which is a non-profit. The idea that free market insurance and healthcare = cheaper and better healthcare is an absolute joke and the rest of the 1st world is laughing.

P.S. I wouldn't call the Canadian system ideal, but it's comparable since we have similar histories and both of our modern systems have similar ancestors. There are number of better systems out there, which I encourage anyone to explore.

Chad said...

Unknown -

How long for a hip replacement? What about heart surgery in Canada? My father would be 6 feet under if we lived in Canada. Diagnosed with 95% blockage on a Monday @ 8 am during a physical, he was on the operating table 8 am on Tuesday.

Why is it then that my Canadian friends and many of my customers close to the border come to the United States for any major surgery or medical needs? I have a friend/client who drove his son 8 hours with a broken arm to make sure it got set in the United States because he wanted it set properly. Your own citizens come here.

If you ration anything and use the power of government to dictate price then of course it will be cheaper, but the joke is that Canada's overall health care is anywhere near that of the US. Our walk in/urgent care clinics in the US are better equipped and have far better service than most hospitals in Canada. Bottom line - you get what you pay for.

Competition and free market basics will solve the problem. It may not stop prices from rising since workers demand more every year, since regulations push up costs of goods and services every year, since there are new legacy costs, legal issues, government taxes, free-loaders and so on, but good old healthy competition is the answer.

The gov't has absolutely no business in health care - it is not in the Constitution, it is not in their charter or responsibilities and they have essentially ruined every program they touch anyhow. However if they want to 'setup' a public type exchange with absolutely no penalties on individuals and no penalties on employers then give it a shot. If their idea is so great, wonderful and good then they will not need my participation anyhow.

Its always funny how Liberal ideas require forced participation and gov't collusion in order for them to 'supposedly' work.

Chad said...

Unknown - You also have to ask youself a seperate, but linked question. Where does it end? Healthcare is today's target by gov't - they know better than all of us they are going to use the power of the IRS to implement, fine and imprision anyone who will not conform - think about that for a second. The ripple effect throughout the entire medical community will not be known for years/maybe decades - doctors threatening to close practices, less doctors going into the practice, drug companies who will not have resources (money) to spend on new drugs so they won't and even if they deliver the cure for Cancer - the gov't will force them to sell that cure for whatever they choose. It will no be profitable or viable to be in the medical/drug field. Another words a 'good intention' idea will consequently and potentially kill Americans down the road.

So now Gov't is in healthcare so the next logical step is to control the costs right? How do you do that outside using government like a sledge hammer to dictate prices/limit doctor salaries and so on? Well you implement laws about foods - you regulate what foods can be consumed, you make it illegal to consume alcohol, pop and other drinks not healthy - you shut down McDonalds because of the number of heart patience needing surgery. Once they have control of food, next will be cars - they go to fast and kill too many people so they will regulate cars that go slower and that will not allow a single electronic device to work while on because that is a distraction too.

It will not end.

4tomic said...

Pfffffffttt... hahahaha... nice try...

-There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are sometimes longish waits for elective care and reasonable waits for specialists care. And Canada has lower incident and mortality rates for all cancer treatments and for all heart surgeries I've seen researched.

-Canadians aren't flocking to the US for treatment and you don't have Canadian friends. The peer-reviewed journal health affairs did several different studies on the matter. They looked at 136 hospitals near the border and found that Canadians were receiving treatments in the U.S. about 0.5% of the time. Only 20% of those were elective (the others 80% were urgent care, i.e. from tourists). In Ottowa they even set-up a system where they would fly anyone wanting elective care to the States for free and they closed it after a year because only one person had used it.

A very few ultra-rich do go down to get instant treatment on elective procedures. Hip-replacements is one of the more popular of these, but it's very very very rare. I know plenty of rich Canadians near the border but have never met one who elected to go to the states, and we do talk about healthcare a lot here... if you couldn't tell by now.

The best part about Canada is that it makes sense to do preventative treatment in this model, so preventative care is employed much more.

The biggest problem Canada is facing is treating people up North because it is a cold hell and doctors don't want to live there. They do also have shortages at times of doctors, which is more of an issue of not having enough universities that can take on these specialist programs.

Also, Canada has private insurance and private clinics, though the clinics can only find business for quick small treatments or prescription fills.

- Sadly the Canadian government has their hands tied when it comes to dictating prices on most things. By fair-trade they can't dictate pharmaceutical prices which are the biggest costs. And because they need to stay competitive with specialists, some doctors get to make $1 million a year for looking at x-rays on their ipads, while they sit at home. On the places where they do dictate prices for doctors, it ends up that the hospitals and employees make roughly the same because they aren't having the cost of legions of staff to file and pursue claims with insurance companies.

This brings me to my favourite conundrum of the U.S. "free-market" system. The public pays for the R&D and the private companies get to own the patents and set the prices (especially in pharmaceuticals). This was also the biggest failure of the Obama administration, since they didn't address it and actually signed promises they never would.

For more on the pharama companies using up public money to do their R&D, I suggest a great reading found at : http://www.citizen.org/publications/publicationredirect.cfm?ID=7065

4tomic said...

*reposted with grammar fix*

Ugh... didn't see you replied twice... so let me address the later post.

To start, where does it end depends on which system you're talking about. Canada, Obamacare, Switzerland? I will say that I agree with you that Obamacare has some flaws that might have negative effects. Though I imagine they are less negative or equally negative to what we had before (which really was looking like slippery slope).

Second, the drug companies don't research cancer. They research beauty products and weight-loss meds. It's MIT that researches cancer and it's the public that pays for it. Again, look at that public citizen report, or I can post plenty of other more recent peer reviewed articles on the issue if you want more.

Third, "Where does it end?" My hope would be that it would end at public healthcare delivered at the State-level in a balanced non-profit systems, that are unique and flexible to the wants of each state. I agree the national gov't has no business in healthcare and would probably ruin it. Decisions simply take too long to get made at that level and there isn't any democratic process by that point.

Fourth, Marijuana IS the cure for cancer!*

Fifth, let's not use slippery slope tactics...

Sixth, I'm sure it will all end sometime (meteor, nuclear war, or the sun dies).

*#4 was just some liberal comic relief

Jon said...

Chad, the caricature of the right wing is that they don't look at the world and use facts to inform themselves. What they do is draw conclusions first, often what they want to believe. They then go to the facts and use them only to confirm what they think they already know.

I think you just illustrated this really well. My very first link is to a study about overall health care costs. Not just premiums. Overall costs, including deductibles. They are at the lowest level of increase in 50 years. Hey, if you don't want to look at my sources that's fine. But it's rather incredible that you can tell me I haven't looked into the facts when I put the facts right in front of you and you go on and talk like you didn't even see them.

Let's also notice that I didn't credit Obama Care for this turn of events. You're right that Obama Care hasn't been fully implemented yet. And yet everyone is quick to point to Obama Care and pretend it is the root cause of a dramatic cost increase. #1, the increase this year is actually low and #2, Obama Care hasn't been fully implemented yet. Take a look to the facts before drawing conclusions.

Explain what this 13% is that you are referring to. Are you saying that your personal budget shows a 13% increase? I make no claims about your personal budget. Maybe the company you work for saw a small increase in health care costs and despite that decided to pass on a large share of the burden to you. I'm not denying that. If you mean something else please explain, and sources would be great (I'll actually look at them, and I think you should start doing the same).

Chad said...

I could honestly care less if Gov't ran healthcare actually reduced costs - its not the charter of the US Gov't to run healthcare at all.

Yes - our deductible went up along with costs increasing our insurance burden by 13% with a major carrier/company my wife works for. They are now warning that they will pay the penalty based on the health care law.

Here is a snipit written by the CEO of my wife's company prior to election day. Mirrors what every major, medium size and small companies out there are saying - you look at your stats and I will continue talking to the people/job creators who are looking at much higher costs.

"According to the Supreme Court, the new health care law amounts to the single largest tax on Americans and business in history. We have spent a lot of time over the past months trying to understand the impact that the new law will have on our company. Currently, xxxxx spends $130 million providing competitive healthcare benefits for our partners. Under the new law, we estimate that our health care costs will increase by over $50 million, taking the total we would need to spend to provide the same level of coverage we are currently providing to $188 million."

To be continued.

Chad said...

Part II

- While one of the original intents of the new health care law was to provide broader access to health care for all people, the law is actually set up to allow companies to eliminate their health care coverage and instead pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee.

- xxxxx understands the importance of competitive, comprehensive health care coverage to the health, well-being, and engagement of our partners and has no intention of dropping coverage at this time. For perspective, consider that this penalty would cost xxxx about $50 million – that’s about 30% of what xxxx’ health care costs ($188 million) would be if we continue to offer health care coverage to our partners. Now consider the potential impact that the law could have on the many smaller and/or less fiscally solvent companies that make up our communities. These businesses are our customers and they employ our friends and family.

The second key issue is the potential of government to increase current tax rates. Taxes are like any other cost to businesses. Ultimately, they are passed on to customers as higher prices for products and services. This would mean that we could all be paying more for the things we purchase every day such as milk, bread, gas, clothing, etc. For xxxxx specifically, this would mean that our customers ultimately have less money to spend on our services. This obviously leads to less money for xxxxx to reinvest in our business and our partners.

Finally, while some government regulation is needed for all businesses, the current economic uncertainty faced by many of our customers prevents them (and xxxx) from growing in the way we would like. The over-regulation that business is facing today from the various administrative agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Security Exchange Commission (SEC), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and others is suffocating many companies. This uncertainty felt by many of our customers about their ability to run and grow their businesses prevents them from adding jobs which hurts our ability to grow and add jobs.

Signed CEO of company.

Chad said...

Now I am no math scholar, but it seems to me that jump in costs is more than your article outlined - who should we believe the money hungry CEO or your article?

What is tangible to me is what my bottom line says and that is that we had a higher deductible and our insurance premiums when up $19/week this year poised to take another jump in 2013.

Chad said...

Question - If the idea is so strong why are so many companies looking for exemptions? It was at one point over 750 - not sure what it is now and included groups like the SEIU and of course a laundry list of Unions.

Just curious about that.

Chad said...

4tomic - I know it is a right wing rag, but http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/09/the-canadian-patients%E2%80%99-remedy-for-health-care-go-to-america/

Here's a LW spin - http://caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/2009/08/21/canadians-crossing-the-border-for-u-s-health-care/

Last but not least there is this article to combat your stats.

http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/11/report-thousands-fled-canada-for-health-care-in-2011/

When you top notch care - you come to America.

At least I found 1 Canadian that likes the Health Care System - mark that off the list.

4tomic said...

On the subject of money hungry CEOs, I always take their words with a grain of salt.

As for "your healthcare costs going up" is the bottom line, you should come up to Canada... (though I guess there was that second bottom line which was the government has no business in healthcare)...

Anyways, it's awesome up here. I'll write you a letter for your permanent resident application and help you learn the Canadian spellings. Do watch the hips though.

As for Obamacare... my feelings are (1) bits are good (2) most is just meh (3) and bits were obviously handwritten by the pharma and healthcare industry reps to the detriment of everyone and the insurance companies (though they had it coming). But I do think Jon's point still stands and his evidence is still grounded (we're looking at generalities, not case studies).

As for everything else, I could handpick lots of things in there to discuss for ages (the EPA would be my fav)... but ... we can save it for another time.

Chad said...

Honestly - I take most CEO's the same way. They mostly want to maximize profits and that is their goal - mostly.

I enjoy my time in Canada, but am not interested in living their full time. I spent a lot (and I mean a lot) of time in Windsor in my youth now I spend most of my time hitting customers from Windsor to Toronto (which is one of my favorites of all cities). Some of my visits take me to some pretty remote places - I sell products that are a part of the Exploratory Drill Rod market - down hole drilling for soil samples so I go to Quebec a couple of times a year as well, but no thanks on the permanant residence.

Jon said...

Did you watch the Jon Stewart video here, Chad? We are to believe that suddenly now that Obama has been elected bosses have turned into reluctant ass holes. Please. This is just the latest excuse to chip away at compensation gains Americans have enjoyed for so long. This endless, never satisfied drive for profits could drive us back to where we were 100 years ago, which is exactly what most of the world looks like today under capitalism. They do it in Indonesia today and you know they want to return to that state of affairs here. They'll get there if we buy these lines they continue to sell, which they may or may not believe themselves. This CEO is not the kind of source you should look to.

Chad said...

I rather look up to him actually - very much so. Lucky to call him a friend and mentor.

I get why your upset because I think you realize deep down that the Liberal movement will not win. The money folks, CEO's and businesses in this country will not allow it - Atlas Shrugged. It is more than just a saying.

When Unemployment hits 10, 11 and 12% that is when Obama/Lefties will fold over - they'll come crawling back.

Chad said...

Now the other shoe is starting to drop - due to a Confidentiality Agreement I couldn't say something earlier, it I work with several Medical Companies (tubular products) as well - layoffs are coming!!!!

Stryker Medical just laid off 5% of their workforce and there are several more positioning to do the same.

Are there any companies in any market growing? The Steel market has been laying off large chunks of people, power generation - well we know that market is in trouble since the Left has EPA'd them to death, medical companies - laying off and the newest best one Hostess is closing. Just think how F'ing stupid those employees/Union is - reduced pay or no pay and they choose no pay.

Hostess will be bought eventually I suspect, but I would be floored if it doesn't land in a right to work state.

Rock on Progressives!

4tomic said...

Lol, Atlas Shrugged... the best piece of evidence you can bring to the table is a work of fiction.

I'm sure your boss is a good person. I bet even the owners of Shell or McDonalds or Monsanto are good people who I'd love to sit down and enjoy a conversation with. Actually, I've read writings on from the CEO of Shell who is an environmentalist and sees eye to eye on me with lots of issues.

Finally, there are plenty of growing markets. Biomedical and medical products being two of the fastest growing and picked up pace after Obama took office. And growth doesn't equal layoffs, many industries are growing while laying employees off because they are becoming more efficient with technology. Is that the fault of Liberals?

Actually who says markets SHOULD be growing? Wouldn't you think that most markets should be holding steady and most old markets should be dying? Wouldn't that make sense in a world in balance. In nature, we call a continuous growth a "cancer".

Sure we have experienced growth for the last century, but is that a norm we should always expect or is it because we were expanding into new resources? And let's not forget why we have been growing! When the economy slowed in Reagan's time he knew exactly how to make it grow more in 4 years! Just increase public debt hugely! And he did and everyone after him did it, except Bill Clinton, the only actual fiscal conservative who ever sat office in the last half of the century.

I actually do consider myself a fiscal conservative. If you voted for Romney, then you certainly aren't because he wasn't a fiscal conservative any more than Obama was. In many ways he was less of one, since he was proposing less cuts to spending and less income for the government.

Examinator said...

Unknown,
You are spot on the rest of the first world does laugh at the US system.
I'm now living in Australia permanently.

Chad as usual, is off with Extremist Pixies (i.e. the Black or white mind set. He can't conceive of any variation that isn't one extreme or the other.

Aust like Canada has 'universal basic public hospital health care' takes 2% tax for.
The government strongly encourages private health coverage to which you can get extras...hearing aids, glasses, dentistry etc. you get 30% fee tax deduction. a family can get family coverage for about $1500 pa
Most GP clinics Bulk bill the govt (free)
No one goes to jail and the % rate has been the same for I believe since 1978.
Oh yes, hip replacements are free through the public system and if it is an emergency then it's now! If it isn't life threatening you use your private insurance and get it. What it isn't is as outrageously expensive as in the states.
BTW there aren't any struggling Doctors.
My GP works (not own) at a bulk bill clinic and drives the latest Upmarket BMW his wife a Benz, lives in a MacMansion and his children all go to private schools.

If any party tried to change that the party would be politically lynched.

Oh yes meds are cheaper too the govt bulk buys and the drug companies *fight to get on the scheme* but if you want a drug not on the scheme you can get it and pay more.
There are lots of options for the Chads of Aust.

But then again most Aussies can conceive of more than two extremes i.e. free or bloody expensive.
Did I mention that health insurance is paid by the citizen and is independent of the employer's moral stances.

Jon said...

Chad, what I think you should notice is how quickly you form judgments though you don't have the information to know. This is just a very common feature of the Republican brain. They can't possibly know. But they think they do.

What do you know about the Hostess/union dispute? What do you know about management decisions and/or competition that also could have contributed to the closing? I suspect all you know is that the right wing blames the union, like they often do, and that's good enough. End of discussion. The union is all to blame.

I'm not saying the union is not to blame. I'm saying what I think you should also say, but are just not a position where you can. I DON'T KNOW. That's really hard for Republicans. They struggle with nuance and uncertainty. They just refuse to accept it, even when the evidence is insufficient to provide certainty.

I heard a great quote. Forgot who said it. It goes like this. The problem with people is not what they don't know. It's what they do know that ain't so. You've got to stop putting the cart before the horse. First gather the facts. THEN draw the conclusions. Republicans are highly prone to what is called confirmation bias. They already know. They then go to the evidence only to confirm what they already know, not to formulate an opinion. You have the process backwards.

Examinator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Examinator said...

Jon,
Much of republican (conservative) arguments tend to be also non sequitor in that the facts(hmm) he offers don't add up to their conclusions.
A bit like saying “my neighbor's cat has 4 legs (albeit temporarily ;-) ), it eats wild life, my dog has 4 legs it chases wildlife. Ergo solution for saving wildlife = remove one leg from all cats and dogs!
Chad's argument about all the red tape is one such argument. Remove red tape and bingo we have a healthy economy. What he can't get his head around is that those regulations are there for a good reason ...he maybe an exemplary employer (hmm? Then I doubt that I was/am either ) there are many, many more who aren't. One only needs to look at Chinese mines ...safety? (That's a capitalist concoction to disadvantage Chinese mining).
One could also argue that both his and the Chinese arguments are both way too simplistic.
This simplistic mindset tends ignore/dismiss them as ('externalities') being myopically focused on the specific goal of growing a business ( all the rest is someone else's problem [SEP]) . They can't get their heads around the fact that nothing exists in a vacuum. EVERYthing has consequences.
The conservative mind set (neuro- psychologically) is more inclined to have issues coming to grips with unknowns or unpredictability (NB this does NOT mean they are less intelligent rather their specific genetically coded instincts, as manifested by emotions, tend to be more dominant) . Hence they tend to revert back to that which they know (read comfortable with) be that something they don't have to think much about, black or white extremes i.e. nice neat simple packages . One extreme form of this is the conspiratorial mindset. They will concoct the most amazing conclusions (explanations) for that which they don't understand/know rather than accept that some things are beyond them.... research has shown that those people are more likely to be conservatives. (NB this is a sliding scale) . One can't say that all conservative are birthers, 911 nutters, shadow government theorists (extremists) but there are elements i.e. Obama's policies are “socialist (?) plots to undermine business and private ownership/rights. They are simply ordinary people doing exactly what conservatives do striving for THEIR rights.
I do note with some wry amusement that Chad aggressively attacked hold degrees as being a good measure of knowledge and smarts. Yet when under pressure he waves his corporate title and that of others. Neither on their own are proof of much.
I've stated this many times Despite that I've held both senior management titles and degrees yet I make no claim to being an expert on anything.
On one site I contribute my lack of specific expertise is often obvious and I admit so.

Jon said...

I think you're right Ex, but I also want to give Chad some credit, as he deals with several of us here piling on. Unlike a lot of conservatives at least he is here and interested in reading what the other side has to say. I think that alone makes him more informed than 95% of the people in his camp.

Keep giving us hell, Chad. I am glad you are here.

Chad said...

JC - No prob sir, but not sure who is pulling on? I don't read anything Ex has to offer so I must assume it is him.

You toss some stats at me, articles and other things I can take a look at. I am rock solid in what I believe in my soul though even if and here is the tricky part - even if there is some evidence that the outcome may not help the scoreboard on my behalf at this time.

Sure Hostess is a combo of a bunch of issues, but the breaking point was a Union that refused to look at facts of the market. If they would take the 8% reduction and pop several golden parachuttes to extract their pound of flesh I am for that. I heard some in management got raises during times when employees were asked to take a pay cut - no.

Now here is their chance - the employees, the Union, the Left - Hostess is for sale last I knew. Everybody put their big boy pants on, go get funding and buy it - it's for sale so get it done.

That's where your never going to win an arguement about Biz Jon. If you don't like Bian - Build your company Jon and compete, employees want to run ownership/management off due to high wages buy them out when the company goes belly up. Or they should all quit and start Hosty instead of Hostess and compete.

If Owner/Management wantto take huge bonuses then there is a chance for a fiscally responsible company to compete with a cheaper product.

Chad said...

Probably time for a quick back story here - just want you to keep in mind that my attitude about going out and starting a new company or buying out bad management by the employees is not just my Right Wing/Capital Driven from the back seat mission statement. I have lived it and done that on multiple occassions.

In 2000, I was working selling printing supplies and was successfull to a point where in 2 years I doubled my salary/commissions. One of my customers was in the sports software business - they developed products that worked on Palm devices. It was of great interest to me - one day I was talking with the owner (Previously a Pro and College Football Head Coach) and I asked how I can earn a spot on the team - he told me flat out they had no money to offer me a job, but I could review 1 particular program in their series - make some evaluations and they would pay me a small consultation fee if anything I offered was incorporated - they gave me baseball which is my bread and butter. I took the challenge and after they spent a little time reviewing what I put together he asked for another meeting. I remember it to this day - they wanted me on the team, but money was tight - the offer would cut my earnings back in 1/2, but I would be in charge of all program redesign - complete control. I took it.

In less than 2 years we re-designed all 5 sports and 8 products. Increased sales by 25 times the previous high and subsequently my salary/earnings also grew significantly. Eventually the company was bought out by CBS Sports in 2004 and the introduction of 'free' application and I-Pad's introduced bigger challenges. They are still in business today, but the landscape changed and so did the company.

Chad said...

I stayed on board through the transition, but I didn't like the new direction and in 2005 a new opportunity came up - steel.

I could have stayed in my cushy positon working from home making a decent wage, but instead I entered the steel business in 2005. I took a $15k reduction in salary because I felt confident (especially after seeing/meeting the current staff) in my abilities to offer something they had not seen - the initial hand shake agreement with this over $100 million dollar in sales subsidiary of another much larger company was that I would come in at the basement salary/position, but would ask for comprehensive review of my efforts on day 365 to recover/advance my salary.

After 3 months I was promoted to Special Accounts Manager working directly with the Vice President of sales after 9 months I was in charge of accounts that made up 55% of all sales for the company (even though there were 8 other Inside Sales Reps who split the remaining 45%). My year 1 review - well it went pretty good - my salary was bumped beyond what I had anticipated and I was handing a seperate bonus check for work well done. Eventually I was promoted to Inside Sales Manager for the company - enter 2007/2008 when the steel world changed along with the rest of the world. Biz went straight in the tank and Management stood in front of all of us to announce a 10% immediate salary reduction for all plus they trimmed off some dead weight of 10 people.

However - we found out that Management did not take a pay cut, the $10,000 per month Country Club Membership for the Pres/CEO and 2 VP's still existed, the lavish spending still continued. One of the VP's spoke out said that Management needs to take similar reductions or more and the CC Memberships should be suspended.

When they refused he simply offered his resignation and 30 days later he started the company I work for today - we decided to simply go out and try to do it better.

4tomic said...

Chad, you've definitely lived a life you can be proud of and I am positive you made the advances and promotions you did by taking risks, and being creative and intelligent and systematic in your work, and I will be the first to say these are the ethics and traits we should be encouraging as a society.

I've worked within education and within technology and design most my life (and I promise I'm a lot younger than you). I graduated from my B.A. in 2008 and landed a job just before the crash. My class was very lucky, but we did have to see many of our younger friends jump into a very harsh job market, where they were suddenly competing against people with 5-10 years experience.

I've personally moved around a lot, and had my ups and downs financially, though I've always remained debt free (even when I had to take jobs I hated). Now I'm close to finishing my MA. I'm working on start-ups and on contract jobs mostly, doing some wage work part-time for the security. But I work hard and don't take pay checks from the government and wouldn't ever want to.

My perspective is certainly shaped by the times I lived in, I grew up in a time where it was very obvious the success you were going to be given was partially governed by the year you were born and the security your family could offer (could they send you along to graduate school?), in a generation where we were told by our seniors "It's ok to be paying 30-50k for graduate school! It'll be worth it!". Hard work and creativity were factors, but my hard working and creative friends who got the jobs were also being taken advantage of by companies who knew we were desperate. I sit in my schools and watch the next generation of teachers working so hard to get jobs and improve their credentials, while the most senior teachers have never developed themselves since they walked in (and part of that is because of the Unions, but much of it is because of the times).

As a teacher, I can tell you that the money someone comes from is far more important than their IQ. I've seen it in my classes and there is also very good research on the subject. Generation and birthplace is also a very big indicator. If you looked for the richest people in history, an overwhelming majority were born within a 10 year period in the U.S. As a tech worker, I also see it. If you were a computer nerd born in 1954-1956, it was very likely you'd be a billionaire or millionaire, if you were a tech nerd born before or after, it was very likely you'd work for millionaires or billionaires. Finally race is also very important.

Jon said...

We're back to your "big boy pants" and I'll say what I've said before. I do not share your assumption that being a man and earning lots of money are one and the same. I happened to be in Utah recently and saw a local story about a guy that makes $300/week. I think it said he teaches a language course (Japanese) for a few hours a week. He could work more and earn more but chooses not to because he prefers his own free time. He has no cell phone, but does have a computer. He uses Wi-Fi at the library. Has a garden. Apparently a little cheap property, probably with little taxation. Uses a solar oven to keep his costs down, grows most of his food. He pays for some gas for heating. That's about it. Maintaining all that plus work takes maybe 16 hours of work a week and the rest is free time where he goes to community events, spends time with family and friends, plays musical instruments for fun. Is he a man? Has he put on his big boy pants?

To me real men aren't so scared that they have to accumulate more wealth than is held by 1000 average men. So scared they must have this bag of money to protect them, and they are prepared to throw everything else out. Family, relationships, culture. Forget all that. I need to protect myself. It's kind of like these Republicans sending young men and women off to war to die because of this so called terrorist threat. It's a non-threat. This is not a war. But they tell others to go die because they are so scared they need protection. A threat that is so miniscule it is smaller than the threat posed by their own bathtub. They may drown in it after all. So scared that they tell the President "Take away due process, just kill people without judicial review, throw out all those protections that our founders and those before us took real risks to bestow upon us, throw it all away, I'm so scared of the Muslim bogeyman."

It's the right wing that needs to put on their big boy pants. Doesn't necessarily mean building up your money bags to insulate you from all conceivable risks. Being a man to me does sometimes mean staying home and spending time with your family, even if that means the checking account is smaller than it would otherwise be.

4tomic said...

Hard work and intelligence comes after all of these factors, and it is still very important. You won't find very many self-made men or women who didn't work hard or aren't smart.

My dad is the self-made man. He was born into a relatively poor family and was able, with hard work to become a doctor. I respect him a lot for this. At the same time, he paid for his medical school at Columbia by working part-time at McDonalds. Today no one who goes to Columbia works at McDonalds, no one at all period. And it's not because we are a lazy generation.

So now comes politics. Where do I stand there? My personal feelings are that I dislike big government, but not because they are handing out money to poor and education, because mostly they are handing out money and favors to the quite well to-do and the richest.

I dislike military spending a lot, because it is a) one of the places where we subsidies the wealthy the most and b) done nothing but continually worsen our national security (imo). I also am very much of the opinion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," applies to all men. Even terrorists. Especially terrorists. Like Chomsky says, if you don't believe in free speech for those you disagree with, you don't believe in free speech at all (and I see this going beyond free speech).

I do support education, environmental justice, and healthcare, because I believe that the best measurement for a countries success is its "equity". Equity isn't "everyone has the same amount of money", but is that the measurement of how much class movement there is (i.e. the chances a child born poor can become middleclass or rich, as well as the chances a child born rich could be come middle class or poor). I also believe in doing these things as close to the state level as possible (i.e. less big government), though I'd let the big government in on a few things if they actually could do them more efficiently (like using purchasing power on big meds).

I believe the biggest taxation without representation ever committed has come in the form of environmental abuse. That one generation cleared and sold 2/3rds of BCs forests is the biggest crime the state has experienced. From this industry there are a lot of good middle-class jobs, and a few dozen people who have become multi-multi-millionaires for this generation. There will not be any lumberers in my generation, except perhaps a few of the much cheaper pine forests that were planted in their place. These forests will be planted a few more times (2-3 maybe 4), and eventually turn to deserts as the soil is depleted.

Some might look at my views and see a conflict between my thoughts on people's rights, my dislike of big government and support of local democracy, and my strong value for entrepreneurship and individuality against my thoughts about equity, environmentalism, my dislike of corporations, and my values for community. Yes, there's a tension there... but I personally see it as a balance.

Jon said...

What do you think of these people that need their i-Phone 5 because of status? These people that exchange the 4 for the virtually identical 5 and have to make sure everyone knows. Do they have their big boy pants on? Are real men concerned about such status symbols?

The car I drive is the shittiest car in the whole parking lot where I work. If I had my way my house would be smaller and I probably wouldn't have a car. I'd walk to work and everybody could drive in with their big SUV and watch me walking along the side of the road as someone that has his big boy pants on and doesn't need to impress them. I don't care about the latest fashion, don't need the biggest TV, don't need a fancy computer, don't need to coolest car. I don't need anything for Christmas. And I'll be damned if I'm going to work 70 hours a week so I can buy stuff I don't need to impress people that I have no interest in impressing. In my world that is exactly what people with their big boy pants on do.

4tomic said...

Corrections

(1) BC is a province not a state.
(2) I should add that there are not many people coming from poor families in Colombia anymore either.
(3) I also might have sounded harsh on the older generation as having it easy... well, I do think they had it relatively easy... but I also want to thank a number of them for coming through and supporting the younger generation that didn't have it easy (and sometimes being great teachers/people even though they had it easy)!

4tomic said...

Honestly Jon, I think masculinity is just defined by having a XY chromo.

I think the "real man" argument is a dangerous fallacy to employ, but if I were to take a stance on it, I'd say "real men" don't ever talk about what it means to be a "real men" because everyone can just look at them to know. I'd think I can safely make the argument that real men use Ubuntu, as the only people I've met who use Ubuntu were indeed men (actually I think this is another type of fallacy anyways)

But I'd give you a fist pump for driving the shittiest car with pride and will happily write into your local county office to ask that they put in bicycle lanes for you for when that car starts breaking down.

I'd also back you in that there is nothing masculine about the Republican party... except maybe the women. Hehe... that was a low fallacy but I couldn't resist it.

Now... while I'm against making arguments on masculinity, I'm all for making arguments on sexiness.

And do you know which political party has sexy covered?




Neither of them.

Chad said...

JC - My big boy pants reference has nothing to do with accumulation of wealth or is determined by what items a person decides to buy with their earnings, how much debt they do or don't have, the level of charity or their religion.

It means - if you don't like it then take the risks needed to change it versus simply pulling out your finger and pointing to a person or group and saying see that - that greedy owner is the problem. Go to the bank, gather the capital or the employees and have everyone pitch in - buy/lease a piece of property and compete against the evil profiteers. Maybe your CEO makes the same as the guy packing your product and that is great. You can institute a 25 hr max work week, you can close every Holiday plus 1/2 days on Friday if you would like. The employees will love your Management Style.

That is the ulimate beauty about America - if you can do it better, put your BBPO and go to work!

Chad said...

BTW - my wife actually earns more than I do truth be told. The company I work for we are still young and we have a long way to go. When I started at my new job (this job) - another big pay cut again. Big risk leaving such a stable steel company to compete. The treatned us, sue'd us and did what they could to submarine every relationship we had - still are in fact, but we are fighting, still surviving and hopefully one day it will pay off. Maybe someday my wife won't have to work - maybe I can retire before 70 - we'll see, but the point is we are taking the chance and it feels good.