A CLOSE LOOK AT AN INSIDIOUS ISSUE EATING AT THE ROOTS OF FREEDOM & OUR COUNTY, AMERICA

This is an article by Abigail Disney—yes, one of THE Disney family members—who is the president of Fork Films, founder of Peace is Loud and co-founder of Level Forward. It may test some of your views of management as it did mine, and I was a teacher of the subject for 21 years at a leading graduate school of business. The link direct to THE WASHINGTON POST article is at the bottom of this posting of it.   –scb 

This past weekend, I seem to have struck a nerve with a Twitter thread about wage inequality at the Walt Disney Co. — it is important to note that I speak only for myself and not for my family. The thread went viral, partly because of my name. But I suspect it would be far harder to get that reaction if my last name were Procter or Gamble. That’s because the Disney brand occupies a special place in our economic landscape. Its profits are powered by emotion and sentiment and, yes, something as fundamental as the difference between right and wrong. I believe that Disney could well lead the way, if its leaders so chose, to a more decent, humane way of doing business.

I had to speak out about the naked indecency of chief executive Robert Iger’s pay. According to Equilar, Iger took home more than $65 million in 2018. That’s 1,424 times the median pay of a Disney worker. To put that gap in context, in 1978, the average CEO made about 30 times a typical worker’s salary. Since 1978, CEO pay has grown by 937 percent, while the pay of an average worker grew just 11.2 percent.

This growth in inequality has affected every corner of American life. We are increasingly a lopsided, barbell nation, where the middle class is shrinking, a very few, very affluent people own a great deal and the majority have relatively little. What is more, as their wealth has grown, the super-rich have invested heavily in politicians, policies and social messaging to pad their already grotesque advantages.

In 2017, with the quiet encouragement of corporations across the country, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As billions of dollars landed in the laps of management, they spent as a rule not on their workforces but on wealth-enriching strategies such as stock buybacks and, yes, executive pay.

In 2018, Disney gave more than 125,000 employees a $1,000 bonus. But that $125 million or so was dwarfed by the $3.6 billion it spent to buy shares back to drive up its stock price and thus enrich its shareholders. Given that about 85 percent of stocks are held by the richest people in the country, this was a significant new investment in wealth inequality.

I have been quietly grumbling about this issue for some time now, uncertain how public to be. It is time to call out the men and women who lead us and to draw a line in the sand about how low we are prepared to let hard-working people sink while top management takes home ever-more-outrageous sums of money. It is unreasonable to expect corporate boards to act as a check on this trend; they are almost universally made up of CEOs, former CEOs and people who long to be CEOs.

Disney has pushed back by noting that it pays more than the $7.25 federal minimum wage. This argument fails to acknowledge that the cost of living varies from place to place and few can make do on that, no matter where they live. It also fails to recognize that the company worked quietly to try to defeat a ballot initiative to lift the minimum wage paid by certain employers to $15 an hour in Anaheim, Calif., which passed this past November.

At a company that has never been more profitable, whose top executives drive home with seven- and eight-figure paychecks and whose primary resource is the good-spirited, public-facing people who greet guests day after day, why are we dancing around a minimum wage anyway? I’m not arguing that Iger and others do not deserve bonuses. They do. They have led the company brilliantly. I am saying that the people who contribute to its success also deserve a share of the profits they have helped make happen.

There are just over 200,000 employees at Disney. If management wants to improve life for just the bottom 10 percent of its workers, Disney could probably set aside just half of its executive bonus pool, and it would likely have twice as much as it would need to give that bottom decile a $2,000 bonus. Besides, at the pay levels we are talking about, an executive giving up half his bonus has zero effect on his quality of life. For the people at the bottom, it could mean a ticket out of poverty or debt. It could offer access to decent health care or education for a child.

Here is my suggestion to the Walt Disney Co. leadership. Lead. If any of this rings any moral bells for you, know that you are uniquely situated to model a different way of doing business. Reward all of your workers fairly. Don’t turn away when they tell you they are unable to make ends meet. You do not exist merely for the benefit of shareholders and managers. Reward all the people who make you successful, help rebuild the American middle class and respect the dignity of the men and women who work just as hard as you do to make Disney the amazing company it is.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-time-to-call-out-my-familys-company–and-anyone-else-rich-off-their-workers-backs/2019/04/23/5d4e6838-65ef-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html

FREE LUNCH for YOU

No strings attached! My new novel, A Woman’s Prerogative, has been chosen by the Online Book Club’s (1 million members) as its Book of the Day on Saturday, April 21 based on a terrific, 4-Star-out-of-4 Stars Book Review by its professional staff of reviewers. To celebrate, I have arranged with Amazon to give you a FREE eBook of the novel. Who says there are No Free Lunches anymore!

 

Get one for yourself, your family members, as gifts for friends, and pass the word along to contacts you have. The giveaway starts this Thursday and continues through next Monday. 

I appreciate your interest. Starting Thursday, April 18, simply Click herehttp://bit.ly/womansprerogativebk

For more information on the book, Click here: 

scbwords.com   

Steve

 

PERSPECTIVE ON WRITING

Writing fiction is a creative challenge. Each word and sentence must carry its own weight. There is no music, color, or sound-effect dramatizing or softening the author-intended meaning. No motion picture helps cover gaps or adds pacing to the story. Other than five b & w illustrations, my new book, A Woman’s Prerogative, rides on the back of the nearly 100 thousand words between the covers…plus one other vital ingredient: you, the reader. You choose when to open it; you bring your mood, set the pace, and inject your own self and values into the spaces between words as you read See my comment below about three different readers. It’s your novel, too, when you finish! On my end, creating and launching Prerogative consumed much of my last two years. I loved writing it…for you.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 34 in the book: “Quid finally twisted the radio knob hard to OFF and it broke into his hand. He threw the pieces out the open window. Bam! Bam! Bam! He slammed the dashboard with his hand.

I’M CURSED!” he screamed out into Death Valley as he mashed down on the accelerator. The old stick-shift truck shuddered as it gained speed reluctantly. 

“GOD HATES ME AND THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME! he yelled.

“Even the Devil doesn’t want me,” he croaked again, and he eased up on the pedal. The truck speedometer retreated counterclockwise downward from ninety as the truck pressed on reluctantly across the endless desert.”

Recently Prerogative earned a 4-Star-rating-out-of 4 stars by a professional Reviewer. A condensed version is below. I also receive, and appreciate, regular, unsolicited, testimonials from readers I know and many I don’t know. I anchored three such testimonials below to show the differences those individuals readers had in their feelings about just the book’s ending. Very interesting. Professional reviewers try to present an objective point of view.

Both women and men seem attracted to this “Romantic Thriller with Historical Roots.” Be sure to read the brief but 99.9% true Prologue and the EndNote. In Prerogative, the targeted audience is women and men in—particularly those who prefer realistic thrillers built out of ordinary life experiences rather than spy rings, muscles, killing, guns, or make-believe circumstances.

In closing, here are three of the testimonials received chosen because they each hone in on the ending: 

              “What a book! The story moves right along. I found the interwoven plots were intricate but easy to follow. The details of Greta salvaging a family business while Alex has a go at trying to find a long-lost gold mine were fascinating. But the abrupt, surprise ending left me uneasy.” -D. Norris, author of, “I’ll Go-Reflections from 61 Years of Ministry.”

               “It’s 3 AM Wednesday morning in wintery Cleveland and I just finished the book. Could not put it down. It’s solid, front to back. I liked the ending and saw it coming.” -J. Cindrich, Croatia and USA.

               “I found Alex, 34, and the two supporting men, Quid, 27, and Frank, 65, to be well-developed characters. I could easily conjure images of Alex as a handsome, hi-tech geologist and professor as well as a romantic; Frank,65, a wizened but wise gold prospector with a big heart; and Quid, Alex’s reckless younger brother who was both funny and dangerous at times. I was less able to connect with wealthy Greta, 32, the primary woman in the story. While I appreciated Brandt’s focus on portraying her as a knowledgeable, assertive business-woman with political ambitions, I felt she lacked depth and warmth. Despite my feelings about Greta, I appreciated the book’s realistic conclusion, which was satisfying + likely, given the page-turner subtleties of the story. Additionally, the book appears to have been professionally edited, as I only noted a few errors in Greta’s lively business-turnaround efforts and Alex’s complicated role as a lover, geologist, advisor, brother, and school teacher.              

Steve

P.S. The color photo up top is of this writer and “Frank” (in the book) a few years ago.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

Aboard AH-Haa in San Pablo Bay north of S.F.

 

BIG BOOK PROMOTIONS COMING in APRIL & MARCH on AMAZON & OBC* They include a Free Lunch for YOU!

Click on my website & blog: www.stevenbrandt.com for up-to-date info on the newest novel, A Woman’s Prerogative. And The Golden Window-—Collection I – Poems. Separately, each received 4-Stars-out-of-4 Stars Book Reviews from different professional reviewers at OBC* www.Onlinebookclub.org