A recent report on the Jeffrey Preston Bezos‘ supermarket chain reminded me of when the owner of our newspapers hired an MBA efficiency expert, who had to justify his too high pay.
Amazon’s top man
Until then, middle management had perks – use of a shore home for a week, annual merit raises, partnering of budget preparation. Soon, all that ended. Instead, everyone received a piece of paper with spaces and a title: “Time Allocation.”
The sales folks carried their paper with them in the car and at the office, noting their activity for each prior 15 minutes – all day. Whom they saw? What they said? If they sold? Even noting when they had lunch!
My piece of paper was different. The same reporting every 15 minutes, but more detail. Columns for admin, sales, budget, travel, reports, conference, etc. The percentage of time at each of these disciplines was to be recorded. For example: Continue reading →
As I entered the general manager’s office in the Gimbel’s Cheltenham department store, the mood was surly. Picking up an ad for my Philadelphia newspaper was usually pleasant. Sometimes conversation about merchandising for the 250,000 square foot emporium. Other times small talk and smiles, but not today.
It was a Spring afternoon in the late 1970s, and two hours earlier a tall blonde, wearing only a string bikini and high heels, strolled into the store and began walking from department to department, finally covering all three floors in about 45 minutes. She did not go unnoticed by the store staff or customers, and more than a few males seemed to wander after her at a safe distance, pretending to be interested in this or that sale display.
Ten minutes after she left, the Fine Jewelry department reported items worth several thousand dollars had been shoplifted. Then, other managers began counting goods and finding shortages.
It seems that while the blonde was walking, two accomplices were taking the goods. Continue reading →
Some one million Walmart employees in the United States will have their meager pay supplemented this year with a bonus averaging $400, thanks to the lapse of usual parsimony by the owners of the world’s largest retailer – the Walton family. That total $400 million is $71 million less than the cost of the bottom two estates ($222 million and $249 million) in the above video of the five most expensive homes in the world.
Half of all workers in the United States make less than $30,500 a year, and half earn more, so $400 is meaningful, even though a flat 25% ($100) will be lost to income tax under an odd IRS ruling, leaving $300.
But $300 could buy you and the spouse a motel room for two nights, and have some money left over for lunch one day. That would be a one-room accommodation. Hotel rooms with multiple rooms charge much more than $100 to $200 a night.
While you are pinching pennies to pay for this $300 getaway, how would your benefactors – the Waltons of inheritance fame – entertain themselves? Since “all men are created equal”, but allowing for some being more equal, you would expect the gang of seven to perhaps rent an entire floor of a Best Western or splurge at a Hilton.
Actually, the poorest member of the Walton family, Nancy Walton Laurie, could afford to not just rent a room, but buy all five of the properties listed in the above video – including Buckingham Palace – and still have nearly $2,000,000,000 left of her fortune. Continue reading →
The inlaid walnut table in the corporate boardroom held 12 on either side and two or three at each end, and the execs were all perched, prepped to pounce, when I dragged in my 2001 budget – 1015 pages of spreadsheet and other sheet.
As division CEO of a NYSE-listed publishing company with nearly a billion dollars sales, my pitch was explain how I would increase sales, restrain costs and improve the value of the newspapers I published.
What could go wrong? In the past year sales were up, but more important, the bottom line jumped from about a $200,000 loss to an $860,000 profit before taxes.
Since most of my employees were salaried – meaning they worked long hours without overtime compensation – my proposed budget included a four percent average pay increase. That four percent, I was told, was a big mistake. Continue reading →
Some 57 out of every 100 jobs in Silicon Valley requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher are filled by someone who wasn’t born in the U.S., according to a boast by Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Guardino, who wants President Donald Trump to grant DACA (ages 16-34) amnesty, said that loss of illegal workers would be “particularly damaging in Silicon Valley”, where they are part of the region’s tech world labor pool. Of the nation’s 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), about 230,000 are in California.
This business leader seems oblivious to reality. Every job held by a non-citizen means one less job for an American, and leads to lower wages in that skill or profession.
Foreign workers don’t strike, complain about excessive hours, report pervert bosses or otherwise make waves – fearing reporting by employers to authorities. Their bargaining power in the marketplace rivals the 1800s’ cotton field slaves, but lacking even minimal guaranteed healthcare, food or shelter. Meanwhile, on a brighter note for Silicon Valley, Jeff Bezos, marked a milestone this week, when his personal wealth exceeded $100 billion. Continue reading →
Senator Tom Cotton (R-ARK) recently challenged the perpetual talking point used to rationalize taking away American jobs to give them to H-2B Visa holders.
A lot of the arguments for this kind of program boil down to this: No American worker will do that job. That is a lie. It is a lie. There is no job that Americans will not do.
If the wage is decent and the employer obeys the law, Americans will do the job. And if it’s not, they should pay higher wages. To say anything else is an insult to the work ethic of the American people, who make this country run.
Sounds like “Make America Great Again” – President Donald Trump’s rally call – but the White House apparently wasn’t listening to Cotton Continue reading →
For eight summers she did the kind of job Americans don’t want to do, according to the “experts” – picking blueberries on a New Jersey farm. After her parents divorced, she was just three, and was raised by her mother, grandmother and two unmarried aunts. Her first big accomplishment was winning the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant at age 16.
Four years later she won the World Champion Blueberry Packing competition. She could pack 300 crates a day. Although she also excelled as a student and cheerleader at St. Joseph’s High, her heart was with the farm:
“Everything I learned about life and business started on that farm.”
Continue reading →