Predatory Practices

by Carol Christen

"The Conference Board's survey of 2003 pay plans at 75 major companies found that salaries are expected to rise 3.5 percent for hourly workers and 3.8 percent for executives."*

For an hourly worker making $10 per hour for the usual 2080 work hours per year, that means an increase of $728 per year, or $60.67 extra per month. For the executive making $100,000 per year, it means $3800 more per year, or $316.67 more per month, or 5.2 times more than the hourly worker upon whom the entire economy depends. That little 0.3 percent difference is considerable when calculated.

Years ago, an engineer told this writer that executives needed the extra money to maintain their life styles. That is a predatory statement. Percentage pay raises always hurt the hourly worker and benefit the executive who hides behind the same difference in print and in percent, but without the benefit of proper calculation for the general reader or worker.

Naturally, companies want to recognize strong performers or promising leaders, and pay bonuses to do so. Ostensibly, those bonuses are shrinking "for the first time in more than a decade."* The unanswered question is whether strong performances by hourly employees result in hiring bonuses as generous as mentioned in the article - starting at $15,000 in 2001 and rising to $20,000 in 2002.

Yearly bonuses for executives run from $16,000 and up. Although hourly workers are not privy to this type of bonus, a $3328 bonus on $20,800 per year is the equivalent. Occasionally, such a generous bonus for an hourly worker is possible, but is never the norm. Very small amounts are possible which never reflect the same ratio as the executive's ratio to income; i.e., 20,000 to 100,000, and 4160 to 20,800. (0.2 in this case). Retention bonuses for executives follow the same logic. The question: How many retention bonuses are paid to hourly workers yearly? Even more interesting is that one executive bonus equals the (nonexistent) bonus of almost five hourly workers.

Predation is, according to Webster's New World Dictionary, "the act of plundering or preying; the method of existence for predatory animals. Lest those who find the term "animals" offensive, the definition of predator is "a predatory person or animal". To plunder is, of course, "to rob or despoil (a person or place) by force, esp. in warfare; to take (property) by force or fraud; the act of pillage; robbery; goods taken by force or fraud, loot, or booty." Further, prey includes plunder and booty; animals preying on one another; a victim is prey; to make a profit from a victim as by swindling; and, finally, to have a wearing or destructive influence; weigh heavily. One is always preyed "on" or "upon".

What this all boils down to is that humans are predators who force other humans to become prey. Rarely, if ever, does one see in print or elsewhere the use of predator for some of the ordinary trials of life. All victims are prey. Most women are prey for the simple reason they avert their eyes from the predator rather than confront. Kings and rulers have notoriously required lowered eyes. When the gaze shifts, the life or death of the prey is determined solely by the predator(s). Children, too, are required to submit or be punished by predatory parents.

We all think of this as natural; but we are all in agreement that some of us are prey for the elites who are the predators. Elites being here meaning anyone who gets away with predation of any type. There are elites among the poor. If there weren't, where are the gangs coming from? The more sophisticated sue; the rest suffer. The courts are overloaded and under funded for this unspoken dark side of normal humanity. It would help if we used the proper terms rather than euphemisms for the pretense.

The predatory practices of the executives under indictment show that a mere $20,000,000, which some took in bogus transactions, would give 4808 hourly workers the same nonexistent bonus of $4160 each, and benefit the daily local economies to that extent. Keep in mind that an hourly wage of $10 enhanced by such a bonus would be the equivalent of $24,960 per year instead of $20,800. Such amounts are insignificant to the executive; the difference to families of hourly workers would mean a healthy and provident increase, although not a good living above the poverty levels set by the government.

Money siphoned by predators may be the basis for the cash crises in the states, and the extraordinary need for food banks for ordinary people. The post-modern world (too new for a name of its own yet - a baby age at 28 years) appears to be following what has been called a "neo-liberal ideology". That ideology has three premises as far as this writer can determine:

1) Maximum repressive capacity over the working class;
2) Cultural conservatism over such repressed people; and,
3) Minimal regulatory capacity over capital.

Unregulated capital is capital which is not taxed or proscribed by external conditions; it is solely for the use of owners and executives. Taxing corporations less provides no monies for the infrastructures (roads, water, air, government services) the people as a whole provide, which those corporations use and abuse to the general degradation of life.

Insisting on a conservative basis in culture simply rewards the elite status quo by preventing clear alternatives which are better and fairer to the 95 percent of the people outside the elites. Discussion has fallen by the wayside and only the conservative is heard in the United States; while half the people seethe, voiceless. The simple discussion of pay raises and bonuses in the beginning of this article illustrates maximum repressive capacity over the working class.

Conservative used to mean one who keeps the best from the past and protects that. Its post-modern meaning is to keep what was best for one group or another, and insist that everyone join the bandwagon or be labeled "liberal". Liberal originally was a term used by lord Byron and his elite friends in England. It has been used only since 1832 to label persons. The term liberal means generous; conservative used to mean Whigs and Tories. To many, it is beginning to mean "mean". In the post-modern world, the terms have become meaningless and argumentative, signifying nothing except to listeners of radio talk shows..

After all, the post-modern world is taking humanity apart piece by piece, inside and out, and reassembling the results (assuming it lives) into virtually anything. Hence virtual reality. Check out the games, television animation, and the movies - the gore and the mental games. The computer and electronics are moving us away from humanity and into a make-believe reality, while we try to live and love in sterile surroundings which demand too much upkeep, bore us, depress us, drug us, and starve us of essentials from food to relaxation.

Females are especially depicted solely as bodies bared as far as possible in reality and in virtual reality. All males are either predators with tight sexy clothing, fast cars, and money, or they are wimpy stupid prey. How long before our fourteen-year-olds assume this is reality? Actually, many are trying to live it out if you observe their "culture".

Being born in the previous age, the modern age, I find myself at odds with the new post-modern age. The modern age now becomes a relic as are its people and its beliefs, just as the Middle Ages gave way to the modern in 1450. The post-moderns came into being with the computer in the mid-seventies, and life "will never be the same again." We could even say with Jimi Hendrix: "Your people I do not understand." The "Boomers" were born in the modern age and came of age in the post-modern world. Their exploitation (predation) is legendary, and their children poorer for the experiment.

Keep in mind, too, that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are modern inventions by the enlightened, not post-modern. This new age is treating those documents as so much toilet paper with its various bogus wars on everything and anything and anyone. Is habeas corpus dead? Do we have a right to a lawyer and a trial anymore if the attorney general decides we don't need such old-fashioned protections? Do we need to be locked up if we are not in lockstep? Did the cold war end so we could bring it over here and pretend to live as the USSR did with its political prisoners and summary executions? What is going on? We were safer under the modern compact than any of us are under the post-modern whims of the powerful. When did modern common law give way to individual law-making "because I say so". This was the predator of the school yard once; now it's the "ruler" of the land.

Has government become a commodity to be bought and paid for? If so, the people are no longer sovereign with oversight. I cannot remember when I've received a real answer from an elected official instead of a canned reply written by who knows who. After all, those representatives make $127,000 more per year than the average person. And they don't have to pay social security taxes either. The hourly worker has given them a bonus far beyond any return.

Do our representatives even remember life in its daily modest form? They're wined and dined by the new predators, the corporate class, a class which has never deserved the label "person". A corporation is many people and one more special "person." How many of us can claim as persons freedom from onerous laws as corporations do when they prey on any or all of us? We lose our rights walking into their doors, whether we work or buy. Free speech in a hierarchy is a predatory absurdity. Does an army general permit free speech? Think of what happens to whistle-blowers. Corporations can be judged criminals who do no time and pay fines so large it boggles the mind; yet, no one dares to lock them up or remove their state-given charters. Why not?

The time has come to remove predation from corporate practice and personal lives, and to restore respect in the person, the real citizen. The citizen is a citizen, not a consumer. Predatory practices must be removed from human against human wherever found until victims disappear, and the eyes of all see a level playing field. Human morality is above and beyond the charades of daily life and of our physical components. We are unworthy when we prey.

* Knight Ridder News Service Article by Patricia V. Rivera Quoted from The Oregonian 1/5/3



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