A blog in desperate need of a new title
Some Bunk About Income Equality
Saturday, October 11, 2014
- A 30-year-old employee of Wells Fargo, Tyrel Oates, decided he wasn’t happy with his lot in life so he emailed John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s CEO, to let Stumpf know what he thinks. Oh, and he also copied the letter to 200,000 other employees of the company. Now he’s being hailed as the “quiet hero of income equality”.Excuse me for a moment while I go throw up.
Sure, the company provides while not great, some pretty good benefits, as well as discretionary profit sharing for those who partake in our 401k program. While the benefits are nice, the profit sharing through the 401k only goes to make the company itself and its shareholders more profitable, and not really boost the income of the thousands of us here every day making this company the prestigious power house that it is.The first reason I would fire Oates: Emailing the entire company is completely unprofessional. I’m reminded of Jerry Maguire’s “mission statement” in which he broadcasts his feelings about unfairness with the sports management business at which he is employed. And the day everyone gets his diatribe, he is fired without reservation.When Oates was hired he was given a specific offer, presumably commensurate with his skill set. If the salary or benefits offered were not up to the level he felt he deserved, then it was his job to negotiate a better offer... or seek employment at a company that pays better.(Side note: I spent 10 of the last 11 years with no benefits, so I confess that I get rather annoyed at people who complain that their benefits are “not great”.)There’s a story in the Bible that Jesus tells us; to paraphrase, a guy gets a job harvesting a field all day for a set amount of money. Later in the day another person is hired to do the same job for the same wage, but the second worker only has to work a portion of the day because he showed up after lunch. The first worker is angry because he feels he should have received more pay than the second worker. On the surface we might think the first worker has a valid point. But the story points out that the first worker agreed to work all day for a specific wage. His lot in life has not changed because someone else got a better deal.By agreeing to work for $15 per hour plus benefits, you lost the right to complain to the CEO when you decide you should be making $20 per hour instead.
Last year, you had pulled in over $19 million, more than most of the employees will see in our lifetimes.The second reason Oates would be fired: It’s none of his business, as an employee of Wells Fargo, how much the CEO makes... anymore than it’s my business how much my boss makes. Additionally, what Stumpf makes has no influence on the salaries of each employee in the company, except that by making Wells Fargo profitable means people like Oates have a job to complain about.My third reason for firing him: Oates financial argument is hardly solid. That, and his inability to correctly word an email, shows why he makes $15 per hour instead of being in upper management.
This year Wells Fargo in its second quarter alone had a net income of $5.7 billion, and total revenue of $21.1 billion. [...] My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars.The numbers Oates puts forth here are irrelevant. The only number that matters to his ridiculous argument would be the full year of profit that Wells Fargo made, which was $21.88 billion. He is asking for the CEO to give away 1/7th of the company’s annual profits... every year for the unforeseeable future. That is not “just a small fraction”, and is such poor logic, financially, I’m not sure Oates belongs in the banking industry at all.I wonder, if Oates had 21 dollar bills in his pocket and you asked for $3, would he give it to you?Oates is missing an important lesson in financial responsibility: Store grain during the surplus so you have grain during the lean times. The problem is, we aren’t taught that anymore. We’re taught to spend all we make and more, then attempt to bring our income up to our spending levels, instead of keeping our spending levels below our income. So perhaps it’s understandable why Oates doesn’t understand that Wells Fargo should make considerable profit without spending all of it.
There are many of us out there who come to work every day and give it our all, yet, we struggle to make ends meet while our peers in upper management and company executives reap the majority of the rewards.I don’t know Oates, obviously, so perhaps he has bills not in his control that add up to more than he makes at Wells Fargo. All I can do is draw on my own personal experiences when I made $15 per hour and I didn’t think twice about using credit cards to buy TVs, game consoles, nice furniture, and other “stuff” I felt I deserved to have. I didn’t hesitate to eat at pricey restaurants frequently. I didn’t think twice about having a six year car loan on a car that was out of my price range. And there are a lot of people who live in this country who make a similar wage and spend like there’s no tomorrow, and then complain because they can’t “live comfortably on their own”.Is it fair that the CEO makes millions of dollars each year and the janitor makes only tens of thousands? Is it fair that Tyrel Oates makes $15 per hour and there are homeless people outside his office begging for change? Because if it’s not fair that Stumpf makes the salary and bonuses that he negotiated and earned by operating a company to the point that it turns $5 billion in profit, then it’s also not fair that Oates makes the salary he negotiated and earned when there are people outside his workplace with no car, no place to call a home, and no money for a decent dinner.This isn’t England, where some people are born into royalty with no reason for their success other than their birth. This is America, and in America if you want to be the CEO of Wells Fargo you are free to pursue it. Sure, not everyone is going to make it big, but if you look at history, there is literally nothing stopping anyone in this country from becoming whatever they want to be... with the exception of their own selves. Bill Gates was a college drop out and became the richest man in the world. John Stumpf grew up
poorwith “limited family finances”, managed to pay his own way through college, then started working at the bank in 1982 in the loan department. He moved up and eventually became the CEO of Wells Fargo. This was not luck. This was not a poorly crafted email to the entire organization about how he deserves more money. This was hard work and determination.I’m no millionaire, but I never took a single college class, and I live... comfortably. (Sometimes I feel I live better than I deserve). Why is that? It’s because I worked my ass off and lived below my means, not because I whined to my boss and stirred up a shit storm with my 300,000 co-workers.So Tyrel, consider this to be my letter to you. You are not the CEO, you do not get to make millions in your current position, you do not get to tell the CEO how to manage the profits his company makes. Shut your mouth and get back to work and be thankful you have a job.