business.time.com | What Should Be Done About Growing Inequality?


 

business.time.com

America is becoming more unequal economically, and most people find that disturbing. Indeed, the trend toward greater inequality has been one of the consistent themes of the election campaign. Some believe that inequality is necessary to reward hard work, achievement and entrepreneurship but think that the current level is too extreme. Others blame unfair tax policies and see the extent of today’s inequality as a sign that the government has abandoned the goal of equal opportunity.

In fact, whenever inequality increases in a society, there are both good reasons for the trend — that is, reasons we should not discourage — as well as bad ones. To best address the genuine problems caused by inequality today, it’s essential to identify the bad reasons and focus on reducing those.

First, though, let’s be clear: there’s no doubt that the very richest in the U.S. have been getting richer. One of the often quoted indicators, albeit a simplistic one, is the share of pretax income going to the top 1% of the population. These data suggest that the U.S. was most equal right before the oil crisis hit in the early 1970s, and that it has since returned to levels of inequality not seen since the Great Depression.

More sophisticated indicators, like the Gini coefficient, also show the U.S. becoming notably more unequal. As a generality, countries such as Brazil and South Africa rate high on this scale, while most European countries have lower levels of inequality. The U.S. is in between – at almost the same level as China. Prior to 1980, the U.S. was much closer to the European level, and some countries — such as France and Italy — actually had higher levels of inequality at that time.

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The Great Depression and the Rise of the Refrigerator


• By  • psmag.com

When I moved to Los Angeles and began my search for an apartment I was a little surprised by the fact that a refrigerator wasn’t included with most of the units I toured. In every other city where I’ve ever lived, the average apartment always included a refrigerator with the cost of rent. I was only looking for a one-bedroom apartment, but I was expecting that this was the norm everywhere for the most basic of apartments.

When I asked the manager of the apartment building I wound up renting from why there was no refrigerator, she explained that the property only supplies “the essentials.” When I pointed out that the building came with an underground parking space, she just stared at me blankly. It was in her silence that I came to understand a subtle difference between Los Angeles and the rest of the country: parking is essential, keeping perishable food fresh is not.

My belief that a refrigerator is an essential part of any home obviously comes from a place of tremendous privilege. For centuries, people have struggled with attempts at keeping food fresh. Only in the 20th century (after the first World War) did American consumers see the arrival of a slick new invention that would dramatically change our relationship with food; how we shopped and how we ate. But somewhat surprisingly, the rapid adoption of the electric refrigerator in American homes has its roots in an unlikely decade: the 1930s.

The Great Depression, despite all the hardships of the American people, would see the meteoric rise of the refrigerator. At the start of the 1930s, just 8 percent of American households owned a mechanical refrigerator. By the end of the decade, it had reached 44 percent. The refrigerator came to be one of the most important symbols of middle class living in the United States. While the upper class rarely interacted with such appliances, given the fact that they had servants, the middle class woman of the 1930s lived in a “servantless household”—a phrase you see repeatedly in scholarship about this era. The refrigerator was tied to one of the most fundamental and unifying of middle class events: the daily family meal. And it was in providing for your family that the refrigerator became a point of pride.

The refrigerator of the 1930s was often the color white, which people associated with cleanliness and proper hygiene. As Shelley Nickles notes in her 2002 paper “Preserving Women: Refrigerator Design as Social Process in the 1930s,” the whiteness of the appliance was supposed to signify that a woman cared about the safety and health of her family:

The refrigerator’s primary function, preserving food, was now linked visually to the responsibilities of the average housewife to provide a clean, safe environment for her family. Contrasting to diverse, localized practices of food preservation and wooden iceboxes kept in service areas and used primarily by servants, these white, steel refrigerators were conceptualized as part of the ordinary kitchen. By buying a white refrigerator and keeping it in the kitchen, the housewife expressed her awareness of modern sanitary and food preservation standard; her ability to keep the refrigerator white and devoid of dirt represented the extent to which she met these standards.

 

The newspapers and magazines of the 1930s…   Leer más “The Great Depression and the Rise of the Refrigerator”

Social Media Reinvents Social Activism For Strong Relationships: My Critique Of Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker Article

Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker states that the new tools of social media have failed to reinvent social activism. He wrote a long piece explaining why he believes that relationships formed within social media are weak relationships, and used examples from the Greensboro sit-ins, and the crisis in Moldova and Iran to support his position.

He argued that without real commitment social activism cannot exist because there’s no real commitment to other individuals involved in a cause, and without that commitment in the face of the higher costs of getting involved people will drop out of a cause.

High Stakes Require Strong Relationships

Gladwell uses the sit-ins from Greensboro, NC as an example of social activism where high stakes were involved, people had to make strong commitments to the cause because the consequences of being involved were as high as physical danger and even death. And that those most involved in the sit-ins were supported by small networks of people who were connected through close relationships. Gladwell argues that because relationships formed online are loose relationships those relationships are not highly committed relationships, and any real requests for social action will fail because of the weak relationships formed within social media between people and organizations.

I agree with Gladwell, he was right, social media can be a medium where your ties to people are weak, but I also believe he misses an important factor with the use of social media. Most people have strong ties with a small group of friends, colleagues and family within their social networks. Those relationships are just as important today as they were in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression, or in 1960 during the Greensboro sit-ins.


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Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker states that the new tools of social media have failed to reinvent social activism. He wrote a long piece explaining why he believes that relationships formed within social media are weak relationships, and used examples from the Greensboro sit-ins, and the crisis in Moldova and Iran to support his position.

He argued that without real commitment social activism cannot exist because there’s no real commitment to other individuals involved in a cause, and without that commitment in the face of the higher costs of getting involved people will drop out of a cause.

High Stakes Require Strong Relationships

Gladwell uses the sit-ins from Greensboro, NC as an example of social activism where high stakes were involved, people had to make strong commitments to the cause because the consequences of being involved were as high as physical danger and even death. And that those most involved in the sit-ins were supported by small networks of people who were connected through close relationships. Gladwell argues that because relationships formed online are loose relationships those relationships are not highly committed relationships, and any real requests for social action will fail because of the weak relationships formed within social media between people and organizations.

I agree with Gladwell, he was right, social media can be a medium where your ties to people are weak, but I also believe he misses an important factor with the use of social media. Most people have strong ties with a small group of friends, colleagues and family within their social networks. Those relationships are just as important today as they were in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression, or in 1960 during the Greensboro sit-ins. Leer más “Social Media Reinvents Social Activism For Strong Relationships: My Critique Of Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker Article”

CEOs Who Cut the Most Jobs Earn More than Peers

CEOs of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at S&P 500 firms, according to “CEO Pay and the Great Recession,” the 17th in a series of annual Executive Excess reports from the Institute for Policy Studies.

“Our findings illustrate the great unfairness of the Great Recession,” says Sarah Anderson, lead author on the Institute study. “CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks.”

The 50 top CEO layoff leaders received $12 million on average in 2009, compared to the S&P 500 average of $8.5 million. Each of the corporations surveyed laid off at least 3,000 workers between November 2008 and April 2010. Seventy-two percent of the firms announced mass layoffs at a time of positive earnings reports.


CEOs of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at S&P 500 firms, according to “CEO Pay and the Great Recession,” the 17th in a series of annual Executive Excess reports from the Institute for Policy Studies.

“Our findings illustrate the great unfairness of the Great Recession,” says Sarah Anderson, lead author on the Institute study. “CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks.”

The 50 top CEO layoff leaders received $12 million on average in 2009, compared to the S&P 500 average of $8.5 million. Each of the corporations surveyed laid off at least 3,000 workers between November 2008 and April 2010. Seventy-two percent of the firms announced mass layoffs at a time of positive earnings reports.

Highest-Paid “Layoff Leaders”:

  • Fred Hassan, Schering-Plough: Hassan received a $33 million golden parachute when his firm merged with Merck in late 2009, while 16,000 workers faced pink slips. Hassan’s total 2009 pay of nearly $50 million could cover the average cost of these workers’ jobless benefits for more than 10 weeks.
  • William Weldon, Johnson & Johnson: Weldon took home $25.6 million, more than three times as much as the S&P 500 CEO average, at a time when his firm was slashing 9,000 jobs and facing a massive drug recall scandal.
  • Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard: While his failure to cover up a relationship with a contractor/erotic film star has been banner news, Hurd’s slashing of 6,400 jobs last year has largely escaped the headlines. After getting the axe himself in August, Hurd added more than $28 million severance to his 2009 pay package of $24.2 million. Leer más “CEOs Who Cut the Most Jobs Earn More than Peers”

Cash is king?

All Men are Liars

cashisking.jpg

Some of you may remember the ’80s cop show Hill Street Blues in which the role call Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to tell his officers at the end of their morning briefing “Let’s be careful out there.”

I know next to nothing about the financial world, but I imagine that the trading bosses at most of the big brokerage firms, hedge funds and investment banks are saying the same thing to their pot-bellied orcs employees as the Global Financial Cackfight deepens.

What I do know is when a website as conservative and venal as Forbes is publishing front page specials about the economic sky falling, some very rich people are getting worried about the way the dice are rolling …

What seems to be a common theme in many learned financial types’ judgments is “we know not what we do” because there are so many serious, intertwined global problems having unintended consequences on each other.


All Men are Liars

cashisking.jpg

Some of you may remember the ’80s cop show Hill Street Blues in which the role call Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to tell his officers at the end of their morning briefing “Let’s be careful out there.”

I know next to nothing about the financial world, but I imagine that the trading bosses at most of the big brokerage firms, hedge funds and investment banks are saying the same thing to their pot-bellied orcs employees as the Global Financial Cackfight deepens.

What I do know is when a website as conservative and venal as Forbes is publishing front page specials about the economic sky falling, some very rich people are getting worried about the way the dice are rolling …

What seems to be a common theme in many learned financial types’ judgments is “we know not what we do” because there are so many serious, intertwined global problems having unintended consequences on each other. Leer más “Cash is king?”

The Help In Black & White.

“I was labeled ‘psychologically sick,’ ‘morally senile,’ and was accused of possessing ‘a vile racist imagination,’” Styron recalled in his introduction to the 1994 Modern Library edition of the book. “The major complaint was … how dare a white man write so intimately of the black experience, even presuming to become Nat Turner by speaking in the first person?”

Forty-two years later, “The Help” (2009), a novel narrated, in large part, by African-American maids in the Deep South of the early 1960s, was published. Instead of scorn and enmity, author Kathryn Stockett, who is white, has been greeted with rapturous reviews, spectacular sales and a movie deal.

What’s the difference?




From The Chicago Tribune…

White novelist tackles truths of black life in ‘The Help

Julia Keller
Cultural Critic

The last time a white writer tried to give prolonged fictional voice to the thoughts and emotions of an oppressed black person in a major novel, the result was devastating — not for literature, which gained a profound and powerful novel titled “The Confessions of Nat Turner” (1967), but for the life of William Styron, the man who wrote it. Leer más “The Help In Black & White.”

Special Report: 80 Years of Ideas – Advertising Age (2)


Advertising Age: 80 Years of Ideas

Advertising Age: 80 Years of Ideas

We Look at the Events, Brands and Trends That Have Shaped Marketing — and the Ones Still to Come

When Ad Age published its first issue in 1930, the stock market had just tanked, and a Great Depression was only beginning. Consumer spending plunged 41% from 1929 to the Depression’s 1933 nadir. A problem for consumer marketing, media and advertising? Actually, a remarkable opportunity. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Ad Age Video

Covering the Mad Men: Advertising Age at 40

Covering the Mad Men: Advertising Age at 40

Recounting Ad Age’s History in 1970

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Back when Don Draper was swilling Scotch in his corner office, debating how to solve Lucky Strike‘s marketing conundrums, Ad Age was all over in the industry. And it was no young pub — in 1970 the publication was already 40 years old. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

From the Great Depression Through the Great Recession: A Brief  History of Marketing

From the Great Depression Through the Great Recession: A Brief History of Marketing

A Look at 80 Highlights From Ad Age’s First 80 Years, Compiled From Our Archives, Ad Age’s Encyclopedia of Advertising and Additional Research

Ad Age’s Bradley Johnson presents a timeline of marketing, media and ad agencies, showing advertising industry developments from 1930 through 2010. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Back to the Future: Have We Lived Up to Expectations of  Advertising?

Back to the Future: Have We Lived Up to Expectations of Advertising?

From 1977, the Late Biochemist and Science Fiction Legend Isaac Asimov Foretells the Ad Future in 2000

In 1977, Ad Age ran biochemist and science-fiction author Isaac Asimov’s piece forecasting what the advertising “future” would be like in 2000. We’ve reprinted it for our 80th birthday. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

The Cold Truth: No One Does Veggies Quite Like Birds Eye

The Cold Truth: No One Does Veggies Quite Like Birds Eye

Brand’s Identity as a Leader in Frozen Vegetables Stands the Test of Time, and It’s Done So With Little Marketing

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Clarence Birdseye didn’t just invent the commercialized flash-freezing process that kept garden greens tasty and convenient for weeks on end; he built the frozen-food category and its infrastructure, including grocery freezer cases and insulated train cars for their safe transport. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Motorola's Longevity Lies in Its Simple Approach

Motorola’s Longevity Lies in Its Simple Approach

Brand’s Unique Ability to Produce Wide Range of Products Is Secret to Success

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Given it’s been around for 80 years, sells to businesses, governments and consumers and has also historically been best-known for many products it no longer makes, Motorola’s brand continues to offer a surprisingly simple — and enduringly effective — proposition. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Value Of McCann's Industry Influence? Priceless

Value Of McCann’s Industry Influence? Priceless

Groundbreaking Global Strategies, Innovative Operations Set Pioneer Agency Apart From the Rest

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — From the start, McCann Erickson proved itself a pioneer in the ad business, beating other networks to the globalization trend of the 1980s by several decades. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Snickers Uses Humor to Satisfy Generations of Hunger

Snickers Uses Humor to Satisfy Generations of Hunger

World’s Best-Selling Candy Bar Has Differentiated Itself With the Idea That It’s More Than Just a Chocolate Snack

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Talk about a depression baby with staying power: Snickers, introduced in 1930, is a $2 billion brand proposition today. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Fisher-Price Plays, Laughs and Grows Into Global Brand

Fisher-Price Plays, Laughs and Grows Into Global Brand

Toy Company Founded in Depression Has Evolved Into ‘Children’s Product Company’ With Multiple Integrations

YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) — For Fisher-Price, what began as toddler toy-making has grown up into a global brand that is now part of the Mattel empire. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Fortune Rides the Booms and Busts of Business

Fortune Rides the Booms and Busts of Business

Once-Ambitious Idea Has Consistently Covered the Ups and Downs While Feeling Them Itself

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Much like Ad Age, Fortune began life at about the worst possible time for a new business: the dawn of the Great Depression. But it was born, in reality, of success, namely the recent triumph of Henry Luce’s then-young Time magazine, founded in 1923. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Tums Brand, Like Acid Indigestion, Is Timeless

Tums Brand, Like Acid Indigestion, Is Timeless

Antacid Thrives in Its Journey From Accidental Remedy to Trusted Household Name Remembered Fondly for Jingle

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — “Tums, Tum-Tum-Tum, Tums!” That famous jingle, set to the dramatic opening bars of the theme from the TV show “Dragnet,” just might be what people remember most about Tums, the famous antacid that was born the same year as Advertising Age. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Twinkies: Sweet Treat Continues to Delight

Twinkies: Sweet Treat Continues to Delight

Though It’s Had Its Share of Criticism, Cream-Filled Snack Still Takes the Cake When It Comes to Consumer Demand

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Twinkies have inspired love, curiosity and criticism, not to mention a cookbook, campaign reform and plenty of urban legends in the 80 years since James A. Dewar created them. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

The Most Influential Brands of 2090

Media Guy’s Grandson Reports From the Future (No Hot-Tub Time Machine Required!)

Apparently “Media Guy” Grandpa Simon wrote a lot of so-called listicles. So when Ad Age asked me to come up with a list of some of the most influential brands of 2090 — and to look back at where they were 80 years ago (if they were even around back then) — I jumped at the chance. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Up in Smoke: Documents From the Annals of Tobacco Marketing

Up in Smoke: Documents From the Annals of Tobacco Marketing

A Collection of Internal Memos, Press Releases and Reports That Changed the Way Cigarettes Were Sold

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Advertising Age’s 80th anniversary report includes three major tobacco-related events. Here is a sampling of documents related to those events.

http://adage.com/adage80/

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