Your Boss is Killing America

The same person who decided you deserved a 27 cent “raise”, refused a time off request to see your dying grandmother, and provides the worst healthcare — that is who is ultimately determining economic policy for our nation.


Shelly Fagan

3 years ago | 9 min read

Photo by Brooke Lark
Photo by Brooke Lark

Do you think there exists some business owners who would shut down their store rather than paying their employees a living wage?

I do.

We have all seen the restaurant signs complaining “no one wants to work anymore” and attributing it to a labor shortage rather than the real reason: Wages are too low.

We all know the problem, yet most of us still believe companies would fight to survive rather than fold. It seems like a smart bet that they would innovate a way to pay their staff well while earning a profit.

Dig beneath the surface, though and you’ll see why staying afloat isn’t always the goal. And we all know this.

Businesses often makes bad decisions. At least when it comes to you.

In this one act of futility, we can find the tainted seeds of the ultimate destruction of capitalism. And of America.

There are plenty of examples. When businesses pay a decent wage, they have scores of candidates waiting to fill openings. It’s pretty simple. The higher the pay, the more attractive the job is to the best and the brightest in that salary range.

It shows in their performance.

Chipotle raised its wages to an average of $15 an hour and the labor shortage disappeared. According to CNN, prices went up about 4% and the revenue grew in the second quarter a surprising 39% to $1.9 billion. In restaurants that have been open at least 13 months, sales are up 31% as well.

If this is a profitable move, why don’t more employers follow suit?

Because business isn’t about always making the smart move, although we like to believe that is the case. Earnings are just a unit of measurement, not the goal. Instead, the values of the leadership determine what is important.

And it’s not you.

The flaw in our thinking

Most us lean toward thinking business owners are adept at making decisions that are carefully calculated for success. In this sort of fantasy land ideal, everyone benefits — the customers, staff, stockholders, and even future participants involved in the endeavor. We believe this is a requirement or the company won’t survive.

In reality, the moneyed class doesn’t care about the actual performance of the company and how it translates to all parties involved — although they should. Because that is the wisest action, we believe that is what is happening.

Decision makers mostly act in their own best interest and it goes way beyond the workplace. The disparity between CEO pay and average worker negatively impacts the company’s future performance. That’s not to say that there aren’t caring bosses out there, but we all know they are too few and they aren’t the ones hiring.

Those who do care don’t always institute policies they feel are important. A Queens University of Charlotte report on communication in the workplace found that 86% of employers found that teamwork was important, yet 39% of employees say that their organizations don’t collaborate enough and only 27% receive communication training. It’s lip service, important lip service.

Many executives work toward goals only if they have a personal stake in the outcome. Yet, they expect you to care about the business even when you don’t benefit when the company sees a substantial increase in earnings. The C-suite doesn’t view you as deserving anything more than the bare minimum they can legally pay you. And make no mistake, if they could buy you from some middleman and pay you nothing, they would. Don’t think they care about the customer, either.

While studies reveal that the “success at all costs” approach is detrimental to the bottom line, most workers find this attitude prevalent in the workplace. It filters down to the workers where unrealistic goals are tied to raises and bonuses. This results in a culture where failure is the expectation.

The values of the leadership is often more than just money. Many times it’s about competitiveness, where winning means besting someone else. They succeed when they make a bigger bonus, have a nicer car, or are surrounded with high profile friends. Acquiring those things is not the ultimate goal. Winning is the prize.

This is why professional sports teams are owned by the rich. It fulfills so many needs and they can expense entertaining their rich friends in a private box at the games.

Executives aren’t looking for ways to provide higher wages or more benefits because they want their employees to have a better life. They seek the exact opposite despite internal marketing. They don’t get their narcissistic supply from empowered workers, but from a staff afraid of losing their jobs, their homes, or their freedom. No one kisses ass quite like the person with everything to lose.

Look at who they hire to clean their homes or care for their family. Do they invest money into paying the best candidate for the job? It’s not that they don’t value the work. They don’t value the people doing the work. So they don’t pay them. They salaries are shit because they don’t think the people doing the job deserve more even when the employer knows wages are tied to the quality of the work.

To them, great people don’t clean homes so why look for the best one?

Again, it’s more important to feel superior, to have an underclass willing to serve than it is to hire the most competent and careful person they can afford to raise their children.

And this attitude carries over to their businesses.

Decisions are often short-sighted.

Have you ever seen a company claim their mission is to have the happiest employees with the highest compensation?

Me neither.

That mindset may have been true decades ago when management felt a responsibility to the families behind their workers. Now, staff is not valued nor viewed as talent.

Labor is a problem to be managed, and an expense to be reduced. Any complaints are to be swiftly deflected from possible lawsuits through the internal protection racket known as Human Resources.

Ownership knows they should care so companies pretend to do so by creating hollow mission statements and throwing propaganda at the employees. That’s how far removed they are from their staff — they believe these programs are worthy when they are often result in insulting and demoralizing the staff.

It is part of their program to keep their distance from the help. It’s only important that workers might believe the company has their best interests at heart even if the attempt falls short of the goal. They don’t care to know if it works. It doesn’t matter if workers are happy or fulfilled, but only that they don’t create problems.

Of course, no one buys the “We’re family” crap or the “Let’s work together” marketing, but the opinions of those people who are offended do not matter.

It’s not like executives are creating an environment where they invite dissenting voices, so they will never hear those who object. They don’t want to know how staff really feels because it doesn’t matter. If they did, they wouldn’t surround themselves with yes men but would ask those who they know are unhappy. You must acknowledge the problem before you can find a solution.

There is value in these worthless programs. For them. It gives management something to spew at a captive audience during the company employee pizza and appreciation party, which has become a symbol of the disregard of management. The empty platitudes make the executive feel good and that is the only thing that counts.

Let’s call a spade

When you think back on your career, how many companies defied the odds and were still successful despite treating staff like shit?

That works because happiness is not required for performance. Fear is an equally good motivator and it is far more expedient. Behind every corporate feel-good employee relation program, there is always the implied threat that if you ever stop performing, you’re fired. Get cancer, you’re gone. Show up late, you’re terminated. HR hands you a pink slip because management doesn’t have the balls to do it.

Plenty of companies lurch along due to sheer inertia, defying the odds and sometimes earning the title of a going concern in light of stunningly bad management. You may have worked at such an organization. Or two. Ok, many. But you still wrongly assume most business owners will act in the long term interest of the company despite the hundreds of examples of shortsightedness from our own careers.

The subtle propaganda works. It’s like an ear worm that repeats an affirmation we know is total bullshit. Leadership acts in the best interest of the company. Just keep repeating it like some kind of mantra.

Good decisions are good for…

Capitalism promotes the idea that the success of a company is dependent on leadership making good decisions. We don’t really give voice to the other ways to get ahead, such as criminal enterprises that thrive because of a willingness to cheat others. Or that the recipe to excel requires exploiting customers and staff alike. Don’t call that unethical. That’s a sharp business practice.

We are surprised when the CEO makes poor decisions that harms the term prospects of the business, but is this really so hard to accept when you realize how they treat their talent?

Perpetual Growth

Most successful endeavors adhere to the belief that if your company isn’t growing, it’s dying.

In today’s insane market, stability is not an indicator of financial health. Shareholders want growth. And they aren’t just looking for modest gains, they expect double digit numbers every quarter.

This is one indicator of how the stock market is disconnected from the economy.

Who are the wealthiest people outside of royalty? Business owners and executives. And who succeeds most? Those who grow companies. Individuals who garner the most success are also more unethical, according to studies.

These are the powerful who donate to lawmakers campaigns, who influence policy, who determine the course of the nation.

So within this system, we have people at the top — those who are making the decisions — and they are prone to choosing greed over stability, fulfilling their insatiable desire for power over others.

They don’t value the worker as a person. They only value the job.

Don’t kid yourself that they are concerned for the future of America. They are concerned about the future of THEIR nation, the one that serves them and buys them yacht and private jets.

The thing about greed

The thing about greed is that it is never enough. Sales are up 40%? Let’s set the goal higher.

Start gobbling up competitors. Have a virtual monopoly on your product or service? Start acquiring suppliers so you vertically integrate control over the market.

In order to be a captain of industry, you must have an unquenchable lust for power, control, and money.

There is never enough and you must never stop.

You would think with hundreds of millions or even billions, the wealthy would focus on enjoying their family, travel, or philanthropy because that is your goal. But their reward is not in the having, but the act of acquiring.

What drives corporate leadership is a black hole of unfulfilled needs, an insatiable desire for power over others, to compete and win — not just once, but forever and always.

To those of us on the event horizon, it looks like “just business” because this is how predatory capitalism has always worked. It’s a late stage form of feudalism and you are their property.

It is also the reason why our country will collapse.

Why America will die

One 2020 survey found that 57% of people worldwide felt that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.”

This idea of unsustainable perpetual growth, rampant greed, and a complete disregard for workers is what is driving capitalism to end stages.

“On the one hand the capitalist economies of the developed world…have over the past decade looked profoundly dysfunctional. Not only did the financial crash lead to the deepest and longest recession in modern history; nearly a decade later, few advanced economies have returned to anything like a normal or stable condition, and growth prospects remain deeply uncertain…. Inequality between the richest groups and the rest of society has now grown to levels not seen since the nineteenth century. Meanwhile continued environmental pressures, especially those of climate change, have raised profound risks for global prosperity.” — Rethinking Capitalism

The same person who decided you deserved a 27 cent “raise”, refused a time off request to see your dying grandmother, and provides the worst healthcare — that is who is ultimately determining economic policy for our nation. This is why a $600 stimulus was proposed as an earnest solution to keep the economy chugging along. Or why 78% of workers don’t think their leader has a clear vision for the future. This dissatisfaction has led to a recipe for disaster — more than half of adults in the workforce are looking for a new job and yet nothing changes at the top.

The guy who took a joy ride in low orbit instead of giving thousands of workers a bathroom break is influencing laws governing labor practices. The wealthy executive who hired an illegal immigrant to nanny the kids directing education. The couple that bribed coaches to give their offspring a place in an ivy league school wants a bailout.

That same person leading your organization is the person pulling the strings of power. These groups are writing laws, choosing judges and determining economic policy.

You want to see where we are headed?

All you have to do is imagine your employer, reins in hand, driving America into the future. That future looks a lot like a predatory corporation floundering in late stage capitalism.


Created by

Shelly Fagan







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