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Back in 2004, I vividly remember waking up from a dream with this vision of what was wrong with our economy and how it could be fixed. The latest Occupy Wall Street Movement has this back on my mind. . .
I believed then (and still believe now) that what is wrong with our economy can be summed up in one word: GREED. Greed that exploits planet and people. The "Green Movement" has made strides on the planet side (albeit we still have a long way to go!) but the people part has, in my opinion, in this country, only gotten worse.
Case in point, check out this graph that shows that CEO pay is now 350 times the average worker's, up from 50 times from 1960-1985. 350x the AVERAGE worker! I wonder what the discrepancy is for the lowest paid worker? Here's another graph that proves the point. (The entire article and charts are worth looking at.)
Let's do the math. So... say I make $50,000/year that means the CEO is making over $17 MILLION dollars a year or... $47,945/day - 365 days of the year. Is there truly anyone who is worth SOOO much more than everyone else? I am NOT against paying heads of companies large salaries, I just think they should not do so at the expense of the employees that make the company run. I think we need limits on compensation and if our government doesn't have the will to make it happen, I think WE THE PEOPLE can make it happen. How? you ask.
My solution is a color coded rating system based solely on economic discrepancies between employees. The color code system would be Green, Yellow, Red. The symbol could be an infinity sign in the various colors and stages of completion and distortion (example above).
The GREED ALERT break down:
Green closed infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes no more than 10x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
Yellow almost closed infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes no more than 100x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
Red very distorted infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes more than 100x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
These easily identifiable color coded symbols could be posted in store windows, web sites, on products, etc. as a selling point (unwritten message for Green: We care about our workers) and as a warning label on stores who fall in the RED zone. Obviously, the RED companies would view this as negative publicity would not want to post their color but if a company is publicly owned their compensation information is public. With some research we could have a website or app that would let you look up a company and find out their color code/Greed Alert rating.
We could target some of the worst companies with grassroots exposure. People all over the country could post about the RED companies on the same day on blogs, facebook, twitter, ya get the idea. With a target on a high profile company, I believe we could get quite a bit of media coverage of such an organized event. The cost would be minimal.
With enough use/education I envision people asking the places they shop -- "What color are you?" or "What's your GA (Greed Alert) rating?" The beautiful thing is that it speaks to the general public regardless of politics, race or religion... and has the potential for real change. Wouldn't you rather work for and support companies whose discrepancy in pay is not obscene? If it worked, we would see the gap close and wealth back in the hands of more than a handful of people. I think it could re-ignite our economy and country in a profound way. If you want to give your top guys a raise, great! You just need to give your bottom guys a raise too.
I believe this grassroots movement has the potential to change the business world as we know it. Years ago when this thought first hit me, I registered CloseTheLoop.org and also GreedAlert.org I would happily donate these to the right group willing to do the research and web design necessary to pull this off.
I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Please forward this to anyone you know who could help bring the vision to reality -- if you think it is worthwhile. Ok, I'll hop off my soap box now.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.