Monday, December 8, 2008

Perspective on Salaries

In 1815, U.S. senators made $6.00 per day, representing their constituents. By 1817, their salaries were raised to $1,500/year. By 1983, the salary was $69,800, and by 1993 it almost doubled to $133,600. Today it stands at $169,300. The 100 U.S. Senators represent the entire U.S. population of 305,835,798 (living in the U.S. and abroad).

In the last period reported (2007), GM's G.R. Wagoner Jr., was paid $1,558,333 in salary, and an additional $12,857,581 in stock, options, and incentives, for a total gross income of $14,415,914. I think he'll be ok with making $1 in salary next year. He (and G.M) represent hundreds of thousands of working, middle-class Americans, that are manufacturing stuff. Not just cars of course, but they represent machinists, and printers, and parts manufacturers, etc. With all the tier one and tier two suppliers underneath the car manufacturing industry, newspeople tell us one out of ten people's lives are touched by these guys.
The top 3 highest paid celebrities made $410 million last year. Oprah Winfrey grossed $275 million. Tiger Woods made $115 million and Angelina Jolie made $20 million. Oprah and Tiger represent themselves. Angelina represents Brad and her 6 kids.

And let's look at Forbes' Top 50 Wealthiest people in the U.S. With a net worth of $59 billion, of course Bill Gates still tops the list. He develops software and hardware and has most of it made overseas. Number two is Mr. Warren Buffett, at 77 years old he's worth $52 billion, all made by investing. Number three is Sheldon Adelson, worth $28 billion. At 74, he's Las Vegas's biggest bigwhig (though I guess not so big since the stock market tanked and he's having trouble filling his Venetian hotel with guests, even at $149/night). In the entire top 50 list there is only ONE MANUFACTURER represented, and it's Nike at number 30. Mr. Philip Knight is worth a paltry $9.8 billion. (And where does NIKE make most of their stuff?......)

My point is this - in the tool world, and even more specifically in the automotive tool world, there aren't many of us who will ever be "rich rich". There's no question you can make a great living in this business. We'll do well. We'll raise families, send our kids to school. We're all pretty much workers, trying to get ahead in this world by providing a product to a technician or shop that we feel will help them do their job faster, better, safer or more efficiently. You won't read about us in the gossip pages, and you won't see us hanging out with Paris Hilton or Barack Obama or the soon to be former Governor or Illinois.

But if you look at the people mentioned above, where does their value to the American people truly lie? And are they compensated justly for the "job" they hold? What are your thoughts?

(I apologize for the weird layout of photos. I have not mastered the art of dropping photos in throughout the posting. Need an advisor for that.)

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