Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Robert Reich: When Bosses Shared Their Profits
Since the 1980s, profit-sharing has declined. It deserves to make a comeback.
After the bruising crises we’re now going through, it would be wonderful if we could somehow emerge a fairer nation. One possibility is to revive an old idea: sharing the profits.
The original idea for businesses to share profits with workers emerged from the tumultuous period when America shifted from farm to factory. In December 1916, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report on profit-sharing, suggesting it as a way to reduce the “frequent and often violent disputes” between employers and workers, thereby “fostering the development of a larger spirit of harmony and cooperation, and resulting, incidentally, in greater efficiency and larger gains.” [..]
But since the 1980s, profit-sharing has almost disappeared from large corporations. That’s largely because of a change in the American corporation that began with a wave of hostile takeovers and corporate restructurings in the 1980s. Raiders like Carl Icahn, Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken targeted companies they thought could deliver higher returns if their costs were cut. Since payrolls were the highest cost, raiders set about firing workers, cutting pay, automating as many jobs as possible, fighting unions, moving jobs to states with lower labor costs and outsourcing jobs abroad. To prevent being taken over, C.E.O.s began doing the same.
This marked the end of most profit-sharing with workers. Paradoxically, it was the beginning of profit-sharing with top executives and “talent.” Big Wall Street banks, hedge funds and private-equity funds began doling out bonuses, stock and stock options to lure and keep the people they wanted. They were soon followed by high-tech companies, movie studios and start-ups of all kinds.
An increase in remote workers won’t automatically usher in a gender-equal utopia. If we want it, we have to make it so.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began keeping most of us sheltered at home, work has rapidly shifted from the cubicle to the kitchen table. A number of surveys indicate that about half of the American work force is now doing their work at home. Companies that may have once been resistant to letting employees off the in-person leash are finding that yes, work can still get done outside the confines of an office building.
That realization may last long after stay-at-home orders are lifted, leading to a permanent change in how we work. Silicon Valley is leading the way, with Twitter, Square and Facebook announcing that employees will be able to work remotely after the pandemic subsides. Companies in other white-collar industries are certain to follow. Nearly two-thirds of surveyed hiring managers say that their workforces will be more remote moving forward.
But offices are already starting to reopen, and it’s likely to be up to individual workers to decide whether to return. We may end up, then, in a world of haves and have-nots — those who have more ability to start commuting again and those who can’t, because they have increased health risks or they have children at home and no child-care options. And among heterosexual couples, it’s not hard to guess which parent will almost certainly be stuck at home longer until child-care options are open again. Will these employees be treated differently, even inadvertently?
It’s hard to predict just how these shifts will play out — but as things stand, women are in a poor position to benefit.
Charles M. Blow: Can We Call Trump a Killer?
There is no way to remove his culpability in the neglectful handling of the coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic is still raging in this country. In fact, in more than 20 states, the number of cases is rising. More than 120,000 Americans have died from the virus. This country has a quarter of all the cases in the world even though it makes up only 4 percent of the world population.
Things are so bad here that the European Union, which has lowered its rates, is considering banning U.S. citizens when it reopens its borders.
This situation is abysmal, and it would not have been so bad if President Trump had not intentionally neglected his duty to protect American citizens.
From the beginning, Trump has used every opportunity to downplay the virus, claiming in February, “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” Well, we’re now in June, summer. It’s not just warm, it’s hot. And the cases in the hottest states — those in the South and Southwest — are surging.
Trump has consistently been resistant to testing, falsely claiming that an increase in testing is somehow linked to an increase in cases. But in fact, the more you test, the more you are able to control the virus by identifying, isolating and treating the infected, thereby reducing the spread of the virus. Testing is how you reduce your cases. It is also how you save lives.
But Trump believes that to reveal the true extent of the virus’s presence in this country would make him look bad. So more people get sick and more people die.
Despite the tear gas and Tulsa, Trump still believes he can win by inciting cops to crack protesters’ skulls
Donald Trump is convinced he’s the second coming of Richard Nixon. We’ll leave aside the psychoanalysis of why someone might be so eager to present himself as heir to one of the greatest villains in American history, but Trump hasn’t been subtle about his belief that he can replicate Nixon’s 1968 electoral victory by triggering the same animus against civil rights activists and leftist protesters that Nixon successfully exploited back then, but with even less subtlety. (And Nixon wasn’t exactly subtle.) Trump even routinely echoes the “law and order” language of the Nixon campaign, even while gleefully flaunting his own criminality and corruption, lest there be any doubt that “law and order” is simply coded language for racism and reactionary impulses.
The problem is that Trump’s efforts to demonize anti-racist protesters keep backfiring. [..]
The irony in all this is Americans are learning way more history from the statues coming down than they ever did walking past them in the first place. Most Americans couldn’t tell you much about Andrew Jackson at this point, but if they read a newspaper article about the controversy surrounding his statue, they might learn why his legacy of racism and genocide is problematic at best. They might not know how or why city governments erected Confederate statues as a signal to 20th-century white supremacy — in most cases, they went up many decades after the Civil War — but if they’ve followed the reporting on the statue removals, now they know. They may not know who Frank Rizzo was before his statue came down, but now they know that in the recent past Philadelphia had a mayor who literally told people to “vote white.”
People are defacing or pulling down these statues in no small part to draw attention to real histories and educate the public about the depth and breadth of American racism. By making a stink about it, Trump might be helping them out. He is arguably the most hated man in America, with more than 55% of the voting public consistently expressing their disapproval. At this point, if Trump hates something, that’s likely to make most Americans like it even more. The more he bashes the protesters, the more the general public will view their cause with sympathy.