Think Before We Believe
Take a look at the above photo and read the text carefully. Does it make you swell with pride? Does it make you proud to be an American? Why?
Perhaps at first glance it does. However, let’s break this down.
One of the early lines reads; “It fed a lot of families in Kentucky who built it.” It is true that a Corvette assembly facility operates within Bowling Green, Kentucky. Although, it is also important to note that the average GM assembly line worker reportedly makes $41,365 per year
The next point made is regarding the tires: “it fed the people who made the tires”. Also true, and according to “Tire Business” one of GM’s top tire manufacturers is Bridgestone
(Tire Business, 2017). Where the average
salary of a technician responsible for the actual manufacturing/and warehousing
work makes an average of $47,716 (Payscale, 2018)*.
Let me pause to state both of these positions offer respectable, if not downright great compensation. But bear with as we continue to examine this text…
The next two lines reference the wiring aspects including the hauling of said materials; “it fed the people who made the copper for the wires, it fed the people who make the trucks that haul the copper ore.” These positions bring in roughly $62,620
(John, 2018) and $43, 464 (Glassdoor,
on average, respectfully.
How the Other Half Lives
Now before we get to the final section of the text let me mention a fact. Of all the salaries quoted within this pece the mean is approximately $48,791- to reiterate, still a nice amount for a year’s work.
On the other hand, when compared to GM’s CEO, Mary Barra made a whopping $28.6 million in 2015(Rueters , 2018). How do you feel about that $48,000 now? Doesn’t seem so impressive does it? Also worth mentioning that the CEO’s total compensation is +/- 596 times that of the workers that came together in order to the get the Corvette on the sales floor to begin with.
Welfare Mentality and the Concept of Dignity
The short text wraps up with this tidbit: “That’s the difference between capitalism and welfare mentality. When you buy something, you put money in people’s pockets and give them dignity for their skills.” There is some truth to this. Conversely, an item that also needs considered is that a new Corvette carries a price tag of $84,445
(Chevrolet, 2018). This makes this
vehicle prohibitively expensive to most that had a physical hand in its
Moreover, the notion that dignity is tied to “the money in people’s pockets” is irrational. If that were true the CEO’s self worth or level of respect would grossly outweigh that of the workers in this example.
Finally, there is no such thing as “welfare mentality”. Virtually no one in society feels compelled to take handouts when there are other options available. Handouts are taken in order to make ends meet
Thinking Critically About Success
As with anything else there is a spectrum for success and likewise the path to succeeding. On one end, there are those that have connections and advantages that enable them to almost effortlessly rise to the higher tiers of society. In contrast there are those who have disadvantages due to developmental issues, racism, classism, childhood upbringing, and many other factors. In the middle there are those that lack the drive to apply themselves, and much the same there are those in the middle that will give that extra effort in order to advance to a place better than what they were born into. Don’t be surprised if you can’t fit every person neatly into your box of assumptions.
Closing: Capitalism vs. Corporatism
Recall that there is a distinct difference between the merits of capitalism and corporatism.
The point of this piece is not to belittle the entrepreneurial spirit or to tell people how to spend their money. Nor is this a knock against GM, or Ms. Barra. Lastly, it needs stating that money (and the things that come with it) is not the end all be all of life satisfaction.
The point is to remind people that all of these social issues that seem so black and white upon first glance are in actuality complex concerns with many layers.
-- Oh, and I didn't even touch on this aspect ;)
*Note, this figure is an aggregate of the engineering and logistical staff positions responsible for typical tire creation and transport. $67,348 (Engineer) + 28, 083 (Warehouse Tire Technician) = $95,431 / 2 = $47,716.
These calculations are generalized salaries/positions for simplicity in order to match the examples given in the picture/text.
Chevrolet. (2018). Corvette Z06 Pricing. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Chevrolet: www.chevrolet.com/byo-vc/client/en/US/chevrolet/corvette/2017/corvette-z0
Couch, R. (2014, May 09). Think Welfare Recipients Abuse The System? You Should See This Chart. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/welfare-abuse-america_n_5289997.html
Glassdoor. (2018, May 10). General Motors Assembly Line Worker Hourly Pay. Retrieved June 2018, 2018, from Glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/General-Motors-Assembly-Line-Worker-Salaries
Glassdoor. (2018, June 15). Salary: Truck Driver. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/truck-driver-salary-SRCH_KO0,12.htm
John, C. (2018). Miner Salaries. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Chron: work.chron.com/miner-salaries-1463.html
Payscale. (2018, June 10). Bridgestone Tire Salary. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Payscale: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=Bridgestone_Tire/Salary
Rueters . (2018, April 26). GM CEO Mary Barra Got a Huge Pay Raise. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2016/04/22/mary-barra-gm-pay-general-motors/
Tire Business. (2017, April 27). 4 tire firms among GM's top suppliers. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from Tire Business: http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/20170425/NEWS/170429969/4-tire-firms-among-gms-top-suppliers