Founding father Thomas Jefferson said, "People get the government they deserve".
Just a few years ago, MIT Professor of Economics, Jonathan Gruber, caused quite a kerfuffle when he told a group that the Democrats were dependent on the voters being too stupid to understand the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare) because, if they did understand it, the bill would not have been passed.
Please keep those quotes in the back of your mind as we review some more recent events.
One would think that after Professor Gruber made that statement, our political strategists and politicians would have become a bit more circumspect on the positions they present to the voters . . . but that has not been the case. For example, Secretary Clinton has been hammering away on the need for "equal pay for women." While I haven't seen or heard anyone of either political party arguing against equal pay for women, it may be because they know that the equal pay act was passed and signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. Apparently the secretary is depending on an uninformed group of voters in order to foster a "women's issue" that simply does not exist.
When that law was first enacted, one of the major issues businesses faced was the fact that not every first or second line supervisor or manager position was "equal" to every other. For example, back in 1963, companies still had "typing pools," and computer technologies had begun to invade businesses across the country. The supervisor of the "typing pool" didn't require the level of education and training of a supervisor of a computer technical support group. A new look at job evaluation and job titles was begun to distinguish between the job "level,", and the job "value," and to compare those among companies to determine their competitive worth. That led to salary ranges being established for each job title (vs. job level), based on its value to the company and its overall competitive value in the marketplace. That process continues today. Job values determined the wages to be paid for each job title; normally, a new entry into the job level being paid about 85 percent of the job's top rate, with a "step" progression of about 3 percent a year for satisfactory performance to reach the top level. Those failing to perform at an acceptable level could be denied their "step progression" raise until they performed at an acceptable level.
In addition to distinguishing between job titles and values, job performance had to be considered. While the overwhelming numbers of workers perform at acceptable levels, the long established "bell curve" has shown some employees fail to meet job expectations while others, perform beyond the expectation set by the company. As noted above, those failing to meet job expectations could be denied their step progression raise, without affecting the equal pay for equal work requirements.
How to compensate for excellent performance for those at the top end of the bell curve was an issue, as any pay "increase" to a particular job level, would automatically apply to all those at that job level who had performed "satisfactorily". However the issue to be addressed was how to provide an incentive to the workforce, and to reward for meritorious performance without having to compensate the many for the work of the few. That problem was solved by rewarding the overachievers with a "bonus" plan that would address performance for that year only, and would not be added to the employees' salary level. The fact that a person earned a performance bonus for year one, did not mean that he or she would get such a bonus in year two and beyond. The bonus was based strictly on the level of performance each year, with everyone in that pool of workers being eligible.
What has been described above is the essence of the equal pay programs. Obviously, the larger the company the more likely there will be a diversity of job titles within each job level . . . with each one being competitively valued in the marketplace.
Back to our quotes. It is highly unlikely that Jefferson could have foreseen these days of incredible, widespread and instant communications. It is also unlikely he could have foreseen today's professional politicians. However, his quote was a warning not to the politicians but to the electorate, letting us know that it is we, the people, who are ultimately responsible for the government, based on the choices we make.
In a way, Jefferson's quote and the quote of Professor Gruber are not in conflict. Rather, Gruber's quote is a confirmation of Jefferson's warning . . . if we the people are too apathetic, or too uninformed, we can therefore be swayed into ceding our freedoms to the politically cunning. Ergo, we deserve the government we get.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
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