Gravity Payments, $70,000 For All Employees

“What is it to you if I am generous?”- God

A link to a page to follow the Gravity Payments results of the $70,000 a year minimum wage for employees. – Added 8-29-02016

A link to a page to an update on Gravity Payment in 9-26-2019.

The above quote was shared with me via a friend. There is no argument that there is income inequality in the USA. This week there was a huge story from Gravity Payments founder Dan Price that he will both slash his own salary to $70,000 and raise the minimum salary of each employee to $70,000, even the office clerk. This was happening the same week as strikes for $15/hour minimum wage by fast food worker across the country.

Gravity is not the first company to voluntarily pay their employees higher than minimum wage. QuikTrip which pays cashier’s $40,000 a year and Costco which pays its employees $44,000 a year are two other noted examples. They are also much larger than Gravity Payments as they have thousands of employees while Gravity has 120. That is not to diminish it’s accomplishments but just to highlight facts. This is a big deal!

After I read this news I was initially quite excited at the change we are seeing these days. I have been quietly debating with friends and myself the merits of a higher minimum wage. This was exactly what I wanted! People were finally able to have a comfortable living. Shortly after that I began to contemplate further. Even the “lowest paid clerk” will make $70,000, over double their current salary, earning the promised $70,000 within the next three years. How will the, currently,  higher paid personnel react? Will their salaries raise also? For example if there was a person earning $80,000 already, compared to someone earning $40,000 currently, the $80,000 earner might be a bit peeved to learn that someone’s salary has raised $30,000 while his has remained stagnant. We are not sure if that’s the case or if higher earners wages were also increased. I will speculate that they were not. I must hope that they will take it in swing. They will recognize that it is his money and they are not losing money simply because their neighbors are now making more. They also have the opportunity to leave a company that has already showed it’s a generous company, to make more money elsewhere if they can.

This reminds me of a passage from the bible.

Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”” (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)

The workers who came late and worked only one hour were paid as much as the people who worked the full day. Naturally the people who worked the full day were pissed! But they were reminded that no money was taken from them.

As for the people who received the huge raises, I hope they recognize how lucky they are. I hope that they all recognize the good fortune they have been given and pass some along to others who are less fortunate than themselves.One driver for inflation, in my mind, is the excess of money in the hands of individuals. If 2 people both want a thing that is $50 and there is only one left, this will create an increased price for that part. They may end up paying $100 for something that was only worth $50 initially. To combat this price war on things, we need to focus on being less materialistic. If we become happier with what we have, then the increased salaries will be just fine. The people might spend them responsibly, paying off loans or securing a future via a larger down payment on a home or larger retirement deferrals. They would do good to reference this article about retiring a millionaire. If this creates a culture of people worrying about others happiness and their own future instead of buying more material things,  this will have been a great experiment indeed.

I have found through my own journey thus far that I was really only able to realize that I could give some away more after I realized that I had enough. It’s natural for people to seek security. If that means saving up $50,000 or $100,000 before they start donating to charities that’s fine. Another good way to give without giving money is by volunteering time. Your time is just as valuable as money. You could use your time to make money or you could give it away freely. When donating time, don’t feel bad that you aren’t donating money,and don’t let others make you feel bad you aren’t donating money either. This is one issue with our culture is we like to point out the flaws we see in others instead of pointing out the positive. I have done this above a bit, in pointing out that the higher earners could be upset, but I did that just as a thought experiment and to provide discussion that I’m sure others were thinking. When I discussed this topic with friends and they mentioned it I told them what i have written. Let’s be happy that the CEO is doing good!

I did a cost of living using this calculator and found that $70,000 in Seattle is comparable to $56,000 in my current city of Cedar Falls, Iowa. While this is still above the median USA household income, it’s not by much, and it is still $70,000.

How would you react to a situation like this?

Will Trade Dirt bike For Prosperity For All

Today I had something taken from me. Well really it was taken from my father as he purchased it for me many years ago. He was more wronged than I was.
I had a 2001 Honda XR80 in the back of my truck in the parking lot where I live. It’s a small bike. Much too small for my 215 lb self. I had brought it back to Iowa to fix up so my younger brother could enjoy it as I had when I was younger.
I remember the day my dad brought it home. I don’t remember the day exactly, but I was about 12 (2001-1989) and it was a Christmas present for my brother (a year younger than I) and myself. I remember there wasn’t to much snow on the ground yet so we were able to ride it in the field. We were throwing snow everywhere! Snow rooster tails!

Eventually we bought another older (1980’s vintage) XR80 off the internet so my brother and I could ride together. I am sure we rode around quite a bit but I only distinctly remember one time. We were both going through this field with tall grass. He was off to my right. The grass was pretty tall so we couldn’t really see what was in front of our tires. He ended up hitting a stump or piece of wood that happened to be in the middle of the field. I distinctly remember looking to my right and seeing him seated on the dirt bike in a normal position, except the bike had the wheels straight up and his head was near the ground. Don’t ask me how that happened but it was there. Of course shortly after that moment in time, everything unraveled rather quickly. The bike maintained more momentum as it was heavier and went farther, which was fine as luckily it didn’t land on him. He landed on the ground and we walked the bikes home. We even had a baseball game that night. I’m pretty sure he had some memory loss from that incident.

Over the years the bike had deteriorated. I had acquired a larger CR125 and enjoyed riding that with a friend who also had a 125cc dirt bike. They are much more powerful than an 80cc. I had brought it to Iowa one time and had tried to fix it up some so my much younger brother (14 ish years younger) could ride it. It was only semi successful. It at least ran but didn’t idle good and unfortunately he never got to ride it like we had as kids.

I was home for Easter weekend, 2015 (a few days ago as I write this) and had decided it was time again to fix up the bike for perhaps another attempt to have my younger brother a dirt bike to ride. I loaded it up and drove it back to Iowa with me. I live in an apartment complex on the North West side of Cedar Falls, by all accounts one of the best parts of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. I came home the night of 4-8-2015 and noticed that my dirt bike was not in the back of the truck where I had left it since returning Sunday (4-5-2015). It’d been there a total of 3 days and it had been stolen. I have even left my bigger dirt bike in the back of my truck over night before. Now I’d be pretty hesitant to do that!

This is honestly one of the first acts of crime that has been perpetrated against me. I can honestly say I was pretty confused. I called the police and told them something was stolen and I was calling them because “That’s what you do when you have something stolen.” They asked me my address and sent a guy out to look at the crime scene. We didn’t find much. They even left the pretty sweet tie down’s I have in the truck? Why? Idk.

Anyway, I’ve got pretty low expectations for getting that back. I’m not really the loser here as I never paid for the bike. I sure feel bad for my father who just wanted to buy something nice for his sons all those years ago and it was well appreciated, used and loved. But now the joy that was going to go to some future kid, maybe my brother, maybe some kids I have yet to meet that I was hoping to introduce to the joys of dirt bikes, will not be realized.

What will become of that bike? What was the motive of the person who stole it? I can only hope that they stole it for a “good” reason. Were they stealing it because they can’t afford a dirt bike for their own kids? If that’s the case I wish they would have asked if they could have borrowed it instead. I have read about 90% of the way through “Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth” as of today and one sentence really resonated with me.

“It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsmen, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.” P112 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth”  R. Buckminster Fuller

Did the person who stole my dirt bike feel that he didn’t have any other option to get money than to steal my property? How can we rectify that?

I have yet to read this book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. diamandis and Steven Kotler but from what I’ve gleaned thus far from the back cover is that they are arguing that we have the capability to fulfill everyone in this world’s basic needs through application of current technology. I agree with that assessment completely.

How to address this issue of inequality is another problem. I make more money than the average household in the USA. Because of this I am able to save for retirement, give to charity and purchase unnecessary toys and take fun trips. How to help distribute my income so that everyone can live in peace is something I’ve been trying to understand for a while. One of the issues is that we as a society have made it shameful and hard to ask for help. We value independence over just about anything. We see it as a strength not to have to ask others for help. This is good in that it does make us stronger, but it is bad when at times we do need help we are unable to ask for it. Often when we ask people do look down on us or feel pity for us. Neither of those are helpful reactions. We should work to identify why someone is in a bad situation and help them out of it, not think lowly of them for it. We’re all in this together.

Ultimately I’m upset that my dirt bike was stolen, not because of the money, but because of what it meant to me. The love and joy my father had purchasing it and giving it to his sons who were equally or more joyful at having such a fun new toy, like nothing they had had before. I guess the people who stole it decided that they needed it more than me, and it’s sad our world is like that. Please help me make the world a place where no one feels the need to steal.

Trust. Government Regulation. Guns and Income Inequality (Oh And Of Course Smoking)

I have been wanting to write about gun control and income inequality recently but as I’ve been researching and talking with people I have come across some interesting similarities between both topics that I feel the need to expound upon.

The basic idea shared by both these topics is how much government regulation should be exercised over each issue? I think it’s important to try to understand what is really being said, despite the words used. When a person says I want more government regulation, what they are really saying is “I trust the government to make better choices for my life than I can for myself.”

I am completely ok with that statement if some people want to make it. In fact, it’s probably quite accurate for the majority of people, not because the government is incredibly smart, but because people are often incredibly self centered and ignorant of how the world works. I would never make this statement myself. I am the architect of my own future.

For every regulation you think the government should make you should also be arguing for more taxes. OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO. I’m not paying more taxes, you say. Ah. Herein lies the problem. People can’t see the world beyond the walls of their own home and they think that the government should take care of them, but they don’t want to pay for it. People expect someone else to pay for it and this is the problem with arbitrarily raising the minimum wage.

How do you conduct your shopping? If you are like most people out there you first ask “What is the cheapest way I can get this?” If that includes buying things from Walmart, which you are very vocal about not liking on Facebook, or buying a burger from a fast food joint because it’s fast, cheap and therefore convenient, you are part of the problem. If you wanted to do something active to make companies listen to you you need to start talking with your wallet. Read this article about Moo Cluck Moo. It is a semi-fast food joint in Michigan that pays its workers $15/hour. Here is the important part for you lazy people who won’t read it “In order to make this model work, customers have to pay a little more.” If you go to McDonalds because it’s faster or cheaper but then argue that McDonald’s should raise their minimum wage, you are part of the problem. That is called internet activism my friends and it’s as useless as a knife at a gun fight.

The same principle has been enacted in the argument for smoking. People are arguing that the government can remove someone’s free choice to smoke and your free choice to avoid establishments that endorse smoking because you think the government is smarter than you. If you are in the NRA you should also be trying to help smokers get back their choice to smoke in places that business owners think it is beneficial for their business (public places like gas stations and hospitals where it’s inherently dangerous excluded). Read my article on smoking if you want to understand that more. If however you are in the NRA but you think that it’s ok to deny restaurants the right to choose if they will have smoking or not, you are really saying that you DO trust the government to make good choices for you and all your arguments for no gun registration is as worthless as a gasoline engine on the moon. (For those of you who don’t understand this, an engine running on gasoline needs oxygen to run, of which there is none on the moon.)

So let’s recap. The question is how much do you trust your government? If you say, unequivocally but argue against higher taxes, you are a liar. If you say I don’t trust the government at all (NRA people and anti-gun registration folks) but argue for some regulation like seat belt laws and smoking laws I also call you a liar.

This is my challenge to you. Let’s start taking a little responsibility for ourselves. Do the right thing! If you think you can make good life choices for yourself lets see you do that. If you don’t think you are capable of making good life choices for yourself, please give your whole paycheck to the government and let them tell you exactly what you should be doing for a job, where you should live, what you should eat etc.

Mark Rain Flickr Creative Commons, cover photo