Predator and Prey

Which are you?

There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey.”

You might think that quote comes from a member of the Mays family, or one of the Dickeys.

Perhaps you think that quote came about in response to the way Clear Channel and/or Cumulus are being run.

It’s actually from John Ruskin, who died more than 100 years ago.

But it feels contemporary, doesn’t it?

And not just for Radio, but for lots of American business ventures.

Somehow, Radio — and just about every other major American industry, including medical services, the costs of which have been growing at double digit rates for over a decade — has to find a way to pay those that produce the product enough so that they can live lives of dignity.

They don’t have to become rich, just able to afford health care and eduation for their children, and to live without second jobs and constant anxiety.

We have to find a way around this market-driven compulsion to drive costs ever lower when workers are seen as costs.

Doctors in America make far more than doctors in most other nations, and most specialists make far more now than they did 10 years ago BUT the lab techs and orderlies, the cafeteria crews and janitorial staff make less, and often their jobs are part-time, designed so as not to provide costly benefits packages.

I don’t mean to pick on doctors; this enormous income gap exists in almost every industry between those in the top executive suites and those workers on the plant or store floor.

You and I have both seen trade ads for “journalists” starting at $10/hour, without benefits, and many of the air talent in non-drive dayparts are part-time employees, again specifically so they do not have to be given health benefits.

It is not a political statement to say that the wealthiest in our nation are growing ever wealthier while those who make up the vast majority of the work force are making less and increasingly threatened by foreclosure, medical catastrophe, and sheer exhaustion.

I don’t have the answer, but it’s a topic we all need to think about if we hope to demand action from Congress.

I am not for income-redistribution, but we simply have to find a way to pay the vast majority of our work force enough money to live decent, hopeful lives.

If you didn’t see the Independent Lens story, As Goes Janesville, it might be a place to start…

Nature is cruel. The very young, the old and weak — they are the prey that keep the stronger and healthier thriving.

But I would like to think we humans are not mere predators, taking advantage of those who are too weak to resist.

I hope something aligns the compassionate compass within our business and political leaders and decision-makers — within each of us — so that being human, being American, at this time in our journey, means something, not only to our citizens but to those struggling everywhere.