As you have seen in the news, chapter eleven banktrupcy has become very popular. In the recent past, it has become a strategic tool for companies, instead of a last resort. As a result, the P.B.G.C., the government agency that insures pension plans (i.e., 401Ks, traditional IRAs, etc.) that have been dumped to save a company from bankruptcy, is currently in a $23 Billion debt. It is estimated that of all corporate pension plans in the U.S., $450 Billion of your money is currently underpayed by corporations. The more businesses that get close to bankruptcy in the coming months and years will add to the P.B.G.C.'s debt. We are looking at another economic crisis and who will pay? The taxpayer.
In addition, (prior to the economic meltdown) those workers currently poised to retire only have enough money to live for seven to eight years in retirement. The average worker poised to retire is now deciding between working for the rest of her/his life to maintain a middle-class lifestyle or going on social security after a few years when the funds run out. While corporate elite salaries are getting larger and larger, corporations are passing off more and more of their expenses to the government. Who are these corporations actually serving?
(statistics from PBS Frontline: Inside United's Bankruptcy)
How Will You Measure Your Life?
I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.
One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:
“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."
I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.