A CEO raised everyone's salary to $70,000/year. The backlash against him doesn't make sense.

Back in April, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, announced a plan to cut his own salary in order to raise minimum pay at the company to $70,000/year.

Photo by Jimmyjay525/Wikimedia Commons.


And there was much rejoicing. At last, a CEO gets it! Finally, someone at the top is putting their money where their mouth is and striking against inequality!

And the best part: Everyone wins and no one loses!

But apparently, Price's announcement actually made some people feel like they had lost...

...including two higher-ranking employees at Gravity Payments, who said the blanket raise minimized their contributions to the organization, according to a July 31, 2015, report in the New York Times.

"Two of Mr. Price's most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises."

Predictably, the story of the employee backlash began trending on social media almost immediately...

...fueled largely by the gloating of America's uncles.

"I told you so. Economics. Natural selection. The Fountainhead." — Your uncle. Photo by Matthew G/Flickr.

"This is why you can't reward laziness," your uncle probably posted on Facebook. "It's bad for business, and it disrespects the hard work of hard-working people."

According to some economic theories, it's human nature to think like this.

Equity theory, which was developed by psychologist J. Stacy Adams in 1963, claims that if one group of people within an organization discover that a second group of people within the same organization are being compensated similarly for work they perceive to be less valuable, the first group of people get — to use a bit of social science terminology — "pretty pissed."

And look, if I were a disgruntled employee and a bunch of my colleagues who I didn't think deserved it got raises and I didn't, I might feel like quitting too.

But here's the thing: We're not economic theory. We are human beings. With free will! We don't have to act the way obscure social science texts predict we will.

In fact, in many cases, it actually makes more logical sense not to. Even though it feels unfair.

If you think about it that way, the backlash against Price really doesn't add up.

Let's break it down, point by point.

"It's unfair that people who aren't doing as hard of a job as me are getting a lot more money, and I'm not."

B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-but. But. But ... ... But. ......... But. Image via Thinkstock.

You're a software engineer at a credit card processing company. You're making $150K/year. The guy in the boiler room makes $35K/year.

Then, boom. Your CEO makes a random announcement on a Monday morning, and suddenly the guy in the (figurative) boiler room is making $70K/year. And you're pissed! "What did he do to deserve that?" you wonder. "Why does he get so lucky and I don't?"

Here's the catch: Nothing bad has happened to you. You're still doing great! It's just ... some other people are making less-not-as-much-money-as-you than before.

Yeah, the other guy just ran into a boatload of cash, and that feels unfair. But the important thing to remember is that you are still making the same amount of money as before.

Is the guy in the boiler room only worth 20% what you're worth — or half as much? Not so long ago, the latter seemed fair. Now, no one blinks an eye when CEOs make 373 times more than the average U.S. worker. But when it comes down to it, it's ... kind of arbitrary.

Either way, economic theory states you're only mad because someone else is doing better than they were last week relative to you.

That seems a little ... I don't know. Just ... I don't know. Just think about it.

"But my salary isn't just how much I get paid. It's a measure of how important I am relative to other people."

I'll give you 50,000 reasons why I'm better than you! Image via Thinkstock.

Look, I totally get it. Many people, myself included, derive tons of satisfaction from earning a lot of money and knowing that other people don't earn as much. Not only does it feel completely amazing, it's only natural to tie the number on your paycheck to how valuable you are as a human being.

But what if ... I don't know — we didn't.

Like, what if we didn't measure our self-worth against how much money we made?

Just ... as something to try.

It's not that hard, actually! Here, for example, are some other ways you can measure your self-worth:

1. How good you are at basketball.

2. Whether you can build a boat.

3. Whether you're kind.

4. Whether you've eaten at all the restaurants featured on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."

5. How many celebrities you know.

6. Whether you are a reliable, dependable friend, and/or you call your mother at least once a week.

These scales may not be as obvious. But they're really useful! Because there may come a time when you stop making a lot of money. For most people, it happens eventually.

And when that day comes, we'll be glad we had one of these bad boys in our back pocket. And that we called our mother all those times.

"But the work they do is not as hard as the work I do."

Not-hard work, apparently. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress.

True, many of the people who received the largest raises at Gravity Payments fill traditionally "blue collar" roles in the company. People who, as one of the departing Gravity Payments employees artfully euphemism'd to the Times, clock in and clock out:

"The new pay scale also helped push Grant Moran, 29, Gravity's web developer, to leave. "I had a lot of mixed emotions," he said. His own salary was bumped up to $50,000 from $41,000 (the first stage of the raise), but the policy was nevertheless disconcerting. “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me," he complained. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members."

And, sure! For someone who spends their days doing the essential work of sitting in front of a computer screen debugging Java C++ or whatever, it must be really upsetting when your boss signals that your coworkers who spend their days lifting really heavy boxes are also important members of the team whose jobs contribute real value.

It must also be hard to see them get raises that make a real, material difference in their lives. Here's the Times, again (emphasis mine):

"Mr. Price has undoubtedly made an immediate difference in the lives of many of his employees. José Garcia, 30, who supervises an equipment team, was able to afford to move into the city and replace the worn tires on his car. Ms. Ortiz, who was briefly homeless as a child, can now visit her family in Burlington, Vt. Cody Boorman, 22, who handles operations out of his eastern Washington home, said he and his wife finally felt financially secure enough to start a family."

There are a few ways to react to this.

One way is to resent your coworkers and feel superior.

Another possible way is to be happy for them, instead of resenting them.

You could also try being more stoked that you are getting a raise than upset that someone else also is.

You could understand that, while your job is hard and one they probably wouldn't be able to do, their jobs are also hard, also important, and ones you probably wouldn't want, or even be able, to do.

You could consider that maybe the kind of work our society values and doesn't value is kind of arbitrary, and why shouldn't an equipment manager make the same salary as a web developer?

And you could realize that the financial security of your newly well-compensated colleagues will ultimately allow them to spend more of their brain space on improving the company and less on how they're going to feed their family night to night, thus benefitting the whole team.

It's asking a lot. But you could view it that way if you wanted to.

Here's the good news.

What, this isn't how you react to good news? Image via Thinkstock.

For all the commotion, all the articles, theories, and social media blowback, only two employees quit Gravity Payments as a result of the mass raise.

Two.

In a company of roughly 120.

That means 118 people stayed.

Gravity has its share of troubles. They're facing a major lawsuit (unrelated to the pay bump), which, combined with the pay increase, has created cash flow problems for the company.

Change is hard. And feelings can get complicated. It's human nature to compare yourself to others, and that gets even more fraught when money is involved. That seems to be what's playing out post-announcement. It doesn't mean anyone is a bad person — even the two people who quit.

But at the end of the day, 118 employees either benefited from the salary increase or felt that their own happiness wasn't dependent on the continuing relative misfortune of their coworkers.

It may not seem like much, but it's a decent start, at the very least.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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