On June 9th, a man named James Richard Verone robbed a Gaston, North Carolina bank of $1, so that he could receive desperately needed medical treatment in prison.
The man, a 17 year Coca-Cola delivery driver, was laid off by the company because of the “economic downturn.” Verone’s medical condition deteriorated to the point that he was unable to maintain steady employment, and therefore unable to pay for treatment. According to a Beverage World article, Coca Cola has been cutting thousands of jobs over the last 10 years.
“In 2000, the company laid off about 5,200 people. About 1,750 of the cuts came in the U.S. Then, in 2003, Coca-Cola meshed the operations of three separate business units in North America: Coca-Cola North America, The Minute Maid Co. and the soda fountain business. The company dropped 1,700 jobs in the United States.Coca-Cola trimmed its U.S. workforce by 1,500 jobs in 2008 and 2009. Coca-Cola has outsourced jobs in information technology for several years, and did the same with its security force in 2009. It is currently holding many positions open instead of hiring new employees, although it is not in an official hiring freeze.”
It appears that Coca-Cola has done its fair share of suffering as a result of the current economic recession, but it is not so.
According to an Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “Coca-Cola profit skyrockets 73 percent in 2010.” The company made a reported $35.1 billion in net revenue in the year. The official Coca-Cola 2010 annual report states that the company achieved “Strong worldwide volume growth of 6% in the quarter and 5% for the full year.” Volume growth in the United States was estimated to be at 8%.
According to CompanyPay.com, Coca-Cola executive salaries steadily increased from 2007 to 2009; though, admittedly, 2009 bonuses are listed as $0. Coca-Cola co. executive Muhtar Kent’s total compensation in 2007 was $11,596,984. According to AFL-CIO, his 2010 compensation was $24,782,017.
That’s an increase of $13,185,033, enough to hire 397 more workers at Coca-Cola’s median salary of $33,190 per year. And that’s just the increase in compensation of a single executive.
Coca-Cola is selling more product. Its consumer base is expanding. Executive compensation is increasing. Yet the company is laying off workers. What gives?
Both sides of the increasingly narrow political “aisle” are advocating corporate tax cuts, and very few officials, if any, are advocating tax increases. When businesses make more money, they hire more people, goes the uninformed argument.
But the truth is, they simply fucking do not. We’ve seen a repeating pattern of executives pocketing the difference across the board. Executives aren’t concerned about jobs any more. In the past, jobs were a means to an end, and that end was greater profits. Now corporations are finding ways to increase profits by cutting jobs rather than creating more, and profit-motive always trumps concern for the unemployed. The “invisible hand” of the free market is guiding corporations towards the greatest profits for the lowest number of employees.
Welcome to the new America: where talk of raising taxes so slightly that they still aren’t even close to those under Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (94% on the highest income bracket) or Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower (90% on the highest income bracket), is summarily rejected by politicians in both parties with a pathetic, manufactured, mock outrage at the very idea.