“Is any one else freaking out right now?”

Dan-Price_headshot_colorBecause Dan Price, a Seattle-based CEO who cut his pay and raised his workers’ salaries to a minimum of $70,000, said he was freaking out when he made the announcement.

Price said he made the moves because he sees a “moral imperative” to bridge the income gap. What can we learn from this? Plenty, says Matthew Yglesias at Vox:

Price is getting something important right: a more equal world is going to be a happier world.

I don’t care if there are skeletons in his closet (and I don’t know if there are and that statement should not be construed as an implication thereof) and I don’t care if he’s completely inappropriate as a candidate: Dan Price for Something. Because It’s Time.

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  1. I was just rereading yesterday the 2012 TIME coverage of one of the studies mentioned in the coverages on Dan Price you linked to in the post. (Here and here.)

    I ended up back at the TIME articles because of this post at Common Dreams covering a letter published in The Guardian by 400 mental health experts “warning that Britain’s austerity cuts, and neoliberalism more broadly, are profoundly damaging to quality of life and psychological well-being.”

    “The past five years have seen a radical shift in the kinds of issues generating distress in our clients: increasing inequality and outright poverty, families forced to move against their wishes, and, perhaps most important, benefits claimants (including disabled and ill people) and those seeking work being subjected to a quite new, intimidatory kind of disciplinary regime,” warned the letter, whose signatories included Susie Orbach—a well-known psychotherapist and social critic.

    “More generally, the wider reality of a society thrown completely off balance by the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking is affecting Britain in profound ways, the distressing effects of which are often most visible in the therapist’s consulting room,” the letter states.

    Sarah Lazare at Common Dreams pointed to Greece and its dramatic increase in suicides rates since severe austerity measures began there in 2008, (a 13.1% increase in suicides), which continued in 2010, (a 36% increase in suicides in 2011) as an indicator of the “emotional toxicity” of neoliberalism. (More on Greece here.)

    All that made me think of the suicide rankings reported in The 2015 Social Progress Index. The US scored 81st with 10.75 suicides per 100,000. Greece scored 14th with 3.06 suicides per 100,000. I discovered data on suicide rates can vary widely by source. WHO data I found, for instance, reported for 2013 that the US had more than 25 suicides per 100,000. Its data on Greece didn’t go past 2009, before the most severe austerity measures were instituted…measures that significantly impacted healthcare access and delivery there. More digging revealed that finding a direct causal link between economic factors and suicide rate were difficult, if not impossible, to construct.

    Correlation, however, was easier to visualize. American Foundation for Suicide Foundation Facts and Figures for the US 1981 through 2013, (using CDC data), shows high suicide rates during the Reagan Era. The Clinton Era shows a decline, The Shrub years reveal a little increase, but nothing close to the first five years of the Obama Administration: a steady yearly increase in suicide rate, 11.6% to 12.6%…a 10 percent increase. No…I’m not blaming Obama per se because impact of economic policy here can be delayed and/or transferred to other Administrations. However, the data is what it is.

    I’m saying all this…and thanks if you’ve made it this far…to explain my first reaction when I read about Dan Price: This guy probably saved someone’s life.

    1. Your comment’s deeper and better than the blog post. Rock on, Leftover. I agree. He just might have done that, saved a life.

      1. Oh…I don’t know about that…it got way off topic…but thanks.
        And thanks for the post. It’s always good news when people like Price turn up. I hope he cal pull it off. I think we should all ask our credit card providers to do business through his service.

    2. I didn’t connect it that way, leftover, but it makes sense. When employees aren’t getting raises, just getting by, and are fearful of losing their jobs, even the paycheck isn’t enough. The stress can be great and employees can feel expendable and not valued.

      A lifetime ago, I worked for IBM. One of the founding IBM Basic Beliefs was, “Respect for the Individual”. Back when I started working for them, they meant it. It was like a big happy family. We worked hard, but the effort was rewarded and appreciated. Extra effort was noticed and rewarded again. Things changed over time, the belief was no longer practiced, and morale went down the tubes.

      Price’s action does more than just add to paychecks. To the employees, it can mean the boss values and appreciates them. That goes a long way in affecting morale and mental health.

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