The dogs and I went out walking beneath the moon, which was bold and bright, though on the wane, riding the magic carpet of a wispy cloud and heading down fast, becoming more golden with each passing minute, just an arm’s length from the clear, flat summit of Waialeale. The east was a sullen gray blob with smoldering eyes, crowned by Venus valiantly holding forth in a pale sky.
Behind the clouds were nearly all the other planets: Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars, lined up like planes awaiting take off on a runway, converging for what A Darker View describes as “this year’s great planetary conjunction.” The AstroViewer site can also help you figure what you’re seeing as the planets exchange partners in their month-long dance above the horizon.
I’ve been seeing a disturbing trend that began in the recession and seems to be lingering, even as we enter the so-called recovery. I'm talking about the practice of people working harder for less money. Or some people, anyway. As USA Today reported for the year 2010:
The median amount that CEOs actually took home — which includes salary and cash bonuses, as well as stock and options awarded in previous years that vested or were cashed in — was $8.6 million. That’s the most CEOs have pulled down since the median of $9.2 million in 2007, according to GovernanceMetrics’ analysis of S&P 500 companies.
It seems the median pay for CEOs of large corporations in the U.S. increased 27 percent last year, while pay raises for all workers in private industry averaged just 2.1 percent and unemployment held steady at 8.8 percent. Meanwhile, firms are spending their hefty profits — 47 percent last year for companies in the S&P 500 — not on workers and their wages, but mergers, which tend to result in more layoffs.
In doing some research this past week, I noticed that the “work harder for less” formula is also playing out in the Islands, with the state Department of Economic Development, Business and Tourism predicting:
The state’s visitor count is expected to exceed the 2007 peak level of 7.6 million by 2013, but the wage and salary job count may take longer to recover to its peak of 631,000 jobs in 2007.
Are folks employed by the visitor industry going to have to hustle harder to serve the growing number of guests, or are more visitors staying in places that don't require a wage-earner to tend them?
A report on the national Housing Predictor website pretty much nailed it when it noted:
[A] larger picture of a society in transition is taking place in the Islands, where tourism and second home vacation sales and rentals are the cornerstone of the economy.
Yes, the two do seem to go together, kinda like ham and cheese. Which is why I take always take hits when this blog gores those sacred cows.
So let me say mahalo to the readers who submitted supportive comments last week, especially the person who described my writing as “luminous.” Wow. Your kind words really mean a lot when I check comments during my busy day, especially because, as one reader noted:
Amazing how many people read this blog for the sake of dissing you...get a life. Its like they stalk you just to attack your writings.
Yeah, it is kinda weird. But hey, so long as at least some of you find value in this blog, I'll keep writing!