PHILADELPHIA—GridValve, Inc., CEO Jeff Barker says it’s imperative in today’s global economy for his company to cut costs and operate on a leaner margin if the industrial parts supplier is going to thrive in the years ahead. “Costs of materials are rising, the Federal Reserve has said more interest-rate hikes are coming, and mandatory healthcare insurance have combined to create a perfect storm that can cripple a globally competitive company like ours,” Barker said in a conference call with analysts today.
The CEO, who owns three houses and a 30-foot yacht, said sacrifices must be made across the board. “As much as we try not to cut jobs, we’ll have to reduce our global staff footprint by 500 employees to keep our costs in line with revenue projections for 2016,” he said. A 500-person cut would represent about 6 percent of the company’s worldwide employee base.
Barker two months ago earned a $12 million bonus for overseeing the company’s acquisition of an industrial fiber company. He has put that money into mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae, the federally chartered company that’s been under conservatorship since the global mortgage crisis a decade ago and receives backing by the federal government.
Most of Barker’s income comes in the form of stock options, so if the company’s stock does well, he can exercise his options and receive millions of dollars in income.
Barker says jobs will be cut “equally across divisions” so that no division will take a disproportionate cut. “We want to make sure our employees understand we’re trying yo be fair,” he says. Median wage at the company is $18 an hour, which means the typical employee earns about $36,000 a year, gets no vacation pay, and pays about $450 a month for health insurance through the company program. The median income in the United States is about $53,000 a year.
Barker partied through much of his college years at Penn State and waited to take his first job until after he completed the MBA program at the University of Maryland. His parents paid for his education and hired a coach to help him complete his MBA coursework and get his paper written, and his dad helped him get a job at an investment company that had operations throughout the mid-Atlantic area. At that company, he showed a lot of confidence and was pleasant to be around. After two years, a friend asked him to switch to the company he worked for, and after several years there and a number of job moves after that, he was positioned for his first CEO job at a small company in Delaware. From there he took a variety of top spots at companies of increasing size, until he took over GridValve in 2013. He’s since acquired several companies to expand its size, but he’s finding now that the company is struggling to manage its debt obligations.
“We’re being strangled by government red tape,” he said on the conference call. “Onerous requirements imposed on us by Washington is making it difficult for us to remain competitive at a time when the economy is still fragile.” Next weekend, he and his wife are flying to Paris for a week and then will meet some friends for a week at a villa on Lake Como in Italy. Their son drives a BMW, although he’s never looked under the hood.
Miguel Torres, a GridValve employee for almost 15 years, is one of the employees to be laid off. “It will be a struggle but I am determined to find another job,” says the husband and father of three. His wife earns $9 an hour as a maid who goes to people’s houses and cleans their bathrooms and kitchens and vacuums the carpets in the living room and den. Torres says he’s been taking classes at night to learn computer programs that might be useful in today’s workforce, but he’s not optimistic companies will hire a 45-year-old man who’s spent years assembling industrial parts. “My father always said if you work hard you can succeed,” he says, “even if you’re not born into privilege. This is a great country.”
After his conference call, Barker asked an old friend if he could find a place for his son when he graduates in May. His buddy said it would be no problem.
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: mo (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.
CENTER JUNCTION, Iowa—Calling it an example of how he’s helping “America become great again,” President Donald Trump praised the owner of a family-owned manufacturing company here for opening a paperclip factory in the United States instead of Mexico. “We’re going to make trenendous paperclips here,” Trump told a group of employees on the factory floor. “They’re going to be the best paper clips ever made, and they’re going to be made right here in Iowa, because no one knows how to make paperclips better than the fine people of Iowa.” More.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a week-long meeting with Chinese government and business leaders with a request for the Chinese to give back the millions of jobs American businesses shipped to them over the years. “We are not blaming you for taking them,” Kerry said in his departing statement, given at the American embassy in Beijing. “We gave them to you of our own free will, and you were free to take them. But we’d like to have them back now, and so if you wouldn’t mind returning them to us, we would appreciate it.” The United States has transferred some 15 million jobs to Chinese companies since China was granted Most Favored National (MFN) trade status in 1994, when Bill Clinton was president. Since that time, China has grown to have the second largest economy in the world and is on the verge of overtaking the United States in the size of its gross domestic product, although the country would still lag the U.S. in per-capita GDP. More.
Chief executive officers at companies in the United States are uniting behind a push to guarantee no CEO has to work for less than $40 million a year. “This is an issue of basic fairness,” says John Carter, CEO of iQuantumData in Raleigh, N.C. “The idea that a CEO can live in this country on anything under $40 million a year is unsupportable. No one can maintain three or four houses, keep a boat, and travel to Europe for events like Wimbledon or to play golf at St. Andrews on anything less than $40 million.” Mike Anderson, CEO of Delta Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, says the CEO profession is riven by inequality. More.
Republican presidential nomination frontrunner Donald Trump said the United States will never return to its glory days until it has a president who alienates large swathes of the population. “You have to have many people in the United States and around the world feel anger and hostility toward the president of the United States, otherwise we’ll remain a loser country,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, N.H. today. “By bringing out the worst in people, you make it possible to get the hard things done. You can’t get anything done if you make people feel good about working with you; it has to be about confrontation and contempt, otherwise you can forget about accomplishing anything.” More.
Saying “it just makes sense,” delegates from around the world overwhelmingly passed a resolution blaming all of the world’s woes on the United States. “Whereas the United States continues to have, albeit barely, the largest economy in the world, and “Whereas the United States makes a lot of mistakes that everyone in the world knows about, and “Whereas the United States has been involved in some capacity in all regions of the world for several decades, and “Whereas the United States is in a state of decline and is clearly failing in all respects, “We hereby resolve to levy blame for everything that is wrong in the world today on the United States of America. Happy New Year.” The vote was devastatingly lopsided, with delegates from 156 countries voting in favor and only one, the United Kingdom, voting against. Two countries, Canada and Israel, abstained. More.
OTTOWA—An international task force has released a report showing Canada is a lot like the United States only with thinner people and fewer minorities. “Far more than the United States, the people in Canada have kept their waistlines at a reasonable size and, although they’re welcoming to minorities, they haven’t had a sizable influx of blacks and Hispanics, probably because of the cold weather,” says the report, released today. Canada: More America Than America was commissioned by the United Nations Task Force on North America to provide a detailed assessment of the country. It’s findings: More.
OTTAWA—Tired of always playing second fiddle to its bigger southern neighbor, the government of Canada has laid out a set of 10 areas in which it wants to overtake the United States within five years:
1. Violent crime
2. Illegal drug use
3. Prescription drug abuse
4. Teenage pregnancies
6. Preventable diseases
7. Obsolete infrastructure
8. Declining academic performance
9. Short-term corporate thinking
10. Religious fundamentalism
“We’re not just about hockey and maple syrup,” says Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. More.
After seven years of investigation, a United Nations team of researchers has concluded that Iran does not have homosexuals, as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted at Columbia University in 2007. In his statement seven years ago, while he was speaking in New York City, Ahmadinejad told his audience of mostly students and faculty that “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you we have it.” At the time, the comment elicited laughter and some boos among the 700 people in the audience. But according to the U.N. team that has just delivered its comprehensive report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Iran in fact has no homosexuals. More.
WASHINGTON—The Chinese government has reached out to the Obama administration with a proposal to buy the country’s debt of more than $17 trillion if the government would take about $5 trillion for it. “We are offering the U.S. government an opportunity to get our from under its heavy debt load, restructure its finances, and move on to a new period of prosperity,” said China’s Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei. “We say at the outset that we cannot offer less than this discount of 70 percent, because the American government has threatened to default several times in the last three years.” Lou said the Chinese government would also require that all American companies doing business in China work in partnership with Chinese companies, which would include the sharing of proprietary trade and technological intelligence. “Of course, the prohibition on Chinese companies sharing trade and technological intelligence with American partners would remain in place, as it must,” said Lou. More.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder cause a diplomatic row when he tried to slip Detroit over the border and leave the bankrupt and crisis-ridden American city with Canada, U.S. and Canadian authorities have confirmed. Officers of the Canadian Border Services Agency apprehended the governor late last night when he was caught trying to redirect the Detroit River two miles to the south, which would have left Detroit on the Canadian side of the border while leaving the more affluent suburbs on the American side. “I will only confirm that officers of the Canadian Border Services Agency, approaching by watercraft, apprehended an American government official at 3 a.m., Eastern Time, approximately three feet into Canadian territory,” said James Haprer, head of the Canadian Border Services Agency. More.
Gun enthusiasts say the millions of guns that flow across the border illegally for use by drug cartels in their war against the Mexican government must stop if mass killers in the U.S. are to reach the success level they’re capable of. “Right now, can an unstable young man in the United States be all that he can be when he’s ready to start spraying random people with bullets? I don’t think so,” says Grit Thorniker, president of the American Alliance for Personal Weapons Rights. “Our gun manufacturers are already operating at maximum capacity. Once more deranged loners come out of the woodwork, will we be able to meet their needs?” More.
OTTOWA—Tired of living in the shadow of its much larger southern neighbor, Canada yesterday officially changed its name to Not USA and unveiled a new flag that government officials say is designed to tell the world that Canada is its own country and not simply a northern outpost of the United States. “Not USA has a long and proud history,” says Stephen Harper, prime minister of Not USA, formerly known as Canada. “With our new name and flag, we’re celebrating our unique place in the community of nations. People forget that Not USA defeated the United States in several key battles in the War of 1812 and beat the U.S. in the 2010 winter olympics hockey championship. What’s more, Not USA is the largest country on earth by land mass, has more ice than any other country, and is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup and moose souvenirs.” More.
BEIJING—China this week released its plan to dominate the world by 2020 and also host a summit on the overfishing of red herring in the South Sea. “This is China’s century and we are determined to assert our interests globally in accordance with our stature as the one true superpower,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a news conference here yesterday. China is the world’s largest country by population, with 1.36 million people, not counting ethnic Uighurs, and the world’s second largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $16.1 trillion. That is about $1 trillion less than the United States, although that gap is expected to close within the next 18 months because of America’s declining productivity and “black president,” the plan says. More.
Researchers at Oxford University have bestowed upon Canada the dubious distinction of being the most boring of the six countries that comprise what’s known as the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. “We think it’s important that this matter be settled once and for all,” says lead researcher Nigel Clappe, lecturer in political science and demographics at Oxford University. “Up until this point, people have been identifying the most boring country based on nothing more than their own gut feeling. And that wasn’t helping anybody.” More.
Saying it’s impossible to be mad when you skip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders around the world to take up skipping, the “hippity-hoppity” gait that comes so naturally to children. “If you remember the last time you skipped, you will no doubt remember feeling frisky and carefree,” Ban said in a statement released today. The U.N. last week passed a referendum declaring the week of Dec. 18-25 World Skipping Week, which the international organization hopes will inspire people everywhere to skip rather than fight. More.