American Heroes

I awoke early this morning, feeling fully rested and eager to get on the computer and work on my memoirs and post something to my blog. But first things first: I needed morning coffee so I toddled out to the kitchen. I turned the TV onto the local Public Broadcasting Company, avoiding those annoying network broadcasting repetitions of:

Chatter/adverts/giggle/adverts/chatter/adverts/
road conditions/adverts/chatter/giggle/adverts/
weather!

I caught an impressive piece on a company called Rhino Foods, established in 1981 by Ted Castle, whose delightful product is cookie dough. My children used to love to do “cookie work” with me: a kitchen adventure in flour, sugar, and icing that often ended in baths, wiping down counters and mopping the kitchen floor. Rhino sounded like fun to me: imagine telling your children each morning “I have to go do my cookie work now, so have a nice day, kids!”

As I watched the program I learned something very special about Rhino Foods, the owner, and his employees. Mr. Castle is a CEO who cares about his employees, and became acutely aware of the hardship of job loss by one his employee’s spouses and their ensuing tailspin of debt as they tried to stay afloat in tough times.

Mr. Castle made a loan program available to employees who faced immediate need of money by offering loans at seventeen percent interest, less than many credit card companies, to be repaid by automatic deduction from their paycheck. Once paid in full the employee is offered the option of starting a savings account by continuing this automatic deduction. The surprising result was that people continued on with the savings deduction. And many applied this concept of saving “unseen” money to their Income Tax Refunds.

I applaud Mr. Castle and those he works with for finding a mutually beneficial way for both Rhino Foods and it’s employees to “stay in business.”

Experts have examined this phenomenon, term it “Social Economics”. I see it as another version of Mommy Economics: I was taught to always have a Sugar Jar somewhere just incase a catastrophe hit or I wanted something special. My strategy has been: at the end of the day all unused coinage (and now due to inflation, one and five dollar bills) go into the stash jar to be periodically deposited in my savings account.

Social Economics has been the subject of studies, and I would guess papers, perhaps a Mission Statement Committee and a Company Pledge.

I guess nobody remembers signing up for “Christmas Club” back in the 1900s.

Well, we Milleniums do like to make simple look complicated, and the obvious magical. And I applaud the good hearted inspiration of Mr. Castle and his cohort, for they are re-educating their employees on how to financially succeed in times of trouble.

Financial safety is an issue many of us “forgot” about in our crazed consumption over the last three decades. In the past, financial safety meant family survival by “saving and planning” not overspending and using credit frivolously.

Financial safety, now termed “Wealth Building” by investment companies is simply another product inspired for the Bigger, Better, Faster, More concept of the American Dream presented by product hawkers and their backbone: banks and credit companies.

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell speech explicitly warned Republican and Democrat Americans alike to beware of the Military Industrial Complex as it could easily take over America’s fiscal balance.

He also mentions an equally dangerous phenomenon:

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive
of a scientific -technological elite.”

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

BACK IN THEGOOD OLD DAYS………
I worked at Wells Fargo Bank in the 1970s. We were in a terrible recession, and the OPEC oil shortage was severely hampering people’s ability to get to work, causing fights, even gunfire at service stations. In California we used a system of gas purchasing: if you had an auto license plate ending with an odd number you could buy gas only on odd days; license plates ending with even numbers were restricted to buy on even days.

Banks were failing, my husband was laid off three times, jobs were scarce, and companies were bellying up. Wells Fargo, however, held a secret meeting of all employees ranked Vice President and higher, in which they unanimously voted to forgo their annual bonus in order to keep giving lower paid but deserving employees their periodic raises.

Yes, as late as the ’70s it was expected that companies not only reward employees monetarily for good work, train them, move them up the ladder; but the ranking members took responsibility for the under-ranked! We Americans just aren’t so much like that anymore, are we?

Well, let us consider Mr. Castle of Rhino Foods! http://www.rhinofoods.com/

 

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