This guest post is part of the Twentysomething series of guest posts that I run periodically.
Today’s guest post is an open letter to Obama from a twentysomething investment banker working in a London office of a US bank. The letter is in response to the salary caps Obama is putting on bankers who receive bailout money. The cap is $500,000.
I do not necessarily agree with the ideas in this letter, but I think this is an important workplace topic for debate.
Dear Mr. Obama,
First of all, I would like to say how relieved I am to have made it through your firewall despite writing from my workplace account. Secondly, I would like to congratulate you on your bold and assertive moves to nip that pernicious weed we call capitalism in the bud. It’s about time somone brought change to the outdated american dream.
I would like to humbly request however that you apply the principle of capped pay to other areas of my professional life. For instance, can we also cap hours worked?
I know what you’re thinking – sounds a little too French. But I think the great American people could learn from the French. After all, circa 250 years ago they were the world’s greatest superpower only to fall into precipitous decline at the hands of a fiscally irresponsible and greedy ruling class (seeing any parallels?). The people believed in change and made it happen (capping pay was a little too bourgeois for those times, so they resorted to capping heads, but all in all it is the same).
Now – 250 years later, France have rebuilt themselves into a fine socialist state, and while they are not quite a superpower, their president is regularly intimate with Carla Bruni – what more do you need?
I believe in france the rule is that 35 hours of work a week is plenty and any time beyond that is free time (“le freedom time”). That may be a bit too radical for Wall Street at first, but may I suggest we use the same yardstick you used to cap pay – benchmarking it to the President of the United States.
Recent press reports indicated you start work at 9am and are sometimes seen in your office as late as 10pm! It also mentioned that you have meetings on Saturdays (and wear slacks, which is a step in the right direction – I can’t wait to see what the press says when you unleash the true Hawaiian in you and show up in board shorts and flip-flops!). So I will go ahead and estimate your average weekly working hours at 62 hours (9am-10pm 2 days a week, 9am-7pm 3 days a week, plus a 6 hour day on Saturday – please let me know if these assumptions are way off). I bow to your superior judgement, but I would just like to open the debate on limiting our working hours to 62 weekly hours.
I admire you greatly, and if this were implemented I would be able to follow your example more closely. I could become a more dedicated family man. I could work out daily (cardio and weights). I could walk about topless for the paparazzi. All in all, a few years down the line I would look back at the positive change you have made in my life and feel a debt of gratitude. All I ask though is that you please consider this suggestion.