Should the Upper Middle Class Take the Biggest Tax Hit?

Humans learn the concept of fairness at a very young age. After all, it doesn’t take long for a child to start whining about a sibling who gets an extra serving of ice cream. As the Republican-controlled Congress tries to push through tax reform this year, one group of Americans may similarly question why it’s coming up a scoop short.

The upper middle class gets relatively few benefits and a disproportionate number of tax hikes under the $1.4-trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Families earning between $150,000 and $308,000—the 80th to 95th percentile—would still get a tax cut on average. But by 2027, more than a third of those affluent Americans can expect a tax increase, according to the Tax Policy Center.

If the House bill becomes law, overall benefits for the upper middle class will start out small, and later vanish almost entirely.

Is this fair? Some argue it’s only right for the upper middle class to carry a heavier burden. This is because the top fifth of the U.S. by income has done pretty well over the past three decades while the wages and wealth of typical workers have stagnated. People in the 81st to 99th percentiles by income have boosted their inflation-adjusted pre-tax cash flow by 65 percent between 1979 and 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s more than twice as much as the income rise seen by the middle 60 percent. (The top 1 percent, meanwhile, saw their income rise by 186 percent over the same period, but that’s another story.)

“Many upper-middle-class families will tell you they do not feel wealthy,” said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank. “Their standard of living [is] closer to the middle class than to the top 1 percent.” The income numbers don’t tell the whole story, he explained. The upper middle class is weighed down by high costs: Affluent workers live in expensive areas, pay a lot for real estate and daycare, and are taxed far more than Americans further down the ladder.

Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, isn’t buying that argument. He’s the author of “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.”

“There’s a culture of entitlement at the top of U.S. society,” Reeves said. While others focus on rising wealth of the top 1 percent, Reeves argues that the gap is widening between the top 20 percent and everyone else. The upper middle class is guilty of “hoarding” its privileges, using its power to skew the job market, educational institutions, real estate markets, and tax policy for its own benefit, he contends.

“The American upper middle class know how to take care of themselves,” Reeves said during a presentation at the City University of New York last week. “They know how to organize. They’re numerous enough to be a serious voting bloc, and they run everything.”

So by his measure, the tax legislation’s disproportionate hit to the upper middle class is indeed fair.

A family earning $240,000 a year is bringing in four times the U.S. median household income of $59,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. All that money, along with the upper middle class’s political power, buys some huge advantages, Reeves said. For example, affluent parents compete for access to the best schools, bidding up home values in the best school districts. Then, they use zoning rules to prevent new construction, keep property values high, and prevent lower-income Americans from moving in. In the process, children of this demographic end up at the most prestigious universities, nab the best internships and jobs, and ultimately join their parents at the top of U.S. society. 

The very existence of the House tax bill rebuts Reeves’s argument that the upper middle class is in a position to manipulate Washington. (The Senate is considering its own tax legislation, which differs from the House bill in several ways.) Compared with middle class Americans, the upper middle class is less likely to see marginal tax rates fall under the House legislation. The bill also limits or scraps entirely some of the group’s favorite tax breaks, especially deductions for state-and-local taxes, and medical expenses, and tax breaks for education.

If you’re part of the upper middle class and concede you should be paying more, don’t count on wealthier groups making the same sacrifice—at least under the House bill. 

While a repeal of the alternative-minimum tax helps some people with incomes below $300,000, it’s more likely to benefit those on the higher wealth rungs. The very rich, including President Donald Trump, who has been pressing for a legislative victory before the end of his first year in office, would benefit from a repeal of the estate tax, lower corporate tax rates and a lower “pass-through” rate on business income. The House bill explicitly tries to limit the pass-through benefit for doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other high-earning professionals—traditional denizens of the upper middle class. 

This all may seem terribly unfair to members of the upper middle class, but there are some provisions they can take solace in. The bill leaves untouched some sweet tax breaks that predominately benefit people with lower six-figure salaries, such as 529 college savings plans and 401(k)s and other retirement perks. The CBO calculates that two-thirds of the government’s costs for retirement tax breaks go to the top 20 percent.

But beyond these few exceptions, much of the upper middle class will still take it on the chin.

And maybe they should. Higher taxes on the upper middle class make sense to some liberal tax experts—but only if the proceeds are used the right way, they said, for things like better health care, more affordable college, and rebuilding infrastructure. Under the House bill, though, any new tax revenue is used to offset tax cuts—much of which will benefit the super wealthy and corporations, especially over time.

“There would be a lot of people in the country who would be willing to chip in for those goals,” said Carl Davis, research director of the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In the House plan, however, the upper middle class is “going to pay more for a bill that’s going to grow the national debt, and provide the lion’s share of the benefits to corporations and their shareholders.”

Riedl, who has advised Republican candidates, argues the upper middle class should get a more generous tax cut under GOP tax reform. “It’s hard to argue the upper middle class is not currently paying its fair share,” he said. Reeves said the U.S. should ultimately tax the upper middle class more—but “the top 5 percent more still.”

Looking at Republican tax plans, Reeves said, “it’s like they only read half my book.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-20/should-the-upper-middle-class-take-the-biggest-tax-hit

    Worried About Robots Taking Your Job? Learn Spreadsheets

    Musing on the future of the economy earlier this year, Bill Gates warned of smart machines replacing human workers and suggested a tax on robots. A new study of how technology is changing American jobs suggests workers are most immediately challenged by more common technology that Gates himself bears much responsibility for, such as Microsoft Office.

    The new study from the Brookings Institution used government data on work tasks to track how use of digital tools changed in a wide range of occupations between 2002 and 2016. Use of digital technology, such as computers and spreadsheets, became more important to occupations of all kinds. But the most dramatic changes were felt in jobs traditionally least reliant on technology skills—think of home health aides and truck mechanics using computers to diagnose problems or record their work.

    The Brookings’ study created a “digitalization” score for 545 occupations covering 90 percent of the economy, using government survey data that asks workers about their knowledge of computers, and how much they use them. In 2002, 56 percent of jobs scored low on Brookings’ digitalization scale; by 2016, only 30 percent did. Nearly two-thirds of new jobs created since 2010 required high or medium digital skills, the report says. That shift is problematic given America’s long-established deficit in basic digital skills, such as familiarity with spreadsheets or other workplace software, where US workers score well below other those from other advanced economies.

    Share of US jobs by degree of digital content. Source: Brookings Institution

    HOTLITTLEPOTATO

    Overall, the Brookings report suggests the window of opportunity for workers without basic digital skills or a college degree is closing. “With the availability of jobs that require no to very low digital skills dwindling, economic inclusion is now contingent on digital readiness among workers,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings who led the study. “While tech empowers it also polarizes.” He recommends that companies, government officials, and educational groups invest in programs that train workers in basic digital workplace tools.

    That diagnosis and proposed remedy stand in contrast to two common prescriptions for how to help the US economy adapt to technological change. Gates and many other tech executives suggest new government programs to support workers displaced by a coming generation of smart robots. In recent years there has been a swell of support, including from the Obama administration, for programs that teach people to code.

    The new Brookings data suggests the US faces a more immediate, and perhaps less glamorous task. “Coding for all is not quite the right model,” says Muro. “It’s less sexy, but we need much broader exposure and mastery of humbler, everyday software.” Maybe not everyone needs to be a code slinger, but word processing and enterprise packages like Salesforce are hard to avoid.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a similar argument last month, when he launched a $1 billion educational program focused on helping workers skill up in workplace technology. Google employees will offer training in cities around the US. Naturally, they’ll highlight products such as GSuite, Google’s competitor to Microsoft office.

    The digital-skills crunch has been a long time brewing. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, says that IT’s impact on US businesses surged in the mid-to-late ’90s—not coincidentally around the same time US median wages began to stagnate. In 1996, President Clinton announced a “national mission” to make all US children technologically literate by 21st Century. The Brookings report shows there is still a way to go. “We could have done a lot better,” says Brynjolfsson.

    Brynjolfsson echoes Muro’s call for better educational efforts to widen the pool of workers with basic digital skills. He also says society’s poor track record at adjusting to the digital age shows we should be starting now to prepare workers for the next big shift, in which machines become capable of many tasks now done by humans. He recommends that, in addition to productivity software and coding skills, workers should be encouraged to develop their creativity and emotional intelligence—faculties believed to be among the toughest for software to acquire.

    Jason Kloth, CEO of Ascend Indiana, an industry-led group that tries to improve workforce skills, generally agrees with Brynjolfsson’s long-term predictions that advanced automation will challenge workers of all kinds. But his organization has more immediate concerns. “We need to close the gap between demand and supply in the labor market today,” he says.

    Ascend has collaborated with Brookings on research on workplace skills. The Indianapolis group’s initiative includes programs that help companies identify or create educational programs for workers. Kloth says he feels there’s more at stake than just the fortunes of local companies and workers. “I think that growing income inequality manifests in social and political unrest,” Kloth says. Spreadsheet training could—maybe should—be a political issue.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/worried-about-robots-taking-your-job-learn-spreadsheets/

    GE’s $100 Billion Wipeout Heralds Reckoning for an American Icon

    Few under the age of 30 might remember, but General Electric Co. was once a model of corporate greatness.

    Back in 1999, when Steve Jobs was still fiddling with iMacs, Fortune magazine proclaimed Jack Welch, then GE’s chief executive officer, the best manager of the 20th Century.

    Few people — of whatever age — would lavish such praise on the manufacturer these days.

    GE, that paragon of modern management, has fallen so far that it’s scarcely recognizable. The old GE is dead, undone by an unfortunate mix of missteps and bad luck. The new one now confronts some of the most daunting challenges in the company’s 125-year history.

    The numbers tell the story: This year alone, roughly $100 billion has been wiped off GE’s stock market value. With mounting cash-flow problems at the once-mighty company, even the dividend is at risk of being cut. The last time GE chopped the payout was in the Great Recession — and before that, the Great Depression.

    Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on GE dividend

    And yet the hit to the collective psyche of generations of investors and managers is incalculable. For decades, GE-think infiltrated boardrooms around the world. Six Sigma quality control, strict performance metrics, management boot camps — all that and more informed the MBAs of the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and into this century. GE, in turn, seeded corporate America with its executives.

    Anxious Investors

    Now, John Flannery, GE’s new CEO, is struggling to win back the trust of anxious investors. He’s set to detail his turnaround plans on Monday — and has said he’ll consider every option.

    “There’s nothing less than the fate of a once great, great company on the line,” said Thomas O’Boyle, the author of “At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit.” “Some of the fundamental notions about its status as a conglomerate and whether it can succeed in a world of increasing complexity are really being challenged right now.”

    In hindsight, the seeds of this struggle were planted decades ago. Welch expanded and reshaped GE with hundreds of acquisitions and demanded every GE unit be No. 1 or No. 2 in its industry. He also culled low-performers ruthlessly, earning the nickname Neutron Jack. By the time he retired, in 2001, GE’s market value had soared from less than $20 billion to almost $400 billion.

    But all that maneuvering, plus GE’s increasingly complex financial operations, obscured the underlying performance and put the company in peril during the 2008 financial crisis. Welch’s successor, Jeffrey Immelt, soon embarked on a plan to undo much of the House that Jack Built. He would sell NBC and most of the finance operations — two of the businesses that defined Welch’s tenure — along with units such as plastics and home-appliances.

    The moves narrowed GE’s focus, yet it remains a collection of somewhat disparate manufacturing businesses, ranging from jet engines to oilfield equipment.

    Out of Favor

    Unfortunately for GE, that industrial conglomerate model has fallen sharply out of favor on Wall Street. And the rise of activist investors like Nelson Peltz has encouraged companies to try to boost their stock prices however they can, rather than focus on the long term. GE recently welcomed one of Peltz’s partners at Trian Fund Management to the board.

    “The reckoning had to come,” said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory, which has been a GE shareholder for more than 20 years before selling most of the shares in the past few weeks.

    GE’s leaders have long defended the multi-business strategy by pointing to the benefits of sharing technology across product lines — jet engines, for instance, have a lot in common with gas turbines. In an interview with Bloomberg in June, Flannery dismissed concerns about conglomerates, saying investors care more about outcomes.

    “They want growth, they want visibility, they want predictability, they want margin rate,” Flannery said. “And there are a multitude of models to produce that.”

    $20 Billion

    The new CEO has already said he’ll divest at least $20 billion of assets. He’s coming under pressure to do even more.

    “Anything less than a sweeping plan to ‘de-conglomerate’ the portfolio would be viewed as disappointing,” Deane Dray, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said this week in a note to clients. The potential moves include unloading its transportation, oil, health-care and lighting operations.

    Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on a GE Breakup

    To be sure, GE’s issues run deeper than the composition of the company. One of its biggest divisions, power-generation, is in the early stages of a deep market slump — just two years after bulking up with the $10 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business. GE’s cash flow is light, potentially putting the dividend in jeopardy and driving investors away from the stock.

    Flannery has spoken of the need to change GE’s culture and instill a sense of accountability. He’s reined in excessive spending — on corporate cars and planes, on the new Boston headquarters — and replaced top executives.

    But the sudden changes, combined with Flannery’s relative lack of public reassurances, have spooked investors. In the days after Flannery’s first quarterly earnings as CEO, when he called GE’s performance “completely unacceptable,” the stock fell and fell. And fell some more, closing at the lowest level in five years on Nov. 2.

    The shares slid less than 1 percent to $19.99 on Thursday, bringing the 2017 loss to 37 percent.

    “You think about a company like Kodak. Will GE become that?” said Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business who served as GE’s professor-in-residence in 2008 and 2009.

    Some investors may be throwing in the towel, but Govindarajan isn’t giving up. “I will put my bet that GE will weather this and come back,” he said.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-10/ge-s-100-billion-wipeout-heralds-reckoning-for-an-american-icon

      Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It

      One of the hottest tickets in New York City this weekend was a discussion on whether to overthrow capitalism.

      The first run of tickets to “Capitalism: A Debate” sold out in a day. So the organizers, a pair of magazines with clear ideological affiliations, socialist and libertarian , found a larger venue: Cooper Union’s 960-capacity Great Hall, the site of an 1860 antislavery speech by Abraham Lincoln. The event sold out once again, this time in eight hours.

      The crowd waiting in a long line to get inside on Friday night was mostly young and mostly male. Asher Kaplan and Gabriel Gutierrez, both 24, hoped the event would be a real-life version of the humorous, anarchic political debates on social media. “So much of this stuff is a battle that’s waged online,” said Gutierrez, who identifies, along with Kaplan, as a “leftist,” if not quite a socialist.

      These days, among young people, socialism is “both a political identity and a culture,” Kaplan said. And it looks increasingly attractive.

      Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism.

      A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.

      “I’ve seen the failings of modern-day capitalism,” said Grayson SussmanSquires, an 18-year-old student at Wesleyan University who had turned up for the capitalism debate. To him and many of his peers, he said, the notion of well-functioning capitalist order is something recounted only by older people. He was 10 when the financial crisis hit, old to enough to watch his older siblings struggle to get jobs out of college. In high school, SussmanSquires said, he volunteered for the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist. “It spoke to me in a way nothing had before,” he said.

      Although debate attendees leaned left, several expressed the desire to have their views challenged by the pro-capitalist side. “It’s very easy to exist in a social group where everyone has the same political vibe,” Kaplan said.

      “I’m immersed in one side of the debate,” said Thomas Doscher, 26, a labor organizer who is studying for his LSATs. “I want to hear the other side.”

      The debate pitted two socialist stalwarts, Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara and New York University professor Vivek Chibber, against the defenders of capitalism, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason’s editor in chief, and Nick Gillespie, the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV.

      And it was the attempt to rebuff criticism of capitalism that mostly riled up the crowd.

      Chibber argued that the problem with capitalism is the power it has over workers. With the weakening of U.S. labor unions, “we have a complete despotism of the employers,” he said, leading to stagnant wages. When Mangu-Ward countered that Americans aren’t coerced on the job, the crowd erupted in laughter. “Every morning you wake up and you have a decision about whether or not you’re going to go to work,” she insisted, and the audience laughed again.

      Sunkara summed up his argument for socialism as a society that helped people tackle the necessities of life—food, housing, education, health care, childcare. “Wherever we end up, it won’t be a utopia,” he said. “It will still be a place where you might get your heart broken,” or feel lonely, or get indigestion.

      Mangu-Ward replied: “Capitalism kind of [fixes] those things, actually.” There’s the app Tinder to find dates, and Pepto Bismol to cure your upset stomach. “Those are the gifts of capitalism,” she said.

      The arguments stayed mostly abstract. Sunkara and Chibber insisted their idea of democratic socialism shouldn’t be confused with the communist dictatorships that killed millions of people in the 20th century. Mangu-Ward and Gillespie likewise insisted on defending a capitalist ideal, not the current, corrupt reality. “Neither Nick nor I are fans of big business,” she said. “We’re not fans of crony capitalism.”

      Talking theory left little time to wrestle with concrete problems, such as inequality or climate change. That frustrated Nathaniel Granor, a 31-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was worried about millions of people being put out of work by automation such as driverless vehicles.

      “It didn't touch on what I feel is the heart of the matter,” Granor said. Both capitalism and socialism might ideally be ways to improve the world, he concluded, but both can fall short when applied in the real world. 

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/get-rid-of-capitalism-millennials-are-ready-to-talk-about-it

        Demanding a Bachelors Degree for a Middle-Skill Job Is Just Plain Dumb

        Ever wonder why employers demand advanced credentials for jobs that don’t seem to require them? So did Joseph Fuller, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. He co-led a study that found it’s “a substantive and widespread phenomenon that is making the U.S. labor market more inefficient.” To take one egregious example, two-thirds of job postings for production supervisors require a four-year college degree—even though only 1 in 6 people already doing the job has that credential.

        Credentialism obviously harms job applicants. What’s less obvious is that employers suffer, too. They miss out on new hires who—the study found—work hard, cost less, are easier to hire, and are less likely to quit. In other words, companies are deliberately bypassing a deep pool of talent. At many human resources departments, “Everyone’s strategy is to row as close as they can to the other boats and fish there,” says Fuller.

        What was excusable myopia in a time of high unemployment has become inexcusable at a time when the pool of college grads is severely overfished. The unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees was just 2.3 percent in September, the lowest in nine years.

        The study, released on Oct. 24 by Harvard Business School, Accenture, and Grads of Life, is called . Says the report: “Over time, employers defaulted to using college degrees as a proxy for a candidate’s range and depth of skills. That caused degree inflation to spread to more and more middle-skills jobs.” It adds: “Most employers incur substantial, often hidden, costs by inflating degree requirements, while enjoying few of the benefits they were seeking.”

        The study is based on a survey of 600 business and HR executives, as well as 26 million job postings from 2015 parsed by Burning Glass Technologies, a job-market-analysis company that earlier published its own report on the topic. It found that 70 percent of postings for supervisors of office workers asked for a bachelor’s degree, even though only 34 percent of the people doing the job have one.

        Some major employers have figured out that this doesn’t make sense now, if it ever did. The study says that at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 75 percent of store managers joined as entry-level employees, and the company has trained more than 225,000 associates through its Wal-Mart Academies. A January article by Bloomberg BNA quotes David Scott, the company’s senior vice president for talent and organizational effectiveness, as saying store managers can earn $170,000 a year without a college degree. “I started out at Wal-Mart as a stock boy myself,” Scott said.

        The report also cites Swiss Post International Holding AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc, CVS Health Corp., Expeditors International of Washington Inc., Hasbro Inc., State Street Corp., LifePoint Health Inc., and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., among others, for recognizing the value of applicants who lack a four-year degree.

        A few governors have taken the lead in addressing the problem in their states, Fuller says in an interview, citing John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Bill Haslam of Tennessee, and former Governor Jack Markell of Delaware. 

        People without a bachelor’s degree may need more training before digging into the job, but the cost of training is quickly recovered, and the training period itself can be a useful tryout, Fuller says, if it’s in the form of a paid internship, apprenticeship, or work-study program. “Asking for a bachelor’s degree is kind of a lazy man’s way of stipulating what you’re looking for,” he says. “When I witness the person doing the work, I’m making a hiring decision based on seeing a person over time, vs. looking at a résumé. The leading cause of failed hires for this type of job is a soft-skills deficit. For that, observation is invaluable.”

        Say what you want about American health care, but it’s ahead of many other sectors in suppressing credentialism. Nurse practitioners now perform many functions once reserved for physicians—including, in some states, writing prescriptions and even setting up their own practices. This is partly of necessity: There simply aren’t enough doctors to go around. But there’s nothing second-class about the care of a nurse practitioner. “I prefer being treated by them. Because they take their time. They might see me for 20 minutes, 30 minutes. If it’s something that’s complex, they’ll call in a physician,” says John Washlick, a Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in health care. His firm is Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, based in Pittsburgh. 

        I also spoke with Gerald Chertavian, the founder and chief executive officer of Year Up, which trains urban young adults and places them in six-month internships that lead to jobs in finance and tech. Typical trainees go in earning $5,000 a year and come out earning $40,000 a year, Chertavian says. State Street alone has employed more than 500 of them. Employers find that hires from Year Up are staying three or four times as long as conventional hires out of four-year colleges—a major advantage given the high cost of recruiting and filling empty positions. 

        Chertavian says he came out of college with an economics major but no special skills. “I was a Chemical Bank trainee 30 years ago,” he says. “I benefited from at least eight to nine months of full-time classroom training that Chemical put into me.” Companies dropped a lot of their training programs to save money, but now the enlightened ones are reinstating them, he says.

        Harvard’s Fuller is right to focus on the folly of credentialism, Chertavian says. “These young people have the engines in the wings. They come as fully intact planes. But they’ve never been afforded the luxury of a runway.”

          Peter Coy
          Bloomberg Businessweek Columnist

          Peter Coy is the economics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek and covers a wide range of economic issues. He also holds the position of senior writer. Coy joined the magazine in December 1989 as telecommunications editor, then became technology editor in October 1992 and held that position until joining the economics staff. He came to BusinessWeek from the Associated Press in New York, where he had served as a business news writer since 1985.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-25/demanding-a-bachelor-s-degree-for-a-middle-skill-job-is-just-plain-dumb

          Catalonias Split With Spain Is About Identity, Not Just Money

          As recently as July, secessionists in Catalonia seemed to be in retreat. Spain was the fastest-growing of continental Europe’s big four economies, creating jobs at a rapid clip. A poll that month by the Catalan government showed that support for independence had fallen to 35 percent, its lowest level since 2012. It appeared that Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, might have been right when he predicted in 2012 that once removed from the flame of financial crisis, “separatism would sink like a soufflé.”

          What’s sinking instead is the reputation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Acting on his orders, Spanish police used batons and rubber bullets against those who took part in an Oct. 1 referendum on independence that Spain’s constitutional court had declared illegal. Hundreds were injured in the melees.

          The Catalan government claimed that despite Madrid’s attempts at suppression, 2.3 million people voted—about 42 percent of the total electorate—and about 90 percent of them chose to separate from Spain. The Spanish government cast doubt on the result, pointing out that the referendum, in addition to being illegal, lacked certified voter lists and wasn’t overseen by an official election board. And many of those who opposed secession heeded Madrid’s reminder that the vote was illegal. Spain’s King Felipe VI said in a televised address that separatist leaders showed “unacceptable” disloyalty.

          Featured in , Oct. 9, 2017. Subscribe now.
          Photographer: Juan Teixeira/Redux

          The groundswell of separatist sentiment in Catalonia has shown Spain and the world that money isn’t everything. A strengthening economy may have quelled Catalan nationalism a bit, but the desire many have for independence had deeper sources and never went away. Then Rajoy, playing to his conservative base, badly miscalculated. He thought a show of force would keep voters at home. But his attempt to stop the vote just pushed more Catalans into the separatist camp. “In the longer term, the divisions in Spain become more entrenched,” says Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London.

          Economics probably did matter in Catalonia, just not in the way that Spanish optimists were thinking. The reality is that the region hasn’t fully recovered from the global financial crisis, which pushed the economy into a double-dip recession and sent unemployment in the so-called autonomous community as high as 24 percent. (It’s still more than 13 percent.) “The financial crisis brought to the fore the fact that so much of our money is transferred” to the central government, says Jordi Galí of Barcelona’s Center for Research in International Economics, known by its initials in the Catalan language, CREI. “In a context of high growth and prosperity, this may be more easily forgotten. But during the crisis the Catalan government had to undertake huge cuts in services: health, education.”

          The transfers issue might not have been enough to stir secessionism all by itself. After all, there’s little call in Connecticut to break away from the U.S. even though the state gives more than it gets. The difference is that the northeastern corner of Spain has its own language, traditions, and aspirations to national greatness. Its history is a seesaw of autonomy and what some see as subjugation. Catalans still commemorate the fall of Barcelona to King Philip V of Spain on Sept. 11, 1714. In 1939 the city fell to the Nationalist forces of Francisco Franco, who suppressed Catalan culture during his 36-year rule.

          In recent years, independence-minded Catalans have focused their anger on a 2010 ruling by Spain’s constitutional court that erased parts of a legislative deal that accorded the region broad autonomy. In 2012 the Catalan economist Xavier Sala-I-Martin likened Spain to a possessive husband who reacts wildly when his wife asks for a divorce. “We Catalans have tried to explain during 30 years that we were uncomfortable and the replies have been no’s, scorn, indifference, and contempt. And now they’re surprised!” the Columbia University professor wrote on his blog.

          The marriage is far worse now. “People are extremely disappointed, and I would say shocked, by the activities of the Spanish police,” says Giacomo Ponzetto, an Italian who teaches at CREI in Barcelona. “It was absurd, unacceptable behavior, and I would add extremely stupid.” Stupid as in self-defeating, he says. “The Catalan government was looking for this. It’s very obvious. They wanted to provoke a response.”

          Like it or not, Catalonia has been very much part of Spain—not least because it’s a fifth of the national economy. It exports more to the neighboring region of Aragon than to France, and more to Madrid than to Germany or Italy, says Pankaj Ghemawat, who teaches at the New York City branch of IESE Business School, which also has campuses in Madrid and Barcelona.

          Many economists think Catalonia would be worse off economically on its own. The outcome hinges on whether it would assume a share of Spain’s national debt, whether it would be permitted to join the European Union and adopt the euro, and how much it would cost to replicate services—such as defense—it gets from Madrid. Further complicating matters, Spain could throw up legal obstacles to secession. One reason many Catalans have shied from independence in the past is that they weren’t ready to take a leap into the unknown.

          But the violence that marred the Oct. 1 vote has focused Catalans’ minds on issues other than euros. “At some point the economic considerations start to be irrelevant and identity becomes paramount,” says Ghemawat. On Oct. 1, he says, “we took a giant step in that direction.”

            BOTTOM LINE – A long and painful downturn fanned separatist sentiment in Catalonia, which, contrary to predictions, didn’t die down with the recovery.

            Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-05/anatomy-of-a-bad-marriage

            You Lied Your Way Into A Job As A Surgeon! Can You Avoid Killing Anyone Long Enough To Collect Your First Paycheck?

            Surgeons. The masters of the flesh. The gatekeepers of the organs. The doctors who get to shave patients.

            These are the green-wearing gods who know that the human body is but a chessboard, and that the nipples are the king and queen, and the belly button is the opposing king or queen.

            Today, finally, you are beginning your journey as one of them.

            You have already gone through the arduous process of becoming a surgeon. After calling the hospital over and over every day for three weeks straight and praising Tylenol in the deepest voice you could muster to whoever picked up, being hung up on by countless doctors and nurses, you finally hit the big time.

            Yesterday, you managed to get the chief of medicine on the line, who offered you a job after a mere 50 minutes of you bellowing to her about the white-and-red pill. Congratulations!

            Okay. Being a surgeon is sweet as hell. You get to wear patients’ clothes around a hospital once the chemicals put them to sleep, you can eat as many tortilla chips as you want, and you can hide all of your favorite DVDs and family heirlooms inside toxic waste bins, the one place thieving pricks are too grossed out by to steal from.

            Cool. But the best part of being a surgeon, bar none, is that incredible surgeon paycheck.

            It’s no secret that surgeons are paid well, as every single day at 8 p.m., hardworking surgeons all over the world reap the fruits of their labor: a plastic bag filled with $600, given to them by their chief of medicine on their way out the door, in addition to a goodnight kiss on the forehead.

            Exactly. So now that you’re a surgeon, you better do everything in your power to make it your $600 payday, because there is one universal stipulation that could jam you up: If a surgeon kills someone, everything completely goes to shit.

            1) For starters, once a surgeon kills someone, they are NEVER allowed back in a hospital, ever. Even if you just want to go to hang out or to meet new lovers.

            2) Your professional reference completely goes out the window. If a new job calls to ask about you, instead of a recommendation, the HR department hands the phone off to the absolute sickest pervert patient they have, and lets them air out whatever they’ve got kickin’ around up in their minds.

            3) Lastly—and this one is the worst of all—you don’t get paid a dime, which would mean all of your efforts to become a surgeon were for NOTHING.

            So, if you want to get to that sweet paycheck, you’re going to have to make it through one entire day as a surgeon without killing someone.

            The hospital. The place where people come when they are bored to take off their pants and scream. This will be your new surgeon home, and today is your first day of work. As far as anyone inside is concerned, you are now a fully qualified surgeon, so if you want those 600 clams, you’re going to have to hold your own and stay off everyone’s radar.

            “Please give me a surgery.”

            Ah, shit. A sick kid is waiting for you right inside the lobby, and he looks all kinds of fucked up.

            “I need a surgery pronto. I am dying, and it feels like none of my bones are connected to my other bones. I also have a rash that comes and goes. Please do surgery to me with your other doctor friends.”

            “If you don’t give me a surgery right now, I will scream. I will scream so loud and for so long, and I will point at you the whole time. It will go on for so long that the rest of the doctors here will have no choice but to send you to jail.”

            That was close. You’ve pissed your pants real good, and now you’re in the bathroom splashing your pants with water, the best way to clean pants that you’ve urinated in.

            “You sure know your way around cleaning a pair of pissed pants, sport. Not bad at all.”

            You look over and see that it’s the hospital’s janitor talking to you. He somehow opened the door in perfect silence while you were inside splashing your pants, and has been watching you for upwards of 90 full seconds.

            “I’ve been watching you for upwards of 90 full seconds, and I can tell just by looking at you, you’re no surgeon.”

            “Easy, easy. I’m not gonna rat you out. I’m gonna help you.

            I take it that you’re in here lying to be a surgeon, hoping to get ‘The $600 Bag Treatment,’ huh? Well, you’ve got a friend in me. I’ve seen it before, and I’ll see it again. All you gotta do is make it until 8 p.m. without killing a soul and you’re in the clear. So whadya say you come lay low with me for the rest of the day, spend some time hanging with a new bud so you don’t end up killin’ no one before you get that money?”

            “I, uh, how do you mean?” he says, visibly becoming self-conscious about the entire interaction so far. “I’m just tired today, so if I’m acting weird, that’s what that’s about, probably. Allergies are being weird, too.”

            “Follow me!” the janitor says before sprinting down the hallway. You do your best to keep up with him as he weaves in and out of patients and doctors before you finally arrive at a huge metal door. He slides open the rusty door to reveal a set of long, winding stairs that lead to a dark, desolate basement, and turns to you with a half smile.

            “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno,” he says before letting out a quick, uncertain laugh, looking over his shoulder at you to kind of check in and see if you’re laughing or anything at what must have been some sort of joke.

            “That was dumb, never mind,” the janitor says, shaking his head as his shoulders slump, trying to explain his joke before slowly progressing into full-blown self-deprecation. “I was thinking, like, how in the old commercials, I’d be the delivery guy and you’re the pizza—I don’t know, forget it. It was dumb. Sorry.”

            You follow the janitor down the stairs and into the basement of the hospital, and lo and behold, it’s a full-blown bachelor’s pad! The janitor has stocked the place with some of the best things: a ping-pong table, a “Forever 27” poster, an old-timey popcorn machine, and a bunch of orange pill bottles filled with Frosted Cheerios.

            “This is my chill zone. I’m down here almost all the time, which is why the hospital is filthy and patients always seem to get sick immediately after they get better.”

            “We got all day, brother, so we could either sit down and talk about that important-looking guitar I have mounted on the wall over there, or we could stand near the stairs and wonder if Slash has ever signed a guitar and sold it for $20,000 online before, or maybe we could lay down on the ground and trade stories about the most expensive thing we’ve ever mounted on a wall. Your call.”

            “I can’t lift my arms above my waist because of a power-washer accident.”

            “You got a good eye, kid,” he says as though you brought it up completely unprompted, proudly looking up at the guitar he somehow mounted unnecessarily high on his wall.

            “Believe it or not, Slash signed that guitar, and I was lucky enough to spend all of the money I have on it. I usually don’t do this for anyone, but for you, I’ll climb all the way up there and get it if you want to hold it.”

            “I’d climb anywhere for one of my boys.”

            “I’ll put a very wet towel over them. I’m sure that will be fine.”

            You’ve killed! You’ve killed!

            You put the janitor in grave danger by selfishly asking him to grab his Slash guitar off the wall. After the janitor put a soaking-wet towel on top of his countless basement wires in order to walk over to the wall and begin his climb, he was immediately electrocuted and fell crashing to the ground without the ability to raise his arms and break his fall. It’s unclear if it was the electricity surging through his body that did him in, or if it was the way his neck snapped on a nearby stool because of the horrible, unnatural way he fell. But either way, he is definitely dead, and it is your fault.

            You’re no longer a surgeon, and you can kiss that bag of $600 goodbye.

            As you go back up the stairs and start heading toward the lobby, you can hear that he starts to follow you, but then locks himself in the bathroom you were in earlier and begins screaming at himself in the mirror for messing up what could’ve been a nice day. His screaming gets louder and louder before it comes to a halt after you hear the sound of him snapping his mop over his knee in fury.

            “I need you to give me a surgery right now.”

            Ah, damn. It’s the sick kid from earlier.

            “I feel like I’m on a boat at all hours of the day, and my elbows are dry. I need you to cut me open and drain me out, if that’s what it takes, and to please get me home by later today.”

            You pick the kid up, throw him over your shoulder, and walk through the hospital looking for a good room to cut him open in. After 20 minutes, you finally find the room with all of the surgeons in it, and you slam the kid down on the empty table they’re all staring at.

            Now all eyes are on you. You’re going to have to step up and say something pretty incredible to get all of these surgeons on your side.

            You’ve killed! You’ve killed!

            After you said that ridiculous, dumbass comment, every surgeon in the room became furious at you and began hammering you with questions about your qualifications. You tried mumbling through more Tylenol facts, which went much worse in person than it did on the phone, and somewhere during your 25-minute verbal beatdown from the other surgeons, the kid died on the table.

            You are no longer a surgeon, and you will never get a plastic bag filled with $600.

            Share Your Results

            Everyone starts nodding and smiling and patting each other on the back. Good shit.

            “Ha, nice,” a woman says, whose voice you recognize from the phone as the chief of medicine at the hospital. She quickly anesthetizes the patient to finally stop him from grabbing and clawing at everyone’s surgical masks, and within seconds the little spaz is sleeping.

            At that moment, the tallest doctor you’ve ever seen walks into the door wearing a backwards hat and confidently drinking Barq’s Root Beer out of a 2-liter bottle.

            “I’ve never seen you around here,” he says after putting the root beer down firmly into the lap of the unconscious kid and eyeing you up and down suspiciously. “Enlighten us, fresh meat. Now, what surgery are we performing on this little man, exactly?”

            Ah, this guy is onto you. Need something big here to throw everyone off your tracks.

            “Doctors, you two can be mean to each other in the parking lot all day long if you want to, but that’ll be enough fighting in my hospital,” says the chief of medicine after banging her fist down onto the kid’s chest like a gavel to get everyone’s attention.

            “This little boy is in dire need of a heart transplant. We need to start immediately.”

            “Doctors, that’ll be enough talk about whether or not there are actually types of surgeries or not, because there simply is not a correct answer,” says the chief of medicine after banging her fist down onto the kid’s chest like a gavel to get everyone’s attention.

            “This little boy is in dire need of a heart transplant. We need to start immediately.”

            “Doctors, please stop winking at each other,” says the chief of medicine after banging her fist down onto the kid’s chest like a gavel to get everyone’s attention.

            “This little boy is in dire need of a heart transplant. We need to start immediately.”

            After noticing that no one is reacting to you pissing yourself, you look around and realize that every surgeon in the room has also already pissed themselves. Then you remember that surgeons are constantly pissing themselves during surgery, like bicyclists during races, for reasons completely unknown.

            The chief of medicine takes out a toolbox from underneath the surgery-room sink and hands each surgeon a tool. She takes each tool out one by one and starts passing them down the line. One doctor gets a small shovel, one gets a large knife, another gets a pickax, and on and on it goes, until you finally end up with the flashlight!

            “Um, yeah, that’s my flashlight, pal. I’m always the flashlight man around here,” says the root-beer doctor.

            “No,” interjects the chief. “New guy can hold the flashlight today. I have a good feeling about this.”

            Your new rival is stunned. He shoots you a dirty look, threateningly crosses his thumb over his neck, and then does it again with his other thumb, but slower. Then he quietly mouths something that you didn’t really get a good read on, but from what you did see, your best guess is that he was saying something like “Fracking mountains,” or “Simply delicious.” Then he is handed the worst tool: the blood napkin, the tool that wipes up all the loose goo and pus.

            “Ah, c’mon, man. Quit it. What the hell.”

            The surgery is now well under way. The chief is slicing and dicing and moving parts around left and right. It’s pretty much a one-woman show.

            Most of the other doctors are using their tools just to kind of scrape some bones and stuff when they feel like they should get in the mix, usually after not doing anything for a couple minutes straight and getting nervous that someone will notice how they’re not really that crucial to the operation.

            You’re getting bored by the whole thing at this point, but at least you’re holding your own with these docs and, most importantly, haven’t killed anyone yet.

            Surgery still going. Getting kind of repetitive. A couple doctors shuffled out for a minute and came back with crackers, but the crackers are all gone now. You didn’t even notice they had crackers until there were only, like, four left in the sleeve, so at that point, asking for some really wouldn’t have been cool.

            Surgery is getting boring.

            Surgery is boring as hell.Your arms got tired from holding the flashlight up, so you put it down for a minute and no one seemed to notice. You’re back up now.

            Kid woke up and started screaming LOUD, but now he’s sleeping again.

            “You were scared!” “No, you were scared!” “I wasn’t scared, you were scared!” The surgeons are all ragging on each other and having fun again. Finally got some juice in the room. Whole crew got a good laugh out of that one.

            Woah, wait a minute. Oh, man. You see something inside the kid’s body. Wedged deep in between his rib cage and his liver, there looks to be something shining and throbbing, and you’re pretty sure you’re the only one who sees it.

            Two doctors broke away from the surgery about 15 minutes ago to arm wrestle on a nearby stool, and the rest of the surgeons have all one-by-one walked over to form a circle around them so they can gamble. Meanwhile, the chief is still hacking away at this kid’s organs with all of her might, and seems way too dialed-in to notice the game changer you’ve found.

            You’ve killed! You’ve killed!

            You thought you were being a hero by yanking out what you thought were some sort of wet, shining metals, but were actually the poor kid’s veins. You are no longer a surgeon, and can go ahead and kiss that sweet paycheck goodbye.

            “Those are veins. They are not ‘evil copper and metals sticking out of this poor bastard’s guts.’ Do not call them that.”

            Damn. Misread that one. The chief is totally onto you now.

            “But I appreciate you speaking your mind when you think something is amiss,” she continues, looking up and making eye contact with you for the first time. “That takes a commitment to the job that some of my other doctors lack at times,” she says, motioning to the doctors across the room who are now attempting to disguise their arm-wrestling gambling ring by draping a hospital gown over the two meaty, dueling arms.

            The chief reciprocates your unblinking eye contact and begins nodding in perfect unison with your nodding. This goes on for a good 20 seconds or so, the grunts of the two arm wrestlers and the slaps of cold, hard cash hitting the tile becoming the only sounds in the room.

            At that moment, you and the chief simultaneously feel a romantic charge between you, and it feels beautiful and right. But that romantic feeling is immediately followed by a simultaneous paternal feeling, but it’s unclear who is the parent and who is the child. Then the two feelings of physical attraction and familial protectiveness fuse together into one singular emotion, and it feels disgusting to both of you.

            “Yeah, yeah, go catch up with them. I’ll hold it down over here, cool,” the chief kind of half-mutters to herself and to you while shaking her head and getting back to surgery.

            You walk over to the gambling circle and see the two exhausted surgeons pulling and pushing as hard as they can to win. The two doctors are so evenly matched that their arms aren’t moving or shaking in the slightest. If it weren’t for the veins about to explode out of their temples and the tears streaming down their faces, you’d have no idea how intense the duel was.

            All of the other surgeons are quietly going apeshit. Almost all of them are either gently pounding their chests, gingerly slapping the ground, or shaking their fists in the air, all the while whispering bad arm-wrestling advice like “Win the skin!” or “Make him smooth!”

            It’s definitely a pretty sweet scene, and you decide that you want to get in the mix.

            As you go to ask the doctor next to you, your rival doctor steps in front and interrupts:

            “Looking to get in on the action but lacking the funds, newbie? Don’t worry, fresh meat. I got you covered. Also, we’re rival doctors, just in case that wasn’t clear.”

            Whoa, pretty cool to get a rival doctor on your first day on the job. That probably usually takes years.

            “That’s my coat over there,” he says, pointing to a white lab coat being worn by one of the arm-wrestling surgeons. “Go ahead and take my wallet out of the pocket and take out as much money as you want.”

            He then lets out a weird little laugh and looks around to see if anyone else is laughing. One other doctor did laugh, but he’s in the middle of a conversation with another surgeon, so you’re pretty sure the laugh had nothing to do with your rival.

            “I have coats all over this hospital that you wouldn’t know a thing about,” he says, raising his fist up to your chin real quick, trying to get you to flinch. You stand your ground and don’t flinch at all, though, and he sheepishly brings his fist back down to his side.

            You’ve killed! You’ve killed!

            In a brilliantly executed scheme, your rival tricked you into reaching into the coat of one of the doctors who is arm wrestling. When the arm wrestler saw you trying to steal his wallet, his mix of adrenaline and dangerously high blood pressure caused his heart to explode.

            Your misconduct has resulted in a death, meaning you can no longer be a surgeon, and you will never see that sweet, sweet bag o’ cash.

            Google is helping teach workers the skills they’ll need for the brave new world it has in store

            Image: Google/social finance

            Google’s philanthropic arm is launching a multimillion-dollar effort to aid workers impacted by some of the tech championed by its parent company.

            Google.org said Wednesday that it’s set aside $50 million to fund nonprofits focused on teaching new job skills and supporting low-wage earners in preparation for advances in automation and artificial intelligence that could upend many of the world’s labor markets.

            “We want to make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emergingsome of which we couldnt have imagined just a few years ago,” Google.org president Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post announcing the endeavor.

            Among the groups already selected for the grant are three nonprofits that each aim to revamp or supplement social services with technology. Fuller specifically cites Code For America’s mission to give more job seekers access to government career search services, a Bayes Impact project to deliver job search tips to French citizens via machine learning, and Social Finance’s efforts to create effective youth training programs.

            On the more traditional end, Google.org will also back the National Domestic Workers Alliance in its bid to expand its own monthly-fee service that pools worker resources to relieve the financial burden of emergency time off.

            Around $2 million of the allotted $50 million is earmarked for Google.org’s own research efforts as well. The company wants to better understand “what the worlds fast-changing workforce will need in the years to come and how technology can help produce positive outcomes.”

            As Recode points out, however, the announcement neglects to mention the role Google itself is playing in advancing the sort of AI and automation technology that threatens jobs. Between its driverless car bid and its substantial investments in various forms of artificial intelligence, Google holding company Alphabet is in many ways leading the charge towards this future.

            But the group is explicit about the drastic impact this revolution could have. More than a third of jobs in the near future will involve skills that are still rare in todays workforce, it says. And the increasingly isolated nature of modern work has already distanced workers from traditional avenues of social support like concrete benefits and unions.

            The group celebrated the unveiling at a Washington D.C. event with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who’s spearheaded efforts to provide health insurance for the gig economy labor force.

            Weve morphed from this traditional notion where you work for the same firm 30 years, to this notion, particularly for millennials, where the question is not Where do you work? but What are you working on? Warner said in a speech praising the push, The Hill reported.

            Taken together with another related $50 million fund towards improving education, Fuller said the program marks Google’s most ambitious philanthropic drive to date, according to the newspaper.

            Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/26/google-future-of-work/

            The top 5 most over-the-top employee benefits from tech companies

            Image: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

            Ive seen my fair share of company benefits after 10+ years recruiting for tech companies.Tech Startups in San Francisco are known for having extensive benefits from daily lunchesto paid gym memberships or free monthly massages. Before I share some of the coolest benefits Ive come across, I have a word of advice for new companies

            Before offering

            Ive learned from experience working withsmall startupsand fromfounding Bettsthat benefits can become a tricky subject.

            When you are deciding which benefits to offer, keep in mind that as a company scales, the cost of benefits will increase too.Covering the cost of gym memberships for10 employees becomes a drastically different cost when your team grows to 100.

            Also, be sure to think through the benefits you are offering. Asfun as Summer Fridays sound, theycan set your team up for a rough wake-up call come fall.

            Looking for some benefit inspiration? These tech companies go above and beyond.

            1.Elevated benefits

            Weve heard of companies paying for their gym membership. Weve seen Instagrams of a friends team working at a food bank for an annualvolunteering day. But having a $100 Wellness Credit to spend on whicheverself-care tacticfeels most personally effective? Now thats interesting.

            SalesforceIQ knows that people have different ways of relaxing, whether its a round of golf, a Zumba class at the gym, or hiking in the National Parks.SalesforceIQtakes a similar approach to their volunteering program, and letsemployees pick the cause theyd like to spend their time on.

            They offer6 paid volunteering days annually, and a monthly $100 stipend for wellness. Though Idobelievethat spending a day volunteeringor running a 5kcan be a great team building activity, being able to choose the specifics within a broader benefitis a great way to ensureindividual satisfaction.

            2.Need a day? Take a day.

            Have you heard of unlimited PTO?Its atrend in benefitsthatsbecoming increasingly popular in the benefits suiteoffered bytech companies.

            Atlassians versionis calledVacay Your Way.Instead of watching your hours painstakingly accrue, unlimited PTO plans allow employees take time off when they need it.The theory behind thisis that life happens, and usually not at the exact time you have accrued the perfect amount of PTO.

            If you need to take time off to care for family, recover from an injury, or just plain need a mental health day, these plans allow for that. The expectation is that work will be handled appropriately before taking an extended vacation, but it truly is the kind of benefit that treats employees as the responsible adults they are ( or should be!).

            3.Health, handled

            Though insurance may notseem like the most exciting benefit, having extensive coverage can be a literal lifesaver.

            Indeed offers emergency insurance that sendsanairambulance anywhere in the world.While its not something you would necessarily plan for, having a speedy pick-up afterfalling on a hike in the Australian Outback couldabsolutelybe a lifesaver.

            Want to have children, but not quite ready yet?Google, LinkedIn, Intel, Spotify, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Wayfair areall reportedto offer fully paid coverage for IVF and egg freezing.The initial process can cost upwards of $10k, withan annual storage fee of $800.

            While the ideasounds great to empower womens choices about having children, a scrappy start up may want to think twice before offering this as it would be extremely costly to scale.

            4.The list goes on and on!

            Imagine working in an office with a Zen room for meditating and receiving complimentary massages. What if I told you that same company would also send you to one conference of your choice annually, and keep your bookshelf stocked with the help of Amazon book gift cards?Not to mention the onsite OctoDojo gymGithubs benefit suitetruly does goabove and beyond.

            5.Beach house

            Perhaps one of the more creative benefits Ive seen,YMediarecentlyannounced thatit rented ahomein Hawaiiindefinitelyforallemployees to use.

            With 10 bedrooms, and similar homes going for $10k a week on Airbnb, this beach house seems like a luxurious getaway. Every employee, no matter their title or length of tenure at Y Media, can book a week vacation there.Talk about vacation envy!

            Having major FOMO?

            Glamorous trips and company Zen gardens aside,not all benefits have to be encrusted in gold to feel plentiful.

            Some of the best perks turn out to be relatively inexpensive. Recently at Betts Recruiting, we had a beer pong tournament to celebratethe team crushingtheir quotasatthe end of the quarter.The officeended up hustlingmore foraBP tournament thanforaSpiff with awesome seats at aChance the Rapper concert!

            Having random partners and a bracketon a whiteboardturned out to be the perfectway for people to get to know each other better, and definitely raised some healthy competition.

            Carolyn Betts Fleming is the Founder and CEO of Betts Recruiting, the leading global recruitment firm specializing in matching revenue-generating talent with the worlds most innovative companies.

            Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/08/the-top-5-most-over-the-top-employee-benefits/

            How to get a job at: Trek Bicycles

            Image: Shutterstock / TORWAISTUDIO

            “How to get a job at:” is a series of interviews with hiring managers at companies in order to provide specific and useful insight into…well, how to get a job.

            If youre anything like me, working for a company that prides itself on taking group bike rides at lunch sounds like a dream. But at Trek Bikes, one of the largest bicycle retailers in the country, a passion for cycling isnt the only prerequisite to getting hired. The teams need for speed translates to the importance of collaboration and the company-wide philosophy of GSDF get stuff done fast. Trek, though, still finds time to celebrate the little things at work. Plus, working in an environment all about health, wellness, and adventure is a perk in itself.

            In the first of a series on finding a job at some of the worlds most interesting companies, I sat down with Treks Talent Acquisition Manager, Jeremy Ryder, to find out how Trek employees roll and what 3 questions you better be able to answer if you want to work in bikes.

            RB: Let’s start with the basics Trek makes bikes (and helmets and lights and all the accessories a biker could ever need). Whats the first thing you look for in a new hire? Does fitting in with an adventurous culture come above all?

            JR: Im sure its no surprise that many of us at Trek love cycling! But first and foremost, we all truly love the work that we do. Probably the most important thing to convey when applying to a position is being able to communicate why you want to work at the company. Whether you are passionate about the industry, riding bikes, or even just excited about doing a great job we need to hear about what fuels you and why you think youd be a good fit here.

            The Takeaway: Understand the why and communicate your passion.

            RB: Before the right candidate even makes it to an interview, Im sure they need to wow you with their resume. What are your biggest pieces of advice for creating the right resume that grabs a recruiters attention?

            JR: No matter what role youre applying for a retail associate position or your first engineering job the simplest way to start off on the right foot is maintaining a high level of professionalism in your resume. Ive seen resumes with only two sentences about a candidates experience. We cant truly learn anything about you from that. Even if you dont have a lot of career experience, tell us what youre doing, where youve been, and what youve learned in a comprehensive way.

            Then, there are some folks who might write a great resume but dont have the specifics to back it up. If you cant be detailed about your experience right off the bat, thats a red flag for us. Being prepared to speak to your experience and apply that to a new situations is a simple way to excel in an interview.

            The Takeaway: Build a professional resume and be able to back up what you put on it with examples.

            RB: You probably see hundreds of applicants for any given position, Id guess. When a lucky candidate does get selected for an interview, what makes him or her stand out above the rest?

            JR: The thing that stands out the most when were looking for the right candidate is always energy. If weve had eight phone interviews with different people and each one has a similar experience level, the differentiator comes down to being able to feel that energy. Someone who isnt giving it their all wont thrive here. The person that is animated and articulates their passions is who were excited to keep talking to. The Takeaway: Dont be afraid to sell yourself.

            RB: Lets say I was the candidate you were interviewing for a position (watch out maybe someday!). What would be your top three questions for me?

            JR: We never fail to ask questions that show us about the way a candidate thinks. I love hearing about an example from their past jobs that reveals how they would respond to a certain situation. First, Id ask about a time you had to influence someone more senior than yourself to make a decision, so I can see how you handle being challenged. Id then ask about a time you had to deliver bad news, as it shows me how you would approach a difficult situation with tact and composure. Finally, I always love to hear about a project youve managed and dive into the details of how you took it from start to finish. It really lets me see how you problem solve and what motivates you.

            The Takeaway: Be prepared to answer the tough questions.

            So if youre a thrillseeker like the ones at Trek, make sure you know your experience backwards and forwards, so youre able to speak to specific examples. Find the sweet spot in your resume by being honest about your experience while building upon what you know even if outside a formal job position so that you can show that you know your stuff. And most importantly, dont be afraid to care. A passionate nature and high energy can truly be what makes you the leader of the pack.


            Rachel Bitte is Chief People Officer at Jobvite, a.k.a., head honcho of finding and keeping the geniuses who work there. As Jobvites Chief People Officer, Rachel brings with her a wealth of HR experienceparticularly in the tech industrywith a focus on change leadership and talent management. In her free time, she is all about anything outdoors that burns calories, including road riding, mountain biking, snowboarding, and backpacking.

            Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/16/how-to-get-a-job-trek-bikes/