Mr. CEO, Tear Down That Pile of Loot!People give Saint Reagan so much credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union you'd think he was personally atop the Berlin Wall swinging a sledge and drunkenly toasting mit bier. But, his doe-eyed admirers sometimes forget the story is a little more complex.
They prefer to believe that by hurling a single one-liner to "tear down that wall" he single-handedly chopped the Evil Empire down in a single swoop. If it were that easy, the Axis of Evil would already be keester-deep in purple mountains, fruited planes, and HD plasma-screens.
St. Ron's chosen weapon in the Commie gang hit was capitalism - the ability to shovel money into an arms race that finally bankrupted the beet-eating, vodka-swilling brutes. He proclaimed the might of righteous capitalism over corrupt communism and the adoring throngs flung themselves at his cowboy boots in an orgy of capitalistic love and public edifice renaming.
A "Pinch" for Luck
In the heady times that followed, Reaganites tossed Eisenhower's advice about the capitalistic military-industrial complex over their shoulders like a pinch of salt for good luck. Their mantra became, "Greed is good and unrestricted greed is best." They believed in the power of free markets and unregulated corporatism. Republicans, sadly aided by lobbyist-besotted democrats, began dismantling the "bad" side of capitalism - read anything that doesn't turn a 200% ROI.
Today, we find a country where the top one percent of people control 90% of the wealth. For the one percenters, the decision to outsource production, leaving only themselves back in the US of A to endorse the dividend checks is a marvel of strategic business acumen. For the poor shlubs left behind at the empty textile mill in Mayberry, it ain't so great.
Capitalism is essentially an economic system based on greed. The more toys you die with, the bigger a winner you are - well, maybe your progeny are. Just ask the Twins.
Greed is Not Good
Like any system, it has two poles. At one end is the idea that everything should be freed of regulation and mega-bucks for the one-percenters should flow like honey. This is obviously a pretty easy sell at the Turf Club, but I'm not sure why the rubes back in Mayberry continued to vote for this even as they were saying aloha to their livelihoods.
At the other pole is a recognition that capitalism is a pretty good system, but left to its own devices will run away like a freight train with Donald Trump - cheesy toupee a'flyin'- at the controls. Companies should be deregulated to the greatest extent possible. If they can play fair and be good, rational citizens I'm all for letting them have a free reign. However, if they conduct themselves by a code of ethics first developed by the Visigoths, I'm all for nationalizing the bastards.
When a CEO or board of directors slams a company into the ground with enough force to dig a hole to Malaysia, it's not ethical to reward them with bonuses to stay and "manage" the company as it transitions to some other incompetent Harvard Business School boob. It's not ethical to move corporate headquarters to the Caymans to avoid paying taxes, even if you do have a nice summer home there. It's not ethical for huge conglomerates to drive every Mom and Pop in the nation out of business, economies of scale be damned. And it is certainly not ethical to move jobs to nation-state sweatshops so you can jack up the prices of the sneakers sold to the jobless bastards you abandoned back home.
A Stock Option in Every Pot
Don't get me wrong, I believe a person should be paid handsomely for the work they do. I have no aversion to people making large sums, but there should be limits if the loot-crazed greedheads can't stifle the impulse to buy that private island in the Bahamas. (People's lives are at stake you selfish bastard!)
I'd like to believe that a faint glimmer of hope sputters to corral this outrageous behavior. There have been some attempts, but they've been uniformly limp-wristed. It would be nice if all those well-upholstered moneychangers woke up one morning and God told them to stop being such asshats and start treating people fairly. But, I see a slim chance when Pat Robertson and his ilk are their spiritual advisors.
A Shrubophone Moment
Maybe it's time for a speech, something rousing that would make an excellent sound bite on the World's Most Important News Network (we'll be right back after this good word from the fine folks at ActiveOn.) I personally like that Shrubophone moment on the rubble at the World Trade Center. Maybe I could find some poor unemployed mill worker to climb up next to me on a huge pile of stock options and cash and shout to the crowd...
"Mr. CEO, tear down that pile of loot!"
Nah, you're right. It'll never work.
Tech Tags: politics humor economics capitalism reagan bush ceo+compensation crapweasels omnipotent+poobah
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, January 17, 2007