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15 October 2008

Working is Absurd

"Hanging focuses the mind very clearly."
- Vice President Gerald Ford, USA, commenting on staff cutbacks

Boy, I'd say.

1.5 million Americans stood in the unemployment line in 2006. At the same time, the Fortune 500 was in line at the bank depositing $785 Billion all time high. That was their post tax profit too, after making $9.9 Trillion dollars in revenue. What's wrong with that picture?

Hey, my stock profits like that as much as anyone. So lest I sound a hypocrite, I am a capitalist pig from way back. I used to stay after the professional soccer games when I was a kid to collect the free, souvenir programs that people left behind, then come home, load my wagon and then go door to door trying to sell them. I support Free Enterprise and Buy Low - Sell High; they are part of what makes this country work.

Perhaps a company was over inflated with people in the first place, or perhaps the company was an ineffective competitor and lost sales, or perhaps the company sold schlock and nobody buys schlock anymore, or perhaps the upper management wanted more, you know, cabbage and could get more it for themselves if they procured people, services and resources in places where you need a passport to visit. Or perhaps the employee was a turd and needed to be shown the door.

In all but the last case, the caucus-heads decide that downsizing or right-sizing is what in every one's best interest for the economy. Except for the economy of the Garrison Family down the road who now must choose between their truck payment and their rent. Oh well.

Most economists agree that nearly 2/3 of all corporate spending is on labor costs (oh, those pesky employees!). The humanitarians over at Fortune Magazine calls labor costs "the big gorilla" (and they don't mean that affectionately either) because of what employee's do to impact profits (that is not a positive remark either sports fans).

As mentioned, I understand the role of big business and admittedly support more than my fair share of them. I also know tomfoolery when I see it. There is no law, written or unwritten, that says that profits or prestige have to come before investing in the livelihood's of what is admittedly any company's most valuable asset.

"We spend all our time on people. The day we screw up the people thing, this company is over."
- Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

Great quote dontchathink? Jack was reportedly an effective and honest people person in his day...and GE's profit's reflected that. In fairness though, Jack Welch also laid off over 25% of the GE workforce during his first 5 years as CEO. Ouch.

Seems that for being called a Free Market Economy, they sure come with a hefty price too huh?

Which should come first, the chicken or the egg, er, I mean, the dollar or the worker?

More Absurdity Tour to come!

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