Fixing The Unfixable
As far as I’m concerned, we don’t need any more proof that unfettered capitalism has become our holy land’s Frankenstein monster. It’s now become as perverted as Marx’s Communism was under megalomaniacs like Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung.
We don’t have a single bete noir we can blame for all the ills of free market madness, although Saint Ronald Reagan can play the role in a pinch. No, the greedy, acquisitive, sociopathic reprobates who’ve turned free enterprise into crushing corporatism and fundamentalist profiteering are many. The Wall of Dishonor includes such past and present hooligans as:
Kozlowski Hosts A Birthday Party For His Wife
- Joseph Nacchio
- Jeffrey Skilling
- Kenneth Lay
- Robert Rubin
- The entire Walton family
- Jack Abramoff
- Charles Keating
- Ivan Boesky
- and, of course, the Koch boys
Success, it has been said, has a thousand mothers. The pantheon of big-time biz winners today, though, boasts as many motherfuckers.
So, what do we do? Overturn capitalism? Hah! Good luck. And, really, do we want to do that? Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton’s Labor Sec’y, the other day threw out a more subtle solution. BTW: it’s odd that a Clinton cabinet member should become such a hero of the Left as Reich; the 42nd Prez was about as guilty as Reagan was for creating the economic clime that gave us the various bubbles, the Wealth Gap, and the Great Recession.
Anyway, Reich tells the story of Market Basket‘s ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Market Basket’s board gave Demoulas the boot because he wanted the share the wealth, which is worse than child molestation in the corporate board world. Reich writes:
What was so special about Arthur T., as he’s known? Mainly, his business model. He kept prices lower than his competitors, paid his employees more, and gave them and his managers more authority.
Late last year he offered customers an additional four percent discount, arguing they could use the money more than the shareholders.
In other words, Arthur T. viewed the company as a joint enterprise from which everyone should benefit, not just shareholders. Which is why the board fired him.
Reich goes on to suggest that there are many more businessfolk-with-a-heart, like Arthur T. “[I]nterestingly,” Reich writes, “we’re beginning to see the Arthur T. business model pop up all over the place.”
Hmm. We’ll see. It’s nice to think that a growing number of modern corporate big shots might be slightly less immoral than a band of grave robbers, but is it realistic? Reich’s idea is that good people will triumph. I dunno: what if it’s not the people but the very system itself that’s crooked. We can pat people on the back and tell them how wonderful they are when they pay their employees a few cents more than starvation wages but pats on the back don’t drive boardroom discussions. Aggressive, ambitious people need to be reined in by laws and regulations, otherwise every leader, in business as well as politics, would be that guy who can kick the crap out of everyone else.
Ghandi was a great guy but he would have been chewed up and spit out by his competitors within ten minutes of accepting a job as a company’s CEO. He wouldn’t fit into the competitive corporate world no matter how much of a Mahatma he was.
I’m all for the good guys in business, only I fear they’ll always be the outliers.
Anyway, check out Reich’s piece.
Rice Is Nice
Nice piece on the Rice family farm in Spencer in today’s Herald Times (paywall). The Loved One and I have stocked up at its country retail outlet any number of times.
The very idea of driving down a gravelly road to get to a market in the middle of rolling farmland is part of what makes living in Bloomington such a source of happiness for me.
The gist of the H-T story is Rice’s move away from producing so much beef. The farm family, acc’d’g to the piece, has done a lot of trade in the past processing beef cattle for private customers but with the recent rise in beef prices, that business may soon tail off. So Rice is diversifying, moving more into turkey and other fowl.
In fact, the existence of Rice’s retail ops was an early step in the farm’s hedge against a plummet in processing revenues.
If you haven’t been out to Rice of late, do yourself — and the Rice family — a favor.
Who’s Fooling Whom?
The very idea that the intelligence services and the military of this holy land were all caught off-guard by the ISIS advance in Iraq is preposterous. Either somebody’s lying big time or we have the stupidest spy agencies in the world.
Hiding In Plain Sight
Papa’s Got The Same Old Bag
Gary, Indiana’s own Monroe Anderson points out that, with the exception of the actors, there were no blacks involved in the production of that new James Brown biopic playing in theaters now.
Black On The Outside
Just thought you’d like to know.