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Creating Jobs in the Booming Corporate Executive Sector

8:57 am in Uncategorized by Omnipotent Poobah

High ticket CEOs often complain those who object to their squeezing blood out of the nation turnip for their personal gain are simply jealous. I suppose that is true in many cases, but even if people are jealous it is understandable. It’s hard not to be jealous when the mortgage company is kicking your family to the curb – just as the CEO buys a multi-million dollar summer “cottage” in Aspen. But there are others, and I am one, who object on business grounds.

Much of the CEO’s “compensation” comes from companies that take the concept of corporations-as-people far past any original intent. Under the CEO’s direction, corporations reap record-breaking profits, even in recessions that crush those who buy their products or citizens that pay hefty taxes (which captains of industry caterwhal are breaking America’s back) to fund the profits through not insubstantial corporate welfare.

For all the talk about the value of small business, we could fund thousands of small businesses for years just on what a single multi-national gets in tax breaks in a single quarter. It’s a vicious cycle – multi-nationals take billions in taxes from just-plain-citizens to prop up corporate values to pay hefty dividends and fund expensive lobbying efforts to continue getting our money from the people who don’t live tax-free. In turn, CEOs get massive compensation to hire lawyers and accountants to make sure they get their money as tax-free as possible, and so on. This is not robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is robbing Peter and then complaining Paul wasn’t carrying enough cash for Paul to steal.

Creating Jobs in the Booming Corporate Executive Sector

The moral implications for our society aside, it’s also bad business…and it is consumers and regular taxpayers who are partly complicit in creating and perpetuating the problem. Notice please, that corporate welfare and substantial loss in consumer buying power comes from people and industries that demand cuts in “entitlements” (I hate that misnomer) and not cuts in the programs that benefit them. They do this under the guise of “creating jobs”, the code words for “trickle down economics” that create no jobs  – unless one means jobs in the booming corporate executive sector.

Trickle down economics falls more and more into disrepute by economists more intelligent than the ones hired to justify the blood they squeezed from the national turnip. Even David Stockman, former St. Ronnie of Reagan acolyte and one of the  architects of the scheme, thinks it is one of the biggest mistakes he ever made. And, he was able to see this mistake not from bar charts and pie graphs, but by observing corporate behavior. A rising tide can’t lift all boats if someone steals the boats.

It’s hard to convince me that a corporation with more money than they’ve had in their history is too afraid and poor to create American jobs because they aren’t making enough money. It is doubly hard to believe they are shipping the few American jobs left, along with much of the corporate welfare I gave them, to Bangalore and not investing in real jobs in Pittsburgh.

This is where bad business and irresponsible consumerism come in.

Big Deals at Bill’s Bargain Barn and TV Emporium

America’s Christmas buying orgy begins earlier each year. At the current rate it will begin on Jan. 2 in 5 years. People stab each other for the chance to buy a must-have widescreen TV made in China fer Chrissakes! Last time I checked, I don’t know of a single occurrence of someone stabbing anyone to get into the local appliance store to buy the TV – and that’s even after the local guy provides ample parking and takes a bath on the sale price to get you into the store to buy something you can live without and that shipped the entire widescreen TV industry off to China.

This sort of rampant consumerism is voting against your own interests, and it is bad business whether you are the consumer or the local appliance shop. Few of us actually “need” a wide screen and if we can afford buy it Walmart, we can afford the extra few bucks to buy it Bill’s Bargain Barn and TV Emporium. If the price different is too big to afford, you shouldn’t buy it anyway. Perhaps you could buy something you really need, like a new fridge (get the through-door water dispenser, I love mine).  Besides, they might even still make it here. You win. Bill wins. Someone gets to keep a job, and we can all make a better case that GE really doesn’t need a huge tax cut to survive. Even GE wins. Bill makes a few bucks and you get to keep your job in GE’s fridge factory. And that CEO who makes more money than the deity of your choice? He still gets to build his umpteenth cottage, which coincidentally, might actually “create” a job for a drywall hanger making minimum wage.

This is not class warfare. This is not trickle down economics. This is not socialism, income redistribution, or jealousy. This is the grease of a free(er) market. The problem isn’t that America has too little money, it’s that the vast number of people don’t have it to spend because all of it is in the hands of a few instead of out actually being invested in America.

I’m not jealous of the people who make the big bucks. I’m pissed off at people who consistently vote against their own self-interest.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor.

Mitt Romney: Likable as a Haggis Buffet

9:01 am in Uncategorized by Omnipotent Poobah

The list of things wrong with the Romney campaign is ignominious and pushing Mitt toward the precipice. He has had innumerable foot-in-mouth episodes, told many hand caught in the cookie jar lies, managed self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and made the worst Veep choice since McCain sent himself well and truly off the rails with the Moose Momma. The reasons for this ineptitude are manifold, from sheer stupidity to being as likable as a haggis buffet, but perhaps that last one might explain it best.

In general, Americans don’t like lawyers. They aren’t too hot on reporters either. And when it comes to politicians Congress can’t get any lower than their 12% approval rating. And right up there in the Pantheon of the Hated are CEOs. Your average citizen thinks they are arrogant, greedy, out of touch, and completely devoid of morals. When a factory worker screws up they find their ass on the street. When a CEO screws up they get a hefty bonus and stock options equal to the combined incomes of Nebraska’s entire middle class. Then, they close the factory, send the work to Chinese reeducation camps, and collect another bonus for how well they handled their own failure. To everyone other than CEOs, and the people who inexplicably love them, it’s easy to see why they don’t give people the warm and fuzzies.

Saving America by Gutting and Selling it to the Highest Bidder

Mitt wants to be a CEO President in the worst way. He wants to be the brilliant turnaround artist who saves America by gutting and selling it to the highest bidder. We had another CEO President not long ago and that didn’t work out so well. He bragged about his business acumen too. It consisted mostly of running an oil company into the ground, helming the Texas Rangers, and lots of frat parties. You know, pretty much the standard CEO resume.

People don’t much trust Mitt. Even his brethren in the Grand Old Pogromites (GOP) don’t like him and they are of the same Brook’s Bros. cloth. He has the uncanny ability to make someone like Mother Teressa hate him by telling a few jokes at at $50,000 a plate rubber chicken dinner. However, that might not be completely his fault. I question the character-smelling ability of a person willing to shell out $50,000 for a vulcanized chicken breast.

Mitt has all the worst habits of the CEO-class. If there is one place he excels, it’s acting nothing like a human in thought, word, or deed. That is baggage my friends – the sort of baggage that makes it hard to hornswoggle people into believing that giving them less is somehow more. Like most CEOs, he never met a piece of good advice he could take. His massive, well-coiffed ego won’t allow it. Give him a rope, he’ll gladly set his eyes bugging out, then ask for your vote because he’s the CEO dammit.

His former friends are running away from him while shouting advice over their shoulder to let someone else run the campaign. You’re not the worker bee, just find someone who can competently tell lies and get out of their way. Wasn’t that why you chose Paul Ryan?

There’s something else common to all CEO Presidents – not understanding government is not a business. Government’s purpose is not to turn a profit for anyone – even the people who hide more in offshore accounts that the 53% pay in taxes. Businesses are dictatorships, which every CEO will remind anyone ill-advised enough to cross them. In business, you can’t hand-select Congress, the courts, or voters like a stacked Board of Directors…yet. Government is messy and the electorate often lacks the same goal of business – money. Regardless of how it is made.

Voters Really Appreciate Fire Trucks Traveling Fast Down a Taxpayer-Funded Road

The one way governments and businesses are alike – budgets – even differ. CEOs routinely miss theirs by considerable amounts. Governments routinely go way over theirs…because they are bigger. CEOs can get things under control easier. They can eviscerate half the company and cutting off unprofitable products because they only have to suck marginally less than their competitors. Government doesn’t have that advantage. When your house is on fire, the average voter really appreciates a fire truck traveling fast down a taxpayer-funded road. No amount of telling those lazy-ass victims that living in blackened rubble is better than getting off their dead asses and getting a job in a country where all the jobs are in Bangalore is better than water and ladders.

Mitt is the penultimate personification of a CEO and reaps all the ill that brings. He came out of the campaign gate toting more baggage than Kim Kardashian on the way to tennis lessons. He targeted his campaign at 1% of the population and it’s hard to carry that much baggage without a sub-minimum wage bellhop that will inevitably embarrass you.

There are only a few weeks left to pull the limo out of the fire and close the deal. There will be more mistakes, as there are in any endeavor, but he can overcome them. Rather than employing the normal CEO reaction to failure – deny, deny, deny, blame it on someone else – he could simply employ some (I know this is going rouge) common sense.

Stop envisioning yourself as the potential Potentate of Romnistan, put on the throne by the Council of 500 Fortunes. The country doesn’t need any more CEOs, they are the skeevy bastards that got us into this mess and we’re awash in them. Using that as the only plank in your platform is a non-starter, so (I know this a mavericky thing) stop it. Stop telling people with three jobs they are whining little goldbrickers. Start saying, “You know, that must be hard. I don’t really know about it first hand, but I trust your word for it and I’ll do something specific about it.” Stop telling people you will create 18 billion jobs during the first dance at the Inaugural Ball because no one, not even Ann Coulter, believes it.

Admit you know shit all about foreign policy. The fact you can see New Hampshire from Massachusetts is not foreign policy, no matter what Sarah Palin says. Empty the tea pot and throw those bat-shit crazy, spelling challenged nitwits out of the big tent. They scare the hell out of people and will stab you in the back as soon as you won’t support a ban on condoms bought only with prior approval from the Texas legislature.

We’re told – though most people doubt it – that you have a tiny smidgen of human left in you. Step out into the sunshine of Temple Square and let your love light shine. Treat people like (I know this is all roguey and mavericky) people instead of fully depreciated assets. Trust me on this, people really hate it when CEOs do that. Mitt, there is hope for you. You could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and not shove defeat back into the jaws if you’d stop acting less like the CEO of BushCo and start acting more like the CEO of People.

Better yet, stop being a CEO at all. We neither want nor need any of those.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

7:21 am in Uncategorized by Omnipotent Poobah

A high school friend used to say, “Life is a shit sandwich and I take a bigger bite every day.” There’s a lot of cynical wisdom in that quote. The Shit Sandwich du Jour is the Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Deluxe and it’s leaving a shitty taste in everyone’s mouth.

I think Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s gay marriage stance is wrong about the “biblical definition of the family unit” and quite frankly inconsequential and stupid. His position is a moral, corporate, and downright mean-spirited cock up if you’ll pardon the expression. The First Amendment allows me to say that just as it allows him to say what he wants, people to hold bigoted Appreciation Days, and respond with Gay Kiss-In Days. Freedom is messy and fractious.

Sure, his statements are about civil rights for gays, separation of church and state, and First Amendment guarantees, but some ancillary points are worth noting.

Cathy is a private person, but as King of Chickendom he is also the embodiment of the much-disputed corporate person. His cluck is the voice of Chick-fil-A. It is the voice of an employer forbidden to discriminate. The company is closely held so his voice and actions must also protect his investors’ valuable “fil-A’s”. When he speaks, his personal opinions become the opinions of the corporation. These things may not be direct constitutional issues in Chick-fil-A’s case, but they muddy the waters.

Like celebrities who slavishly court publicity, it is disingenuous to be surprised when the paparazzi and protesters show up. To his credit, Cathy is reaping what he sowed, but celebrities sometimes go all Justin Bieber on the paps’ asses and then whine about the intrusion they invited. Cathy could do the same if the fire and brimstone become too hot for him.

Cathy demonstrates the notion that private comments are well, private, but that celebrities, CEOs, and the powerful in the public eye give up reasonable expectations to exercise full First Amendment rights by default. Though changing, that is the foundation of American libel and defamation law. It may not be a fair legal position, but it is a practical one. Absent it, no one could question public figures because of the chilling effect of libel or defamation suits from every statement the public and powerful might dislike – truth be damned.

The protests will go on, like the core issue, until the public loses interest or gay marriage becomes law. However, Cathy should watch his gizzards and livers closely. With the increased scrutiny comes business-effecting public opinion duels, closer looks at the legality of corporate culture and behavior, and strict adherence to laws. As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama can tell you, in temperate personal opinions often come back to haunt you.

People should feel free to express their opinions but keep their protests in context. With all the hubbub on both sides we’re making chicken sandwiches and the religious zealot who sells them symbols for a serious and sober debate. The debate is becoming a series of chicken jokes. If you asked random protesters for gay marriage specifics most would parrot the stale lines they already spew plus add a mini-restaurant review of Chick-fil-A.

A little humor makes the bitter medecine go down, but it’s time to get back to civil rights for homosexuals.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor

Captain Mitt Must Step Up to the Responsibility of Command

6:49 am in Uncategorized by Omnipotent Poobah

There is a reason we refer to government as the “Ship of State” and not “Government Inc.” That’s why ship captains make much better templates for President than CEOs and Mittgate shows it. When a ship runs aground the captain is ALWAYS responsible. There is no ducking responsibility by saying, “Someone else was piloting the boat.” The ship ran aground. It happened on your watch. You are responsible, regardless of the bone-headed mistakes your crew may have made. It’s called the “responsibility of command”.

This is the same reasoning that makes the Republican argument the economy is worse since Obama took over – regardless of whether George the Lesser caused the whole mess with his typical bumbling – is a frustratingly correct answer. The O-Man didn’t create the iceberg. The problem is so huge NO ONE could fix it – Mitt included. But, Cap’n O is at the helm of the ship of state. When he walked down PA Avenue in the Inauguration Parade it became his losing proposition to shoulder and wiggling around it by saying it isn’t his fault is a non-starter defense.

Compare that with a typical CEO reaction to disaster. Jamie Dimon, captain of the leaking hulk JPMorgan, loses a billion or so every time they check the books. Yet, it was those mean old rogue traders that caused the problem, not the man at the helm. He threw them overboard, as well he should, but told Congress, ‘Do anything you want to the traders, just don’t hurt me!’

Mittens now finds himself in much the same spot. He’s crowed excessively about how he’d be a dandy President because of his Bainness acumen. Now there is a hole in the bottom of his campaign and he’s headed for the life boats faster than the crackhead captain of the Costa Concordia.

‘You can’t blame me for the offensive actions of Bain Capital. I left before it happened,’ he demurs. ‘I wasn’t part of the management team I left in charge. Sure, the post-1999 SEC filings show me as CEO and sole owner, but someone else was calling the shots.’ That’s as weak an argument as saying his investments were in a blind trust – that just happened to invest heavily in his son’s business.

Welcome to your court martial Captain Romney. You are charged with 2 counts of failure of command. Count 1: Being incompetently unaware of the actions of your crew. Count 2: Criminal perjury in SEC filings bearing your signature. Either way, it’s your fault and your ass is going to the political brig.

This is the big lesson of the misguided infatuation with CEO Presidents – aside from their abysmal record as Presidents (Exhibit A: George the Lesser). Government is not a business and the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t get to blame others when he is leader of the increasingly less-free world. Mitt is a wannabe President who must prove he can follow the rules. The rules that say, “You, and only you, are responsible for whatever happens on your watch – logical or not, fair or not, embarrassing or not.

It’s called the “responsibility of command”.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor