As I observe our economy, my latest pre-occupation has been with the observation that “Everybody is doing the same thing”.
What I mean by this, and what I think is obvious, is that everywhere you look, in every work-place and every business, managers are attempting to restrain or roll-back the cost of labor by limiting or cutting wages, and/or reducing the number of workers employed.
All of these are normal features of the business environment but it has gotten to the point where the ‘normal’ functions of business are being negatively impacted, and I’m wondering why this hasn’t resulted in any obvious changes in the trend.
Let’s look at an example of what I’m talking about so there’s no doubt that we’re looking at the same situation.
You go to a department store, it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Macy’s Nordstrom’s or JC Penneys, there are less salespeople on the floor and you have to work harder than ever to find a salesperson to help you.
Add to the story that these employers are paying the people on the floor less and less, and it means when you do find them, they aren’t in a great mood.
These employees who are making less and less per hour, and working less hours per week are attending more and more meetings where they are given instruction on how to treat customers, how to sell, how to reduce losses due to theft, and where they are threatened with being written up for failure to sign customers up for ‘loyalty accounts’, read credit cards.
Credit cards which, by the way reliably charge interest rates of 29%!
Some companies are making more from the finance charges associated with their credit cards than they are on profits due to sales.
All the while, the results are, ill-treated and demoralized employees creating ill-treated and disappointed customers, lower sales, and of course, rocketing losses due to theft from under-staffed stores.
There’s a version of this story going on in every part of the retail industry, employees who are barely scraping by, paid dwindling wages and facing a rising cost of living, trying to help customers who are in the same boat, themselves employed by managers who are attempting to implement the same cost savings in their own business in an effort to bolster bottom-lines or possibly just keep the doors open.
All of these managers are waiting for ‘things-to-get-better’, or ‘things-to-get-back-to-normal’.
What I want to know, is how are things going to get better, how are things going to get back to normal, if everyone, and by this I mean YOUR CUSTOMERS, are making less and less per hour, working less hours, and paying more, and more to live?
Now I know that what I’m describing has been noticed by a lot of people, because when I explain it, just as I’ve done so far here, they all say, “yeah, I know what you mean…”
I’m sure that even store managers know that there’s something wrong with the game-plan they’re being forced to run, but they have no real choice in the matter because there’s a corporate agenda to work from and with it comes a ‘plan’.
What I’m driving at, is that the ‘plan’ is faulty, it’s doomed to failure, and it’s the very definition of a Race-to-the Bottom.
What I further intend to point out, is that at some point this Race–to-the Bottom will become a Flat-Spin.
A flat spin is a term used in aviation to describe what, at one time was generally considered an unrecoverable spin which would only end with the airplane impacting the ground.
So what I’m talking about here, is a pervasive business strategy that far from improving business health, and bolstering bottom lines, has become a literal ‘race to the bottom’, which at some point threatens to become a virtual flat spin that will end only in business failures and bankruptcies.
What I’m pointing out to over-worked middle managers who I describe as ‘Working for the Clampdown’, to borrow a phrase from the punk-rock band, the Clash, is that in executing the strategy dictated by your corporate bosses, you are driving your businesses into the ground.
Working for the Clampdown, is racing to the bottom, is willfully entering a flat spin, which ends predictably with a crash.
What I’d like to point out, is that the fact that ‘everybody is doing the same thing’ looks suspiciously like there is a plan, and if there is a plan, it looks an awful lot like the same plan, you might even call it the ‘Central Plan’.
So why are those who supposedly worship ‘Free Markets’ involved in executing what looks to me, like the biggest example of ‘central planning’ ever attempted?
Why don’t they understand that when they succeed with their plan, we fail, and when we fail, they fail?
It’s because the ‘Plan’ is rooted in an ideology, an ideology that the MOTU find appealing, but the end results of which, they haven’t examined too closely.
All over the world, our corporate masters are busy executing a plan that I call the Clamp-Down, it’s a recipe for imposed austerity, and it has a predictable outcome that they don’t acknowledge.
This plan is driven by adherence to an ideology that leaves its proponents blind to the fact that the ground is coming up real fast.