Saturday, April 06, 1996


We are dying, and no one cares - a call for action

There is a cancer raging thr ough America, and nobody cares. Reckless free entrepreneurs are wrecking the institutions of our country. Millions of employees are living in fear of what the next day may bring - a pink slip, a pay cut, inability to meet the mortgage, the school, the car loan, the credit card payments, a collapse of the family, despair, alcoholism, drugs, death.

We are confused - on one hand, we snarl at the wastrel governments dissipating the taxpayers' hard-earned funds, on the other we are finding out that shrinking government jobs, reduced social payments, free trade and decontrols are bringing about a shrinkage in salaries, private enterprise jobs, and a pirate attitude on part of corporate management. The cry "let's cut the waste!" has permeated also into private enterprise. CEOs are shrinking their staffs to reduce payroll and benefit cntributions, and are bringing on a temporary rise in the profit margins, a boost to the stock prices and profit-linked executive bonuses. And we cheer, because our 401k investments in growth stock funds go up to ridiculous numbers. Meanwhile the consumer base is shrinking, and retail and capital goods sales are lagging because the executives have fired their customers.

There used to be worker loyalty to the company. You did a good job, you had a job, salary increases, and promotions, if the company made money. Now the company makes money, but the CEO has to make more money to earn his bonus, so out you go. The Company has no loyalty to the employee, and the employee loses his loyalty to the company. The social contract is breached. Days are spent worrying, no work is done. The customer base of shrinks is growing; psychotherapy is a growth industry. The nation is getting sicker by the minute, and its management does not care. The President pats himself on the back because unemployment is down; pizza delivery jobs are booming.

The lawmakers advertise their efficiency by culling out waste in government; whole departments are eliminated. Technological advances are applauded and fostered, even though each technology upgrade in an organization is accompanied by discontinued jobs. This is not to preach that buggy whip manufacturing should be subsidized; nevertheless, each convenient ATM machine in the bank lobby means the loss of a low-paying teller job. The The UPC readers in supermarkets mean cutting down the low-paying checkout clerk jobs. Factory automation has already cut the medium paying production jobs, made industrial production mobile internationally and killed the power of the uppity trade unions, so that only stationary non-goods -producing building service, restaurant,hospital, sanitation, police and fire prevention jobs can be unionized without fear that the employer will move to Mexico. There are less and less jobs, particularly for the poor, and we live longer and longer (average life span has grown from 60 to 75 since the 1930s).

So the growth of downsizing, technological unemployment, accompanied by longevity, is destroying the economic base of this nation, and the voter is confused. The desirable trimming the spendthrift government echoes right back home, into our ability to live "the way we used to." Real income since 1974 has shrunk by 20???% What is the solution?

Buchanan may be an evil prophet, but he has put the finger on the events leading to our trouble, though not to the solutions. But then no one else has put forth viable solutions either. Lester Thurow claims that "vision," the Midget offers that more PHDs will pull us through. There are laws that maximize the taxation of CEO compensation (ask S. E. for details). There is an attempt to use taxation incentives to reward employment and disincentives to attack layoffs, but an Al "Chainsaw" Dunlap who fires 70% of Scott Paper office staff and then sells off the company to Kimberley-Clark (who will fire yet more) will still get to keep 60% of the $100 million blood money that he earned in the few years leading up to the destruction of a major corporation. And so it goes on, and nobody cares.

One of these days, I say one of these days soon, there may come a prophet who will claim that private enterprise is wrought with evil, that elected government is corrupt and useless, and America may , for the first time, listen to him. This will not be just the L word, this may mean the S or even C word taking over.It is already getting close, look at Buchanan. One step more, and it is no longer just Populism. Come on, people, let's put the inventive genius of this couuntry to work, let's get out of this bind. Where are the thinkers and the doers, are they totally mired in internecine, intraparty struggle, in playing the disgusting, sickening, totally wasteful politics game? How long can we the Democrats and the Republicans, the governments and the producers continue treading water, doing nothing, before the Revolution Comes?

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