A CEO for a company that posted record losses for a quarter was recently asked why he gave himself a large bonus in an interview. His reply was: Because I deserve it. This statement was a real eye-opener. It should have all of us suddenly waking up to the utter scam that business schools are pulling on publicly-owned companies. A recession is a good time to examine this stuff and attempt to put a stop to it. Why did the young CEO of think he deserved a large bonus after his company was putting up the worst numbers in it’s history? It has nothing to do with how good of a job he is doing. It’s because he dropped $150,000 on a long education and now has issues of entitlement.
The scary thing is, you can’t really blame him! This is what they taught him in business school. Finish school, graduate, find a struggling publicly-owned company to get a top executive job at, and siphon off a million dollar salary for yourself. Man, they must be sitting around laughing in business school at this prospect. All you need is a Harvard MBA and you have a license to legally embezzle ridiculous amounts of money with no accountability. This makes skimming the Tangiers casino (in the movie Casino) look like child’s play.
Remember the late 1980’s movie Wall Street? Think back to Gordon Gekko’s speech to the Teldar Paper stockholder meeting. His main beef was that there was no accountability to upper management because they had no stake in the company. They are just there to rape and pillage motivated purely by self-interest. Don’t you find it interesting that the failing big three auto company CEO’s all flew private jets to go ask the federal government for taxpayer bailout money a few month’s ago?
Sadly, this is the way corporate America works. Business owners who start and grow the company, whose passion fuels it’s initial success, are pretty much long gone by the time a company is actively traded in the stock market. Venture capital firms take an early partnership in the company, help it grow, and then when the IPO happens everybody gets out rich. The new stockholders elect of board of directors who hire new officers for the company and that’s where these bright-eyed kids graduating from business school come in. They walk out of school into contracts that most professional athletes would drool over, with zero experience in business and no passion for this particular business (oftentimes without having any industry knowledge whatsoever).
The lesson to be learned here is two-fold. If you are a college kid reading this, go get a business graduate-school education from a top university. The recession will be over by the time you graduate and you can get in on this scam. Otherwise, start a new business that will capture the interest of venture capitalists. Work it for a couple years, build it up and get out rich when the IPO goes live. So there are two ways to take advantage of the American dream by exploiting loopholes in our system. Or perhaps exploiting loopholes in our system is the American dream.
As I was driving home the other night listening to news about the bad economy on the radio, I couldn’t help but notice all the late model cars around me - no doubt full of people going home to watch their giant flat-screen televisions in HD. If this is as bad as it gets I think we are OK folks. You hear the news actually throwing around the D-word (depression), and it just strikes me as irresponsible sensationalism. All the news stations are fighting for the best ratings, so it logically follows that they probably think you will watch the news broadcast which promises to give you the worse news about the economy. After all, everything is fine or economy is in a small recession just sounds boring. The more they can scare you with their teaser bits the more likely you are to watch.
Using the word depression is pretty ridiculous. You know how much edible food gets thrown out every single day in the city where you live? Probably enough to feed some starving nations. There has only been one depression in American history and believe me people were not throwing out food. People were actually starving. Ever see pictures of the actual depression from the 1930’s? There were bread lines full of ordinary middle-class citizens waiting on government-issued rations of bread to feed their families! Those few people alive today who remember the depression from their childhood probably laugh at the comparison (assuming their hearing aides are working properly).
I brought this up during happy hour at the pizza parlor on Friday, and when I mentioned that there are no bread lines three people at the bar all chimed in together in replying not yet! …Which just goes to show you the mentality that the media is managing to instill in just about everyone. These people at the pizza joint are somewhat-intelligent folks who I see there all the time, and even they are showing signs of succumbing to this media brainwashing. My friends, as long as all the fast food restaurants on every corner still have that .99 menu there is no danger of bread lines or a 1930’s style depression.
Mama Riah and I went out to dinner Saturday at King’s Fish House. If you aren’t familiar with this franchise, it is a chain of good seafood restaurants with a casual atmosphere - that deliver a check which looks like you just ate in a snazzy fine dining establishment. We got there about 6:00 because we like to eat early. The place was busy and we managed to score two seats at the bar.
Over the course of the next hour and a half as we enjoyed our meal, the place became absolutely jam-packed standing room only. If the economy was terrible, don’t you think casual dining joints that are priced like high-end restaurants would be the first to suffer? By the way, we each had two drinks and split a seafood salad and each had a bowl of clam chowder for a total bill of $60. It is extremely easy for two people to break a three digit check here if they are in a feasting mood.
After dinner as we were leaving, I noticed the mall parking lot was still pretty full. I could see across the street into the ATT&T wireless store which was still open and had at least half a dozen customers in there buying new I-phones and Blackberries. You know how long the cost of one of those things could feed you for, if push came to shove?
What we have right now doesn’t even qualify as a noticeable recession. If we actually get one of those they’ll probably be calling it a national disaster. I’m almost rooting for it just so I can make my point better!
The sports pages of my local paper are putting a halo over the head of Alex Rodriquez for his brave confession to using steroids. Sympathy for this beloved sports figure is high. He has apparently earned much respect by setting such a good example for the kids in (finally) telling the truth. We should all be proud of him. Maybe even give him another trophy or something. But wait a minute. Over the past couple of years he vehemently denied ever using steroids. His recent confession emerged only after discovering that undeniable evidence was about to go public and he was flat-out caught with his hand in the cookie jar. So being the model citizen, he then did the right thing and admitted his drug use.
Isn’t it great that our society sends us such a clear message that we only need to be truthful when we are caught red-handed? If there is no video tape, then there is always some doubt so just lie like there’s no tomorrow. This is becoming the standard in America. People whose first inclination is to fess up when confronted with an embarrassing situation are becoming a small minority of the population.
This is a predictable result when we see celebrities setting the example for the rest of us. After all, we are all just a bunch of drones that act like whatever the people on TV are doing. Right? If our sports heroes can look us in the eye through the television camera and tell a bald-faced lie that is our justification for doing the same thing. Cheat if you can get away with it, and if anybody ever asks about it deny everything.
If you do get caught, try to follow Bill Belichick’s impressive example. If caught in the act of cheating do not acknowledge that what you were doing was actually cheating. Use a fancy term to describe what you were doing, or show a look of surprise and say you didn’t know that cheating was illegal. As a last resort you could hold out like Roger Clemons and Barry Bonds until your dying breath, denying everything and swearing to God you are innocent even when faced with overwhelming evidence. That will always create some tinge of doubt in the general public’s mind because, well, because the general public is pretty stupid. Always use that to your advantage.
The only problem with this approach is, of course, when a video tape that you didn’t know about shows up. That’s when it’s time to do the A-Rod thing and become a hero in the public eyes. We will carry him on our shoulders to the baseball hall of fame while sending Martha Stewart to prison because she didn’t see the truck coming quickly enough. Of course in the case of Bonds and Clemons all will be forgiven no matter how long they wait to confess. After all, they are sports heroes not some cooking show host.