15 November 2008

For the Love of God. . .

Please read this.
About 30 years ago, the socially embedded corporation of the post-World War II period was reconceived as a giant money machine. This started innocently enough. As global competition began to affect American industries, many wondered how to make managers more accountable for the firm's performance. The idea was that managers were not acting in shareholders' interests to maximize profits. Theorists suggested all kinds of reasons why this might be so, from inertia and self-interest to community loyalty and even "honor."

One solution eventually dominated all others: markets for corporate control. A new breed of activist investors led tender offers, often hostile, to take over companies whose share prices were regarded as underperforming. Most stockholders responded simply by choosing the highest offer. Leveraging up debt and driving new economies of scale by combining or reorganizing resources were seen as ways to impose discipline on teams of managers and limit their divergence from shareholder-wealth maximization. New compensation and incentive systems linked executive pay to the performance of the company's stock price.

The company became a transaction machine designed to maximize profit, untethered from its community, society, and country. Jobs were outsourced, work was automated, assets were concentrated, costs were cut to the bone, and balance sheets depended on increasingly arcane financial engineering. Takeovers gave way to mergers. Industries consolidated, limiting consumer choice. The inward focus to which management had always been vulnerable became pathological, banishing the needs of customers and employees to a distant horizon. Job security became tenuous, and most families depended on two incomes. A large majority of employees wanted more flexibility at work than their employers allowed. Working parents, and especially mothers, foundered. Customers were treated as anonymous and expendable.

Two comments: 1.) The current situation is not just a result of the cyclical nature of any functioning economy. It is about the way we do "business". 2.) Personally, I think we're all fucked - rich and poor, alike. Whether you earn and/or make money. . . See ya in the Soup Line™.

06 November 2008

Yes. We. Did. (Part II)

It's a marathon, not a sprint. But it never to hurts to celebrate the gains - once in a while.

05 November 2008

Yes. We. Did.

I'm not one for campaign slogans or their re-writes, but I was part of a huge group-hug last night where, after CNN called the election for Obama, we all cried and shouted that for two minutes, easily. I wish I had some pictures of it, but alas. The memory, burned into my brain, will last me a lifetime - and that wasn't even the most amazing part of my day.

02 November 2008

Proposition 8

While I doubt anyone from California reads this blog, we should all be aware of the absurdity of the arguments made by those who oppose the right of anyone to commit to a legally binding contract that grants legal rights and protections to the person of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation.

50 years ago Proposition 8 could have substituted "gay marriage" for miscegenation and it would represent the same misguided values.

With that, I present the Republican Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders:

"I have close family members and friends who are a member of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff.

"I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones—for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences.

"And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship—their very lives—were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."

(h/t: Teh Great Orange Satan)