Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corporate Suits Have No Souls

I've always hated the concept of corporations, but I've also come to the conclusion that basically almost all CEOs in the largest corporations are just plain evil (especially in the financial, insurance, energy, aerospace, telecommunication, cable, pharmaceutical, and auto industries - people we're forced to deal with every day - as well as most defense contractors. Thank God we have the FDA!). They hide behind "limited liability" to escape personal responsibility for their evil deeds. Their excuse? "Everyone else is doing it." And why do they destroy so many innocent people's lives? For money (although they'll always claim it's on behalf of the stockholders, which they are also.) They buy our politicians, influence our laws, and dominate every aspect of our way of life, while squeezing every penny can from us, many times illegally.

When I use the word "CEO" to describe my displeasure with corporate America, I refer to all those who wear a suit from the top down. The corporate philosophy and culture that permeates every aspect of a working environment inside the structure of a corporation is also evil; the dog-eat-dog mentality and viscous back-stabbing while climbing the corporate ladder. I hate the way corporations dominate our working and personal lives. They way they invade and disrespect our personas and privacy as human beings. They way they treat us as both employees and as consumers. (When will we all be submitted to drug testing for the pleasure of buying their products?)

At work, the managers aren't our mentors, who kindly guide us with sage advice and helpful hints. They don't just manage, they use fear to control and manipulate us. As smaller fish always answering to a bigger fish, the mangers lord over us, threatening our livelihoods if we disagree or protest a wrong. We dare not complain when over-worked or under-paid. We're told the boss is always "right" because they sign our paychecks. We're reminded to be thankful for our jobs. We're not equal partners in a negotiation, trading our labor for their wages. Instead of using a whip to beat us into submission, they use scare tactics and intimidation to drive fear into our very souls. The "suits" have no empathy for their workers, but only see them as a cost to the company - almost as an enemy, not a real part of the team or "family". They hold no loyalty or concern for their employee's health, well-being, or happiness. To the suits, the workers are no better to them than the service they provide or the widget they produce. The paid slaves must always smile on the outside and say "thank you" every time they're kicked...and just be grateful that they have a job to buy food to eat. To the corporate masters, the workers are peons, just bugs to be squashed; to be tossed as used toilette paper when they've outlived their usefulness.

The top dogs, such as the Presidents and CEOs, are isolated from their employees, traveling by limousine from their mansions to the boardrooms, country clubs, trade expositions, cocktail parties, or political fundraisers. They fly by helicopter to sports arenas named after their corporations and relax in their VIP suites with buffets and stocked bars. They'll sit in plush sky-boxes, and maybe watch Formula-1 race cars with their corporate logo emblazoned across the hood of the cars. Or they'll fly by private jet to their vacation villas in the Mediterranean, the Hawaiian Islands, or the Caribbean, surrounded by a contingent of body guards. They don't surround themselves with the little people, or shop at Wal-Mart, or go to a mall. How often do they visit their employees (alone) on the factory floor in China and shake hands and pat the backs of their sweaty and dirty employees? Oh, but they're much too busy and much too important to waste their time in that way, but they'll spend some free time with painted ladies or on an exclusive golf course. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate all rich people, just CEOs like General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt*

As consumers the workers are constantly being gouged, ripped off, lied to, and profited from in hidden charges and fine print and in defective products. Cars are specifically built to break down so they'll need fixed, but built so we can't fix them ourselves. Prices are constantly going up, so the CEOs can make ever more money from us...inflation never touches their standard of living. If their costs go up, they're only passed on to the consumer, while the CEO gets another raise while laying off workers to have their other employees work harder. The suits hold no patriotism to the U.S.A., they send jobs to China to enrich other dictatorships. They'll always say, "It's nothing personal, it's just business."

That's American capitalism. That's corporate America. That's the American way. And that's the way it's always been. So what's the difference than in any other country where we see uprisings against oppression and tyranny and injustice and poverty? The dictator gets all the gold, then buys an army to guard them and their gold, and to hell with the masses. How is America any different? How different are our corporate masters (and their political puppets) than of any communist despot? CEOs lie, cheat, steal, and kill also. They're brutal, ruthless, and unforgiving. They are just like another other psychopath. They're evil, both collectively as a board of directors, and individually as corporate executives. They practice the seven deadly sins every day: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. If you died, they would just casually step over your decaying corpse on their way into a 5-star restaurant to dine and toast to their latest acquisition. After all, to them you're just a bug.

Besides working for big multi-national conglomerates, I've also had the pleasure of working for small family-owned enterprises, where everybody knew everybody else. And sometimes at the end of the day, the boss might pat you on the back or shake your hand for a job well done. I was even invited in to the home of one boss where he shared a bottle of his home-made wine with me after a hard day's work. The employees were scolded if they screwed up, but you always knew it wasn't done in a mean and vindictive manner. You were still given respect as an employee and human being. You were treated as a real person.

Since being excluded from the corporate workforce in 2008, while although I'm miserable for being poor and living in poverty, and lack the financial freedom for not having a wage, I must admit...I'm enjoying my emotional freedom for not having to kowtow to a cold and evil corporate suit any more. If they were ever to show themselves to the general public without a security detail, I could look them in the eye and tell them to go to hell. It may seem petty, and my only consolation, but nonetheless, I still take some pleasure from that one freedom. I don't understand why so many people treat these callused and hardened CEOs so reverently when they're in the same room with them...just because they're rich? Or because they have so much power, but have no soul? It can't be because they're likable, because "nice guys" don't usually make it to the top, just "good fellows" do. So it can't be respect, so it must be fear.

Now it's the U.S. government that I must fear....especially the Republicans, because they aren't real people, they have no souls. But the Supreme Court says corporations are real people; but how can that be if the corporate suits have no souls either?

One Example of a Corporate Suit Without A Soul

(From the Huffington Post)

Obama selected General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt* to head his Jobs Council. Was that some cruel joke? GE, under Immelt, has grown and created jobs - but they are abroad rather than in our own troubled country. As a result, by the end of last year, only 134,000 of GE's workforce of 304,000 were based in the United States; the remainder -- and 82 percent of the company's profit -- were sheltered abroad.

Ironically, GE's ability to avoid taxes was restricted by President Ronald Reagan, who had once been a spokesman for GE but was outraged by the company's use of tax loopholes. It remained for President Clinton to offer GE some new tax breaks. As a result of being able to shelter profit abroad last year, GE had profits of $14.2 billion but claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. Immelt was the elephant in the room when Obama said in his speech last week: "Our tax code should not give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America."

It has been a long time since GE was creating jobs here during its "better light bulb" days, and the last spurt of GE participation in the U.S. economy came through its unit GE Capital, which specialized in toxic mortgage lending that once produced more than half of the company's profits but ultimately led to a taxpayer bailout.

Someone who knows a great deal about that sort of scam is Elizabeth Warren, the consumer advocate and Harvard law professor that was pushed out of Obama's inner circle. In launching her campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts this week, Warren posted a video that clearly defined the enemy: "Washington is rigged for big corporations. A big company, like GE, pays nothing in taxes, and we're asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education?"

London-based designer and entrepreneur Alexander Amosu has found a buyer for this eye-wateringly pricey $100,000 suit.

Obama, in appointing Immelt, praised him as a business leader who "understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy." Apparently, what Immelt understands is that what it takes to satisfy corporate interests instead of national needs is conning a president into looking the other way while you send jobs abroad.

* His immediate family might love him, as well as his country club buddies and President Obama, but maybe Jeffrey Immelt is also just another cold, calculating, ruthless, and unforgiving corporate suit without a soul. I couldn't afford his damn light bulbs, so I used generic ones.

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