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Benevolent CEOs

The fact that corporation today are flush with cash may illustrate my hypothesis that employers today do no care about their employees. This may not have been the case fifty years ago, although with important exceptions. I think that World War II service brought the employer and employee classes closer together. Of course there was a lot of pushing from unions and lawmakers to bring it about, but that also derived in part from WW II experience, when we were all in this together. Stephen Colbert had Yogi Berra on his show welcoming the troops home from Iraq. It turns out that Yogi participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He was a reminder that back then everybody served the country. Those that didn’t were the exception. Women filled men’s jobs while the men were overseas. Today, people don’t even look at joining the military as service; it’s just a job. As one wife said in an article in the American Legion magazine about military families, when the families face problems, people today don’t see it as a sacrifice for the country, but as a poor career choice.
If corporations are flush with cash, it means that they could have kept more employees on board, but today the cash is more important that the welfare of the workers. While the Republicans complain about welfare, they are ready enough to fire their employees and throw them on the welfare pile for the government to take care of. This means bigger salaries and bonuses for the CEOs, so that they can have bigger houses, bigger yachts, etc. If they need more people they hire temps or they outsource to overseas workers, leaving Americans on the government dole. If corporations were going broke, such actions might be justifiable, but when they are flush with cash they are not. My grandfather may be an example, although his experience predates WW II. During the Depression, he and his employer agreed that he would not draw a salary, but he would take just enough to support his family. His employer kept him on, and obviously trusted him not to be extravagant.
I’m sure there are many small businesses where such camaraderie exists. It’s one reason private equity firms have been so successful. People who start companies often tend to have a bond with their employees that prevents them from laying them off, sometimes pulling the company down toward bankruptcy. Private equity types step in, take them over, and institute mass firings. Then they sell off or leverage what they can, pay themselves handsomely, and turn the company back out to the public, often in such a weakened state that it is still questionable whether it can survive or not.

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