FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nortel Network’s Obit

by ANNE MARRAN and MISSY BEATTIE

On January 24, 2013, Ontario’s Chief Warren Winkler called Time of Death—on Nortel Networks.

It is difficult to accept the debilitating illness and subsequent death of someone close, someone who is more than an acquaintance, especially when that person(hood) provided your medical coverage and helped pay your children’s education.

But coming to terms with the death of Nortel is even more complicated—as complicated as if would be with any friend initially perceived as benevolent but who later emerges as deceptive, a cheater, someone who borrowed money with no intention of repaying those who offered their creativity, generosity, and loyalty.

The grief is tempered with slight relief that the embarrassment has ended, the awkwardness of an unexpected meeting in the shopping mall, or perhaps, one more request for money.

Questions remain and will always from those of us who knew Nortel well. How could we have been swindled? All those retirees? The taxpayers? What about the overseas transactions?

Hardworking Canadian taxpayers whose fathers and mothers had worked for the Company knew and trusted a business started at the end of the 1800s. No one worried about their savings if they were invested in Nortel. Pension Plans vested their money in the Company. Canada knew it could trust Nortel to support its economy.

Canadians were proud of their leading-technology corporation spread across the globe, until it began associating with “bad company”, wearing fancy clothes, attending all-night parties, and gambling with overpriced stocks in risky acquisitions, bought with money borrowed from the savings of elderly, frail retirees and teachers.

How did we miss changes in the company we were so proud was ours, not notice that its struggle to sustain the employees benefits and pension funds were failing? Why did we ignore Nortel’s pleas for more EDC funding when asked to support a lifestyle the company had come to expect in its time of need?

Grief often is accompanied by guilt. Grief because voices heard went unheeded, as we listened instead to the sound of 10% interest compounded indefinitely and planned our retirements. Retirements of palm trees and warm white sand. Had we listened to those warnings could we have protected Nortel from its disgraceful end? Our own hubris convinced us that the 10% compounded would last forever?

State of the art companies bought with overpriced Nortel stock were sold. Finally, like a womanizing husband caught with his pants down in the presence of one of his many mistresses, Nortel could no longer hide its lies. Trust was broken. So was the company.

Not yet on its knees, Nortel turned for support to its enabler, the SEC. A small pecuniary offering was used as a token of regret rather than rehab, accountability, criminal prosecution. But to Nortel’s long lasting lament, its addiction to short-term profit was something over which it had no power.

Eventually with its financial affairs in chaos, Nortel requested bankruptcy protection A. The valuable patents that company employees worked so hard to design and develop, those that could have sustained the company if the Harper government had acted quickly, were sold at garage sales.

Nortel saw its reflection in the faces of its former employees, knew it had wasted the Canadian taxpayers’ money, destroying the country’s trust.  Absolution was granted by three of Nortel’s profit makers through an Ontario court and its outside auditor’s generosity. This action, thought to be a coup de grace, instead was mere anesthesia, a temporary pain suppressant. Nortel subsequently died. Probably the blow was shame. However, without proper investigation or autopsy, results are inconclusive. If incised, the area formerly occupying the company’s heart might bear the words: “Where’s My Bonus?”

When Winkler called Nortel’s Time of Death almost two weeks ago, sacrificing its body to the vulture capitalists waiting to feed on the corpse, there was a glimpse of despair for those who long witnessed the wasting process, unable to survive the quagmire of corporate, short-term profit and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Goodbye, old friend. We will try to forget the final days of indignity and instead remember your early glory, when we said your name with pride: Nortel Networks, eh.

Anne Marran told this story to Missy Beattie who edited it. Email: missybeat@email.com

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail