Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail