FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Emperor’s New Clothes on Steroids

by DAVID MACARAY

Some years ago, it was reported that Donald Ivestor, CEO of the Coca-Cola Corporation, had considered equipping the company’s vending machines with built-in thermometers, so that, on the hottest days of summer, the price of a Coke could automatically be raised. One of those supply-and-demand moves we’ve all heard about.

Apparently, Donald Ivestor was even quoted as saying that such a practice was a “fair” response to the dynamics of the marketplace. It was only after word of this gouging enterprise leaked out, and consumers hit the ceiling, that Ivestor pretended the company had never considered it.

In 1995, I had a conversation with the plant manager of a Fortune 100 company (I’ll call him “Fred”) regarding executive compensation. This was but one of many discussions Fred and I had had over the years, with me taking the view that we must have lost our ever-lovin’ minds, because CEO compensation had reached absurd proportions, and Fred taking the view that the only way to attract “quality people” was to offer a salary commensurate to their talents.

This particular conversation was focused specifically on the CEO of United Way. A recent newspaper story had reported that United Way’s CEO was not only being paid something on the order of $400,000 per year, but was being squired around in a chauffeured limousine, as if he were a Saudi Arabian oil sheik rather than some guy who was running a charitable organization.

Fred adamantly insisted that, given the “realities of the market place,” you wouldn’t find anyone who was sufficiently qualified to run United Way unless you were willing to pay them $500,000. I jokingly said, “You mean you couldn’t find some swinging dick out there who could do the job for, say, a measly $300,000?” Not realizing I was mocking him, he emphatically stated that No, you would not. Good god, the man was serious. He honestly believed $500,000 was the bare minimum.

One of the games we union guys used to play was speculating on how long a person—a clever, motivated but entirely “unqualified” person—could get away with pretending to be the plant manager before he was exposed as an imposter. Put him behind the plant manager’s desk, dress him in plant manager’s duds, give him a $90 haircut, and see how long he could fake it.

We’d all seen Fred in action. While he was a bright, honorable man, his management style wasn’t complicated. He asked a lot of questions, he praised people, he did a lot of delegating, and he used a lot of “management speak.” In our opinion, once a person mastered that corporate lingo, he would be home free. In our opinion, he’d be able to fake the job for a minimum of weeks, if not months.

Of course, pretending to be somebody you’re not applies only to managerial positions, because you could never hope to get away with it on a job that demanded demonstrable skills. For instance, you couldn’t pretend to be a bricklayer or shipping checker or seamstress. People would realize you were a fraud within 30 seconds. The same goes for a musician, pottery maker, and electrician.

Alas, it seems that the only jobs where you can trick people into believing that you are who you say you—despite any discernible evidence to prove it—happen to be big-time managerial jobs, jobs that come with generous salaries. How ironic is that?

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail