FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Emperor’s New Clothes on Steroids

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

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail