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

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail