Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where Have You Gone Thomas Edison?

Men like Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, John Jacob Astor, and Cornelius Vanderbuilt helped build America's economy to be the strongest in the world. They may not have been the nicest guys, and some of their methods were harsh, but bottom line, they knew their business and how to grow it. Even modern American executives like Jack Welch at G.E., Thomas Watson at I.B.M., Bill Gates at Microsoft and Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway took their enterprises to stellar heights and pulled our economy right along with it. In looking at the events of the past year, I can only ask: "What the f**k happened!!!"

We find ourselves in one of the worst recessions in the country's history, in large measure because of greedy CEOs like Ken Lay (Enron); Bernie Ebbers (Worldcom); Robert Willumstad (AIG); and Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers) . These men presided over some of the biggest corporate collapses ever, with more to come. Thanks to the ineptitude of the people who were supposed to be experts in their fields, American workers will have to watch as their nest eggs evaporate, people will lose their jobs, and entire industries that have bolstered our economy since World War II may go under.

The latest debacle is the auto industry, where for the past forty years a combination of management arrogance, union greed, and just plain cluelessness as to what the automobile buyer was demanding helped to bury the big three car makers and the city of Detroit. These morons stood by while Toyota and Honda just ate their lunch! Remember "planned obsolescence" where Detroit purposely made cars that would not last so people would buy new ones! Henry Ford would have gagged at the very idea. And now they have the audacity to fly into Washington in their private corporate jets with their dirty hands out. What magical "competence car wash" can we run them through that will transform them into visionary, thinking leaders, and guarantee success where only failure existed before? Bailouts for Detroit are a bad idea.

Maybe instead of giving them the $25 billion, and run the risk of them failing in spite of it, we should use the money to fund significant tax credits for U.S. consumers who buy American cars. That would move more private money into the industry, stimulate car sales, and give us poor taxpayers a break in the bargain. Hopefully this artificial stimulus will give Detroit enough time to get their act together and compete in the marketplace without the economic "training wheels".

It's not just bad business leaders that dragged America down. Some other factors include:

The "dumbing down of America" started in the 1970s. Public school and college curricula got horribly watered down so that students could be passed through the system without really knowing anything.

The Internet is a great tool, but it's not a substitute for serious study. While our young people spend their time watching American Idol and incessantly texting each other, Russians, Chinese, and Indian students study math and science.

People stopped reading. Televised news broadcasts turned from intelligent newscasters delivering serious news to "giggle hours" where bubble-headed anchors gushed about "Brangelina" to brain-dead- audiences.

Business Ethics became a popular topic for corporate board rooms, and lots of consultants got rich delivering "ethics seminars", only problem is that many corporate leaders had the morals of a (insert your favorite derogatory metaphor here).

Corporate Boards became rubber stamps. As long as earnings were up, nobody asked why or how. Memo to corporate board members: You don't attend the meetings just to eat the free f*****g donuts, ask a question!

The regulators who were supposed to look over the shoulders of big business were out to lunch. We're great at passing laws to limit questionable business practices, but never provide the funding to enforce them. The "watchers" were on auto-pilot.

And finally, there is America's sick addiction to credit. Nobody can wait any more until they can afford something before they buy it. That includes the ridiculous mortgages people willingly took out. You're entitled to the American dream of home ownership, even if you don't have a pot. (This last little item is what finally brought the house of cards crashing down.)

And there it is my friends, instead of enjoying the fruits of forty years hard work, I'm sitting home wondering how much below 8,000 the Dow Jones averages will fall. Whose fault is it? Everybody's. And now we have to deal with the consequences, including a liberal President and Congress who think the solution to all our problems is to tax the "rich". Think that doesn't include you? Well get ready pal, because HERE IT COMES!


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