Friday, November 21, 2008

Right to be mad as hell

People who are mad as hell about the economic mess the country is in have every right to be mad as hell.

The economic meltdown didn't have to happen. But snake oil is snake oil and optimistic by nature, the American people bought the belief that markets for goods and services could regulate themselves.

But they forgot one thing: Greed and the self-dealing in which it's manifested.

Some people still don't get it, especially the honchos from the Big Three American automobile manufacturers. They flew in on three separate private jets to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to ask Congress to bail out their failing companies. The trips cost an estimated $20,000 each.

It was travel as usual for them. None of them seemed to have a clue when asked by members of the House Committee on Financial Services whether they had flown commercial to get to the hearing and if any of their companies planned on selling their private jets.

The questions were mere stagecraft by the committee members. Were they appropriate? Spot on.

CEOs somewhere and sometime soon are going to have to figure out that business as usual won't cut it anymore—and, that symbols are important.

No one wants to throw pilots and plane manufacturers out of business. Yet, every working person in the nation knows that companies and jobs are at risk, that millions of jobs have evaporated, that home values have plummeted and retirement savings have been ravaged. They want a sign that the CEOs of companies that are coming to the American people hat in hand actually "get it."

They want CEOs who peer into the future every day to find the way ahead. They want CEOs and political leaders to do more every day than just collect a paycheck and schedule tee times.

The CEOs of the Big Three looked brain dead spewing the same hollow promises they have spewed before about doing better in the future.

The future is here now, and it's every American's money they're asking for. Somewhere out there are CEOs who understand that they are CEOs and that stockholders are stockholders only because others are willing to put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Somewhere there are real leaders who understand that they must tool and retool for the future.

Before any carmaker gets a dime, they need to put forward new leaders who understand why Americans are upset.

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