Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Catching On

According to a new poll, Americans are losing trust in business.

I see this as further confirmation of my theory that if you smack people upside the head enough times they eventually start to develop an unfavorable view of you. Well, roughly 50% of them anyway. The other 50% will continue to deify you for your benevolence and graciously repeat “Thank you sir, may I have another”. Then they drop whatever it was they were doing and run to the tv because look! – it’s almost 4:00 and Glenn Beck is about to be on!

The banks, insurance companies, and other victims of this negative public sentiment probably just see this as a ‘messaging problem’.

But as a casual outside observer I’d offer the following reasons as another possibility for this bad PR:

  • 12-16% real unemployment while corporate profits are at historical highs and corporate treasuries are fairly bursting at the seams with unprecedented levels of cash on-hand.

  • An oil spill that devastated the gulf coast, causing environmental and human damage of epic proportion.

  • A Great Recession caused by the irresponsible, greedy actions of a handful of giant financial institutions, followed by a taxpayer bailout of those institutions, followed by jaw-dropping bonuses paid out to the executives of those institutions with taxpayer money!

  • A CEO-to-average worker pay ratio that has increased from roughly 24:1 in 1965 to 42:1 in 1980 to 475:1 by 2004.

  • Grossly imbalanced income growth over the past three decades with 35% going to the top .01% while the entire bottom 90% received only 16%.

  • A broken healthcare system where 1 out of every 3 dollars spent ($800 billion per year) goes to corporate profits, stock-options, executive salaries, and marketing – not towards actual healthcare!

  • 1.4 million jobs created overseas in 2010 versus less than 1 million created here in the United States where millions of people are unemployed due to no fault of their own, losing their homes and often much more.

  • Those are just a few quick ones offhand. But hey, this is America. And even as these poll results are being published our president and congress are falling all over themselves to reassure business leaders that we love them, and we’re here for them – and we’re sorry for all those mean things we said the other night when we were drunk; we didn’t mean it.


    Terrance said...

    Mr. Beer and Incense....your outline of life in the U.S.A. Is right on!...scares the hell out of the one's your with, cause I don't see it getting any better anytime soon..

    Anonymous said...

    I remember early '60's a labour leader (in Australia) I thought a lot of quoted he would like to see the pay ratio at 13:1 at the time it was 17:1.
    My, how times do change!

    Ben There said...

    Terrance -

    Love the ones you're with...good advice! I think it will get better but not anytime soon. And the definition of 'better' may not be what we expect. It may not be better in the material sense but could be better in the quality of life, realignment of values sense. Will be interesting to see.

    Tony -

    What's funny is that alot of people here have no problem with the 425:1. Some of us have either been convinced or managed to convince ourselves that that kind of disparity somehow makes sense. I wonder if they'll feel the same when/if it gets to 1000:1. That's the path we're on. One has to wonder at what point do the peasants revolt.