Archive for Business

Capitalism Made Me Do It

#45, Donald Trump the Elder is again weeping onto his gold cufflinks. This wee melodrama concerns his (and his daughter Ivanka’s) foreign sourcing. In the midst of his ironically misnamed Made In America Week, the House of Trump source their booze, clothes and tchotchkes typically via Chinese or Pakistani sweatshops.

He, honestly truly, pulled out the basest of disingenuities — he and his daughter are forced, forced they tell us, to use the suppliers who offer the lowest prices. That’s the evil corollary of one of the big lies of fantasy capitalism. That is, the only duty of managers is to maximize profit. Anything else is an abrogation of duty of shareholders, a failure.

Well, kiddies. That’s hooey.

First, if capitalism was its perfect version, if supply-and-demand worked as promised, there would be some justification for such amorality. Alas, we live in a nation of oligopoly and monopoly and government protection of and intervention for corporations.

Businesses in general do not respond to the ideal market forces in timely fashion. They really can’t claim they must do this or that when they have real reasons and choices. Nothing demands they be brutal and vicious to make a profit, much less that maximum short-term profit is the only goal.

Pic Note: Public domain image of a 1913 Ford assembly plant.

Let’s think about a serious capitalist, a certain Henry Ford. He loved his money and made a lot of it. Yet he was much, much smarter than #45.

For example, Unlike textile magnates, railroad builders and mine owners, he took a broad view as well as a narrow one (yes, Ford was savvy enough to look short and long simultaneously).

He pioneered the assembly line, but was not a vampire or monster about it. He paid more than other manufacturing owners…and for good reason. As he put it, he wanted his workers to earn enough to buy the cars they made. And they did, which made him even richer than if he had underpaid and overworked them.

Today, this Trump character claims that because he got a transfer undergraduate degree from a good business school and that he didn’t totally blow his multi-million dollar inheritance, he is the epitome of a capitalist. He also claims that he’ll make America great again while hiring American and buying American.

The latter set is total jive. His companies source overseas from the cheapest, from steel to finished goods to contractors. He seems to get the maximum-profit sliver of capitalism. He misses the broad view that Ford understood well.

So, consider whether any of the Trumps or any business owner at all made a slightly smaller profit margin, while helping their workers, industry, state and nation grow and prosper. The mindless subset of self-proclaimed capitalist may scream that the shareholders would never allow that and would force them out.

Of course in Donald and Ivanka’s cases, that won’t happen. They don’t lead public corporations. Even if they did though, the optics and PR of (pause to allow the Ann Coulter types of retch) the gentle altruism of helping the nation and workers would surely hold the day. The greediest of shareholders might switch their investment to a more parasitic company. Meanwhile, we see that socially responsible companies do quite well, thank you very much, and have no problem attracting cash.

Capitalism has its uses, but hiding behind it simply to exploit does not serve anyone in the supply chain or in this case the nation. I fear #45 does not have the brain power to see the issues, much less to lead the nation in solving them.

 

Comments

United’s Bloody Peasant

United/Republic’s tarmac mugging of an aged passenger puts me back on a familiar horse. The bifurcated reactions of viewers and readers say way too much about current Americans.

Visit any online news source and check the comments on the old physician being being bloodied and abused by the Chicago constabulary under Republic’s orders. Moreover, go to one of the sites reporting on United’s CEO on how they had no choice and the victim is solely to blame.

Speaking well of most readers, the vast majority were opposed to and even aghast at the arbitrary brutality. Once they found that the root cause was that United decided it wanted to move four employees, the reactions were stronger. Anyone with the sense God gave lettuce would instead have booked the airline employees on a different flight or chartered a plane for them or even had them driven the four hours to the destination.

Instead United CEO Oscar Munoz publicly and repeatedly said and wrote his lackeys had no choice. This terrible doctor did not obey, did not get out of his assigned, paid-for, settled into seat on demand. Hence, it was his fault he was bloodied and maybe knocked unconscious.

To the point of comments, a small minority agrees:

  • Rules are rules, not matter
  • The fault was the doc’s. He did not do as he was told.

That is so anti-American, anti-liberty, and irrational.

Short-term United’s share price inched up. Long-term, this is most like a multi-million dollar or more PR problem. Whether flyers do organize a boycott, the per-person private boycotts are certain to follow. United and Delta are infamous for poor load management and overbooking, for bumping the highest percentage of passengers.

This may quickly lead to federal legislation protecting flyers. That’s long overdue. Meanwhile, rules-are-rules people, CEOs and commenters alike, live on islands of obeisance, unaware that most of us prefer freedom and rationality.

 

Comments

Trumps: Greed I, Greed II

Crush ’em like worms! Melania Trump joins her infamous hubby in suing, threatening, and stifling critics. We don’t need no stinkin’ First Amendment.

Let us pause to appreciate the cloning of Donald Trump’s branding shtick, coupled with that of litigiousness. His wife has sued a 71-year-old blogger and a big UK newspaper company, charging that they damaged her brand in the sum of $150 million.

She is shameless in profiteering off her role as wife of the POTUS. Whether she will run afoul of criminal statutes in her greed to exploit that connection is yet unknown. Her husband has a long history suing willy-nilly, often losing and settling while claiming instead to win if he doesn’t admit guilt in any one case. With her brass in claiming damage to her alleged brand as a former, long ago, model and Mrs. POTUS is certainly aping her husband’s style. He may not build anything, may own little solid, nor create permanent jobs, but he sure knows how to profit from stamping his name on properties. Melania is giving it a go.

She is using the same vicious lawyer who crushed Gawker in the Hulk Hogan case. This is not a polite request. So far:

  • She claims a “substantial” settlement from the old guy. His tort was to have quoted a newspaper article that quoted a Slovenian magazine piece that read that her modeling agency was also an escort service. The implication that she was for hire beyond clothed and nude photography is the basis for the brand-damage charges.
  • Her claim against the Daily Mail for quoting that same piece was dismissed for being in the wrong court. (See details in the link above.) She has refiled in another court.

The NYT gets to the heart of her greed in an editorial today. Their staff would like to know what’s up with so blatantly trying to profit off her husband’s office. I join them.

Comments

Self-Limiting D.C. Disease

I seem to insist on having a long neck. Even before Trump got his Electoral College threshold, I predicted a one-term or likely less Presidency. The pre-inauguration theater makes that all the more probable.

First, his bluster and fantasy aside, the plump, sedentary old man is a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm in the wings. Honestly, I dread the idea of Mickey Penny, a.k.a. Michael Pence the reactionary ideologue, taking over the top spot. Yet, none of us should be at all surprised if Trump topples today or tomorrow.

More to the point though, the POTUS-to-be is clearly determined to founder, sink and drown per law. He’s too old and rigid to stop being a mommy’s boy. The effects include whimpering that any criticism is unfair (“Make ’em stop!” Stomp foot.), and turning back on bluster.

Granted the Brits and subsequently us here in the U.S. of A. have fallen into the shout someone down instead of out-reasoning the debate opponent trap. That spread first to Ivies and private schools here and now permeates in a cage-match format. Donny-poo got locked into that. I’ll note again that saying the same thing at increasing volume many times does not make you right. Rather, it means you are loud and repetitive. Neither of those behaviors is a virtue in polite society.

Rather than see and recognize his limits, Trump instead pushes beyond them and insists the world is wrong to question him. That so far, even before taking office, appointing his son-in-law to WH office in defiance of the anti-nepotism statute and tradition, refusing to divest himself of businesses as is the law and tradition, and perhaps worst, stonewalling the clearly treasonous ties to and support from a hostile foreign power, i.e. Russia.

The latter may be the unavoidable crash. I expect him to lift sanctions on Russia, continue to do family biz with Russians and Russian companies, and to prove that he is as alleged the puppet of a foreign leader.

Most of Congress are boomers. They are deeply imbued with post-WWII ideals. Too much will be too much. The question is will Donny-jo’s body fail first or will his arrogant lawlessness do him in?

 

Comments

Whither Dems Podcast

rightsign2The Trump win Tuesday is the right time to stop these weekly podcasts after 9½ years. Watch this URL for occasional commentary, maybe a little video…later.

Today was my usual half-Vulcan Spock self.

We shall survive as a nation, as we did during and after the George W. Bush time. He ruined the economy even more than the typical Republican. We haven’t climbed all the way out of his debt pit. We’ll never get back the many thousands of lives lost to war and jobs destroyed. I fear more of that from Trump.

I snort as Speaker Ryan and GOP sorts claim mandate. The lost the popular vote, held the House only due to gerrymandering in previous years, and hold a paper-thin Senate majority. Mandate, my bad head!

We don’t yet know what malicious laws Congress will try to enact. We do know that the wave of emotion that brought us President Trump is as irrational and ignorant as he. We need look no farther than comparing the cries of do-nothing Congress and throw the rascal out to right-wing voters keeping nearly all the do-nothings and rascals from the GOP in office. Huge duh.

We’ll surely have at least two years of pettiness and malice. As the economy slides and unemployment climbs, even the loudest Trumpettes will feel shame. Let us look historically to see in the last century that again and again Dems have rescued the nation after the GOP has goofed it up.

It’s going to be a rough, disheartening, anti-American two to four years.

icon for podpress  Whither Dems [18:22m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Comments

No! Town, Boston

You want to do something exciting and edgy? Boston will watch from a distance.

Let’s not talk about the old Banned-in-Boston literature and performance. Let’s not talk about Blue Laws. Let’s come to recent times, the past few years

The mayor, other pols, and citizens have defeated:

  • Summer Olympics
  • More, easy-to-get liquor licenses
  • A single F1 car race
  • In town casino
  • 24-hour mass transit
  • Late-night mass transit

What gives in a city, town really, that loves to brag it is world class? Alas, Adam Gaffin over at universalhub.com is like spot on when it call this the city that always sleeps.

A few centuries ago, Boston and Charleston SC were seen as sister cities. Their social conservatism accounted for much of the zeitgeist. They did develop stifling Blue Laws together. Boston also hid behind Puritans, then and still it ducks behind its Roman Catholicism. Those were supposed to account for and excuse the petty and nasty limits on human behavior, speech and even thought.

I’ve lived in Boston for 36 years, after a decade in Manhattan. I draw my conclusions on why this town will live vicariously through its huge student population and asthenic arts life, as though that was plenty of vitality and creativity for everyone. Harrumph.

icon for podpress  No! Town: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Comments

Jessica Berson on Exotic Dancing Podcast

jessicaYou likely don’t know much about exotic dancing or dance studies. Reading guest Jessica Berson’s <>The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business will fix that.

She came on to discuss her book, what goes on in private dances as well as on stage, and a lot more. Click below to hear the personal, the business, the history, and surprising (to me) analysis of the meanings of the dancing. We also spoke about how dancers and customers interact and what they get from each other.

She teaches dance studies at Yale and has at other august institutions. She is professorial type and dancer, one who got the most out of her year on stage and in front of single clients. Her book ended up at once academic and highly readable, concentrated on exotic dancing, but from its many angles. While it has personal vignettes, it is not yet another stripper memoir as Berson is quick to note.

icon for podpress  The Naked Result [31:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Comments

The Naked Results right here

This coming Thursday, April Fool’s Day Eve Day, 3/31, the guest will be Jessica Berson, author of The Naked Result. That’s a definitive study of exotic dancing — the methods, the people, the business.

She teaches dance studies at Yale and has at Harvard, in the UK and elsewhere. She earned grad-school money as an exotic dancer. Then as an scholar, she studied the industry. She has both the personal and the professional view. Plus, from her book, I learned quite a bit about the methods and meanings of movement.

Her story is not a woe-was-I one. Be prepared to insights, history and the human sides of it all.

If you want to join us live, click here at 11AM EDT, Thursday, 3/31. Afterward the show will be available on demand there, back here at Left Ahead and on our iTunes channel.

Comments

Sox, Globe and Capitalism Gone Stupid Podcast

CoinsHuge disadvantages of the fabulously wealthy include no one around with the guts and wit to say, “You’re being stupid!” Another, more intractable one is the delusion if you are rich you must be brilliant…in everything.

Over the past decade or so, John Henry has pushed his The Boston Globe and Red Sox to the edge of ruin and seems to have no sense of that. He is the ugly side of capitalism or one of the ugly sides. He jacked up ballpark/ticket prices to the highest in baseball. Likewise, he is huge in expensive newspaper paywalls and has made both home delivery and online Globe prices the highest in the nation, higher even than papers like the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Those two, at least, give you info to earn you money back and more. The Globe simply relies on its almost monopoly status (there is an asthenic Murdoch-owned tabloid for a weak competitor.)

This past week, Henry blew it again. He’s already pared the writing/reporting staff to the nub. Now he went after the delivery contractor, switching to a cheaper vendor. That makes perfect capitalistic sense; bottom line, don’t you know. The problem is that the new contractor has already failed elsewhere and certainly plonked here.

Let us consider Henry’s empire and whether the delusional rich can ever objectively judge their decisions. I suspect you already know my conclusion.

icon for podpress  Capitalism gone stupid [26:25m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Comments

Anti-gay Victiimization

How cynical can humans be? Let’s consider anti-gay winger hate groups, those that pretend they are being oppressed by inference. I went on about a local example, an anti-gay group (of one) that published a report of an Australian RC archbishop who might get fined for foisting a homophobic pamphlet on parochial schools.

Sure the Australian laws differ from U.S. ones, as do Canadian versions. Most large countries forbid and punish the type of hate speech America allows.

Hence, it’s all the more astonishing to read or hear of wingers here playing drama queens. Oh, oh, someone in Australia just might have to pay a fine for hate speech…that could happen here…unless you write us a check. Be prepared for your crazed old relatives at the family dinners.

icon for podpress  Anti-gay victimization [16:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Comments