Enron, Meet Hancock.
Now Shake Hands and Laugh at the Middle Class.
For those of you who may have not yet heard, Hancock Mfg. Is closing down altogether leaving its ninety-some remaining employees out to fend for themselves. It is yet another victim of the opposed philosophies that business if left to its own devices will be good for America, and that the unions will protect the worker.
For some reason, we have gotten it into our heads that business, operating within the parameters of the law, will make America strong. This has been the mindset of this country for as long as I can remember. We’ve fought for our industry, and in return, our industry has shat upon us.
I’m not saying that there are not inherently obvious benefits to a capitalist society. It is the proven best way to foster teamwork, competitiveness and drive. We are, after all, a society of primates; and the need for hierarchy is bred into us. Consequently, we require alpha-leaders, beta-leaders and followers. Capitalism in industry has those characteristics built in. Bosses, CEOs, major-shareholders, and labor stewards are the leaders. “Captains of Industry” is part of the vernacular. The problem is that these people are only human, so their own petty needs tend to supersede their desire to watch out for their underlings.
What I’m saying is that we trust too much in the outdated idea that business is a self-defined good. We need to change the rules to something a little more ‘ dare I say it ‘ socialistic. Owning and operating a business must become as much a privilege as it is a right.
Look around. Banks are merging everyday, and touting it as an advantage to their customers, while simultaneously they are sneaking in user fees and excessive penalties because they know that they are fast becoming the only game in town, and therefore they can. Let me tell you something, when we get to the point where there are only two banks in this country, we will actually be at the point where there is only one, and it will not be your friend. George Bailey, where are you? We need you!
But getting back to the subject of Hancock; I remember talking with people who worked there. People who I’d see looking exhausted and complaining of having just come off of a surprise double shift. They’d gone in to work expecting to work eight hours and had been informed that they would be expected to work sixteen — and that if they refused, they could forget about coming back. They did what was asked, because they expected to be rewarded in their later years. They did it for the security of the job, for the security of their families, and for the security of their pension. Poor suckers they.
I also remember once speaking with the company person who was responsible for telling these poor over-worked suckers that if they didn’t stay, they would be axed. This minor-Marquis-de-Sade actually enjoyed that part of the job. That is how much of a “team player” this brute considered humself. (Hum is a gender neutral pronoun.) I have to say, that I am not sorry to hear that this clown is now out of work.
We have a wonderful tradition in this area of having a solid work ethic. I have no qualms with that. We also have a tradition of our civic leaders doing whatever they can to court new industry. I have no qualms with that. Unfortunately, we also have the tradition of placing too much trust in unions and business owners to do the right thing. We need to wake up to the fact that they won’t ever do the right thing unless we change the laws to force them to. No more community-sponsored loans without multi-year commitments written in stone. No more tax breaks without escrow first being established in the event of forfeiture. No more business licenses unless pensions are insured. And for the employees, no more company loyalty without binding contracts. You do not owe an employer more for hum giving you a job than hu owes you for your willingness to do the work. Remember that.