"Always give more than you promise."
This slogan from a long since dissected, cannibalized, company: Studebaker, is now little more than a verbal relic of how some big businesses used to be run; even during a time when car companies were starting to do less. Not too long after that the American auto industry sold us automotive atrocities like the Pinto, the Vega, while the big three also followed the national trend: tighten down the screws on the American worker.
Studebaker actually paid their workers beyond union pay, gave them more time to clean up. Critics claim that's what they did wrong; what made their books so bad. I tend to believe what went 'wrong' was it was difficult to compete with companies who were willing to turn a fast buck with shoddy products while increasingly stiffing their work force. Might explain why foreign car makers started to increase their market share.
To be fair a lot more went wrong at Stude than that, which would take a whole column to explain. But this is more about changing business models in America.
Many companies tended to be more worker friendly back then. Perhaps the 'we're in this together' creed that was part of WWII followed workers back to their jobs; jobs saved for them by companies like Studebaker while they fought the war. My father's job was saved. He worked for American Maize, a company that had offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. He started in the mail room. Dad eventually became assistant director of the technical department. They provided health care, company cars, paid our restaurant, service and gas bills. It wasn't because he had a 'rich man's job,' though his was better than many. Even some lower class jobs, due to the influence of unions, had good benefits, living wages. My first jobs showed promise, if I had wanted to stay. Gravediggers at Oak Hill Cemetery weren't unionized, but the power of unionization meant non-unionized businesses tried to be somewhat competitive.
By the time I had my second cemetery job, as I worked my way through college, wages were on the down slide, benefits mostly gone. I was paid minimum wage with little hope of a raise, as were the gravediggers who had been there many years. This was all on the way to a part time economy where many workers have to work 2, 3, 4 jobs to make ends meet while stockholders, the board, CEOs made millions, even billions, especially if you include stock options. This was all thanks to union busters and businesses heading towards being very union and worker unfriendly. The con job then was to sell us all on the proposition that all unions were corrupt, and some were: just like many corporations and their management were. Unions were the problem, supposedly.
Of course making money speech and corporations people solved all that, typed the sarcastic columnist.
On my father's death bed in the 80s we talked about how business had become less worker friendly, uninterested in rewarding good work or their own employees. It was a trend he told me he saw first take hold in the late 60s. He said businesses, like American Maize, were trending towards being very family unfriendly.
Of course the scam was the claim unions were the problem and business would naturally compete offering increasing wages. The old trickle down con. How long have wages for the lowest paid employees been stagnant now?
Politics and business have been following each other in this con job trend. Probably the biggest con job was called The 2 Santa Claus Theory, brought to us by Jude Wanniski. Since Republicans didn't like social programs the object was to spend America into massive debt until Democrats came to power, then make them cut, cut, cut their programs.
What a con job: do what you can to hurt the country then force those who disagree with you to fix it. One might even call it the act of traitors. OK, forget "might."
Over the years big business has become more scam-based than anything else. Walmart lives off of eminent domain where property is taken on the cheap by pols; pols with donations in their pockets, and given to Walmart. Meanwhile employees are trained to rely on social services so the owners can squeeze out more profit. Cable and dish TV: the basic package has you paying from 100s of channels of damn near nothing where more than half are infomercial-based. The rest are mostly old movies played over, and over, and over, or incredibly stupid live game shows based on the let's humiliate the talent format. Alternative sources of TV are often internet based. Never guess who owns most of those companies? One way or another they get your dollars, paying for what once was paid for by commercials. Now you pay more and more, and in some cases get the same damn crappy commercials.
Scams are everywhere. As soon as congress started messing with health care we started getting calls about our "healthcare requests." We made no healthcare requests. Would you buy health care over the phone via an automated solicitor? I wouldn't. Especially since so many contracts now have arbitration clauses, which means you throw your right to sue away in favor of arbitration panels packed with their own people. That means they can promise ypou the moon
LifeLock, and its bastard new born brother: TitleLock, offer to protect your worldly goods. We were given LifeLock for a year once because a bunch of Metro Nashville laptops were stolen with citizen's personal information on them. When the year was over we decided not to renew: accessing our accounts had become problematic due to their weird software. Immediately our credit union contacted us to get new cards because they said, without fail, if one of their clients dropped LifeLock their accounts were broken into.
Makes one wonder: of all the people they employ, how many are involved in creating demand rather than protecting us?
Privatized prisons: a business model that relies on political peeps finding more excuses to imprison more citizens. Privatizing the vote: a model that relies on proprietary software and pols who gave them the contracts and take their donations. Privatizing war and policing: a model that relies on more war, more killing and rule of law not apply to them oh... donations to supportive politicians.
One of the biggest scams was the current claim, circa 2016, industry will be brought back to America. Unless those who push this plan on tariffs, or something similar like a Vat tax, the only way to do this would be to get the American workers wage so low we can compete because slave labor and prison labor is the new model. Of course many of the same pols who pushed out industry via 'free market' lies now are eager to mimic the same lack of even something marginally below working wage standard.
Out of this ever expanding, overflowing, cesspool of a corporate corruption-based black hole rises Donald Trump. Trump's whole life is based on scamming people, and not being held accountable for his con jobs. He's added a new tactic to the screw the worker scams: simply declare you're not happy with the work and not pay. The election was a scam where Putin supported trolls now try to convince us we lost because of a horrible candidate when Trump was so unpopular he lost by close to 3 million votes... and that's not counting lost votes due to Republican scams like Crosscheck, election fraud and severe gerrymandering.
The election of 2016 was, simply put, scam artists here and in Russia rigging it so their chosen one: King of Scams, won. He had proved himself to be just that so often: Trump steaks, Trump U, his refusal to pay those he hires to work on his properties, so many lawsuits...
Looking back rigging the election for Trump was so predictable. The Democrats have either ignored or shrugged off election issues for so long. Meanwhile corporate scam artists would do anything: including assist a conspiracy to digitally attack America out of Russia, to crown a leader so bad he's not unlike a merging of mentally challenged PT Barnum and a Caligula-like moronic business mogul made king.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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