Creating Jobs in the Booming Corporate Executive Sector

An industrial bonus

High ticket CEOs often complain those who object to their squeezing blood out of the nation turnip for their personal gain are simply jealous. I suppose that is true in many cases, but even if people are jealous it is understandable. It’s hard not to be jealous when the mortgage company is kicking your family to the curb – just as the CEO buys a multi-million dollar summer “cottage” in Aspen. But there are others, and I am one, who object on business grounds.

Much of the CEO’s “compensation” comes from companies that take the concept of corporations-as-people far past any original intent. Under the CEO’s direction, corporations reap record-breaking profits, even in recessions that crush those who buy their products or citizens that pay hefty taxes (which captains of industry caterwhal are breaking America’s back) to fund the profits through not insubstantial corporate welfare.

For all the talk about the value of small business, we could fund thousands of small businesses for years just on what a single multi-national gets in tax breaks in a single quarter. It’s a vicious cycle – multi-nationals take billions in taxes from just-plain-citizens to prop up corporate values to pay hefty dividends and fund expensive lobbying efforts to continue getting our money from the people who don’t live tax-free. In turn, CEOs get massive compensation to hire lawyers and accountants to make sure they get their money as tax-free as possible, and so on. This is not robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is robbing Peter and then complaining Paul wasn’t carrying enough cash for Paul to steal.

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Mitt Romney: Likable as a Haggis Buffet

The Romney Safety Net

The list of things wrong with the Romney campaign is ignominious and pushing Mitt toward the precipice. He has had innumerable foot-in-mouth episodes, told many hand caught in the cookie jar lies, managed self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and made the worst Veep choice since McCain sent himself well and truly off the rails with the Moose Momma. The reasons for this ineptitude are manifold, from sheer stupidity to being as likable as a haggis buffet, but perhaps that last one might explain it best.

In general, Americans don’t like lawyers. They aren’t too hot on reporters either. And when it comes to politicians Congress can’t get any lower than their 12% approval rating. And right up there in the Pantheon of the Hated are CEOs. Your average citizen thinks they are arrogant, greedy, out of touch, and completely devoid of morals. When a factory worker screws up they find their ass on the street. When a CEO screws up they get a hefty bonus and stock options equal to the combined incomes of Nebraska’s entire middle class. Then, they close the factory, send the work to Chinese reeducation camps, and collect another bonus for how well they handled their own failure. To everyone other than CEOs, and the people who inexplicably love them, it’s easy to see why they don’t give people the warm and fuzzies.

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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

A high school friend used to say, “Life is a shit sandwich and I take a bigger bite every day.” There’s a lot of cynical wisdom in that quote. The Shit Sandwich du Jour is the Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Deluxe and it’s leaving a shitty taste in everyone’s mouth.

I think Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s gay marriage stance is wrong about the “biblical definition of the family unit” and quite frankly inconsequential and stupid. His position is a moral, corporate, and downright mean-spirited cock up if you’ll pardon the expression. The First Amendment allows me to say that just as it allows him to say what he wants, people to hold bigoted Appreciation Days, and respond with Gay Kiss-In Days. Freedom is messy and fractious.

Sure, his statements are about civil rights for gays, separation of church and state, and First Amendment guarantees, but some ancillary points are worth noting.

Cathy is a private person, but as King of Chickendom he is also the embodiment of the much-disputed corporate person. His cluck is the voice of Chick-fil-A. It is the voice of an employer forbidden to discriminate. The company is closely held so his voice and actions must also protect his investors’ valuable “fil-A’s”. When he speaks, his personal opinions become the opinions of the corporation. These things may not be direct constitutional issues in Chick-fil-A’s case, but they muddy the waters.

Like celebrities who slavishly court publicity, it is disingenuous to be surprised when the paparazzi and protesters show up. To his credit, Cathy is reaping what he sowed, but celebrities sometimes go all Justin Bieber on the paps’ asses and then whine about the intrusion they invited. Cathy could do the same if the fire and brimstone become too hot for him.

Cathy demonstrates the notion that private comments are well, private, but that celebrities, CEOs, and the powerful in the public eye give up reasonable expectations to exercise full First Amendment rights by default. Though changing, that is the foundation of American libel and defamation law. It may not be a fair legal position, but it is a practical one. Absent it, no one could question public figures because of the chilling effect of libel or defamation suits from every statement the public and powerful might dislike – truth be damned.

The protests will go on, like the core issue, until the public loses interest or gay marriage becomes law. However, Cathy should watch his gizzards and livers closely. With the increased scrutiny comes business-effecting public opinion duels, closer looks at the legality of corporate culture and behavior, and strict adherence to laws. As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama can tell you, in temperate personal opinions often come back to haunt you.

People should feel free to express their opinions but keep their protests in context. With all the hubbub on both sides we’re making chicken sandwiches and the religious zealot who sells them symbols for a serious and sober debate. The debate is becoming a series of chicken jokes. If you asked random protesters for gay marriage specifics most would parrot the stale lines they already spew plus add a mini-restaurant review of Chick-fil-A.

A little humor makes the bitter medecine go down, but it’s time to get back to civil rights for homosexuals.

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