Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Look at this Meltdown from Ground Zero

My husband was laid off.

For the first time in thirty years, he was involuntarily let go. Part of it is the bad economy, but the problems that drove this situation are many and varied. What they share at the core is greed with a capital G. First of all, he worked in a telecommunications company through that meltdown. As credit became cheap after 9/11, upper level managers and stockholders pushed for more and higher compensation. During a bullish market, you can do those things like providing country club memberships or golden parachutes. But when the economy of a company or nation is crumbling, sometimes the stockholders and managers have to take a hit. In the company where my husband worked for 22 years, the managers were busy lining their own nests and the stockholders just cashed their checks and didn't ask questions. What was happening to sales, distribution and manufacturing was quite a different story. Staffing was cut, but the same sales, manufacturing and distribution goals were in play. So less people did more work. Then they cut overtime. Then they laid off more people.

At this point, my husband changed to a manufacturer based in Obama's former backyard. It was sales working for a manufacturer that made key products for the communications industry. The dollar was undervalued in comparison to world currencies, so when the offer came to the owner and founder, he took the money and left the company in the hands of an international corporation.

The goal of the corporations was NOT to make a good product, or to offer good customer service, or to sell more. Its goal was simply to make money. And to make money at any cost is what they did. First of all, the British corporation that owned bought out all competing manufacturers. That gave them a virtual corner on their product's portion of the market. Then came the job cuts. They closed factories in Utah and Colorado. Sales forces were narrowed, but target goals remained high. Then, as manufacturing was brought into an already overburdened factory, supplies became short. Salesmen would get contracts that could not be fulfilled for weeks, sometimes months. Customers started looking for other suppliers-mostly overseas.

At this point, my husband left this job to work for a smaller sales company. But even in this situation, the men running it were far more interested in getting money out of the company than in putting time into building up a clientele and following. My husband was laid off from that job. It's been two months now. I hear all this talk about public works programs a la WPA, but seriously, where are the middle class jobs that have gone away? I hear the media and politicians complaining that Americans won't work, but I know several middle aged, middle class males who are more than willing to take ANY job. But no jobs are to be had for middle class workers. We have become extraneous. The needs of the poor and those here illegally carry far more weight with the incoming administration.

And what is worse, the left has been very vocal about bringing home the troops. Sure, I don't want any American in harms way, but if they bring home the troops and muster them out, where are these guys and gals going to work? Where are they going to live? I truly don't think this administration has all the answers. What scares me more is that they think they do.

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