Archive for July, 2008

Beware of Those Corporate Patriots!

July 3, 2008

This is a July 4th rerun of a previous post dated February 19, 2008. You’ll find it catagorized under The Corporate Cynic’s Manifesto. Hope you enjoy it!

Get ready! This post is sure to stir up a lot of fireworks.

Please refer back to my February 12, 2008 post (now categorized under The Corporate Cynic’s Manifesto). One of its themes was the manipulation of employees’ personal values and motivations by corporations in order to garner some “outcome” that is good for the company but not necessarily good for the worker. I want to continue on that theme but also focus on the disingenuous practice of simultaneously attempting and claiming to have obtained employees’ “buy-in” to new programs or directives by simply sharing some information with them. “Buy in” is another hijacked and bastardized term used by corporations to rationalize the, “Now that you comprehend the ‘big picture’, you understand why we must eliminate your job” or “Don’t you agree with us that cutting your wages and benefits is the right thing to?” subtexts cleverly hidden in their communiqués. The really sinister side of this gimmickry is that the corporate propagandists actually believe that it works. Over the years, I’ve worked with some of these characters and have seen how their twisted minds rationalize these gimmicks. If not to somehow convince the workforce of the brilliance of executive decisions, it’s to assuage their own guilt (if they have any left) about destroying peoples’ lives and futures (except their own). I’ve covered this and other insidious “feel good” trickery used by corporate elites in a myriad of other posts and various chapters from “The Double Secret Handbook for bad Executives.” Please read them.

This brings me to a rant about one of the latest manipulations of those values that I’ve been gleaning from the “Idiot-cracy” in the executive suites as well as their business media marionettes for use in squeezing the life out of the American workforce – the patriotic angle.

What could I possibly mean by this? Over the last year or two, I’ve been seeing more and more blurbs in the business sections of newspapers and in the online headlines and banners in the business articles section of my Internet provider’s homepage about American workers. The themes of the headlines and stories go something like this:

Americans work fewer hours than their global counterparts,
American workers earn more than their global brethren,
Americans can’t compete in global manufacturing,
American workers fall behind in productivity.

These headlines are always followed by a short story and some statistics. My personal reaction to each of these banners is simply, “Americans have worked hard to raise our standard of living. We do our part. Where are all of the innovations from the corporate brain trusts to keep us competitive and ahead of the curve? Simply lowering wages and cutting costs is an easy, cowardly, lazy and intellectually dishonest cop out. Just what are these clowns being paid the big bucks and huge bonuses for?” I am not so sure that’s the reaction the writers’ of these articles intended. I believe that the subtle implication here is rather, “American workers have it too good and can do more for less. We should feel guilty about our good fortune and work harder. We the workers need to make sacrifices to keep jobs in America. We should understand why we must lower our standard of living. It’s our duty to give up more and more for the good of the country.”

This new call to patriotism also bellows from the executive suites. I’ve heard a recent speech or two and they sound similar to this:
“The Chinese can’t claim to be more productive! They can throw lots of people at task after task. Hell, people are one of their natural resources. But we’re Americans and we can do it with even less. We’ll just have fewer people work longer and harder. See how much more productive we Americans are! We’ll teach them all about productivity. It’s our duty. Makes you feel good to give it your all for Uncle Sam, doesn’t it? Won’t you help show them up?”

George M. Cohan would be proud! Who can argue with it? It’s like trying to argue about the benefits of working safely. I personally find it repugnant that anyone would try appealing to patriotism in this manner. When I see this call to patriotism juxtaposed against the outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries, the importing of foreign technical workers who’ll accept lower wages, the cutbacks in salaries and benefits and the tales about jobs that Americans just don’t want to do, I become irate – particularly when it’s wrapped in the Stars and Stripes. This has nothing to do with patriotism. It has plenty to do with some executives trying to line their own pockets with bonuses for cutting costs – and coercing American workers to play along.

Am I a flaming conspiracy theorist or just another Internet windbag? I‘ve been accused of both. Listen up! I am not going to debate geo-politics or global economics with anyone. I am not qualified and admit it. I just don’t like to be manipulated and I do not believe that others like it either. This has indeed been quite a rant.

God Bless America!