Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chinese Golden Parachutes

Lots of attention has been heaped on the "golden parachutes" that executives of failing or bankrupt companies receive. These people are doing such a bad job that the company that they are supposedly guiding lays off the workers or asks the Union (if the workers have one) for huge concessions, files bankruptcy, and they still line their pockets with millions of dollars in bonuses and other compensation. Is there something wrong here, or am I missing something?

The following story has been floating around for a number of years, and perhaps it's true. If so, then perhaps the executives that give themselves these huge bonuses while the company that they are supposedly managing falls apart around them should be happy they don't live in China...

As the story goes, there is a refrigerator plant in China that was producing defective refrigerators. The workers on the line told the managers that the refrigerators that they were making were bad because of the parts that were being supplied to build them and the directions of the managers to build them in a certain way. The managers responded that they were to make so many refrigerators a day, and that's what they were going to do, no matter what. So do what you're told.

This went on for several months, the factory cranking out one bad refrigerator after another. That is, until one day, a high-ranking Party official got one of those refrigerators. The next day, the Party official shows up with his escort and takes a tour of the factory. He asked & listened to the workers on the line, and ignored the managers until…the managers were escorted to the rice paddy behind the factory, lined up, and were shot by the Party official's escort (which included several soldiers of the official's bodyguard detail).

Instead of golden parachutes, these managers got the golden fertilizer award, and for once, the workers didn't get screwed over by management's bad decisions...

Sometimes, there is justice in the world, but who would have thought that it would come from a Communist country?

Unfortunately, in this country (and some others), the workers pay for the bad decisions by the company's management. Pensions gone, health care gone, jobs gone, just because some idiot makes the wrong decision for the company but a good one for him (i.e., money in the pocket). It's no wonder that the loyalty to companies is gone and everyone is in it for themselves. Examples of leadership fall through to the workers, and the examples they provide are anything but inspiring.

What is worse is that the legal system that we have for the handling of corporate cases is not protecting the promises and contracts that the companies make with their employees. "Whoops! We made a mistake! We need to cut your pension and health benefits so we can stay in business and get our bonuses!" The day that allowed pensions not to be fully funded was the day that set up the current situation. And that, readers, is no parachute for the people who work hard for a living and try to build up something for their families and themselves.

What is needed is for these executives to be forced to give up these "golden parachutes" and roll those funds back into the pensions of the people who really earned it - the employees who have literally given their lives to the company with the promise that there would be something at the end for them to live on when they retire. It's time to reward loyalty and punish excessive greed.

Ranting is over - signing off (for now).

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