MSNBC reported this morning that the Peanut Corporation of America yes, someone actually named a company that knowingly shipped out products contaminated by salmonella. (So much for the market policing itself.) The FDA alerted the PCA of the contamination last year. Did some exec at PCA decide, ala the Ford Pinto, that it would be cheaper to handle food poisoning lawsuits than recall its products? Stay tuned. (They’re just lucky that the salmonella wasn’t one of the new drug-resistant strains.)
BTW, we’ve been losing approximately 500,000 jobs a month, or 6 million annually, for some several years now. That means that the Bush Labor Department’s employment figures were skewed and actual unemployment is much higher than the government has been reporting. (But you knew that.)
Quick — try to think of the difference between the way Stalin ran the USSR and the way the average American CEO runs a multi-national mega-corporation. Those at the very top prosper, everyone else suffers, and the system is completely corrupt and immoral. (And don’t fool yourself that the stockholders are any more effective at controlling Comrade Chairman than were the Politburo; as in the old Soviet Union, the deck is stacked against the ‘little guy’ investor.)
On the other hand, Corporate America, and the world economy, are collapsing of its own weight. Read The Financial Times — the vipers in finance and investment no longer trust each other — no honor among these thieves — and the current corporate structure can’t make money for the stockholders nor even themselves anymore. Like any large beast doomed to extinction, they have greedily gorged themselves to the point where there are no more suckers left to fleece and they can’t fleece each other since they all play the same tricks. The bailout is their last desperate gasp before the final curtain. The diversified multi-national mega-corporation of today is finished, although its slow-motion fall will take a few years and there will be some further suffering on our part. The practitioners of Disaster Capitalism have finally seen the catastrophe dumped on their own heads and they don’t have a clue as to how to dig themselves out, since most of their inbred management, buzzing with the erroneous free market lingo of the transient MBA, are only slightly smarter and more adept than Bush the Younger. When your heroes are utter monsters like Al ‘Chainsaw’ Dunlap, or sleazy film characters like Gordon Gecko, your demise is predictable and well deserved. Fortunately for us, it seems President Obama is smarter than to go down with this sinking ship.
‘Zell’ — It Rhymes with ‘Stink’: “[T]he Tribune Company. This media conglomerate, which owns some of America’s top newspapers and television stations, was bought a year ago by a Chicago real estate baron named Sam Zell.
“This fellow didn’t have anywhere near enough money to pay the $8.2 billion purchase price, but, hey, that’s no problem for a striver. Zell simply got the company’s CEO to let him use the employees pension fund as collateral for bank loans to buy the Tribune. Even though their money was put at risk, the employees had no say in the deal, nor in how the company was run. It was run badly. Less than a year after Zell’s takeover, the Tribune has had to declare bankruptcy, and employees are likely to lose jobs, severance payments and pensions.”
— Jim Hightower, “Pirate Ethics,” Dec. 18, 2008.
“Sam Zell never really had much skin in the game. Last year, when he purchased the Tribune Company… he put up $315 million of his own money and paid the balance of the purchase price, $8.2 billion, with the employee stock ownership plan — a move in which Tribune employees had no say whatever. But that actually overstates the amount of Zell’s investment. Of the $315 million he sunk into the company, it turns out that $225 million was simply a promissory note. Due to the vagaries of bankruptcy law, writes business analyst Mark Lacter on LAobserved.com, that means that Zell has better protection for his stake than all his employees.”
— Harold Meyerson, “The Worst CEO,” Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2008.
The Zell-owned Chicago Tribune has been at the forefront of the relentless media attacks on Gov. Rod Blagojevich for corruption and demanded his impeachment even before Fitzgerald arrested Blago. Now, that’s entertainment.