Greed: a follow-on

The CEO of General Motors takes home (I avoid the word “earns”) about $22 million a year in compensation (don’t you just love the American use of the word, “compensation”?).  He had been laying off thousands of employees who, surprise, surprise, have had enough and are now on strike, nearly  50,000 of them.  They are demanding their fair share of GM’s billions in annual profits.

Were Epicurus alive today I am convinced that he would comment that such an “compensation” is very bad for the cohesion of society and the concept of fairness. What, he might ask, is the point of shareholders voting on these matters? ( I suspect that, feeling that no notice is taken of their views, they don’t bother to vote at all or attend annual meetings – they would be ejected if they protested).

I once led a team of consultants to look at the General Motors electrical harness operation in Warren, Ohio.(eleven plants, each seemingly about half a mile long!). There was an awkward moment when the GM Board member responsible for this huge operation (he worked in Detroit) admitted that he had never walked through any of these plants.  When he did, at our urging, he was amazed and a bit embarrassed at the huge and quite unnecessary amount of work in progress lying around in piles “just in case”, sucking up many millions of dollars. They “didn’t have the money for wage raises” then, either!  How does the American public tolerate this greed and mismanagement, supported by successive political Administrations?

(P.S The laying off of the workers at General Motors has been criticized by none other than Trump, for election purposes.  Not, of course, the executive plunder-ish salaries of the bosses)

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