March 23, 2009

GOOD HELP IS(‘nt) HARD TO FIND

Our economy is in for a big surprise. The army of unemployed in this country are looking for jobs wherever they can find them, and that extends, according to the NYT (so it’s gotta be true), to entry level positions. Well for anyone in this country who’s ever bristled at the glib slackers with their incessant jargon infested blabbering trying to show civility towards you, but your not old (or cool) enough to warrant any reasonable treatment, I have good news for you.

That guy who bags your groceries is a college grad with an MBA, is it possible the job performance might be a good one? Do you wonder if the PhD will make a good wallpaper hanger? The fact is there are more competent people on the block looking for work than any time since the depression. The idea that they might do a poor job is embedded in the mistaken view that those out of work are the people who got us into the current financial mess. And its a shame, because if there is one troubling aspect of the current crisis its that trouble keeps appearing which I believe strongly suggests that the same cast of characters that brought the economy to its knees is still running Wall Street and Washington. Everyone from John Thain to Victor Pandit is receiving millions in salary and bonus while presiding over companies that needed near total outsider resuscitation. And Washington, in case anyone read the recent op-ed piece by David Brooks, is focusing on the longer term (Health Care) at the expense of the short term (Jobs) and worse. Simple to say the world is upside down.

And I’m not talking about the folks who are getting retention bonuses. They might be earning a substantial difference from their base but nonetheless millions (yes many millions) below their superiors. I don’t blame them entirely. Many of the rocket scientists that came to Wall Street had no idea about how to manage risk through the eyes of other people’s money. The gall of many of these very bright people to think that markets could be divined mathematically, as opposed to randomly, couldn’t be blamed for the ignorance of their superiors who bought into every academic level of bullshit (err credibility). And if said RS’s did write the equation that undermined the balance sheets of the major banks then it makes sense they could work out the science to reverse the problem. The key to success is those in the big seats, they’re the ones who should have the most to lose.

Therefore corporate America should stop giving our chief execs $100 million dollar salaries while they recklessly layoff thousands of people. Since when is any job in America indispensible? Even Treasury secretary Geitner who was pushed into the role because he was considered so smart is running the risk of being replaced. Corporate America has forgotten the lessons of hard work and vision. When was the last time anyone complained of Bill Gates being too rich? Yeah, the guys a geek but he built MICROSOFT!!!! It was the same with folks like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, or the guy who financed both of them JP Morgan. Who ever complained how much those guys earned? They could never be compensated for what they gave back to the system. Today most of our companies are presided over by baby sitters that are free loading the hard labor of the folks that work around and under them, in cozy self serving arrangements with their board members.

The quality of work that I suspect will come out of this crisis and into all kinds of other jobs some in finance and some out will be exemplary. And I think the people who fired them who grab millions for doing so, and those who are in congress that take pleasure in condemning those in the financial industry will come to regret their greed and reckless populism. Good help has always been hard to find, but not anymore.