Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two Different Worlds? Oh Yes, They ARE "Entitled" To Everything That Would Have Made Everyone Else's Life Decent and Meaningful! Because They Just ARE, Dammit!

Steven Pearlstein

Steven Pearlstein certainly qualifies as one who knows real entitlement.

His current essay in the Washington Post is the best I've read there in decades.

And even though you know they just throw these into the mix from time to time to keep the few progressives in their audience still reading, it doesn't really make up for their nefarious coverage of politics and foreign policy.

Manifesto For the Entitled

By Steven Pearlstein
The Washington Post
01 October 12
am a corporate chief executive.

I am a business owner.

I am a private-equity fund manager.

I am the misunderstood superhero of American capitalism, single-handedly creating wealth and prosperity despite all the obstacles put in my way by employees, government and the media.

I am a job creator and I am entitled.

I am entitled to complain about the economy even when my stock price, my portfolio and my profits are at record levels.

I am entitled to a healthy and well-educated workforce, a modern and efficient transportation system and protection for my person and property, just as I am entitled to demonize the government workers who provide them.

I am entitled to complain bitterly about taxes that are always too high, even when they are at record lows.

I am entitled to a judicial system that efficiently enforces contracts and legal obligations on customers, suppliers and employees but does not afford them the same right in return.

I am entitled to complain about the poor quality of service provided by government agencies even as I leave my own customers on hold for 35 minutes while repeatedly telling them how important their call is.

I am entitled to a compensation package that is above average for my company's size and industry, reflecting the company's aspirations if not its performance.

I am entitled to have the company pay for breakfasts and lunches, a luxury car and private jet travel, my country club dues and home security systems, box seats to all major sporting events, a pension equal to my current salary and a full package of insurance - life, health, dental, disability and long-term care - through retirement.

I am entitled to have my earned income taxed as capital gains and my investment income taxed at the lowest rate anywhere in the world - or not at all.

I am entitled to inside information and favorable investment opportunities not available to ordinary investors. I am entitled to brag about my investment returns.

I am entitled to pass on my accumulated wealth tax-free to heirs, who in turn, are entitled to claim that they earned everything they have.

I am entitled to use unlimited amounts of my own or company funds to buy elections without disclosing such expenditures to shareholders or the public.

I am entitled to use company funds to burnish my own charitable reputation.

I am entitled to provide political support to radical, uncompromising politicians and then complain about how dysfunctional Washington has become.

Although I have no clue how government works, I am entitled to be consulted on public policy by politicians and bureaucrats who have no clue about how business works.

I am entitled to publicly criticize the president and members of Congress, who are not entitled to criticize me.

I am entitled to fire any worker who tries to organize a union. I am entitled to break any existing union by moving, or threatening to move, operations to a union-hostile environment.

I am entitled to a duty of care and loyalty from employees and investors who are owed no such duty in return.

I am entitled to operate my business free of all government regulations other than those written or approved by my industry.

I am entitled to load companies up with debt in order to pay myself and investors big dividends - and then blame any bankruptcy on over-compensated workers.

I am entitled to contracts, subsidies, tax breaks, loans and even bailouts from government, even as I complain about job-killing government budget deficits.

I am entitled to federal entitlement reform.

I am entitled to take credit for all the jobs I create while ignoring any jobs I destroy.

I am entitled to claim credit for all the profits made during a booming economy while blaming losses or setbacks on adverse market or economic conditions.

I am entitled to deny knowledge or responsibility for any controversial decisions made after my departure from the company, even while profiting from such decisions if they enhance shareholder value.

I am entitled to all the rights and privileges of running an American company, but owe no loyalty to American workers or taxpayers.

I am entitled to confidential information about my employees and customers while refusing even to list the company's phone number on its Web site.

I am entitled to be treated with deference and respect by investors I mislead, customers I bamboozle, directors I manipulate and employees I view as expendable.

I am entitled to be lionized in the media without answering any questions from reporters.

I am entitled to the VIP entrance.

I am entitled to everything I have and more that I still deserve.


What people should understand is that in reality, private enterprise is every bit as inefficient and probably more corrupt than government. Politicians feed us the nonsense that the private sector always does things better, but they don't. Lots of companies are saddled with incompetent CEOs who plunder their own companies at the expense of stockholders, simultaneously shortchanging their employees. Yet we're to believe that the "magic of the marketplace" will enable those industries to self-correct. Nonsense. There are hundreds of examples of private businesses who made a profit while being mismanaged. There are hundreds of businesses that offered generous pensions in lieu of warranted salary increases to their employees, only to underfund their pensions and fail to meet those obligations later. There are thousands of companies that make inferior products but stay afloat on the reputation built under previous management. Some of them don't really make any products at all, choosing instead to purchase those products from Chinese companies and slap their names on them.

Yet we're supposed to believe that these institutions are the bulwark of our economy and our society. Don't kid yourself. The people running these firms will sell you and the rest of us out in a heartbeat. They're every bit as corrupt as your worst nightmare about government. A government employee can't take a ham sandwich from someone doing business with the government, but a private sector executive can get wined and dined to the tune of thousands of dollars quite legally, yet we're supposed to believe they will still make a decision putting the needs of the company first. Good luck with that kind of thinking.


There is a corollary to your well-spoken comparison of corporate and government corruption. Corporations, especially since the Citizens' United decision, have a truly outsize say in our democracy, concerning vital issues of taxation, regulation, climate change, education, you name it. Their influence is getting large enough that it threatens to turn us into a pseudo-democracy, where we still have the trappings, but they make all the actual decisions.

The only institution large enough to restrain multinational corporations is in fact the government, and it is still our government, through our votes. And if the government does something we don't like we can change it. We don't have such control over corporations. Although the Democratic party has a lot to answer for, they aren't the leaders in allowing corporate corruption to permeate the government - the Republicans are, Democrats are mainly followers. The only hope is to vote out Republicans everywhere, and then pressure Democrats to realize that we want out country wrested back from corporate control, and they'd better take that lesson to heart.

If we show that the billions of dollars the GOP spends in this election cycle in an effort to completely take over all aspects of federal, state, and local governments is completely wasted, which we can with the power of our vote, it will be a great start.

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