Monday, March 18, 2013

Capitalism, Part 4

I wanted to do another capitalism post and then I thought about this movie I casually watched years ago entitled The Company Men. Lately I can relate to some of these movies that take place in the workplace or at least the job hunting arena whether serious or otherwise.

In any event The Company Men starred Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and Kevin Kostner. Affleck's character is forced to take a job with his brother in law Kostner's character in order to make end meet after a downsizing. Jones is a long time employee of a company and after questioning the need for downsizing while the company is engaging in more spending on other projects he himself gets laid off. Cooper's character went from factory floor to a managing role at this company until he was laid off and is the most frustrated out of this whole group and he meets an unfortunate end in this movie.

In thinking about this film, I thought about how many people are faring in this era of slow economic growth. The recession of the last five or six years has been very difficult without a doubt and I'm sure it depends on where you may reside. It's also more difficult with the uncertainty coming from our elected officials who have to come to grips with various financial problems from taxes, new mandates, or even pensions.

With this uncertainty come the response for those of us who have jobs. Some may work at jobs that elect to cut their hours. Some may be concerned about being downsized. Right now it's not a very safe environment depending upon where you work today.

Also another thing to consider what you see in the movie is the battle with upper management as portrayed in this film by Craig T. Nelson. He's doing just fine, because he's stepping on his employees to keep himself in good shape and everyone else well their expendable as long as he's doing his job. One way to look at it is that he not only doing what's best for his company and the shareholders he's certainly doing what's best for himself.

That in and of itself is no big deal. What's problematic I suppose is how he's going about it. We could ask if it's OK for a CEO to take a paycut in a time of slow economic growth. Nothing says the man in charge has to make an inordinate amount of money and only to afford luxuries he doesn't necessarily need. Alas that mentality is out there and as long as anyone above him sees no problem, there isn't one.

BTW, I had to think. I don't follow business news as often as I should but it's still not often that we hear about layoffs. It used to be big news you could turn on the TV anytime and see some corporation downsizing people. In fact my mother herself was downsized from a downtown bank years ago and that round of downsizing was probably news in Chicago. Although let me take that back. It's news recently that the Sun-Times is downsizing their suburban operations to consolidate their downtown offices.

In any event even in this economy as we see in Company Men, Jones' character used many of the downsized people from his former company to staff his own venture. He was a high level executive so he's shouldn't have been struggling that much.

Knowing that a lot of ground was covered between a movie and some real life examples it still doesn't shake my belief in capitalism. Realizing the environment is tough right now that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities. Still here's to me wishing that in the future the environment will get much better for us all!

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