Time getting lean and mean

          For those of you who don’t remember Ross Perot debate performance, you missed one of the greatest lines in debate history. When he warned us that if we went ahead with the NAFTA trade agreement that we should all listen for that large sucking sound of American jobs headed for Mexico; and he was right! Well few candidates this debate season will tell you to listen for that large sucking sound, but if you take a peek around the corner you might notice that vacuum sweeper going along sucking up all businesses into smaller and smaller groups.

            Consolidation is the word of the day. Like deregulation; consolidation is sold as a great way to make products cheaper and the quickest pathway to making more profits. Touted again and again as the only way America can stay competitive we are slowly but surely seeing the creation of giant conglomerations whose only allegiance lies to their board of directors and golden parachuted upper echelon of employees. The public almost never wins when consolidation comes to town!

               The logic seems simple enough; why have several companies doing what just one big one can do. No area of business has been safe from the downsizing of ownership. Communications, transportation, entertainment, airlines, and insurance just to name a few have all seen the companies providing services dwindle. Billed in the most likely terms, consolidation on the surface seems to make sense. Less duplication of services, means a leaner and meaner company. But in reality it means, fewer people doing more work, and the quickest way to lessen every company’s dependence on its greatest asset and liability rolled into one; its employees. Already stripped of any Union coverage the employees are given the ultimatum, produce more or we can get it done somewhere else. The consumer inevitably ends up paying more!    

           Considered by some just a back door way of establishing old monopolies our current financial crisis has seen its share of consolidation.. This past weekend, Wa-Mu got gobbled up as did Wachovia by Citigroup. It appears than in the not to distant future all finances will be held by, Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan. Hmm. Guess who is pushing the hardest for the seven hundred billion dollar bailout! Not that any of these groups haven’t gotten sweetheart deals already for saving us from the brink of financial disaster but when you get a guarantee that you only have to assume so much of the debt and that Uncle Sam will pick up the tab for the rest, you have to wonder why the big public cry of a bill that just would give them the money outright.

            As for the two men who would be President, neither seems eager to tackle the issue of corporate consolidation and don’t hold your breath for either to take up the banner any time soon. Both have plans for America which depends on a  stronger economy fueled by lean mean and even green businesses who are making money, and how they do it will be less of a concern than that they are!  


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