Seems some people in the US and other places are getting really pissed off at the managerial class. Reading the following article may give one hints if one has lived under a rock in a riverbad since, I don’t know, the jurassic…
A perfect example of the kind of person who benefited from the Reagan Revolution is Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap, a corporate superstar during the peak Clinton years, when Reaganomics accelerated under the guiding hands of Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. It was during Clinton’s centrist pro-business presidency that innovations like the like mass-layoff (rebranded as “downsizing”) became a regular feature of economicbooms, rather than of economic busts, as they had been in the past. Layoffs expanded right with the economy for the simple reason that each mass firing freed up millions or billions of dollars that had gone to workers, but now could be divided up between executives and major shareholders. The problem was finding people cold-blooded enough to do the job—which is to say, there was no problem whatsoever. As Dunlap himself boasted in a 1998 interview with Fortune magazine, “Mickey Mouse could do the cost cutting.”
By that time, he was already a celebrity with a nine-figure net worth. It all started back in 1994, when Al Dunlap was named CEO of Scott Paper. His first move was to fire nearly one-third of the workforce, or 11,200 workers. This cheered investors, who piled in, driving Scott Paper’s stock up by 225 percent. By reclaiming the sum total of whatever 11,200 workers earned and redistributing it to the shareholders and executives, Dunlap earned himself a $100 million payout for 19 months of “Mickey Mouse” chainsaw duty.
In 1967, unions were much stronger, income disparities were much narrower, and Americans didn’t culture-hump their bosses. Back then, Al Dunlap tried to apply his “chainsaw” to a company called Sterling Pulp & Paper. He proposed mass firings of its unionized workforce to bring down costs and boost the owners’ share. But Sterling’s 1967 workers weren’t like Sunbeam’s or Scott Paper’s in the 1990s. They didn’t roll over and accept the downsizing with a sullen grumble. Instead, to quote from Dunlap’s own book, “There were also physical threats of violence. We received anonymous calls and letters from nuts who said they were going to blow up my car or shoot me in the parking lot.” It worked: Dunlap caved in to the “nuts,” the workers weren’t downsized, and Dunlap eventually was forced to retreat. (A biographical note: according to the book Testosterone, Inc., Dunlap’s first wife divorced him on grounds of “extreme cruelty” after he allegedly took a knife to her and said, “I’ve always wondered what human flesh tastes like.”)
But America was a different country back then. We weren’t in awe of the CEO class, and they were kept in check. In 1978, American CEOs made more than 30 times the average salary of their company’s employees; by the early 2000s, CEOs made more than 500 times the average salary of their employees. Workers weren’t losing just a portion of the wealth, but also their pensions, health care, vacation time and job security.