Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Firing Squad

In 2003, the residents of the Socialist Republic of California elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor.  Prior to this campaign, Arnold was best known as The Terminator, and this playful moniker enhanced his tough guy image. After all, a Terminator gets things done.  Nothing stops a Terminator. 

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever,...” 

8 years since The Governator took office and put his cybernetic policies in place, the GOP is rallying around the Terminator franchise all over again, this time in the person of Mitt Romney, Employee Terminator.  Earlier this month, poor Mitt Romney uttered one of the dirty little secrets of the HR profession when he admitted that he likes terminating people when they deserve to get canned.

“I like firing people,” he said with enthusiasm, as his political staff hid under their desks, partly from fear, partly from embarrassment.  The quote is admittedly without context here, but a national front runner needs to be more careful with his phrasing, particularly when unemployment is hovering in the 8%+ range and he is being accused by his own party of being a “vulture” capitalist.
Romney may love firing people, but not solely for the reasons he stated.  Romney explained that when he receives bad service, he enjoys firing people, thereby creating an incentive for service providers to treat him nicely or else.  Fear of being poor is a positive motivator.  During his private sector life at Bain, however, Mitt didn’t fire the employees of the acquired firms in order to teach them a valuable customer service lesson.  He fired them to increase his profits.  He was not a selfless educator on the affects of capitalism.  He was a selfish practitioner of the Art of the Deal.

Mitt created this perception problem for himself.  He built a rationale for his candidacy on his job creation experience with Bain Capital.  Putting aside for a moment that his job creation claims cannot be substantiated by any independent group, or by his own campaign for that matter, there is another issue.  As Ezra Klein put it, his work at Bain was never really about job creation.  It was about “wealth creation” for his small group of investors.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, unless you claim that this was not the singular goal of the venture capital enterprise.  When you campaign that your work at Bain Capital was about job creation, and it wasn’t, you’re going to have “some es’plainin’ to do”.

There is a difference between firing someone because they can’t do the job or won’t do the job, versus firing someone to increase profitability for the few.  The former is part of life and business.  The latter is a campaign messaging disaster.

One of his leading competitors for the nomination sounds like he enjoys a good firing, too.  Newt, however, has a different rationale for firing people.  His concern is not profit.  His concern is conformity.  Gingrich loves to fire anyone who disagrees with his singular political world view.  He has come out publicly, without remorse, to state that he would actively work to remove judges who ruled against his opinions in court.  An independent judiciary, in Newt’s reality, is so 20th century at a time when we need “bold ideas” (translation: Gingrich’s ideas).  He has also vowed to fire federal employees that have a liberal point of view.  There’s a word for a government that does not allow dissension or contrary opinions and threatens those that do.  It’s the same words wrongly used by Newt to describe the current administration.  I’d tell Newt to look in the mirror, but odds are he already is.

Gingrich would fire an individual from a position for thoughts.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that his plans for our government are “radical”, and quite 20th century.  1984 specifically.
Even Santorum has joined the fun and praised conformity by bashing its natural opposite.  Rick stated that diversity was bad because it led to “conflict”.  Now, a smart capitalist would know that conflict can lead to creativity, and creatively and new ideas can lead to profit, but that isn’t Santorum’s goal.  The elimination of dissenting opinions is the goal.  Convert everyone to your way of thinking!  Conflict can easily be avoided, Rick.  Fire anyone who thinks differently, looks differently, and acts differently.  Sweater vests for everyone, without exception! 

Since firing people is the new theme of the Republican primary (replacing Morning in America, I presume), the GOP voters might want to reconsider the King of Firing, Donald Trump.  The man has made a reality television career for himself firing people.  He could personify the newfound passion within the GOP to terminate “others”. 

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.  Once they elected The Terminator as governor of California, no one was safe. 

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever,...”

After all, the Terminator did say “I’ll be back.”  Well, he's back and on the ballot.

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