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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"...we can buy your level of incompetence for a hell of a lot less"

Shareholder addressing GE Chairman Immelt.

Richard Wills of York, Pennsylvania, criticized the level of pay for all of GE's top officials.
"This company has reached a point of peril," Wills said. "We cannot afford you folks anymore. And even if we could, we can buy your level of incompetence for a hell of a lot less."

GE shareholders have been left holding the proverbial bag since since Jeff Immelt replaced Jack Welch as chairman of GE. In 2000 GE stock was trading at $60 per share. Granted, it was overpriced at that level. But the share price recently hit about $5.87, a decline of over 90% since its high nine years ago. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average had done as badly as GE, it would be trading today at about 1100 instead of about 8000.

On top of that, GE lost its coveted AAA credit rating and cut its dividend about 68%. Despite that Immelt took home about $14 million in pay.

I have been a grudging defender of Immelt for many years, but his remarks at today's shareholders meeting turned me off completely.

Immelt is a great example, if one is needed, that the captains of industry love to cozy up to powerful politicians and together hatch plans to make each other rich.

The top executive of General Electric Co. said Wednesday he couldn't predict when the recession would end or how bad it will be, but said the global economic crisis has "fundamentally reset" the way companies do business and capitalism itself.

Speaking at GE's annual shareholder meeting in Orlando, Fla., following what has been a punishing year for the conglomerate, CEO Jeff Immelt said the downturn was the worst since the Great Depression, and that it would ultimately lead to changes such as greater government involvement in business and a restructuring of the financial services sector that was a root of the crisis.

These are the words of a man who is comfortable with a big business/big government partnership. These are the words of a man who can fix a deal with the President to build windmills and get his hands on a large share of the

products that could capture some of what GE estimates is $2 trillion worth of government stimulus spending worldwide

The concept that big business and government are enemies is false, and nowhere is that more true than in the words and acts of Jeff Immelt, Chairman of the country's biggest conglomerate.

One of Obama's "Industrialists"
UPDATE: He's also shilling for Obama at Notre Dame ... and slamming faith and morality in an academic setting:
Faith traditions and the institution's moral compass can sometimes seem at odds with academic freedom

So according to Immelt, there is a conflict between faith, morality and academic freedom. That seems an appropriate topic of discussion.

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