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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jeff Immelt and the politics of commercial prostitutes

At the risk of transgressing Godwin's Law, it's frequently observed that Hitler had his support among German big business. That may be true in part - the streets of the Wiemar Republic were in turn occupied by Communists and Nazis - and business interests unusually try to win favor with the the factions in the arena.
In the US business interests give to both Democrats and Republicans to buy access. But with Congress and the White House firmly in Democrat control, the smart money is backing the current winners.

Which brings us to the corporate interests supporting our new "Maximum Leader."

One of the most prominent supporters of the "new regime" as personified by Barack Obama is Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric who has managed to drive the GE stock price from $60 to $6 (at its recent low) . GE is a manufacturing, financial and media powerhouse that would have gone bankrupt without a bailout via federal intervention in the commercial paper market. In response, Immelt has become a slavish devotee of all things Obama, promoting "green energy" via GE wind turbines that manage to slaughter migrating birds while providing erratic power from time to time all the whole attracting millions - and soon billions - in Federal subsidies to aid GE's stock price and to re-attach Immelt to his coveted corner office position and control of the GE mcorporate jet fleet. If there were a college course in corporate malfeasance and an example were needed of a top executive got away with destruction of shareholder value - and retained his job (forget about the chairment of GM, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) -Jeff Immelt would be the poster boy for this case study.

At one time GE Chairmen were not assigned the job of bootlicker to Presidents. We're not sure if the position was applied for by Immelt or if he was assigned, but he takes his position seriously. And his position is to grab his ankles and bend over. Pictures of the acts committed between Obama and Immelt are not appropriate for discussion on a family oriented web site.

In any case we are indebted to Dennis Gartman for the following observation:

We do know that it is terribly important these days for chief corporate figures to try to hold to a line of reasonable political correctness, for otherwise they shall come under severe pressure from Washington to become so and in the process bring down the vengeance of the government upon their business. Better it is, apparently, to be politically correct and to avoid Washington’s wrath than it is to be economically correct and invite that wrath. We know this and we understand this and we are dismayed by that fact, and so we take what Mr. Jeffery Immelt, the Chairman of General Electric, said in a recent interview regarding the distribution of wealth here in the US.

Speaking last week at West Point… and haven’t the young men and women of West Point had just about enough of being used as the nation’s sounding board for executive pronouncement, with the President last week having spoken then and now Mr. Immelt having done the same; shouldn’t these young men and women be studying? Shouldn’t they be learning the lessons of battle in the field, or studying international relations, or nuclear fission, or bridge building or almost anything rather than being forced to sit and listen to speeches that are not meant for them but are instead meant for some larger audience?...

Mr. Immelt launched into a politically correct attack upon the pay scales of Wall Street, noting that he and his fellow CEO has launched into an era of “meanness and greed” that, according to Mr. Immelt, has done irreparable damage to the US economy. Mr. Immelt said that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the US has grown larger than at any time in our nation’s history and he took issue with that fact. Whether that is true is a question for another day, but then Mr. Immelt said some things that are simply not factually true and in the process gave the centre-left media a champion they could point to and say, “See, even the President of GE agrees with us.” Mr. Immelt said that this new thesis of “meanness and greed” had created an environment where

Rewards became perverted. The richest people made the most mistakes with the least accountability…where the bottom 25 per cent of the American population is poorer than they were 25 years ago. That is just wrong…

Well, Kum-bye-ya to you to, Mr. Immelt, but that is just plain wrong. Where did Mr. Immelt come up with such nonsense and why would he say such a thing other than to deflect criticism of his own leadership at GE? In the past twenty five years it is clear that indeed the gap between the wealthiest 1% of Americans and the lower 25% has widened but it is also true, without question, that the people in the bottom 25% have seen their wealth and their standard of living rise materially over that time.

We live longer; we live in larger houses; we have fewer and fewer people living below the “poverty line” even though that line has been raised and raised and raised again; we have conquered more diseases; fed more people; increased production of food and
housing; we’ve powered more machinery and increased communications domestically and internationally. Simply put, life for the 4th quartile of Americans is a haven compared to life for almost anyone anywhere else in the world. It is why people die trying to get to the US in steadily increasing numbers; they try to get here simply to become the bottom quartile hoping that life for their children will be better still and always it is.

So again we wonder aloud, where did Mr. Immelt get his data, and we wonder even more why he said such a thing that is clearly and unquestionably wrong. This is political correctness run very amuck. Shame upon Mr. Immelt for bowing to it. What he should have said was that mistakes have been made of course, but we should remember that this is a nation of progress and that we are progressing. He should have said that on his watch pay within GE was made according to the profits of each centre, and that the shareholder’s best interests were furthered. What he should have said is that it is his responsibility to push GE’s value up, and that he has and he shall in the future exploit each and every opportunity to do so, and that if all companies and all individuals worked to their own best interests the interests of society as a whole are furthered. China seems to understand that; why can’t Mr. Immelt? Kumbye- at that one!

I have met Jeff Immelt and he is a charming guy, but so is every con artist and snake oil salesman; so was Bernie Madoff and - I'm told - Bill Clinton. The secret to being a successful con artist is to be charming ... and believable. There is an expiration date on the credibility of both Immelt and his patron - Obama. Their "past due date" is fast approaching.

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