Last week Sunday in his column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, John Torinus, chairman of West Bend, WI based Serigraph Inc., called Barack Obama's speech, which he delivered two weeks ago, on race and religion, divisive from a business and economic perspective. He went on to call Barack Obama's speech anti-business and even said that Barack's "slap against big business is overly broad at least." I'll say right off the bat that I'm not a big fan of Barack Obama or his candidacy. That's an even truer statement after the whole Rev. Wright debacle. But in listening to key points Obama made with respect to business, I'm not so sure he's got it as wrong as Chairman Torinus would have us believe. To his credit, Torinus does concede that American capitalism has a multitude of issues. But he sadly misses the point that Barack Obama made in his speech that there is a real disconnect between business leaders and their workers, and an ever widening disparity between what the average American wage earner earns and what the guy at the top does. Either that, or Torinus is walking through life with blinders on.
Setting aside all of the supposed good deeds of the rich "giving away tons of money to worthy causes in this country and around the world," which Torinus claims is often to help in solving the problems of the disadvantaged, the real question becomes if America's companies and the CEOs who head them are making all this money that they can give it away, why are so many Americans among the disadvantaged Torinus claims are being helped? If the system is working, shouldn't everyone who stands to gain from it be making money? Why is it just a few select people at the top getting all the goodies? Is throwing a few bones at the poor people that have been left behind in their factories supposed to make us all feel better about the tens of millions of dollars being pilfered from the company's coffers and frankly the other employees of the company? And yes, CEOs are company employees. That's something I think a lot of people at the top fail to understand. Torinus seems to be suggesting that we should all just be thankful we get anything at all, including our paychecks.
I've uttered the words so many times that if a cousin of carpal tunnel syndrome could afflict the tongue, to be sure I'd have a most serious case of it - America's CEOs are wildly overpaid. There is an undeniable imbalance in fairness, and of course there are people who are disadvantaged when the head of the company makes 400 times the pay of the guy on the factory floor.
Nobody is saying that CEOs do not have an important role in society. Respectfully, these are smart, savvy people who have a real knack for keeping the business wheels turning and are at the heart of supplying the very goods that drive consumerism and therefore the American economy. As a shareholder I want the best and the brightest leading my company and delivering a healthy return on my investment. But equally important are the workers who produce and deliver the products to the consumer's hands, and they ought to receive family supporting wages to show for it. For all he's worth, Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, cannot send a single Ford onto America's highways without the efforts of someone working hard in a factory. And no company, large or small, can thrive if no one can afford to buy it's goods, so it seems to me you better pay people well.
Business is important, and we should do all we can to keep it thriving. All of our livelihoods depend on it. But come on Torinus. We should just bow down and kiss your feet? We should fear that ideas such as the ones Barack Obama talked about in his speech will make enemies out of the corporations and business people? From where I'm sitting, my friend, you are the enemy now.
More Opinion by The Springboard
THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."