The Rankling

The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.

That quote is, of course, from Enoch Powell’s legendary (or alternately nefarious) Rivers of Blood speech. Both sentences articulate truths so fundamental–and consequently ignored–that politicians should be compelled to recite them in advance of every public utterance.

One of those deeply rooted obstacles to supreme statesmanship is man’s rapacious appetite for wealth. More important is the extent to which it consumes his other motivations. My own recognition of this arrived later than other convictions. That is largely because I’m neither destitute myself, nor inclined to envy at those much less so. It’s simply not troubling that wealthy men can wrap themselves in mistresses and Ferraris. And if that was their content, this post would instead be about India’s feces archipelago.

Unfortunately though riches consistently act as a moral laxative, with the resulting discharge always flowing down on the heads of those in more modest social strata. It is not pernicious that the wealthy enjoy their wealth, but that they deploy it antagonistically against those less so. I doubt the SPLC can boast of a staff more hostile to western peoples than any random sampling of billionaires. The lesson being, a nation-state with aspirations of longevity is well-advised to defang its plutocrats before they grow beyond handling.

One of the ways to do this would be to pass laws against an accepted practice that we’ll just call for sake of having a word: bribery. I’ve written previously on this exotic legal doctrine, though doubt it will gain much traction in the present environment. Another option is to declare reciprocal class war and exact punitive taxation on the rich. This to be supplemented with high tariffs on the importation of widgets across the board, human or otherwise.

Such actions would hear the night peal with bleating from corporate “free traders” and economists demanding competition for every job other than their own. But I’m not much interested in the howls of their interest-based morality. The nation has interests also, and little cause to defer them for some oligarch’s fleet of yachts. Regardless of the tactics or their detractors, a statesman’s goal should be to nurture, empower, and enrich the middle class relative to those perpetually sipping from its marrow. And if that costs an extra nickel per head of lettuce, consider it the expense of keeping your country…and your head.

Though the competition for both isn’t simply going to relinquish the field. Some of them are positively rankled.

Campaign’s Populist Tone Rankles America’s CEOs

I imagine the populists are grieved sore by that.

Chief executives at big American companies are increasingly frustrated by the populist tone of the presidential campaign, and concerns are mounting in boardrooms and corner offices that antibusiness rhetoric may solidify even after the November election.

What could be causing anti-business rhetoric? Not outsourcing, H1Bs, open borders lobbying, relentless liberal advocacy, or stateless globalism, surely.

“The precipitousness of the political debate is a little scary right now, ” said Jim McNerney, who served as chief executive of Boeing Co. until last year and as chairman until February, at a recent industry conference.

I would think standing atop the summit of Mr. McNerney’s $100 dollar bills would be even more precipitous. This in light of his previous $29 million annual compensation. But there’s something he and his peers want waitresses in Topeka to understand.

The GOP “has been captured by a large number of people who basically do not like big,” said Judd Gregg, a Republican former U.S. senator and governor of New Hampshire, who sits on the board of Honeywell International Inc.

Imagine a political party being “captured by a large number of people.” We call those people “constituents,” Mr. Gregg. Or more colloquially in the board room: legacy labor costs.

Now, the race for the nomination is led by Donald Trump, who has opposed Chamber of Commerce positions on trade, immigration and corporate mergers, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who last year cheered the campaign to shutter an export- financing agency and was one of five GOP senators to vote against trade legislation.

On the Democratic side, Mrs. Clinton might appear to be the most business friendly option given her résumé, her close relations to some corporate donors and her message of delivering pragmatic results.

Well I’m certain corporate chieftains won’t tolerate the absence of conservative values from Huma’s human luffa. So we needn’t worry about them supporting her. I mean this whole values shtick used to farm votes for donor interests isn’t just gruel for the dupes, is it?

“The center has collapsed,” said one technology CEO. “Sanders and Trump will go away, but their supporters won’t.”

You know where the moderate, temperate, and rational political center can always be found? In a businessman’s bank account. Whatever accrues to its detriment is a fringe movement of extremism. And my accountant assures me this is no time for that.

Anger over the bailouts of 2008 and an economy that has produced little shared growth has made the business establishment an obvious target for voters’ frustration. But business leaders say calls to sharply curb trade and immigration would do little to address underlying economic inequities.

I’m always hopeful that Disney will introduce a Chamber of Commerce pseudo-animatronic ride at Magic Kingdom. Here park attendees can enjoy an air conditioned trolley-ride through past and present America hosted by a living Jeb Bush, so life-like that patrons will never suspect he’s actually the real thing.

We Americans are a compassionate people… arms opening, eyes turning skyward…but some seek to divide us…inflection dropping, face creasing solemnly… but we know that curbing trade and immigration would do little to address underlying economic inequities…chin setting, fists clinching, eyes narrowing…That’s why today I’m announcing…the next words lost to exhilarated shrieks as the ride proceeds on to the Pteradactyl simulation.

And as the last train of dazed tourists rolls into the departure gate, the History of Dinosaurs and Republicans attraction closes for the night with the former governor falling limp at the waist until reactivating the next morning.

These corporate chiefs fault Democrats for ignoring tax treatment that puts U.S. firms at a disadvantage and chide Republicans for neglecting investments in education, infrastructure and workforce training that could help workers who have been left behind in a globalized economy.

That is to say: give us well-trained foreign helots, and you pay the bill.

Other executives of small and midsize businesses, especially in sectors under pressure from abroad, say the debate has exposed shortcomings of U.S. trade policy…Free traders “have enjoyed a little bit of a free ride in academic circles, and the questions being asked now, ‘What has been the net benefit for our society?'” said Bill Hutton, president of Titan Steel Corp. in Baltimore.

That’s a question you ask before doing something, not after. Speaking of which: what has been the net benefit for our society of colonization by Hondurans and Somalis?

Maybe the Tech Council has an idea.

Technology executives are particularly outspoken on immigration, which has fueled a boom in Silicon Valley despite national declines in new business formation. “Anti-immigrant stances are the worst possible things we can do for new business creation, no question,” said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of the online real-estate brokerage Redfin, based in Seattle.

Glenn Kelman is the CEO of a real-estate brokerage. This being a business driven by rates of churn and population growth. Both of which are aided by mass immigration. And he wants you to know that when your neighborhood gets swamped by aliens, Redfin is ready to serve your evacuation needs. It’s the best possible thing for business creation…no question.

7 thoughts on “The Rankling

  1. Pingback: The Rankling | Reaction Times

  2. “Imagine a political party being “captured by a large number of people.” We call those people “constituents,” Mr. Gregg. Or more colloquially in the board room: legacy labor costs.”

    You seriously have a knack for this. Have you ever taken a course or read about financial statement analysis? If not, you’re missing a treasure trove of conceptual applications and analogies.

    “And he wants you to know that when your neighborhood gets swamped by aliens, Redfin is ready to serve your evacuation needs. It’s the best possible thing for business creation…no question.”

    Target hit.

  3. To be a CEO of a large corporation, you need to be almost sociopathic. The track is such a juggernaut of royal maneuvering, that by definition you lose a bit of your humanity. Once on the radar of the board, only stockholder preferences matter. “National interest” questions don’t even rise to the level of Goodwill on a balance sheet, and any instinct to deviate from goodthink has long ago been planed level. Glad you’ve done your part, Porter, to shine a small bit of disinfecting light on this fetid collective.

  4. Porter, what I wouldn’t pay to hear a half hour of you shredding the idiots of the MSM analyzing “news” such as this. The sheer vitriol and sarcasm is worth the price… on top of the fact that your completely right.

  5. Wow, so much here for this tiny brain.

    My first comment: “The supreme function of statesmanship is to ….” pad his bank account.

    But then Porter cut me at the knees.

    “A statesman’s goal should be to always nurture, empower, and enrich the middle class.”

    So I ask:
    But didn’t the positioning of Tubman on the $20 obtain that ? I have many giggling, happy friends.

    “ It is not pernicious that the wealthy enjoy their wealth, but that they deploy it antagonistically against those less so.” So beautifully dead on.

    Then here we go again: “A statesman’s goal should be to always nurture, empower, and enrich the middle class”.

    And then: “Chief executives at big American companies are increasingly frustrated by the populist tone of the presidential campaign,…”

    I am now in the fetal position on the floor, my secretary will read me the remainder.

  6. Pingback: The Very Best of Last Week in Reaction (2016/05/01) – The Reactivity Place

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