Category Archives: The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing

Chickenshit Democrats Attack Food Supply…Again. Literally. (Updated)

This is almost unbelievable.

Chicken contaminated with chicken manure is one likely result to come from the ag department’s dangerous and ridiculous determination to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 processing plants across the country. Currently, government inspectors – who’re professionally-trained in food safety – are stationed along the processing lines in the factory operations of such giants as Tyson Foods. They examine the birds for diseases and visible defects, including – yes – contamination by feces.

But the Obamacans have a “modernization” plan to remove these skilled, independent inspectors and let corporations police their own lines with untrained company hirelings. In addition, the privatization scheme would allow the poultry plants to speed up their lines to an absurd 175-birds-per-minute!

I said almost unbelievable. If I hadn’t, years ago, given up on Obama proving to be something other than a tame corporate shill, this would feel like a betrayal. As it is, I just sighed, “Of course.”

More of the Myth and one of the reasons corporate-owned Pubs spent so much spreading it around. “Govt is bad, corporations can do a better job policing themselves if we just leave them alone” is the kind of thinking that certainly makes it easier for corporations to dump govt inspections (after having paid the appropriate bribes to the appropriate officials and pols, of course), which means, of course, there will be no inspections at all, thus no possibility that profits will be lost due to nasty govt refusing to let them sell – at full price, mind you – spoiled food or food full of, you know, poisons and nuclear waste and shit and what not. Of course.

Apparently it isn’t enough for the Democrats to let agrocorps make our food unsafe, now they have to let them make it lethal. I hope the Dems are getting a good price for poisoning us. Because that’s what’s important here.


Obviously this is less important than it might at first appear.

Among the ostensibly “non-essential” services on hold during the government shutdown is the Food and Drug Administration’s food inspection program. Within the country, as the Huffington Post points out, that means as many as 80 food production facilities each day may be going uninspected (although an FDA spokesman clarified that an unclear portion of those will be carried out by state agriculture and public health departments).

Yes. Well.


Extortion IS Corporate-Style Governing

A lot of well-meaning but thoughtless people have been supporting the modern GOP because they believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the right-wing myth of corporate efficiency and competence. What all these people refused to acknowledge was that the reality beneath the appearance of corporate success had far less to do with competence than greed, far less to do with efficiency than ruthlessness.

Well they may still be in denial but if they’re paying attention at all they will have realized that we are seeing corporate-style governing this week in the extortion and blackmail the Republican Congress has loosed on the nation in a desperate attempt to get its own way. These are time-honored corporate strategies used by disparate corpos from Disney to IBM to Microsoft to Wal-mart to McDonald’s. Extortion, blackmail, and bribery are the three key components of American corporate success.

So it was no surprise when Robert Reich let it slip in his blog that this govt shutdown was planned and paid for by…tah dah!…the corporate BigWigs of th 0.1%.

The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along.

And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.

They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’);  Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)

Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America.

These are the standard tactics of a hostile takeover: threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we’ll burn down the store. I’d say the gloves are off. They’re not even pretending anymore.

Media Degeneration and the Corporate Police State

Magicians use misdirection to pull off most of their tricks. While you’re watching the hand they’re waving, the other hand is hiding the goodies. American news media used to pride itself on seeing through the distractions to the truth underneath, but that was in the days before Richard Viguerie, Roger Ailes, and the rest of the AEI-inspired right wing noise machine showed everybody how much ordinary people hate anybody who fucks with their precious illusions, and how much more money news media outlets could make if they tossed Truth down the disposal and concentrated instead on feeding into the fantasy.

Now, after 30 years of corporate media whose idea of professionalism is healthy quarterly increases to the bottom line by refusing to challenge the illusions of their “audience” or make them uncomfortable in any way, we have a news media so degenerate that when a conscience-stricken NSA nerd blows the whistle on the largest govt spying operation since the fall of the Wall turned the Stasi into traffic cops, the single element they choose to key on is…the whistleblower. Continue reading

The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 6: Corporate/Prosecutor Purges

Mark Gisleson has a brilliant post up at Norwegianity explaining how standard corporate power-plays are at the bottom of the Gonzales 8 Scandal.

In this matter, and all personnel matters, transparency is key. That which will not withstand scrutiny, of necessity becomes a matter of veils and subterfuge, just as we’re now discovering with the fired U.S. Attorneys. In not one case are we learning that the fired U.S. Attorney in question had done anything but an exemplary job. But therein lays the rub — our corporatized administration has done pretty much what corporate execs usually do: they lied and cheated, and now they’ve been caught red-handed thanks to incriminating emails and lower-ranking officials who’ve seen plenty of examples of people like themselves being thrown overboard by the Bushies when push came to shucking a perjury charge.

In the corporate world, it’s next to impossible to stop top higher ups from doing pretty much anything they like short of raping their administrative assistants in a public area of the building. And ending that “privilege” of rank wasn’t easy, as any woman over forty can tell you. Government, however, is not business, and the Bushies in their consumate [sic] arrogance forgot they were leaving paper trails, and that they were dealing with powerful individuals who have powerful friends.


Frankly, I despair of ever ridding American corporations of the dumbfuck idea that a loyal monoculture is best for business. No, it’s the best way to make sure that at some future point the company goes down the toilet because of 1) lawbreaking by corporate officers, 2) short-term thinking that destroys long-term business, or 3) any of a number of other unforseen consequences of actions that would have been flagged were the decision-making process open to a more diverse group of people, like actual human beings, for example.

So, unsurprisingly the Bushies tried to claim all the fired USAs were fired for cause. Dumbfuck idea #1, as the Bushies failed to plant said evidence in any of the USAs’ personnel files, and all in fact had excellent performance evaluations on record. Further efforts in that regard are also blowing up in the Bushies’ faces because the proper foundation (i.e., planting of phony work evaluations and written criticisms) wasn’t laid.

Go read the rest. And remember it the next time somebody insists that govt ought to be run like a business – when it is, baaaaad things happen.

The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 5: The State v Commerce Turf War

No one who has ever worked for a corporation could fail to be aware of a certain “turf consciousness” as various departments – and individuals within those departments – compete for attention and power. There are two myths involved in turf consciousness.

1. The “team concept”

That’s the one that portrays corporate life as a sports metaphor, where every individual has a specific job to do but works seamlessly with everyone else as part of a unit with the same goal: winning the game (read: “making a lot of money”). According to the myth, “teamwork” increases efficiency and corporate harmony by honoring the value of everyone’s contribution equally, and subsuming private goals to the overall good of the team. The idea is expressed in one of two ways:

  1. The only “turf” that matters is the turf of the playing field where the game is being fought. It is common to everyone and no single individual or group controls it. Therefore, fighting over control of it is counter-productive and inefficient.
  2. The game can only be won if the team works together. Fighting over prerogatives, perks, and power serves to fragment the team effort, weakening it with jealousy, internal strife, and hurt feelings, effectively sabotaging the team’s efforts.

There are a number of corporate fads swirling around the concept of building teamwork. My sister-in-law, for example, runs corporate Team-Building Weekends on ropes-challenge courses in which junior executives learn to work together on an obstacle course consisting of rope-ladders, rope bridges, trapezes, and simulated cliffs. Most of it happens in trees, 20 feet or more above the ground. The course is designed to make it difficult or even impossible for an individual to succeed alone but a snap if the group works together. It’s a very sophisticated version of the kind of obstacle course the military uses during basic training. She makes a good deal of money running these weekends.

Then there was the “dragon boat racing” craze of a few years ago. Adapted from the Chinese, dragon boat racing requires participants to row and steer together. If they argue, they lose.

The latest of these fads was adapted, believe it or not, from acting and improvisational exercises. Two of these exercises were on view last year in tv programs, an episode of What About Brian? and a teaser for Donald Trump’s new Apprentice.

The point of all these is to build trust between the participants and break down the walls of competitive ego by forcing the subjects to co-operate with each other. Does it work?

The short answer is, of course, No.

Continue reading

The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 4: Rumsfeld the Manager

For almost three decades, conservatives in both parties relentlessly pushed the idea that America should be governed as if it was a corporation where every activity was means-tested by cost/benefit analysis, departments were made efficient by being made smaller, costs were kept down in the traditional way (layoffs followed by underpaying and overworking those who were left), and any agency or appropriation unrelated to the military or helping business prosper was considered a waste of time and money that should be cut to the bone if it couldn’t be eliminated altogether. The Doctrine of Social/Economic Darwinism held that in the corporate world efficiency was rewarded and inefficiency punished, money was never wasted, management had to be effective, and results had to be positive or the “free market” would operate to weed out those companies who were not. It was a message whose simplicity proved to be enormously attractive to the general public.


Because the whole construct, as I argued in a series called “The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, with support here), was mythology. Corporations in fact often – even usually – reward ass-kissing over efficiency, waste enormous amounts of money in executive perks and bad ideas, produce shoddy and over-priced goods, are almost always satisfied with the appearance of success rather than the reality, have an unswerving faith in PR and advertising as replacements for quality, and have cultures which foster management teams and executives who are so far removed from the real world, so arrogant, and so used to blind obedience that they will deny problems and difficulties right up to the point where the company implodes in its own lies. (See Enron, WorldCom, the S&L’s, and too many other examples to enumerate here.)

If none of that sounds familiar, you haven’t been paying attention. Every standard corporate idea/belief/fad/illusion/technique/management style has been on display in the Bush Administration for the past 6 years. Not surprising given that virtually the whole admin was staffed by ex-corporate executives, lawyers, PR flacks, and lobbyists. We have been given the chance to find out just what “running govt like a corporation” looks like, and it’s not pretty.

Maybe that’s why we don’t hear that mantra all that much any more. The Republicans who used to run – and win – on a platform centered around making govt perform like a business have abandoned that approach wholesale as “corporate-style governing” has come to be synonymous with corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence. Various members of the Bush Admin illustrate the usual corporate management types that are familiar from business literature: Continue reading

The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 7: Supporting Document

Somebody else has caught on.

Kathy at Random Thoughts has an excellent post up in which she analyzes Bush’s management style and finds it’s–ta da!–corporate. And a particular kind of corporate.

My impression of the work culture he creates is that it’s highly structured, unforgiving, and authoritarian. It seems to be the kind of place where what matters is completing your assignment and not making sure it’s the right assignment to complete. More secretarial than executive. It seems to be the kind of place where everyone absolutely understands the status of everyone else. It reminds me of the NY corporate environment I once inhabited.That was a place where you measured status by office location, decor, company-paid magazine subscriptions, whether you were on the To or CC line of a memo, what meetings you attended (or didn’t), how technically illiterate you were (the more illiterate, the higher the level), and where you ate lunch. It was an environment where the question “why” couldn’t be asked at all until you were at a specific executive level, where results mattered more than methods as long as methods that skirted the ethical line weren’t disclosed. It was a place where more attention was paid to being in the office at 8:30 than accomplishing anything once you got there. It was a place where process mattered more than product and the inevitable product failure was blamed on uncontrollable external forces. It was a place where competitors were reviled and disrespected and all was fair in the effort to win. It was a place where bad news was held back in the hopes that it could be dealt with before it got communicated upwards, where executive incompetence was accomodated instead of confronted. It was a place where no-one dared tell the president he was wrong.

Gloriosky, Sandy, but that sounds just like…. No, it couldn’t be.

But it is, of course. Kathy has written a concise and spot-on description of the way this Administration functions, and she lays it right at the door where it belongs, a door that opens onto a certain kind of corporate management style: the prevailing one. Halliburton’s.