Just a few snide remarks to wrap up 2018…
Keeping women at arm’s length
An executive recruiter first told me about New York’s law requiring businesses to have all employees sign a legal agreement to abide by sexual harassment policies. Just between us guys, we agreed the likely unintended consequence of this new law would be fewer women getting hired. On the heels of this conversation, Bloomberg reported on the unofficial rule now guiding Wall Street during the #MeToo movement: avoid women at all costs.
A year ago, I expressed dismay that the #MeToo dragnet was catching some dolphins along with the tuna. There’s a vast difference between coerced sex and an unwanted pass, I suggested. I was having a discussion on this topic in a meeting where half the participants were women. One told me now was not the time to make such distinctions. Shoot them all and let God sort them out, she seemed to be saying.
Well, ye reap what ye sow.
Yes, Baby, it’s still cold outside
The news that a Cleveland radio station gave in to protests that the old song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is too “rapey,” banning the song from its playlist, didn’t surprise me though it should have. First of all, what the hell does “rapey” mean? Are we really creating cutesy words to describe violent crimes?
The Frank Loesser song, like nearly all from the Great American Songbook, is intended to be romantic. In an era (1940’s) when extramarital sex was looked down upon, the song is about the conflict between desire and societal standards. Its clever lyrics are simply a reflection of the times in which it was written. Contrast them to misogynist popular songs like Taylor Swift’s “Better than Revenge” or Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and tell me why those songs haven’t attracted the same protests.
Of course, the generation that objects to these lyrics is one that needs the State of New York (among others) to define what is and isn’t rape. To those of us who know the difference, the song is simply one of the many romantic tunes to have been preserved from that era. It’s not about rape. It’s about permission. Or to put it another way, it’s not about #MeToo; it’s about #WillSheWon’tShe?
The good is oft interred with their bones.
The recent funeral of George HW Bush provided some nostalgia for that same era gone by – an era when politicians often set aside their differences for the sake of the nation. I confess that I have never been a Bush fan. (When I lived in Florida, I used to say, “I have never voted for anyone named Bush.”) Nevertheless, I found myself mourning with the rest of the nation, not so much for the man but rather for the era when the Greatest Generation (GG) was in charge.
Forged in the Great Depression and WWII, the GG paid off its war debt during the 1950’s, a decade of unprecedented prosperity. It’s a generation that had the political courage for landmark Supreme Court rulings (Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade), extraordinary legislation (The Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act), and a treaty that reduced the threat of nuclear war – all while facing down the Soviet Union.
Yes, I miss those guys. We’ve had four boomer presidents since, none of whom have lived up to the standards of their parents’ generation.
My admiration is not unbridled however. According to some, the era of political divisiveness began when Bush v. Gore went to the Supreme Court or perhaps when Republicans took control of Congress during the Clinton administration. To my mind, it started earlier during the win-at-all-costs Bush campaign of 1988 when we were introduced to Willie Horton.
What’s good for General Motors is not good for the USA
A couple of social media memes popped up in the wake of GM’s announcement of layoffs and plant closures. One, posted by a liberal friend, suggested people would buy more cars if incomes were more equal. Another, posted by a conservative friend, implied GM’s government bailout created a moral obligation they abandoned.
Neither perspective makes much sense. GM’s 2009 bankruptcy was made inevitable when former Chairman & CEO Bob Stempel negotiated an egregious contract with the UAW in the early 1990’s. Unable to layoff workers producing cars no one was buying on the cusp of the Great Recession, GM ran out of cash. Through its bankruptcy, GM shut unprofitable divisions and expunged debt it took decades to accumulate.
They also shed a management culture that got them in trouble in the first place. New CEO Mary Barra seems determined not to lead the company down the same path. Faced with $1 Billion in unanticipated tariffs (enough, by one account, to hire 25,000 workers), a faltering economy and major shifts in consumer tastes (from cars to SUV’s); she did what any good CEO should do.
Her alternative was to keep employing an underutilized workforce, to wait for the next bankruptcy and to seek another taxpayer bailout. That’s what would happen in socialist America.
WHO WILL LEAD?