By Cate Sawers
And we wonder why the economy isn’t picking up
As fast as we’d liked
When the last few places I’ve worked
Have been indifferent to growth and financially corrupt.
Oh, they want to see profits, all right
But they are too self-conscious to take advice
And too ossified to know how to modernize
And so they live with massive inefficiencies, out of spite.
Management act like underpaid cops
Who graft a little extra on the side
From pointless overtime that is justified
By making like the underlings are all a bunch of crackpots.
Instead of charging $8 for a pineapple
Why don’t they try keeping basic goods in stock?
Besides causing debilitating price shock
It makes them look like thieving, short-sighted rabble.
It’s not that managers aren’t experienced or bright
It’s more that their loyalties lie with the clique
(Which is a separate thing from the success of the boutique)
For one thing, it lets them make the subordinates underwrite.
Microeconomics tells us that eventually all businesses die
But long before that, they have to change the way they profit
Especially in the service sector, it has to come out of employees’ pocket
So they barely break even, as if they were shanghaied.
For example, if you don’t tell workers their 1st check has arrived
You can borrow against your staff without interest for a week or thereabouts
Or if you make them use a proprietary store card to get their discount
You can attempt all manner of credit card fraud.
It’s not overly idealistic to say that if managers thought more like the Utilitarians
Companies would see growth and more of the employees would prosper
The boost in morale and productivity would open up business opportunities to foster
And CFOs wouldn’t be so hard-pressed to squeeze profits out of growth-retarding rent seeking.