Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shame on You, Jack Welch (October 6, 2012)

Here’s the Election Week in Review:   Obama got crushed in the first debate.  But he got some good news when the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%.  And he raised $181 million in the month of September, an all-time record for any candidate.  We’ll see where the polls take him on Monday when I update the Dashboard.  From what little there is out there, I think Romney closed the gap completely, even in at least some swing states.  So for now, I’m not going to dwell on the week that was.  Except to kick Jack Welch’s butt around…

Shame on you, Jack Welch.

As you may know, Jack Welch greeted the generally favorable unemployment report by questioning the integrity of the career employees at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

(When I say “generally favorable,” I don’t mean for President Obama, though that is certainly true.  I mean for all Americans.  We are all happy when more people are working.  And perhaps I should point out that this is the 31st consecutive month of private sector job growth.)

Jack Welch has earned the rarified status he enjoys.  He was the CEO of General Electric from 1981-2001 and in that time turned it into the preeminent corporation in America.  He was a paragon of strategy and execution, and GE shareholders enjoyed the fruits of the spectacular financial performance GE produced under his leadership.  In his time at the helm, GE’s market cap rose from $14 billion to $410 billion.

My short list of the top voices in American business today, the pantheon of achievement, would include Welch, Lou Gerstner, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.  (Sadly, Steve Jobs’ voice can no longer be heard.)  When these people speak on matters of business, I would have thought that we should listen.

It is from this lofty pulpit that Welch weighed in.  Perhaps he might have discussed what the numbers mean for the trend in our overall economy.  Or better still offered some context…how the unemployment trend fits within the larger global economic environment, perhaps with appropriate commentary on the role of government in stimulating business expansion.  I might not agree with what he might have said, but I’d have listened.

But here was his post, tweeted shortly after the jobs report became public:  "Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can't debate so change numbers.”  Yes, he thinks the Bureau of Labor Statistics manipulated the numbers.  And he then went on the air in numerous interviews to defend his comments.

I’m just stunned, and utterly disgusted.  A man who should be educating others on the intricacies of our economy, chooses instead to make the worst kind of accusation – the "totally-unsupported-by-any-evidence" kind – about a group of public servants who hold career, non-partisan positions and faithfully execute their responsibilities in anonymity.

American do not trust their institutions.  It is endemic.  And now Jack Welch seeks to compromise yet another entity, one that is responsible for crucial economic statistics upon which we rely to gauge the strength of our economy.

And this comes at a time when many are seeking some kind of wisdom on the proper path forward, and will be making consequential voting decisions based in part on that wisdom.  And this man chooses to use his position to engage in the lowest of partisan slime.

Surrender your bully pulpit, Jack.  You may have earned the right to stand behind it as an icon of American business.  But now you’ve simply earned our unmitigated scorn.  So go crawl back to your corner.  Now.

1 comment:

  1. When you try to force Wall Street to play be the rules, you risk angering some powerful people. This is just the latest example (and you are right - one of the most distasteful yet) of the Republicans rooting for U.S. economic failure. Beginning on the night of the inauguration, we have seen nearly four years of these people hoping for (and in the case of Congress, doing what they can to insure) stalled employment . . . all to further their own agendas. I say shame on all of them!


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