Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
December 5, 2008
Work for $1 a Year? Ha!
Not This CEO!
This week, automotive CEOs Rick Wagoner and Alan Mullaly, fearless
leaders of General Motors and Ford respectively, announced that they
would work for $1 a year for the foreseeable future.
This is the sort of thing you have to do when youíre begging Congress
for taxpayer money to keep your company afloat. You have to start
operating your company the way businesses operate in congressmenís
fantasies. The CEO works for free! Every product releases clean green
goodness into the environment! Each employee receives a 100 percent
raise every day and the company never seems to run out of money!
Hey! Itís a
corporation! Itís made of money!
Note to self: Do not go before Congress asking for anything for your
business. You will not like what happens.
But letís say you found yourself up there. Why is not important. Youíre
there, and the distinguished honorables are demanding that you, too,
work for $1 a year. Hmm. Yes. Hmm, indeed . . .
Mr. Krause, are you
willing to accept a salary of $1 a year for your work as CEO of the
Me (after laughing
hysterically for about 10 minutes):
Wouldnít that send a positive message to your workforce?
That youíre willing
to share in the sacrifice.
But Iím not interested
in sharing in any sacrifice.
How can you say
Well, for one thing,
Iím not interested in there being any sacrifice. Iím interested
in sharing in lots and lots of profits.
I donít know what
youíre talking about, Mr. Krause. The CEOs who come before this
committee donít make any profits. Thatís why theyíre here.
You know, Mr.
Congressman, maybe it wouldnít kill you to hear from some companies who
do make profits. They are out there, you know. If all you do is talk to
CEOs from failing companies like the Detroit Big Three, how are you ever
going to learn anything about how successful companies operate? Might be
useful for you to know.
Well, we do hear
from profitable companies whenever we drag the oil company CEOs up here
to threaten them.
Kind of not what I
meant. Do you ever talk to small-company entrepreneurs who put their
limited cash at risk to bring a new product or service to the market?
I know all about
those people! I saw Jerry McGuire! ďShow me the money!Ē
Yeah, well, theyíre not
all like that. And a lot of them work for little or nothing in the early
going, but the reason they take that risk is so they can reward
themselves later on.
You know, get rich?
How can they do that? Especially now, when thereís a recession! Mr.
Krause, would you join me now in calling for a moratorium on people
getting rich until the economy gets going again?
Nope. Thatís the
dumbest thing I ever heard.
Well I never!
Youíre not going to get your hands on any taxpayer money talking like
that, buddy boy! Youíre company will go out of business!
I donít care.
You donít Ė what?
How can you not care?
Because I donít. I
mean, I donít really think I need any taxpayer money to avoid going out
of business, but if thatís the way it goes down, Iíll just do something
else. Why should I sit around fretting about it? Itís certainly not
worth it to sit here and grovel in front of you. Iíd rather tell all my
friends and family I failed at business Ė any day.
Well, if you owned
a company that employs hundreds of thousands of people and pays the
benefits of three times as many retirees, you probably wouldnít feel
Youíve got me there.
Maybe the key is to never create something that you feel compelled to
keep alive forever. That way you donít do irrational, humiliating things
to prevent its demise. If the jig is up, the jig is up, whether itís a
business or someoneís political career. You picking up what Iím putting
That does not
Oh well. Gotta go. I
have to interview a job candidate.
That poor dumb bastard
you just whipsawed into working for $1 a year. You didnít think he was
going to actually do it, did you?
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