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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
November 23, 2005
You'll Pay? Then I'll Go Away

We hard-working, capitalistic business owners who produce a lot, provide products and services and guarantee a return on investment think we’re very smart for doing all this.


Nope. We’re idiots. And somewhere at a Dunkin’ Donuts near you, the local chapter of the PFN Club is meeting and laughing their heads off at all of us.


The Paid For Nothing Club. They’re smart. We’re dumb. And the members of the PFN Club are not welfare recipients, either. They’re perfectly capable people who figured out a way to get paid by the private sector to kindly go away and never return.


They are geniuses.


The newest members of the PFN Club appear to be arriving shortly from Delphi, which has the United Auto Workers outraged over its proposal to pay laid-off executives not to work.


If remaining Delphi management were smart, it might retort: “These people were making such dumb decisions, we ended up bankrupt! So we thought we’d be better off paying them to not make decisions.”


They can make lots of non-decisions at the PFN Club meetings. Or they can make all the decisions they want, as the only actions taken by the club are pretend actions, so even if they make bad decisions – no harm done. This is why laid-off executives fit in so well.

Also heavily represented at the PFN Club meetings are bought-out partners. These may be the smartest people of all. Once upon a time, they went into business with someone, and in the course of managing the business, they worked so little and annoyed their partners so much that they were paid to leave.


I once paid a business partner a king’s ransom to disappear. For more than three years, I’ve been servicing my debt on that buyout, which has left me happier and poorer.


Bought-out partners contribute to the PFN Club by asserting their right to be paid for nothing, which didn’t go over too well in their former endeavors, but is fine now! In fact, it’s required for admittance.


Sometimes, famous people come to the club. Terrell Owens showed up for a few meetings. The Philadelphia Eagles are paying Mr. Owens to kindly stay away from the team, and he seemed like a promising member until he got upset because the club wouldn’t change its name to The Paid For Nothing Club Featuring Greatest Athlete In The World Terrell Owens.


But the most famous all-time member of the club was probably Ross Perot. GM once paid Perot billions to go away. Pretty soon, Perot started showing up everywhere, and now GM is close to joining Delphi in bankruptcy. But then, the money they paid Perot is a pittance compared to the billions they pay every month for the health benefits of people who no longer work for the company.


Granted, getting health benefits is a little different from getting cold hard cash, but the former employer paying for the benefits has to shell out the same cold hard cash for the premiums – so it may seem different to you, but it’s not to them.


Once upon a time, every member of the PFN Club was on some CEOs' Can’t Do Without (CDW) List. The person was seen as so vital – either individually or as part of a collective group – that agreements, assurances and commitments were made that virtually assured the person would continue to be paid indefinitely. Even if one or both parties decided it best that the person vacate the premises – because who could imagine that?


What would happen to the economy if every dollar paid to every laid-off executive, bought-out partner, unwanted star athlete or otherwise departed non-contributor could somehow be recouped? One presumes the effect would be nothing but positive, but then there would be no PFN Club. And these people need a safe place to go.

© 2005 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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