COMMENTARY | In fables, the pursuit of enormous wealth at any cost is usually a fatal flaw. Consider the story of King Midas, who wished that all he touched would turn to gold, and it cost him something far more precious: his daughter.
These morality tales clearly demarcated the difference between good and bad. Heroes were heroes and villains were villains. Now, instead of learning the error of their ways, the villains claim to be heroes and blame their own negative consequences on the townsfolk.
Maybe our problem is too much acceptance of and rooting for the anti-heroes, the serial killers who are OK because they only kill the bad guys, like Dexter; the teacher-turned-meth-dealer Walter White; the suburban mom pot dealer, Nancy Botwin. Maybe in the shadow of finding them acceptable, we’ve found management like the management at Hostess acceptable.
All of them are just doing what they “have” to do. Sure it gets ugly, but when the story’s told from their perspective, it seems justifiable.
Their story now? Labor killed Hostess.
The claim smacks of the entitlement of a group fancying itself the “ruling class,” though it discovered otherwise, to its great disbelief, on Nov. 6. This fiction is the stuff of the Mitt Romney we saw berating the 47 percent, the Mitt Romney who affirmed his feelings in a conference call after the election.
We fall into categories to these self-proclaimed job-creators. The interchangeable, fungible cogs-in-the-wheel who turn their engines; and the consumers, the ones this self-styled ruling class sees as soft, malleable. Stupid.
Both are simply a means to the end of getting all the money.
Members of either group can be the “takers” or the “moochers” or the “47 percent.” And this web of self-justification, spun so carefully, so deliberately, is meant to obscure the one real truth. There are “takers,” after all.
While workers, already subject to a previous pay cut, were reportedly expected to decrease their salaries by 27 percent over five years, double their insurance premiums and have less-comprehensive health coverage, among other concessions, the pay of the CEO and other top executives increased dramatically, a move that caused so much controversy for the company in bankruptcy, the raises were reportedly “rolled back.”
If you’re one of those Twinkie hoarders, worry not, this, Hostess’ second bankruptcy in less than a decade — cutesily called a Chapter 22, as it’s two Chapter 11s — is, like the elements, unlikely to be the end of the Twinkie. That’s another part of the fable.
As Hostess is privately held, we will never really know the details of its finances. What we know is what we always know. If there are no workers, there is no product. Without a product, there is no profit. If no one buys the product, you don’t make money. The cogs and the consumers, the famous “takers” and “moochers” and “47 percent” aren’t that at all.
We’re income producers. We are industry. We are retail. We are foods and beverages and other services. Like the witch in a fairy tale, the “job creators” tell us we are small, we are powerless, we are replaceable, we are interchangeable.
But we are not.
The income leeches feed from us, and they tell us it’s their right to gorge themselves, that there is never enough for them, that we have no right to our own blood. They’ve cast an evil spell, under which we’ve come to believe that he who has the most is the most.
But if fables teach us anything, it’s that evil spells will be broken.