Our Other National Shamelessness: Needless Job Layoffs

The mass layoffs aren't something we can afford to simply sigh about and treat as inevitable. There needs to be a national discussion on these job losses.
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While President Obama properly called out Wall Street this week for the special sort of greed that allowed billions of dollars in bonuses while the walls of capitalism crumbled around them, there's another sort of contemptuous, destructive greed going on right under our noses that needs the power of the bully pulpit wrought down upon it with great vengeance and furious anger - the needless destruction of thousands of jobs by companies laying off workers to simply add to their own bottom line.

We've seen over 100,000 job losses this week alone. In some cases, those companies had no choice. In other cases, they are examples of what Barry Diller called "throwing people onto the unemployment heap for frankly no good reason."

Just as bad as these layoffs is the underreported story of companies cutting hours and overtime. This gives employees already living week to week barely enough crumbs to pay their bills but just enough crumbs to hang on. It's all part of an appallingly immoral pattern of hiding behind bad economic times to cut costs.

The real hell of it is that the news headlines of the past few weeks make it clear that the people who are ordering these layoffs are lining their own pockets with the bonuses, golden parachutes, office trinkets and other spoils of their war on the American worker.

Some of these executives and their defenders may see their actions as a sort of noble selfishness ripped from the pages of a bloated Ayn Rand paperback. The self delusion has proven too dangerous to our country to let stand. The American businessman on display lately isn't John Galt from Atlas Shrugged; he's Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings - so focused on his precious shiny baubles, $87,000 office makeovers and quarterly dividends that he's lost his sense, soul and mind.

Small wonder that this orgy of business selfishness made even Alan Greenspan shrug and say 'brothers, you asked for it.'

The mass layoffs aren't something we can afford to simply sigh about and treat as inevitable. There needs to be a national discussion on these job losses.

A few weeks ago while the Bush administration was still in power, I called for Congressional hearings to bring business executives in to account for themselves and their actions. Hundreds immediately signed and left comments like these...

This is not the free market, it's a crime in broad daylight.

Please, please, shame these CEOs with the light of day so that they cannot continue their criminal greed without at least the shame of public exposure.

It is, frankly, shameful that a person who is making millions a year can justify cutting hundreds of workers who could be supported simply by them taking a personal paycut.

I'm asking you to sign, too. We have an administration in power now who is willing to speak the simple truth about shameful actions. It's time to tell the truth about needless layoffs.

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