By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
As for the show itself, there’s no attempt to portray any joy in work for work’s sake or even accomplishment’s sake. Just the opposite. Trump’s wannabes labor to win the next perk — a gander at Trump’s apartment, a ride on Trump’s helicopter, a stay in Trump’s hotel suite — anything that hoists them one rung closer on the corporate ladder to emulating The Donald’s vulgar work style — one that belies his near-bankruptcy reality. It’s bad enough that it became standard operating procedure in the workplace for bosses to feel entitled to company-paid and company-provided goodies just by virtue of having the top jobs, but now the offending CEOs cop a vaingloriously smug attitude toward public outrage over the pillaging.
For years now, George Carlin, that cultural anthropologist masquerading as a comedian, has entertained us with the riff that what this country’s all about is “gotta keep on getting more stuff.” And the acquisitive dreams of a confident American consumer fueled not only the Greed Decade of the ’80s but the stock market boom of the ’90s. Fortune, BusinessWeek, Vanity Fair all celebrated the corporate titan who couldn’t wait to show off his wonderful work style on CNN’s Pinnacle. Then came the millennium, and the bull-market euphoria wound up selling out the public in the process as Enron, Global Crossing, Waste Management, Computer Associates International, Adelphia Communications, Cendant Corporation, and ImClone Systems joined Tyco on the rogues’ list of suddenly collapsed corporations.
In almost every case, the bosses’ need for bling-bling on the excessive order of E! Entertainment’s It’s Good To Be, MTV’s Cribsand VH1’s The Fabulous Life Of:(“Here my plasma . . . here my otha plasma”) brought corporations and investors to their knees. Talk about a disconnect. While we mere mortals faced ever-rising Adelphia cable bills, Adelphia’s Rigas family members — founder John, sons Timothy and Michael — are now on trial for allegedly using company money like a private piggy bank and spending $2.3 billion for cash advances, $13 million to buy a golf course and hundreds of thousands of dollars on golf and club memberships. And let’s not forget the time Timothy had the company buy him 100 pairs of bedroom slippers. Or that episode when John directed a corporate jet to be used to fly a Christmas tree from Pennsylvania to New York City for his daughter, who rejected it and ordered a replacement to the tune of $20,000.
It’s little wonder that Jack Welch, the ex-chairman of General Electric who engineered the corporation’s acquisition of NBC and earned the reputation as a ruthless corporate cost cutter, proclaims himself a huge fan of The Apprentice. If it weren’t for his divorce divulgences, no G.E. shareholder would have been informed that Welch walked away from the company with a wealth of retirement perks, including use of a G.E.-owned apartment in Manhattan, sports and opera tickets and the use of a corporate aircraft. It was only because of the bad publicity that Welch requested that the G.E. board modify his retirement package. Now Welch is unabashedly and publicly ruing his move.
That celebrating corporate greed and then lying about it should be revived during the Bush administration doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, these conservative cronies never met a Republican rich man they didn’t like. They extol the superhero powers of The Wealthy Class to lift this country out of recession so long as the tax cuts for the well-off are fat enough. They lie at every opportunity. And they praise as a virtue George W.’s desire to run the country “like a CEO.” Here’s hoping that, during next fall’s November sweeps, the nation rejects this president as well as Trump and NBC.
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