Friday, October 29, 2010

Meg Whitman: The Very Model of a Modern American Businessperson

Armed with promises to bring sound business principles to government, Meg Whitman has certainly proven her prior business savvy. As head of the online auction company eBay, Whitman amassed a billion-dollar net worth that gave her plenty of money to burn on a campaign.

Edging out Michael Bloomberg’s record-breaking mayoral bid, Whitman has spent nearly $140 million [now $163M] of her personal fortune on the California gubernatorial race, making her campaign the priciest non-presidential run in history. Left to eat her gold-flecked dust is Democratic opponent Jerry Brown, who has cobbled together less than a tenth of her campaign reserves.

But the methods by which Whitman made her mad campaign money could be construed as unseemly. Just before golden parachuting out of eBay in 2008, she laid off ten percent of its workforce. According to a brief profile of Whitman in The LA Progressive:

“Whitman has chalked up quite a record of eliminating jobs and arranging big bonuses for herself and other management personnel. The California Labor Federation calls her a ‘serial outsourcer’ who sent 40 percent of eBay’s jobs to low wage areas abroad. Between 2002 and 2007, Whitman increased the number of overseas workers at eBay by 666 percent, rather than keeping jobs in California.”

Using the strategy of globalization as the rule rather than the exception, Whitman has routinely taken food out of the mouth of the American worker and sent company products to be manufactured overseas by Asian children in sweatshops. While serving as a general manager of Hasbro in which she oversaw global operations, young Chinese workers plodded through 13.5 hour shifts, seven days a week, making holiday toys in a mosquito-infested factory. While serving as President of the Stride Rite Corporation's Stride Rite Division, which owns the Keds sneaker brand, Whitman played hardball with the labor unions of South Korea. When the workers got too demanding, she moved the sneaker factory to China where the country’s relaxed child labor laws allowed 16-year-old kids to handle toxic adhesive without protection for 42 cents an hour. And under her publishing strategy as Senior Vice President of Marketing of at the Walt Disney Company, Chinese workers were forced to use machines without basic safeguards while enduring oppressive heat and forced overtime for which they were not compensated. This to produce books about Mickey Mouse.

[See also my "Un-Black-Boxing 'Out-Sourcing' " .]

Keywords: economic warfare, espionage, illegal immigrant labor, organized crime, out-sourcing, plutocracy, sabotage, subversion


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