After “whilst” (against which I personally have no grudge): the adjective “appropriate”, as in “the appropriate way to do things.”
In Sir Fred Goodwin’s famous letter, guess which word peppers the paragraphs? Yes, “appropriate”. [Explanatory note for non-Brits and ex-pats: Sir Fred is the feisty former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, once the fifth largest in the world, forced out of office when the UK government/taxpayer bailed out RBS with billions last October. Shareholders have lost huge sums and 20,000 employees worldwide are likely to forfeit their jobs in the coming months. In the last week it has been revealed that Sir Fred, aged 50, took with him a pension of £650,000 a year for life, and he has written a letter to the Government, later made public, explaining why he thinks he shouldn’t have to give any of it up.]
In my corporate days, I used to love “appropriate”. It was a wonderful word. I heard it used all the time, used it myself on occasion. Of course, the intention was that it would seem to listeners or readers to mean “fitting”, “proper”, “deserved”, even “morally right in the circumstances”, in other words, beyond argument. But what the speakers or writers really meant was “right for me or us”, “suitable for my or our plans”, “exactly as I/we deem it to be”. You can try to bundle up all sorts of controversial things within the apparently uncontroversial wrapping of “appropriate”. Sir Fred’s pleading of his case is no different.
By the way, two other words Sir Fred uses in his letter are “sufficient” and “warranted”…
Of course, there’s another possible use of the word “appropriate” - as a verb, as in “I have appropriated (or taken possession of) this sum of money”.
Which many may feel is a more “appropriate” use in the circumstances…
I was just talking to my wife via Skype and we mentioned Sir Fred … why? Because he has even appeared in a local newspaper here in little Xiamen! I must see if I can get hold of a copy and see what it says. I saw a headline in the newspaper my taxi driver was reading every time he had to stop at a traffic light, and there was a photo of one I presume to be Sir Fred … Such global notoriety takes some achieving! Maybe that is not something he would describe as appropriate.
Grrr. Please don’t mention Sir Fred - at least not without spitting. My blood boils every time I see his slab-like arrogant grey face. £650,000 a year for the rest of his life for being partly responsible for screwing up the banking system (forgive the gross oversimplification), and he has the temerity to say that he “hopes you understand why he does not wish to take a reduction in his pension”. Well, Sir Fred, I don’t really wish for my taxes to be ploughed into banks that have failed just so they can carry on awarding disgusting bonuses to those who have squandered millions or giving them pensions rather than firing them (“Don’t worry, old chap, t’will all blow over, we’ll see you right, what ho”). Capitalism. Gotta love it. Etc etc until Keith goes red in the face and explodes.
Anyway. As for “appropriate” - it’s a word I love, as it’s a word you’re taught during teacher training as a euphemism, for “Stop that you little sht." As in, “Kicking Jamal in the face while he’s on the floor isn’t really appropriate behaviour, Tevin.” Or, "Telling me to f** off is inappropriate, Sharon.”
Here we have an actual name for the practice of the appropriating funds on termination: golden parachute. It is common practice and even a legal obligation of corporations with their leadership if it is negotiated in their employment contract. Look up Paul Allaire.
The “golden handshake” is what it is called here, unless I am wrong. It still doesn’t make it moral or in any way justifiable (ugh). The trouble with Sir Fred is that the legal obligation was only half of what they gave him - the rest was at their discretion. Utterly, utterly immoral, even more so for a bank that has just received billions of public cash to bail it out. Capitalism at its finest…
In this case they could have sacked Sir Fred, though… Then he wouldn’t have been entitled to anything under his contract. But because they got rid of him by paying him to go rather than sacking him - he gets loads of dosh. No doubt it’s all down to the old boys network looking after each other.
I don’t know if you’re being ironic as well as sarcastic in this statement, but I believe this practice of huge pay and golden parachutes/handshakes is pretty far from capitalism. I’m not trying to defend capitalism… I’m definitely more of a socialist. But a truly capitalistic system would not reward someone for failing at their job. I believe the theory of this is that the people who approve these absurd salaries and conditions are board members, and most of those folks occupy similar positions at other corporations, so it is in their own best interests to make such pay scales and severance practices common place. I am not sure what you call this, but it seems far from genuine capitalism. However, if your point is that this is what “capitalism” has become as practiced today… well, I agree completely. We’re in a world with all the negative aspects of capitalism and fewer and fewer of the positives.
Trouble with capitalism is that it inclines towards the accumulation of capital which inclines towards greed. Benign capitalism occurs very occasionally in those periods when greed has got out of hand and shown it for what it is, instead of a nice warm system that lets everyone own their own houses. Much wrong with Marxism but the idea of mystification was spot on.
I think it has been J.A. Schumpeter who wrote two memorable sentences: Can capitalism survive? No, I don’t think so.
Problem with companies run by hired managers, compared to personally owned companies, is the lack of responsibility a manger shows for the company he is working for. The primary objective of any manager is to secure himself, not the company.
[size=50]Well, thats probably not the precise wording, I’m sure. But close enough [/size]
Steve, unfortunately capitalism is not ruled by its ideals or operating definitions, but by its survivable traits in actual scenarios. Even coming from a socialist such as myself, I can look at the ideal of capitalism and see some interesting merits and theories which should suggest its effectiveness (at least in part). Unfortunately these never really tend to pan out, either on the micro and macro scale—and that is really all I can base any sort of critique on: The actual survivable traits—the end result of which can we see blossoming all around us (including those golden INSERT_JARGON). This isn’t the first time capitalist principles have caused this, nor will it be the last.
Any system is in part its ideals, and in part the grist of its machine-works. It is that that I coin as capitalism, not some lofty Randism or vague notion of libertarian idealism which, as far as I know, have (just like true socialism) never really been put to the test.
I agree with you in general. I think the biggest problem with the system we have now in the U.S. (call it capitalism or whatever) – what has led to our current crises – is the laissez-faire approach adopted by our governments since the Reagan era. Of course, this is the result of greed (of endless lobbying and money thrown at legislators). I think we all agree there is nothing wrong with gaining reward from your work and talent. But there is a tipping point where the amount of money and power you have gives you incrdible leverage to tilt the rules in your favor to allow you to gain even more wealth and power – more than your work and talents actually deserve. What government needs to do is NOT allow that tilting to occur. While I have hope that the Obama administration wants to do this – wants to correct for past abuses – I’m not optimistic for success. Even with the best of intentions, Obama still has to deal with the corrupt and spineless Democrats in Congress, and the even more corrupt Republicans.
On behalf of socialists, however, I’m proud to say that Vermont has the only socialist U.S. Senator in Bernie Sanders.
To me what is wrong with the “system” is actually quite simple.
We the people vote for a person based on their ideals and beliefs. Once they get to Washington lobbyists and special interest groups pay these representatives to vote not for the people but rather for which organization gives the politicians the most “donations”. In turn legislation is voted for and made to benefit those that pay the politicians the most and the kicker is the People are left to foot the bill for most or if not all that legislation but are yet to be represented accurately or fairly because lobbyists and special interest groups get first dibs since they shell out more money.
It is a self serving system that corrupts the actual ideals of office. Imagine if people could pay police officers to not write a ticket or not make an arrest.