GODDING UP THE CEOS

It’s Saturday, March 21, 2020.

It’s the 58th birthday of Matthew Broderick – a man with the good fortune of having everyone think of him as a teenager even on his 58th birthday.

It’s the 14th anniversary of Twitter. Jack Dorsey and his colleagues supposedly created it after a day-long brainstorming session on March 21, 2006.

Twitter is one of those things people love to hate. I thought it was really stupid when I first encountered it. 

But because it was becoming an important source of information, I was compelled to join it when I worked at CNNMoney. And now, like lots of other people who were initially skeptical, it’s a regular part of daily life.

So much so that I suspect it would be harder for health experts to say don’t look at Twitter than it is to not touch my face during this pandemic. 

The problem is that it’s hardly an untarnished public good. 

One handle says that best: @realDonaldTrump.

So is the world better because of that March 21st in 2006? 

The tweet is out on that.

Song of the day: “Dreams” by the Allman Brothers.

Red Smith, one of my sportswriting heroes, told the story of the year he was at spring training writing feelgood stories about the baseball players getting in shape in Florida.

The pieces drove his boss, New York Herald-Tribune sports editor Stanley Woodward, to almost send a wire saying “Will you stop godding up those ballplayers?”

Ballplayers still get godded up – my Pete Alonso Polar Bear t-shirt is testimony to that.

Unfortunately, even more so, so are business moguls.

Since the 1980s, the people who’ve been held in awe by media and – to some extent – the general public are the mostly men who run companies or make shrewd investments and become wealthy.

Think about how people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk have been lauded over the years.

Think about how Jamie Dimon of Chase, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and other financial services leaders never spent a day in prison for what they did to the U.S. economy in 2008.

Think about Jack Walsh, the recently passed former CEO of General Electric. At the turn of the century, I remember watching him on CNNfn – and the interviewer treated him as if what he said was the equivalent of the tablets from Mt. Sinai. 

Walsh and CNNfn are both gone. Thanks to the way Walsh ran it, General Electric almost is.

Finally, think about Donald J. Trump. 

He cultivated an image of business mogul extraordinare. “The Art of the Deal.” “The Apprentice.”  The gawdy hotels, the gold-plated offices.

Before he became president, Trump was a fixture on TV networks – even the ones he now labels “fake news” – as some sort of business expert. 

Didn’t he have a weekly appearance on CNBC? And I remember seeing him oozing through the newsroom at CNN.

The problem with Trump was that he was a fake. He took his father’s real estate fortune and ran it into the ground, needing help from other business moguls to stay afloat.

There were people who saw through him – in fact, more people did than didn’t in 2016.

But there were a lot of people who didn’t. And in a nation where making money is primary – it’s gospel to some – Trump seemed like the answer to their own financial crises.

And yet, if Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg or even Warren Buffett had run against him four years ago, they might have beaten him.

Because business moguls make money and that commands a godlike amount of respect.

You know what doesn’t respect these folks’ ability to make money?

The coronavirus.

That little bug floating ominously around all of us is about to leave thousands – and possibly millions – of us dead.

And yet, the Republicans led by the U.S. Senate – led by Mitch McConnell, a strong candidate for the most infamous person in American history – think that helping corporate America, business moguls, are the ones who have the answers to this crisis.

They see the gods of industry – who certainly lubricated their cause with millions in campaign contributions – as having the wherewithal to pull us out of this. Give them money and their supposed acumen will solve everything.

No.

They’re one of the reasons why we’re this messed up right now.

If Trump had been less concerned about the stock market and corporate well-being, and more focused on what was needed to stem this outbreak, both the outbreak and the economy would have been better controlled.

And where were the business leaders, these so-called wizards of finance? If they were as astute as they want people to see them, they would have waived red flags like the color guard team in a marching band.

So if the federal government is going to act to solve the health and financial crises – IN THAT ORDER – it needs to focus on individuals. 

It needs to mobilize American industry in the same way this country did that after Pearl Harbor. 

Apple and General Motors can stop making iPhones and GMC trucks, and start making ventilators. Drugmakers can focus on vaccines and treatment instead of erectile dysfunction and age spots. Small businesses can make millions of masks and gowns, and gallons of hand sanitizer.

Congress and the administration need to stop worrying about bs like means testing and whether people who earn very little money get less than people who earn little money.

We’re not getting out of this until we stop godding up the CEOs, the hotshot investors, financial services companies. Focus on helping everyone and not the guys who are good at making – or, in the case of Trump, faking making – a buck

And let’s go back to godding ballplayers. Right now, that seems pretty wonderful.

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