© 2011 Josh Obama-Meets-Joker

Something Political.

President Barack Obama appointed General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.The stated mission of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is “finding new ways to promote growth by investing in American business to encourage hiring, to educate and train our workers to compete globally, and to attract the best jobs and businesses to the United States”.

People hate this dude.  Jeffrey Immelt, during his years at GE championing the ‘Eco-magination’ program and diverting company funds to environmental reform made an enemy of the ‘The Free Enterprise Action Fund” which now operates as the Congressional Effect Fund; a right wing, limited government mutual fund that demonstrates in its literature that Government is bad for business, but they’re not the only ones to find fault with Jeff.  During his reign as CEO of GE, stock prices dropped, a lot, the company was criticized for conducting business with iran, and pulled some shady shit like holding employees for ransom to demand tax credits, and of course, resorted to massive layoffs (however nowhere near as impressive as layoffs under Welch, Jeff’s predecessor).  Hopefully, now that he has the president’s undivided attention, he should be able to turn things around for GE, as he remains CEO and has made no public indication that he is stepping down.  On top of this, the recent media attention regarding GE’s ability to avoid paying taxes, also illuminated that since Jeff took over, GE has reduced their workforce by 20%.  GE counters these claims on it’s website and on twitter.


Where should our concern be applied? Should we be thankful that the CEO of the second largest company (according to Forbes magazine) in the world is sharing tips with the president on making america more competitive, or should we be concerned that the brain of  a massive profit-motivated corporate entity has a direct line to the executive branch of the government to go along with their cash-feed to the legislative branch? (GE spent $40 million last year on lobbying.)

What advice could Jeff offer to the Chief Executive Officer of America about how to stay competitive?  Well, he could teach him how to improve his accounting practices.  Or how best to motivate his employees. But when it comes to creating jobs, Obama is convinced that Immelt is the dude to do it; he’s got a good track record.

GE is such an enormous fucking company, it’s hard to really tally the Good Vs. Evil, and then make a case that Immelt has been architect of every inspiration and fuck up. GE was assaulted by the EPA for being one of the largest corporate polluters in the world, and as a result Mr. Immelt launched a 20 billion dollar initiative to transform GE into an Ec0-friendly company (still a work in progress apparently).  While it’s easy to look at the profile of the man propped up by media hype, you could still listen to what he has to say.

Everything I read about the guy, despite the regular bashing he undergoes, doesn’t paint the picture of a greedy, voracious, cold hearted stereotype, although, I’m  open to the possibility he may be. As far as the archetype of CEOs go, he could really be a lot more ruthless and avaricious (in fact, if you look at those bonus figures, Mr. Immelt declined to give himself a bonus on a number of occasions).  I think there are definitely worse choices out there Obama could have made as far as finding a job-creation czar, he’s certainly a better choice than GE’s last CEO, who earned the nickname ‘Neutron Jack’ for his 100,000 employee layoffs.

If critics of this appointment want to make as strong a case as possible, the key argument isn’t going to be “conflict of interest”; it’s going to be “he ran GE’s stock prices into the ground”; but of course, you can’t make this argument at that same time you criticize GE for not paying taxes on its multi-billion dollar profits.

The greater issue at hand, at least in my opinion, is that this, among numerous other decisions President Obama has made since starting his term, illustrates a continued acquiescence to the Reagan model of economics; that bowing to the demands of the ‘free market’ will somehow help us out from under the problems caused by that same free market. Who knows, maybe this time it will work.

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