Even amidst the unremitting stream of bad news, certain days and events stand out with particular ugly clarity. Take Monday, January 26, for example.
According to published reports, the tally of jobs lost by the end of that day due to companies of all sorts cutting back in the face of weak sales and/or huge losses was some 75,000.
75,000! Granted, in an environment where speaking about things (usually dollars) in the billions has become commonplace, a number that doesn’t even reach 100,000 seems piddling. Yet, these are 75,000 people, most of whom have spouses and children, who now are part of that sector of the population that people dread most: those looking for work while a raging recession deepens.
On Jan. 26 as one company after another announced sizeable cutbacks, it was like having one of those unforgiving headaches when you’ve run out of Advil and all the drugstores are closed. Caterpillar, 20,000 jobs cut; Home Depot, 7,000; Sprint, 8,000; Pfizer, 19,500. And in the world of finance, ING, which said it was going to cut 7,000 full-time jobs.
No wonder there is such a feeling of outrage across the land regarding the financial clowns that brought the country to its knees. Most of that rage just sputters, however. Sure, there are some cheers as an obscenely overpaid executive is rudely booted from the corner office, but he is likely to have a substantial cushion on which to rest his weary head.
Then every once in a while, an executive does something so outrageous that he becomes the focal point of our frustrated rage. Enter, on cue, John Thain.