Monday, December 02, 2002

Choices in Life

The Lovin' Spoonful once had a song - " Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" about which girl to fall in love with. Forgetting the ultimate result of such a decision, the song dealt more with the choices and the critieria for making a decision, and the pressure that you place upon yourself to be sure you can live with the outcome. Reading the news today, we were faced with several difficult choices, almost as tough as those faced by John Sebastian, who penned the above ditty.

First choice, the Mechanics Union of United Airlines, who are the only major employee group not to grant concessions, or the management of United Airlines. Cauliflower or brussels sprouts? Liver or chicken gizzards? Chitlin or sweet breads? While all other unions have reduced their compensation, the mechanics held firm and gave nothing back. The airlines are pissing money away much faster than they can bring it in the top, and in the ulitmate show of self centered, me first, screw you I've got mine mentality the mechanics held tight, giving back nothing. What ever happened to the "we are in this together", teamwork, and the all for one for one for all spirit of cooperation when times are tough? Or, do you go with the management of United Airlines? Former clowns with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus, an airline management team that is customer hostile, these are they guys that while paying themselves big bucks and professing love for the free market system, are now reduced to the same role as a Salvation Army volunteer. Standing on the corner looking for donations. Unable to put a product on the market that customers will pay a fair price for, United Airlines is running to the government asking for taxpayer assistance. Who do you choose? I have a suggestion. Lets go with management and a few conditions. United Airlines management has to agree to the following:

The salaries of the top 100 managers are reduced to minimum wage until the airline is profitable ( we want management dedicated to the turnaround).
No stock options can be cashed in for five years ( with a view to a long term, successful strategy )
Two frequent flyer customers are added to the board to represent customers, since airline management doesn't understand customers. ( Customers make the world go around.)
The top 100 managers have to buy a coach ticket and fly once a week ( on United, of course ) ( Live the life of a customer ).
The first person who says "hub and spoke" is summarily fired ( the worst idea ever invented for the frequent traveler. )
If the loan is not paid back, the top 100 managers are personally liable to refund the taxpayers money. ( No victims here, we want corporate responsibility, put their money where their mouths are.)

Choice two, John Kerry or Al Gore. Mr Kerry announced a committee that would explore his running for president, essentially lets do a few focus groups and see how much money we could raise. Gore, well, he is known commodity, sort of the Michael Jackson of politics. An odd duck prone to temper tantrums, trying to find the next hit slogan that will reinvigorate his likelihood of winning, blaming others for his shortcomings, writing books that don't sell, and blowing through money like there is no tomorrow. Although dying to be the center attention, but he would rather go on the Jerry Springer show than be on the Bill O"Reilly show; so much for profiles in courage. But at least his face isn't falling off. On the other hand, there is John Kerry. Massachusettes like the Kennedys. Hair like the Kennedys. Served in the armed forces unlike the Kennedys. A slow, deliberate, demeanor that gives the appearance of a well thought out answer. Unruffled, calm, analytical, camera ready, and best of all - he is not Al Gore. I don't know, still too close to call. To me he almost looks like Ed Muskie, for those of you that are old enough to remember the snow and the tears. He sure won't get the bald vote. We may have to postpone the decision here, but do we really need another New Englander?

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