HIGHTOWER: Corporate Clergy

The race is on to see which company can fire the most workers the quickest!Just since Labor Day, Whirlpool dumped 4,700 people, Levi Strauss offed 6,400 individuals, Citicorp whacked 9,000 employees, Kodak cut 10,000 and General Motors took the lead by axing 42,000 folks. Wall Street analysts say this is just the start of something big, that we should expect another surge of major downsizings in the next few months.Of course, these "analysts" also serve as apologists for this corporate slaughter, rationalizing that each one of the job cuts is crucial to "efficiency" and "global competitiveness." Globaloney! GM, for example, is sitting on $15 Billion in cash reserves and has hauled-in $4.5 Billion in profits in just the last nine months. The employees of GM were key to amassing this pile of cash, but the top execs reward their productivity by drop-kicking 42,000 of them through the goalposts of global greed.Not that the CEOs are totally insensitive. They claim to "feel your pain," and to help assuage the anxiety, stress and morale problems caused by their mass firings, more and more corporations are offering "help." Not money, not assurances of job security, but ... chaplains. Yes, they are bringing chaplains into the workplace to provide counseling and spiritual guidance.But wait, corporations even get their chaplains on the cheap! Instead of full-time padres, these ministers are temporary workers. The bosses are turning to hiring agencies like Ministers-R-Us, Priests-in-a-Pinch or Rabbis-on-the-Run to get low-cost clergy to tend the corporate flock.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Same old story: The bosses get the cash, the workers get ministers promising "There'll be pie in the sky when you die."Source:"New round of layoffs may be beginning" by Fred Bleakley. Wall Street Journal: Nov. 13, 1997. "Chaplains-for-hire provide services in workplaces" by Stephanie Armour. USA Today: Nov. 14, 1997.

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