HIGHTOWER: In So Many Words, "You're Fired"

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "How do I fire thee?  Let me count the ways."

Once again, firing workers is all the rage in corporate America, as tens of thousands of bodies are being punted out the door each month.  But Newhouse News Service reports that those in charge of these job massacres are having a difficult time with the firings-not with doing them, but with saying what they're doing.

It seems that CEOs of downsizing companies get all jittery about how stock market analysts will take the firings, fearful that Wall Street will see mass layoffs as a sign of a sick company, thus knocking down the company's stock price, which in turn would whack the CEOs paycheck.  Can't have that! So, corporate lawyers and PR flacks are spending countless hours crafting press releases that go through linguistic convolutions and contortions of logic to avoid saying the obvious:  "Global Bloodsucker Incorporated today fired skillions of its employees in order to prop up its profits and cover for management blunders."

Instead, the corporate spin doctors try to put yellow smiley-face stickers on the bad news.  For example, Proctor & Gamble didn't fire 9,600 folks-it announced an "Overall Plan to Restore Competitiveness and Growth."  Never mind that 9,600 employees will not be part of that "growth."  Likewise, when KeyCorp, offed 3,000 workers, its press release was headlined:  "KeyCorp, Preparing for New Opportunities, Announces Efficiency Initiatives."  How antiseptic.  Those are not 3,000 fired human beings, they're "Efficiency Initiatives," and presumable they can find their "New Opportunities" elsewhere.  Or not

First prize for Orwellian Obfuscation, however, goes to the Internet giant, Cisco, which recently whacked 3,000 jobs, but rather than refer to them as firings, gaily chirped that these people were part of the company's "involuntary normal attrition."

This is Jim Hightower saying...Maybe these PR deceits are fooling Wall Street, but they aren't fooling workers, who know they've been fired.


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