"Yes he can!"
That was my response when a friend asked "Can the president really fire someone who runs a business?" The question related to the situation this week with General Motors CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner, who was ceremoniously forced out of his job by President Barack Obama.
Wagoner is a cool guy and a well-respected executive who's company lost a reported $82 billion in recent years. Much of it wasn't directly his fault, but it was still the his ship, unfortunately. He admirably took one for the team, as he said months ago he would do, if pushed. His integrity in that regard is admirable, because most executives would have back tracked. The larger issue is that I'd have been fired for losing that much money, a long time ago. How about you?
But these are different times. Our government is floating untold billions to financial services firms, mortgage guaranteers and insurance giant AIG -- which gave out bonuses to its executives in the $150-million range a week ago. That was after taxpayers pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into rescuing them.
My theory is that Wall Street hotshots are friends of Capital Hill power brokers and therefore the financial bigwigs whose arrogance and lust for profits led them to greedily seek profits on shaky investments get a pass. Automakers are outsiders among that circle who don't enjoy the same privileges, and are being hung out to dry as a result.
They are being forced out of jobs and made to come up with creative concessions -- all the while continuing to pare the workforce, which is decimating communities across the nation -- at the same time Wall Street is handed blank check after blank check.
That has me upset, to put it mildly. But also encouraged.
If the president can force out Wagoner, at what point can we get him to fire the corrupt or racist members of Detroit's leadership? We clearly have some City Council members, Detroit School Board members and a hell of a lot of municipal employees and city vendors who need to be canned. Actually, jailed. (Whatever happened to FBI investigations?)
It's a travesty of justice that the leadership of this city has driven it into the ground, and left helpless children without adequate education, residents without adequate services or protection, and concerned citizens and business owners without support. This is unjust, and those responsible should be treated as perpetrators of a crime -- because it is.
There are so many people employed by the city who are dutiful, responsible and competent ... who are well-trained and smart, who are just as frustrated with their bosses. It's a shame that their hard work is jaded by the actions of people like City Council President Monica Conyers, or Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins. Or, the officials who have led our school system into ruin.
What do we need to do to get you to fire them, Mr. President?