Ahoy, mateys. Welcome aboard the airtight entrepreneurial vessel that is Jim McTague’s version of
My guess is that the decline of union membership in the private sector, from about 35% of workers in 1954 to 8% today, according to Epstein's numbers, owes more to a hearty embrace of entrepreneurship than to union-bashing: Most of us are buccaneers at heart. Who wouldn't want to work for relative peanuts and stock options for a visionary like Bill Gates, instead of for a steady paycheck and predictable, small-percentage annual pay increase at the local electric utility?
Yes, who indeed? It’s unclear who McTague is insulting more: working Americans with families, struggling to be responsible providers; entrepreneurs who demand more than just “relative peanuts"; or old-time buccaneers, who were in it for the adventure, sure—but mostly for the treasure and blood.
But after you stop laughing, you kind of have to wonder—is this how the business world really sees workers? As some kind of adventurer just working for the sheer fun of it, with no need for hard currency? Do they think workers who want those “predictable” jobs are lazy or unimaginative?
Or is McTague inadvertantly revealing more than he means to about the kind of workers who have, until recently, been most celebrated in today's corporate America: the ones who acted like pirates and stole the hard-earned savings of honest Americans? Should we all be Bernie Madoffs? But of course, Bernie wasn't exactly adventuring for peanuts, either.