Friday, December 05, 2008

What Do All These People DO?

484 What Do All Those People DO?

Flip open your Newsweek or Time or Forbes or Midnight Globe Exposes magazine at take a look at the masthead (the masthead's the thing where they list the staff, not the big title on the cover, which is often called the masthead but really is "the flag.")

You'll find a long list of people. A really long list. A really REALLY long list. You'll find Editors and writers and senior editors and senior writers and junior writers and designers and permissions workers and lawyers and heaven knows what else. Nextpage'll have the "business side" staff. Publishers and general managers and development directors and sweep up people and heaven knows what else.

And you have to wonder, what do all these people do? It's a MAGAZINE, fer cryin' out loud. Sixty or 70 pages of stuff. Do they really need staffs the size of the Pentagon? Apparently yes.

Now, ask the same question of the big two-and-a-half US-based automakers. (GM and Ford are still big. Chrysler, not so much.)

Go to a car factory and you can see what people do. Go to a car factory office and... and... what?

Chairman, Vice Chairman, President and enough vice presidents to staff, well, the Pentagon. And what do they all do?

Okay, so they need accountants and lawyers and labor relations people, designers, engineers, public relations and press relations people, crash test dummies, environmental protectionists and on and on. But how many do they really need.

Should Chevrolet and Buick and Pontiac be separate divisions? How about Ford and Mercury? Or Chrylser and Dodge? They're so similar, the companies don't need 'em all. Does every division of each company need separate back office types? And corporate back office types to merge data from the other back office types?

Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Walter Chrysler thought their companies would do well to make everything in-house. Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea.

Here -- again -- are the brands we don't need: Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Dodge, Mercury. Get rid of them, and you're off to a good start.

The UAW says it's given back enough already. It's right. It's time for management to do the same.

Now I'm going to get into my 1947 Tucker and get out of here. Or was it a Studebaker, a Packard, a Nash, Hudson, a LaSalle, a Kaiser, a Fraser, a Willys, a Franklin or a Maxwell.

Shrapnel:

--Isn't a recession supposed to mean prices come down? Doesn't look like Blue Cross is going to be any cheaper in '09. And they'll cover less, too.

--Two local businesses here have declared bankruptcy, one a restaurant and one a car dealer. It's easy to understand the car dealer. But a restaurant in a town where almost no one cooks?

--The family of the guy killed in the Wal-Mart stampede on Long Island have sued lodged a wrongful death suit. A far more appropriate action than the one filed by a couple of hangers-on and reported in this space earlier in the week. Prediction:Wal-Mart will settle this one and we'll never know for how much.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008


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