1079 Growing and Shrinking
This is confusing, our apparently contradictory obsessions with growing and shrinking. Crops should grow. Children should grow. Since we all now know that corporations are people -- children of the rich -- corporations should grow.
But then, there’s shrinking. Work forces should shrink, say the parents of the corporate children. And growing a corporation, the kind that really means “beer belly?” well, that’s certainly something that should shrink.
Probably in the real world, growth to a point makes sense, maybe even is required for survival. But where does that stop? A ten pound pumpkin is a thing of beauty. Tasty innards great for pie filling. Lovely shell for making jack-o-lanterns. Fine mulch later on. A 150 pound pumpkin is too big to lift, too big to carve and the innards are stringy and bitter often enough.
We sweat our way through the stair steppers and Zumba dancing to shrink. We keep Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and Dr. Atkins’ food mill in business all to cause shrinkage.
You see those Buick commercials with Shaquille O’Neal? He’s 7’1”. In the ad he says he has retired from pro basketball, but he hasn’t retired from being big. Good thing the guy has money. Think of the clothing bills, the extra long beds, the heavy duty furniture that has to support a seven footer who weighs more than 300 pounds. And they probably gave him a Buick, or at least permanent-lent him one because... he can fold himself in and out of it relatively easily.
He grew, alright. Now what?
You may be thinking this bigness obsession is a guy thing. Look at the ads in your spam folder: pseudo steroids for your torso, pseudo enlargers for your... um... organs of reproduction.
Do women get the same kind of spam for breast augmentation? Probably.
What about women-run corporations? Meg Whitman, now CEO at Hewlett Packard is being gently criticized for spending a year on the job and not turning HP back into the industry-leading monster it once was.
And in Arizona, vulture capitalists who own a big chunk of Fender Guitars are making atonal noises about lack of growth in the recession even though the company already is the largest of its type. Fender’s been pretty smart about product lines and acquisitions lately. But this is the kind of pressure that leads long established companies --adult children, if you will-- into fatal mistakes. Pushes them into areas where they have no expertise... drains energy.
It’s like if your kid -- your REAL child -- is a math whiz and can’t spell to save his or her life, you’re inclined to try to improve the spelling rather than exploiting the natural math talent.
Among corporate children, it’s become growth for growth’s sake. “Growing” has become a pseudo axiom. You get too tall for anything but the NBA and the circus and what happens? It’s not an axiom. There are limits.
Apple and Google and Verizon are approaching theirs. So are Toyota and maybe Kelloggs. Then what?
It’s really REALLY confusing.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012