Tuesday, February 07, 2017

How "Greed is Good" Wrecked Lancaster PA

npr |  It was a hostile takeover. It's still a little bit mysterious exactly how hostile it was, but they buy it in a hostile takeover, and the first thing they do is fire all of the executives and close down the headquarters. So now you have gutted a core group of people that were active in the life of the town. As one person in Lancaster, an old-timer who I interviewed said, "It ripped the heart out of this town." So you've taken away the executives, you've taken away their wives, their families. ...

[It was] devastating for the town. And the new incoming people, the people Newell picked to run Anchor Hocking never lived in Lancaster; they all lived in Columbus. There's a long-standing belief, unshakable belief, that Newell instructed its incoming executives to not live in Lancaster, so as not to be involved in the United Way and other Lancaster civic activities. I could not find any proof of that, but you cannot shake Lancasterians' belief that that was, in fact, the case. ...

Workers will tell you that Newell was not a bad employer. They were not necessarily unhappy under Newell. It wasn't the same; it was less of a family atmosphere. Workers who are hourly people and salaried people all say the same thing. They say that the company became somewhat more efficient, that they made money, they made money for Newell, that they were not unhappy under Newell, but it didn't feel like the old Anchor Hocking, and it never would again.

On how what happened in Lancaster reflects a larger trend in capitalism
When you can pay a foreign worker a third or less of what you're paying a unionized flint glass worker in Lancaster, that's an element, but it's far from the only one. We seem to have this shrugging-shoulders belief that this is all some sort of natural evolution, like how the dinosaurs died. But what I'm trying to argue in the book is that some of this, at least in part, results from a series of conscious decisions [by] politicians, economists, business people, financiers.