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The C.E.O> - A Fun Poem
by Rene Sonsmann
Sunday Sep 22nd, 2019 1:04 PM
BY RENE SONSMANN. SET: The play takes place in Heaven. The set is a bare stage. The stage is lit with a warm ethereal light. God is bathed in a strong spot light at all times. CHARACTERS: God and Adrian, a recently deceased arrival in Heaven. God is middle-aged, clean shaven, dressed in a bright Hawaiian shirt and pale blue chinos.
rene sonsmann's blog | The Smirking Chimp
Fun poem by Rene Sonsmann from the Smirking Chimp.
I love poetry. Always have. So here goes.


The company’s share price had failed to perform
And anxious fund managers demanded reform.
The Board decided the M.D. should be the fall guy
So he left with an eight figure ‘golden goodbye’.
They then set about finding, amongst corporate aces,
The man to put smiles back on shareholders’ faces.

The new Chief Executive drove into town,
The black-tinted windows of his limo wound down,
He toured all the factories and the high office tower,
Before taking control at his new seat of power.
He was a Captain Of Industry, Lord Of All He Surveyed,
Worth every mill of the king’s ransom they paid.

Now, it’s interesting that employers expect me and you,
In return for our wage, to do the best we can do.
But for Senior Executives such rules don’t apply,
And for ten mill a year you can’t expect them to try.
So the Board, as an incentive, agreed to offer the man
A staggeringly generous stock option plan.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the guy,
For securing an income so obscenely high.
But as this story unfolds, I hope that you’ll see,
How that stock option plan does affect you and me,
And why the way that executives get their remuneration,
Should be a cause of extreme consternation.

His brief from the Board was to stop the decline
In the share price, which had gone only south for some time.
His first act was, of course, ‘A wide ranging review
Of all operations’, so he’d know what to do.
And with the eyes of the market upon the new man,
A month or so later he announced his ‘Grand Plan’.

While the company’s business, he said, was basically sound,
There were problems but nothing he could not turn around.
There’d be pain, there’d be cutbacks and, it grieved him to say,
There’d be substantial job losses – starting today!
His ‘Vision for the Future’, his ‘Strategy for Success’,
Were wildly acclaimed by the Financial Press.

Now a company’s share price, in case it’s not clear,
Depends, largely, on the profit it makes year to year.
And profit, for those not in commerce instructed,
Is the sum left from sales once costs are deducted.
And from this, you can see, that lifting profit entails
One of two choices – cut costs or raise sales.

To raise sales isn’t easy, certain or quick,
So which, do you think, did our C.E.O. pick?
Yes! He cut thousands of jobs and threatened that more,
Without much lower wages, would be transferred offshore.
The market approved, the share pundits said “Buy”,
This man clearly meant business, he was their kind of guy.

He cut back on maintenance, the preventative sort,
He cut capital spending, no new machines would be bought,
He cut Research & Development, existing products would do,
He cut advertising, admin and sales support too.
He cut workers’ pensions (though not the management team’s)
And all but abandoned the Employees’ Health Scheme.

Well, after all this cost-cutting, profitability soared
The Press lionized him, he was adored by the Board.
Investors were convinced and shares started to buy,
And when, two years later, they hit a new high,
He was on the cover of ‘Newsweek’, Time’s ‘Man of the Year’,
He rang the stock exchange bell, got a back-slapping cheer.

But those cuts, which gave profits a temporary boost,
Gave rise also to chickens that must come home to roost.
Machines broke down more often and caused production delays,
Annoying loyal customers, who had heard anyways,
That competitors’ products were now better and cheaper,
Sales fell, slowly at first, but then progressively steeper.

‘Creative Accounting’ now came to the fore
As honest-to-god profits weren’t made any more.
There were dubious transactions, asset revaluations,
Sale and lease-back arrangements, financial manipulations.
For a couple more years he maintained the façade,
But concealing the truth became increasingly hard.

So the executive decided he’d not stick around
The company he’d managed right into the ground
From here on, he knew, things would only get worse,
So he sold the stock mentioned in an earlier verse,
And left with a profit of over one hundred mill,
Now, who do you think will get stuck with the bill?

It was a year or so later that the shit hit the fan,
So a new C.E.O. had to carry the can
For the worst corporate crash of the past two decades,
While the former chief executive escaped largely unscathed,
The media being loathe to condemn or accuse,
Lest their own blind support become front page news.

The factories are silent now, the jobs gone offshore,
The city’s a ‘ghost town’, where few work anymore.
The company collapsed, though their brand name’s still known
But, though they don’t advertise it, it’s now foreign-owned.
The small investors and workers, for whom life was once good,
Paid the price with their pensions and lost livelihoods.

And the former C.E.O., what of him, you might wonder?
How fares the main culprit of this corporate blunder?
Well, he winters in Aspen and summers in Maine,
He bought a place in The Hamptons, flies his own Lear jet plane.
He’s much in demand and firms pay richly to hear,
Words of wisdom from the former ‘Time’s Man-of-the-Year”
BY RENE SONSMANN. SET: The play takes place in Heaven. The set is a bare stage. The stage is lit with a warm ethereal light. God is bathed in a strong spot light at all times. CHARACTERS: God and Adrian, a recently deceased arrival in Heaven. God is middle-aged, clean shaven, dressed in a bright Hawaiian shirt and pale blue chinos.

THE HEGEMON (Part 2 - The Occupation)

rene sonsmann
by rene sonsmann | August 15, 2019

THE HEGEMON (Part 2 - The Occupation)
As I outlined before (see Part 1), the Hegemon’s blitzkrieg had resulted in the complete annihilation of the US Air Force, Navy, Nuclear Deterrent and 7 mainland cities (plus London), and quickly led to the capitulation of the USA.
The Hegemon announced, at the new UN headquarters in Geneva, that the USA was guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ and that ALL Americans, through acts of commission or omission, were collectively responsible.

The Hegemon decided a collective punishment was, therefore, most appropriate. Our guilt, they announced, could only be expiated by collectively experiencing the misery we had sought to impose on other nations. As a result, under the First Directive, the private property rights of all American individuals and corporations were expunged and our property and assets forfeited. Henceforth, the Hegemon announced, America and all in it became their property.

I should probably mention that it was only the USA and its citizens, whom were affected. The Hegemon imposed relatively few restrictions on the rest of the world. Nuclear weapons had already been confiscated, of course, and their further development banned, along with national military forces – but frankly most people were glad to see the back of them and ever since The Hegemon introduced the IDRD (International Dispute Resolution Directive), international territorial disputes have been peacefully arbitrated by the United Nations, so they weren’t needed anyway.
So, for the rest of the world, it was pretty much ‘business as usual’, non-Americans didn’t have the travel restrictions or the expropriation of private property or the Indentured Servitude we did. The only foreigners who really suffered were the criminals and tax cheats, because when The Hegemon expunged the US dollar and replaced it with a new cyber currency, Hegemoney, only legitimate holdings of US dollars were converted to Hegemoney, not the ones in tax havens, secret Swiss bank accounts and the like.
It was very different for us Americans.

At the ceremonial burning of The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, The Hegemon explained that until we had expiated our guilt, Americans were ‘chattels’ and that chattels didn’t own property and didn’t have rights and didn’t have citizenship - so, we lost our citizenship along with whatever property we might own.
Under Directive 7, all non-citizens had to serve a period of 15 years of Indentured Servitude (IS) from the age of 18. Upon the satisfactory completion of IS, we would be allowed to become citizens again and might even own private property. It was our Pathway to Citizenship (P2C).

An exception was made for African-Americans, of course. The Hegemon said that racially they had already served their period of Indentured servitude, and were exempt. Instead, African-Americans received 5 years of concentrated education and/or vocational training. To compensate for their centuries of deprivation, The Hegemon said.

As you can imagine, all this did not go down well with the average American!
Some resisted. They were well armed, as there were a huge number of weapons in America back then, before firearm prohibition. They said they “preferred to die on their feet, rather than live on their knees”. So The Hegemon obliged them.
The MAGA (Make America Great Again) Insurrection, as they called it, continued for almost 20 years of guerrilla or asymmetric warfare. But they were no match for the Hegemon’s Liberation Force and over the years were progressively hunted down and eradicated, or simply died of old age. Some realised opposition was futile and surrendered - they usually had 5 years added to their period of Indentured Servitude and were sent to Re-Orientation Camps.

It’s pretty peaceful these days. You occasionally hear about some hothead who gets liquoured-up and runs amok, wanting to ‘make America great again’ before going down in a hail of gunfire but they are few and far between.

Others couldn’t face a life of deprivation and servitude, and tried to escape. The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, previously insuperable natural defences, now became insurmountable obstacles to escape, so most tried to cross into Canada or Mexico. This was illegal and the Hegemon required those governments to return what they called their ‘chattels’. Most were returned (and had 5 years added to their Indenture period) but a few manged to evade detection and ‘disappear’, usually to wind-up exploited in prostitution, petty crime and low-paid manual labour, where official papers were not required.

What was it like, in the early days of The Liberation?
Well, the soldiers of the Liberation Force were closely followed by Hegemon citizens, called Settlers, who arrived in their millions.
Under the First Directive we lost everything . Not that we had much in the first place - the 1% had already seen to that! On the plus side, all debts and loans were cancelled.
In the cities and suburbs, Americans were allocated accommodation on the basis of need and an ‘inverse socio-economic weighting’. So, for instance, a large, previously-poor family might end up in accommodation that was much better than they’d actually had before Liberation, while the poorest, worst slums were reserved for those previously from the highest socio-economic levels.
The best and finest homes and suburbs were, of course, reserved for the Settlers, along with the best jobs.

In rural areas, Americans were expelled from the land they had owned and farmed for generations, some since their families had driven the Native Americans off it over 200 years earlier. But now it was owned by the Hegemon and farmed by a Settler - and Americas were not allowed on it, except as day labourers if, say, the Settlers needed some low-paid help with planting or harvest.
In some areas, Americans might get to farm a bit of marginal land the Settlers didn’t want (yet) but it was hard – they had no official title so were unable to get loans; water for irrigation was sporadic as the Settlers had first call on it; fertilizers and pesticides were banned because they might be used by freedom-fighters (as they called themselves) or terrorists (as the Hegemon called them) to make bombs or poison gas; and if they did have any surplus produce, access to market was difficult, due to all the travel and movement restrictions, the checkpoints and curfews.
For the first 20-30 years, life was harsh. The Hegemon said we would experience the misery America had imposed on countless countries in our name and we certainly did.

Grandad is old enough to remember, as a small child, when America was first liberated. Even today, he’ll spit on the ground, surreptitiously, if a Settler walks past but he’s careful not to be seen doing so – he has had many beatings over his lifetime and knows that to visibly show dissent, even today, might mean the loss of his other eye and/or few remaining teeth.
Ask him and he’ll tell you about the frequent house-to-house searches – the Liberation Forces called them ‘security sweeps’ - where anything nice was deliberately smashed or stolen, and how his parents, like everyone else, would be subjected to random body searches.

Grandad’s greatest fear was that his father, your great grandfather, would be unable to contain his anger and react, maybe when a soldier from the Liberation Force would be provocative and take liberties with your great grandmother during a random body search.
But his father knew better than that. He knew that to react or show dissent would result in at least a severe beating and possibly an increase in his period of Indentured Servitude. He might even be sent to one of the Reconstruction Teams working in the radioactive ruins of Washington or elsewhere – and who would provide for his family then?

On the plus side, The Hegemon, ensured a nutritious diet was affordable for all, that everyone received free healthcare and that the kids got a good education. Yes, it was tough, harsh even, but as the Hegemon said, it was a punishment. We Americans were guilty of crimes against humanity and had to be punished for that.
It’s a lot better now, of course.
(Part 3 - The New Deal. Coming soon)
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