We hear that Illinois should be run more like a business. Hedge fund Jana Partners purchased substantial stock in Safeway in 2013. They demanded Safeway exit from "subscale and lower margin geographies." Weeks later, Safeway announced its exit from the Chicago area, eliminating 6,000 jobs. Safeway stock bounced upward. Jana's investors gained $150 million while we in the "low margin geographies" live with the costs to the community.
Verizon laid off almost 40,000 workers from 2009 to 2011 despite being the largest wireless communications company. Its stock prices have nearly doubled since 2009 and its net income has doubled in the past five years to $11.5 billion.
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JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut 17,000 jobs last year despite annual profits of $20 billion. On another front, Freedom Industries spilled 10,000 gallons of dangerous chemicals into West Virginia's Elk River in January. A proposal by federal regulators to address spills had been ignored by business-friendly state officials.
Millions are out of work and companies face little pressure to raise salaries even while profits soar. Productivity gains come from technology but also at a cost to overstressed workers accepting the increased workload in an environment of job insecurity. In a decade, multinationals cut 1.1 million jobs in the U.S. creating 2.9 million jobs overseas at the expense of their customer base.
The idea that all workers create value is irrelevant in a world where boards and CEOs agree to lavish mutual rewards. Top earners have seen their income double while the average worker struggles to stay ahead of rising costs. We know what "business" does, are we ready to accept politicians who arrogantly tell us they intend to run government more like a business?