Madison County Opinion...

JULY 10, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 10, 2002

Frankly Speaking

The corporate power structure
“Power corrupts,” someone said. “And absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The more power is concentrated in the hands of a few, the more corrupted those powerful men and women will become.
That is the simple answer to the recent rash of business corruption stories that have infected our nation’s economy. Why are the managers of so many giant corporations being accused of ripping off their stock holders and employees? It is because our nation’s economic power is being concentrated in those few giant corporations.
Now come the politicians who propose solutions to the problem. For some reason, all their proposals include more regulations and bigger bureaucracies. That is exactly the wrong approach to this problem. We are infested with giant, dominating corporations simply because they are the only ones who can stand up to the corruption and power brokering of the bureaucracy.
Owners of small businesses are hampered by a massive tax code and tons of regulations that take up a high percentage of their time and resources. This limits their ability to grow their businesses. The majority of these companies eventually die off or are absorbed by their giant competitors. The diversity and competition that force managers to perform in the best interest of their companies are being squeezed out, leaving only the giants, whose managers have nearly absolute power. It is no surprise that so many of them are becoming absolutely corrupted.
Now, what should Congress and the president do to correct these abuses? They need to take immediate action to simplify tax and regulatory rules so that individuals and small companies can successfully launch new businesses that will be competitive with the giants. This would diversify economic power, create a competitive economy and force all managers to act in the best interest of their corporations, their employees and the nation.
Imagine a system in which a misused employee finds it easy to leave a corporation and launch his own competitive company. The managers of the larger corporation will find it to be in their interest to make sure the employee is fairly treated.
Imagine a large company that finds itself facing a smaller, carefully controlled competitor that is offering the same product or service at a much lower price. The big company will be forced to control all expenses, including compensation of top managers, in order to compete against the newcomer.
To solve the current economic crisis, we need fewer taxes and regulations, not more. We need a climate that will encourage more small companies to dilute the power of the giants.
While we are at it, we need to reduce the political power of the bureaucrats and return political power from the federal government back to the states and the people. Big government and big business will always use each other to maintain their power.
Business corruption is the result of too much power in the hands of too few people. Until we simplify taxes and regulations so that small companies can compete and take back some of that power, we will not solve the problem.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
July 10, 2002

From the Editor's Desk

On hard feelings and the rec. dept.
There’s no quick fix to the hard feelings surrounding the recreation department these days. Resentments are running deep.
So where do we go from here?
First, here’s an overview of what’s happening:
Some parents, coaches and commissioners feel that recreation department director Dick Perpall has shown little regard for the Little League, closing fields and facilities at inappropriate times. They contend that Perpall favors convenience for his staff over making the facilities readily available for public use. As Junior League coach Frank Strickland put it, “our recreation department wants to work a 9 to 5 job. And that’s not the way a recreation department should be run.”
County commissioners recently issued a reprimand to Perpall, saying that every year he closes ball fields for an excessive period of time before all-star action, leaving some county all-star teams without a field to practice on before tournaments. The commissioners said this must change, along with Perpall’s attitude. They want him to be more appeasing to the public.
Others say such criticism is way off base. They say the field closings are reasonable. And they point to Perpall’s resumé, noting that he has led the department for over 20 years, helping it grow into one of the finest programs in the state. They say that Perpall leads a hard-working staff that is underappreciated and that the BOC’s reprimand qualifies as micro-management and a major blow to staff morale. In essence, Perpall’s supporters contend the recreation leader is the innocent victim of a pointed jab from an aggravated few.
No doubt, it ain’t pretty. You have two sides convinced they are right, convinced that they’ve been disrespected.
A fist fight? No, that’s not a good option.
A better idea is an agreed method of resolve. Too often, conflicts linger because people enjoy holding on to resentment. It gives them something to do. That’s your business, if that’s your family situation. But that’s the county’s business in this case. It’s not in the public’s interest to have a dysfunctional relationship between commissioners and recreation leaders. Such a setup inevitably means that important decisions are clouded by the grudges of one against another. We’ve seen that time and again in politics, personal feelings outweighing public interest. Therefore, it’s essential that the BOC be willing to meet with the recreation board, recreation staff leaders and the Little League board to guarantee that smart decisions are made. A refusal of any of these groups to come to the table would suggest that they favor bad feelings over resolve.
Ultimately, the recreation department should work as much as possible to be open to the public. It’s reasonable to request that fields be more available to practice for all-star games. Likewise, when criticisms arise, they should be treated respectfully, not dismissed as the ravings of hotheads.
Vice-versa, when people see something they don’t like about the recreation department, they should be forthright in voicing it, without making presumptive statements that only enrage. Criticisms of the recreation department could be made without an undertone of hostility and without alienating the recreation director and his staff.
A mark of a good leader is somone who can accept or voice criticism without personalizing the matter.
And while there’s no quick fix for bruised feelings, hopefully all will recognize the importance of a respectful tenor when addressing contentious matters.
If all this is truly “for the kids,” they will.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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