Last Tuesday, between my late dinner and early bedtime, I was able to catch up with The Man, best known for being the head of The Establishment, and the developed world’s biggest employer. Millions of people work for The Man, and many complain about his managerial practices and his indifference to the plight of workers. I sat down with him to get his side of the story, and he was very candid.
David: You are an authority figure in all sorts of spheres: government, religion, culture, politics — but today we’re focusing specifically on business and work. A lot of people work for you, and you don’t have the best reputation. The thing people say most about you is that you “Keep them down.” Is that how you see it?
The Man: No, not at all. Nobody provides more jobs than I do. I think what they mean is that there are things about working for me that they don’t like. Working for me is voluntary.
DC: If it is ultimately voluntary for people to work for you, why do they do it?
TM: Well it’s the normal thing to do, and I give them money to do it. All of their friends work for me, their parents almost certainly did. Obviously if it was so horrible it wouldn’t be so popular. I guess when you begin to believe someone else controls your life you can stop worrying about it so much.
DC: You don’t take any responsibility for the condition of your employee’s lives? Work is a huge part of life.
TM: You’re touching a nerve here. Listen, I run a solid business, and I don’t think I’m going to run out of employees or customers any time soon, so I’ll spare you the company-spokesman runaround — no, I don’t take responsibility for the state of their lives and I don’t see why I should. Particularly when they don’t take much responsibility for their lives themselves.
Do you know how people with hoards of money get to have those hoards of money? They make some money, and then they don’t spend it all. They keep some each time it comes in, and they use it to make more come in next time. That’s how power is accumulated. Instead of accumulating power, most of my employees accumulate objects in their homes, or they just burn the money as it comes in, on booze and expensive sandwiches. What I see is people setting up their lives such that they become dependent on powerful people like me, which is exactly the opposite of how one ought to build wealth. That’s why I’m The Man and they work for The Man.
They’re free to do this. I pay a fair wage, in thousands of different areas of work, each of which they can take or leave. I find they don’t pick very good ones for themselves, but they just stay with it rather than starting over somewhere else. Then they get grumpy, and instead of finding a more personally appropriate way to earn a living, they stay on the payroll and go through the motions and try to “stick it to me” by stealing pens and playing rock music.
DC: Is rock music still subversive?
TM: Well no, not like it was in the fifties and sixties. Not because the music is tamer these days, it’s really not, but because the mainstream was just so perfect and obedient back then. One night of unchaperoned jukebox dancing and I could lose a young person’s earnestness and naivete forever. They start writing poetry and looking for meaning. It’s a businessman’s worst nightmare. Don’t even get me started on LSD.
DC: By the eighties the counterculture was definitely pretty tame. How did you eventually deal with rock and roll’s threat to The Establishment?
TM: I killed John Lennon. I bought MTV. And, thank God, Bob Dylan went and found Jesus. Read More