League Of Leaders

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano (wiki it), the area public airwaves have filled with numbers to call for sustaining donations. Of course, donate whatever you can, at whatever amount you are comfortable with. But the recipients of the donor’s largesse offer bonuses and incentives – funding levels. One area station offers the requisite coffee mug/keychain for the minimum contribution, rising up through Tee shirts and decorated throws all the way to membership in the League of Leaders, where instead of receiving something, the sugar daddy (or mommy) gets to give their advice, business direction, management expertise to the ever attentive program director herself, etc. If the present presidential election is any barometer of culture, Americans like their leaders to be wealthy. Quick, without looking at your smartphone, who was the last white, un-wealthy leader you can think of? Ralph Nader? Maybe. Richard Trumpka? For a while. Let’s hear from the ladies out there? Can I get a witness? The silence is deafening. People of color? Oh plenty when we go down that road, whether radical or conventional. Why is that? Then again, that too is changing. No, it is a safe overgeneralization and simplification to state that Americans associate leadership with wealth. Somehow that makes us feel comfortable. No sense to go through the 1%, 99% stats of how CEO’s of companies make beaucoup more salary (and perks) than those making their wealth possible. How often does one hear that tax funded public institutions must offer continuous pay scale upgrades to attract “the best” for their leadership positions, be it superintendent, manager or even coach? In wealth we trust. To those having acquired it we attribute various virtues and qualities like foresight, wisdom, talent, affability, and in general, the taste and discernment of what is the best for all. Recently, a league of leaders, the majority of which were not elected (but well funded just the same), toured the tottering relic of Dave Longaberger’s corporate vision and foresight. For the pre-wiki generation, Dave was a beacon of business leadership in this part of central Ohio. He “saved” the Midland theater, as well as the present, and only, hotel in town. He brought “jobs” to the Dresden/Frazeysburg area, and eventually the corporate headquarters to an annexed just-for-you part of Newark. Now the paint is coming off the handles of his basket dream. Sigh. Another league of leaders gathered in the state’s capital recently to decide whether to fund First Energy’s and AEP’s request for a corporate welfare fee to be imposed on its customers to ensure continued ownership of redundant coal fired power plants. Like the Newark league, the utility commission is also primarily unelected, appointed “leaders”. The leaders ultimately voted to allow the corporate welfare fees to be imposed. Bear in mind, dear reader, this took place after a moratorium was put in place on state renewable energy requirements by, in this case, the very elected leaders who previously had mandated the requirements. Today we learned that Peabody Coal, the nation’s largest coal mining company, filed for bankruptcy. AP’s Jim Salter reports (Peabody, largest US coal miner, seeks bankruptcy protection, 4-13-16) “The bankruptcy filing comes less than three months after another from Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest miner, which followed bankruptcy filings from Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal and Walter Energy.” It is no surprise that one of the top contenders for the 2016 presidential race has been in bankruptcy filings several times. His actual wealth is not accounted for or verified. Like Peabody, Longaberger, and many, many others (both league members and not), his wealth is assumed, as is his leadership. Analysis finds all of this akin to what in sports reporting (and economics) is described as a bubble. The association of wealth with leadership creates completely uncritical conclusions like that leadership contributes to wealth, and that members of the league of leaders, through their “contributions”, have the public’s best interest as a priority.

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