Why what’s good for GE isn’t good for America

Obama's jobs czar, Jeffrey Immelt, thinks we can beat China by making life easier for corporations

Topics: Unemployment, U.S. Economy,

Why what's good for GE isn't good for AmericaJeffrey Immelt and Barack Obama (Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

Obama’s decision to appoint GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was attacked by critics from the left before the president finished making the announcement. GE makes 60 percent of its profits overseas, and in the 10 years since Immelt took over as CEO, the company has trimmed its payrolls in the United States by 34,000 while adding 25,000 abroad. In July, six months after being appointed chairman of the jobs council, Immelt moved the headquarters of GEs 115-year old X-Ray division from Waukesha, Wis., to Beijing.

If Obama was looking for an expert in how to take advantage of globalization to boost corporate profits, Immelt would be a perfect choice. But domestic job creation? That’s a tougher call.

The contradiction has never been more apparent than right now. As Obama ramps up a political campaign accurately portraying his Republican opposition as adamantly opposed to his jobs agenda, Immelt appears at one conference after another without ever even mentioning the American Jobs Act. Instead, he talks about the need for attitude adjustments — how the American business sector must go “all-in” to “win” in the global marketplace.

The so-called jobs czar has made some inadvertently revealing comments. At a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker Event, reported the New York Times on Monday he declared that the council “was treating the effort to spur domestic growth and reduce unemployment ‘like a turnaround at a company.’”

But what do turnaround specialists usually do when they swoop into a struggling company? They slash payroll, cut expenses, outsource business units to anywhere a given job can be accomplished more cheaply. That’s not a strategy that will work on a national level.

The basic problem is that Immelt, as one might expect from a multinational CEO, is looking at the problem of jobs and competitiveness as if the ultimate goal was to increase corporate profitability. If the government just makes it easier for corporations to conduct their business, all will be well.

His top priority: “a clearer regulatory structure.”

One week ago, the jobs council submitted its draft plan for boosting jobs. The plan includes five “initiatives” — No. 4 is “Simplify Regulatory Review and Streamline Project Renewals.” But a closer look reveals that all the other initiatives also include some level of regulatory streamlining as part of their recommendations. So a key part of “Investing Aggressively and Efficiently in Cutting Edge Infrastructure and Energy” is simplifying the environmental review part of the permitting process. An essential part of the “National Investment Initiative” is rolling back regulation designed to increase transparency and combat fraud. And so on.

The trade-off could not be any clearer than in the section recommending that the FDA speed up it approval process for new drugs.

…The FDA should develop a qualitative framework for benefit-risk assessment of new therapeutics and diagnostics that incorporates robust input from stakeholders, including both patients and consumers. The FDA should also consider a more flexible benefit/risk paradigm that explicitly adjusts all the elements to be considered in light of clinical need, patient risk tolerance and the need for innovation.

Don’t worry so much about safety! Just give us our drugs!

The same theme is repeated with respect to the environment.

We understand the challenge of developing balanced regulations, but we believe that the jobs and energy security benefits of continuing to exploit these resources require that we tackle these issues head-on. We therefore urge all stakeholders to make extraordinary efforts to strike an intelligent balance that protects people, safety, the environment and our nation’s water supplies while also allowing the economic benefits of these innovations to be realized.

In this context, “intelligent balance” mean rejiggering the system to promote resource extraction and infrastructure development at the expense of the environment. That’s how you “win” against China — by adopting their strategy of putting industrial development first and everything else last.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>