My recent post begging the question “is civility truly dead?” found a natural counter-point today in the NY Times.
This Article detailing an interview with George Cloutier, founder of American Management Services, pretty much shows us what “anti-civility” as practiced in big money business is all about.
“Fire Your Relatives. Scare Your Employees. And Stop Whining…” That’s just the beginning of this incredible trove of dung which raises avarice and narcissism to levels rarely seen in “normal” life. How about this?
“Put profits above all. Always pay yourself first. Shock your laggard employees. Don’t accept excuses.” His ax falls on trade shows (“they’re just a flimsy excuse for a paid vacation”), sweat equity (“I call it working for nothing and being a fool”) and teamwork (“vastly overrated”). And if you ever apply for a job at American Management Services, don’t mention that you like to play golf.
Which of course begs a larger question: How much is enough? And this isn’t just money. How much carnage or collateral damage is considered OK if the “profit motive” demands it? Or perhaps it could be asked this way: Would you dare trust this man with anything you hold dear? So why do we find ourselves living in a culture that rewards such odious behavior with the obvious rewards he seems to reap? Of course, we perhaps should expect this from someone who believes that “Fear is the best motivator.”
I wonder (often, believe it or not) if it’s just me… but I don’t think the price this man has obviously paid is worth it. Screw anybody you have to… trade up marriages… live ruthlessly in some kind of Darwinian analogue the business / corporate world has turned into an idol… Nah… I’d rather be poor.
In other words: Civility does indeed have a price. One I’m (I think) willing to pay. I just sometimes wonder if anyone else thinks it’s worth paying for.