Say. It. Ain't. So.
- - -
Knowing how this game is played, it's time I told you about ol' Gus.
I once worked for a man who was responsible for the company's "five-year plan." His name was Gus. Or, to the many fun-lovers and party-goers in the company - "ol' Gus." Actually, he was a vice president and was in charge of one whole division of the company. But he was generally recognized as being so incompetent that his primary job became - without the fancy title - "master of the five-year plan."
You might wonder how 'ol Gus got to be where he ended up. You see, he'd been around so long that - as the saying goes - the company was built around him. So he rose to a position of authority simply based on the fact that he'd been there, through thick and thin, forever.
That and the fact that he could tell the greatest jokes and draw the most laughter at parties.
Which also describes the attitude of those of us who had to accomplish that which ol' Gus concocted for our division of our fledgling corporation. What a joke.
But this isn't so much about ol' Gus as it is about ol' Gus's "five-year plan." In the years that I worked for the man, it was always that. A five-plan. With emphasis on the word plan.
His "plan," you see, was never implemented. Nor was it really intended to be. It was just "the plan." A plan that he was constantly revising and submitting for approval from top management. They too, I'd bet, knew ol' Gus's strengths and weaknesses.
I remember how proud he was when
And grandiose plans they were. Big sales increases. Huge margin improvements. Breathtaking achievements in expense control. Cash flow out the wazoo. And a projected balance sheet that would take your breath away.
Funny thing is, those projections never became reality. The sales improvements and margin improvements and expense control improvements, etc. were always projected in the out-years. In the in-years? Sales sucked, margin sucked, expenses sucked, and cash flow?
Well, let it suffice for me to tell you that the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
I'm not here to blame ol' Gus. He had a lot of help in achieving that outcome. And, if memory serves, both he and I were gone from that company when it finally met its fate.
Had he still been around, though, I can imagine him still knocking out five-year plans that would take your breath away. PowerPoint, dancing girls, and ol' Gus telling jokes. What better way to run a company?
The point is, he could have run up any numbers he wanted to make up on that five-year plan of his. They shared no relationship with the realities of the here-and-now. They were pie-in-the-sky. Numbers that were changed on a whim.
Which brings us to the federal government and the "debt ceiling" negotiations.
As some corporate executive might have written to ol' Gus those many years ago:
Memo to John Boehner: Stop it. We don't give a shit what you intend to do five or ten years from now (!). We want to know what you are doing today that will affect tomorrow. Tell us one more time that you are going to control spending someday and that you're going to get our house in order someday and you're fired.
A promise from a politician to cut the size of government many years from now is an affront. And we consider it to be offensive.
Cut now. Control now. Reduce now.
I've been to this movie. It doesn't end well.
At least ol' Gus, who these days is drawing a fat company pension and living la vita loca in Ft. Myers, was entertaining.