I’ve been slightly political most of my life. By this I mean I’ve campaigned for the candidates of my choice, signed petitions and occasionally gone to political meetings. In the past I even started groups for various issues to raise money, etc. In short, I have been active. Until lately. Lately a terrible malaise, a lingering despondency has fallen over my “get up and get going”. I become outraged over an issue or an article and then shrug my mental shoulders and shovel my outrage under the rug of everyday life. What has happened? Is it age, or just disappointment in a country so divided by reds and blues and tea?
There was an article in the L.A. Times recently, the lead story in the Business section, titled, “Buyout’s Bitter Fruit: Heavy debt and a deep recession are a nasty mix for gift-seller Harry and David“. The article goes on to say that since private equity investors bought Harry and David (the 100-year old gourmet fruit basket business based in Medford, Oregon), six years ago, the company has cut its workforce by a third and cut back on raises and benefits for the employees who are left. Then, as a final blow, they fired the long-time CEO who was earning $1.4 million a year, and replaced him with an Atlanta-based CEO who is now paid $9.7 million per year, not including the office in Atlanta and the first class flights several times a month to Oregon, for which the company pays. The wrap-up to the article indicates that the company is now losing money and may be forced to shut down.
It’s becoming an old story here; acquisitions, layoffs, cut-backs, mean and lean… nothing new, but somehow this story got to me. I guess partly because my Mom loved to receive gifts from Harry and David, and occasionally she would pick up the catalog and order a fruit basket as a gift for someone. When you are older, you have acquired most of the “things” that you want, or you have become tired of acquiring, and a gift of food seems to be just the perfect thing. So I suppose part of my upset is attached to nostalgia for “days gone by” and maybe it’s the sadness for old established companies being looted, faithful employees being terminated and many small towns’ (Medford has a population of 77,000) industries disappearing.
I suppose that because of my “blue” mood I picked up a book that had been lying in my bookcase for years waiting to be read. No Ordinary Time — Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in WWII. It’s just the thing I needed. Our country fighting “the good war”. Everyone pulling together, willing to sacrifice for the common good, led by a President most put their trust in. No, we weren’t a perfect country, nor was it an easy time, but we did seem to have something then that seems to be missing now.