Industry changes with natural cycles

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
—President Bill Clinton

Not so long ago a reader asked my opinion about the state of the United States’ economy.

This is it: The economy is good: Unemployment is at an all-time low. At 4.5 percent, I don’t know how much better it could get given today’s tax climate. (As I understand it, at the height of the Depression, 25 percent of the labor force was out of work.) Feel better now?

Although if you subscribe to the theory that Big Business doesn’t pay its fair share, then perhaps you will please set the rest of us knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on the correct path by starting your own business under said regulations as an example to those who can’t make it work under the current scheme?

That said, there are certain industries I wouldn’t necessarily wish to be in right know. (Trust me here because I’m probably in one of them.) Like, oh, say, real estate. These days (again, trust me here) are definitely not a good time for real estate and yet real estate—and most of those involved in it—has never gone completely bust.

Industries tend to have cycles. They ebb and flow like tides through good times and bad. And somehow I am always amused by the media bewilderment over the lay-offs—OK, firings—of umpteen hundreds, thousands, or millions of employees when times are tough. That’s the cycle: hire in flush times, fire in down times.

Although here’s a newsflash: If a company can function without these people, then I question their hiring in the first place.

And that perhaps brings me to the topic du jour.

Much bemoaning has occurred over the recent changes at the Gannett Company. Said Big Company is Big Journalism. It owns among others, the Reno Gazette-Journal, which has, of course, encouraged (or more specifically, paid off) 10 of its employees to take early retirement.

Now, you may recall that one of said employees happens to be a columnist who saw fit to take me to task, once upon a time. (Fair enough, I take it as an occupational hazard. Advance an opinion publicly and expect to get flamed in public for it.)

I suppose my point is that if you are going to play the part of champion for the downtrodden, one might have more moral authority by actually being one.

I found this small endorsement amongst the RG-J’s own recruitment package for employees to the dark side. I quote: “Employees of the Reno Gazette-Journal enjoy an excellent benefits package, including 401K, medical, dental, vision, retirement, training and professional skills coaching, tuition reimbursement and opportunity for advancement. Other benefits include onsite yoga, a state of the art fitness center, and flexible work schedule.”

I suppose that working for Big Business must really suck. By extension, I suppose that would include Big Journalism. That also apparently includes really nice buyouts for those 10 employees who everyone is mourning at the moment.

You will forgive me here, but it seems to me that one who spent a career professing such loathing for largesse is slightly hypocritical for taking the capitalist’s way out. Although considering both the messenger and the message, maybe not.

And that perhaps brings us back to Bill Clinton’s assertion.