July 17, 2005

The land of the free and equal

A question to the "Etiquette at Work" column, published in today's Boston Globe, asks:
My husband just came home from a business dinner attended by approximately 20 people. The occasion involved people from two companies dining with a speaker who'll be addressing both companies tomorrow. Here's the issue: Does a suit jacket always stay on, or can it come off during dinner? My husband had never seen this done before, but the principal owners in his company took off their jackets during the meal and others followed suit. Is this a new custom?
And an article in the New York Times about Costco as the anti-Walmart (by paying a decent wage and providing decent health insurance) quoted Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher: "It's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

These people seem to have forgotten something basic here: We, the people. We are not here to serve business or government -- they exist to serve us. What kind of society is being created when an individual is nervous about leaving his jacket on through dinner when his boss takes off his? What kind of society is possible when profits to shareholders are more valued than providing a respectable livelihood for one's employees, sharing with them some of the fruit of their own labors?

The great are great only because we are on our knees. -- Max Stirner