angered and saddened us to learn of the Carrier Corp's announcement that
it will close its plants in Syracuse, and eliminate 1,200 jobs.
This company--famous for its air-conditioning system, with its name on
a landmark sports stadium, seems to stand for Syracuse itself, and was
made a success through the hard work and dedication of its employees.
But Carrier's chief executive thinks that the company's growing cost of
business is reason enough to throw all these people out of work and move
business to Asia where units can be made “three times cheaper.”
We were very affected to read accounts of individual men and women being
shocked when they received the news. One man frightened at the prospect
of losing his very livelihood said, "It hurts me. I've got five kids."
And we felt outraged to learn, according to press release, that not only
did the Carrier Corporation report a "double digit operating profit growth,"
last quarter, but United Technologies, which owns Carrier and is a $28
billion conglomerate, boasted a "30 percent dividend increase” the very
What is the reason that millions of people are losing their jobs in America
and finding themselves terrified at what the future will bring? We learned
from Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by American historian and
economist, Eli Siegel, that our nation's profit economy--where a person's
having a job at all is dependent on whether someone else can reap a profit
from his or her work--is unethical and is based on contempt for people.
Siegel defined contempt as “the addition to self through the lessening
of something else.” In the 1970s, he gave historic lectures showing
that profit economics had failed irredeemably, though it would seem to
go on for a while. We have seen over these years tremendous and increasingly
brutal efforts to keep profit coming in to the "right" people--owners and
This has meant that working men and women have been forced to give up health
coverage, take pay cuts, be thrown out of their jobs so that their work
could be done overseas by cheap labor. Many people are suffering
in our dear country, all so a few can line their pockets with greater wealth
Ellen Reiss, editor of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known,
explains "We have reached the point in history when big profits for those
few people cannot continue if Americans as such are paid well, can live
with dignity, can buy the things that they need and that can bring ease
and pleasure to their lives....The big question is: What is important--for
profits to be made by a few people, or for Americans to live well:? That
question...is a phase of the question Mr. Siegel said was the most important
for America and should be the basis of economics: 'What does a person deserve
by being alive?'"
This question should be impelling Carrier officials in every decision they
make. There is more and more a feeling in America that something is going
on in economics that is not in keeping with the Democratic principles upon
which our country was founded. We were glad to see this sentiment
expressed centrally by Tony Roffo, a 25-year Carrier employee pictured
in a T-shirt that says: “UTC Carrier, the Un-American Dream.”
The real American dream, which is also efficient and practical, will only
come to be when the basis of American economics is ethical. The dream
will become real when there is good will, when the men and women doing
the precious and needed work of our land— driving trucks, building houses,
harvesting food, working on production lines—are seen with the respect,
the dignity and the gratitude they deserve.
Abel and Palmer
are freelance writers in New York City.