Lynette Abel  / Aesthetic Realism & Life

NOVEMBER 1, 2003


  Carrier cuts are rooted in contempt

    It 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 same quarter.

     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 stockholders. 

     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 for themselves.

      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 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.

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