MADELEINE BRAND, host:
As the nation falls deeper into recession and teeters on the edge of depression, those who've lost their jobs and those who fear they'll be next start finding some unwelcome company lurking around the house. Here's our humorous Brian Unger with today's Unger Report.
BRIAN UNGER: The wolf is at the door. Actually, the wolf has broken down the door. He's lying on your couch, eating the last can of beans from your pantry, and running up your cable bill by watching pay-per-view. Worst of all, he's shedding. But who is the wolf who's intruded into your life?
Let's start with the leader of the pack. It could your president, your governor, you mayor, but most likely, the wolf on your couch is a senior executive from a company that just announced it's shutting down a plant, closing an office, or laying off workers. Not content with that, he's now eating your lunch.
The people who run this country and the people who run the companies that keep this country running have failed us as leaders. They can't even figure out the navigation system in their Maserati. They forgot, while they were lining their pockets, that the workers who were producing their wealth deserved a little of it, too.
And now, that things have gone south, why is it that accountability means that the guy on the assembly line or in the back room or the store room floor gets the axe, and the executives responsible just get to cover their own axes? Ordinary Americans get angry when a wolf is eating their lunch, and ordinary Americans have a strong sense of right and wrong and of justice. If too many of those folks see too many wolves continuing to thrive while they suffer, things could get ugly fast.
So, here is some advice to the executives who thought good leadership just meant wearing very expensive shoes. First, put on some sheeps clothing. Park or sell the car that is worth more than the homes your workers live then. Start flying commercial. Cut your salary and bonuses from 700 times what your average worker makes to maybe 10. Learn to be contrite.
And before you close an office, shutter a plant, or fire a worker, and tear apart the social fabric of the nation, imagine a big ugly group of those fired workers swarming into your penthouse or occupying your little 26-bedroom getaway in the Hamptons. Do you really want those people in your pool?
You made things worse. You can make things better. A man who knew something about leadership, Dr. Martin Luther King, once said, the time is always right to do what is right. And that is today's Unger report. I'm Brian Unger.
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BRAND: Day to Day is production of NPR News with contributions from slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.
ALEX COHEN, host:
I'm Alex Cohen.