(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – The other day, my business partner—who is no shrinking violet himself—sent me an email with an open letter to President Obama from a fellow named Lou Pritchett, a former Vice President of Proctor and Gamble, which we have reprinted in its entirety below.
My first reaction was to wonder if this was just an internet urban legend, so I did the research.
Turns out that Pritchett’s name rang a bell in my memory.
He was the guy who turned P&G into Wal-Mart’s biggest vendor through his relationship with Sam Walton.
And, in fact, Pritchett wrote the open letter as an op-ed piece for the New York Times in 2009. Of course, the Times didn’t run it.
My partner’s comment (I’m cleaning this up slightly) was that Pritchett sure had a set of cojones.
Of course, when he wrote the op-ed he had been retired from P&G for 20 years, but, nonetheless, it is unusual for a corporate executive, retired or employed (as opposed to entrepreneurs like Donald Trump or Steve Wynn), to come right out and say what he thinks.
And that has cost us dearly.
Let me give you an example right here at home.
NVEnergy has a chairman named Michael Yackira. When the wind was blowing in one direction, he was all for building a large, clean, coal-fired power plant in Ely. After Harry Reid converted his religion to environmentalism at the request of Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the hard left, did Yackira point out to Reid the illogic of not building the plant? Did he point out that at some point in the future we were going to need the electricity that plant would generate in this state?
He became, in fact, a “Republican For Reid,” cancelled the plant and helped Reid get re-elected.
In Oklahoma, where I spent 17 years, they would say that he was going along to get along.
They would also have said that he wouldn’t say (expletive deleted) if he had a mouthful.
And those are both accurate descriptions of Yackira.
And a lot of other business executives as well.
Where does that slavish devotion to making sure they don’t offend those in “power” get us, their customers?
Well, in Yackira’s case, we’re (the customers of NVEnergy) paying for NVEnergy’s mistakes and his total compensation last year was $5,336,399. And, oh yes, they want a whopping rate increase and a rate of return of over 11% at the same time that you are lucky to get one percent at the bank.
Ask yourself a question.
Why are so many business executives literally afraid to do what Pritchett did?
The answer is that they are worried about what the government will “do” to them. So, instead, they are willing to allow the government to do it to their customers and shareholders. As long as they keep their jobs.
We want to think of executives as being conservative. But the truth is that many times, they blow with the wind and simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing, even for themselves. We have gone through a period where CEOs have become rock stars in the media. For many of them, that adulation has never actually been earned. A competent CEO isn’t a requirement when times are good. But you surely want them around when times are bad.
A classic example was when the CEOs of Chrysler and GM showed up in Washington to beg for a bailout. Instead of driving their own cars—which they actually were responsible for manufacturing—they took corporate jets. Now, in fairness, someone had to tell the Congress to be upset by that because they were and still are equally out of touch, but it just goes to show you what their real priority was. Keeping their own cushy jobs.
Lou Pritchett ought to spend his time teaching executives to grow cojones.
What if the President of the Bank of America held a press conference and apologized?
What if the CEO of Goldman Sachs held a press conference and told the truth—that his company had blown it and used tax dollars to get bailed out and they could do plenty of things for Main Street if they wanted to?
What if the President of American Express called a press conference and said that they were going to get rid of their call centers in India and hire, instead, Americans in , say, Winnemucca?
Do you think people would have more respect for big business?
AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
Editor’s note: This letter has been circulating on the internet for two years. It was originally written as an op ed for the New York Times which never printed it. The writer, a retired Proctor and Gamble executive, confirms that he did, in fact, author the letter.
Dear President Obama:
You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.
You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.
You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.
You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.
You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.
You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.
You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.
You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.
You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.
You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.
You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.
You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.
You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.
You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O’Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.
You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.