Hi All. The other nite, I watched a movie called "The Company Men" starring Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones. It's about a large corporation downsizing their workforce as the recession of 2009 has adversely affected their business. Tommy Lee, a top executive fights tooth and nail to keep people from being laid off while Ben affleck plays a sales exective who was laid off and given 3 or 4 month severance. The movie mainly follows Affleck as he struggles to find a similar job, only to have to sell off his pricey home, his porsche and give up his golf club membership. Then he has to move in with his parents and take a low paying construction job working for his Brother-in-law. Ouch. A real hit to his ego.
The central point of the movie (I think) was to highlight the greed of the CEO who was all too willing to lay off thousands of employees in order order to maintain a certain stock price and eventually sell off the company for a huge profit for himself and the other top executives. I'm sure there are some greedy bastards out there just like the one played in the movie that should be called out. To this point, honestly I don't have much of a clue. I'm not a CEO of a large multi- national and never will be. I don't know what kind of market pressures exist at that level to make those kinds of decisions. Decisions that can ruin people’s lives.
Finally getting to my point. The part of the movie that has kept me noodling it for the past few days is the way in which Affleck ran his life. The picture of success. He owned the big house (big mortgage) and belonged to the nice golf club (monthly dues). He drove a new Porsche (not owned outright, but was making payments). His kids had all the cool toys etc. So, after his last severance check arrives, he's really screwed. He's got nothing left. Really? You didn't save for a rainy day? He's making 120k/ yr and was living in a million dollar house. c'mon!
I think the movie was trying to make the audience feel sorry for him. I did not. You don't need the huge house, the Porsche and all the toys. Essentially, Affleck was so cocky in his own ability he felt no pressure (or was not taught) to be frugal and save for that rainy day. It was, to him, about maintaining the appearance of success.
The world has changed. It's not the 1950's anymore where you can settle in with a company and expect to retire after 30 years. Having worked in corporate America from 1994 to 2005, I saw how tough it is and how easy your job can disappear. More and more people have to learn how to be entrepreneurs and how to run their own small businesses, because you can't count on the big corporation to take care of you anymore. You have to flexible and have backup plans. Be a bit frugal!
I worry that we are not teaching our kids about how this new economy world really works and how to thrive in it.