Today brings news that electronics retailer Circuit City will be liquidated.
Back in April of 2007, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton objected to Circuit City’s announcement of layoffs, sending the company a letter, accusing Circuit City’s management as behaving “inconsistent with the fundamental compact between your company and its employees.” At the time, I wrote:
From her words, you would think that Circuit City’s management woke up one morning, cackled and rubbed their hands together, and decided to fire a large swath of their employees in order to cover the costs of reupholstering their new Bentley. Her letter doesn’t acknowledge that a company that cannot turn a profit eventually finds itself out of business, and then all of the employees end up losing their jobs.
This is posturing of the worst order. The letter won’t make any difference; the decision has been made, Circuit City’s layoffs have begun. Hillary gets to pose as standing up to corporate America on behalf of working families, but in the end her actions change nothing and cost her nothing.
Layoffs stink; I can speak from experience during the dot-com era. But a letter from a senator would not have created a way for my former dot-com employers to suddenly find a way to make money. Hillary Clinton is so locked in to this Bob Shrumian people-vs.-the-powerful populist tubthumping that she doesn’t even bother to look into the financial factors that prompt companies to lay off workers.
Hey, why let this stuff get in the way of a good press release, huh?
Here we are, eighteen months later, and Circuit City is closing its doors for good. Hillary told them at the time that the layoffs were “the wrong way to deal with the economic pressures of the day — and the wrong way to treat workers who’ve given their all to your company.” I wonder what she would have had them do.