A Deeper Sickness

Journal of America in the Pandemic Year

Margaret Peacock and Eric. L. Peterson

2022, 614-5924 PEA Beaverton City Library

Knee-jerk left-wing rant; rehashed media drivel organized as 140 day-themed essays. I read 66 pages and gleaned nothing new or useful. There are many more useful, important, and illuminating books to read.

Yes, Donald Trump is an ignorant media-star clown who mishandled US pandemic response very badly. The question is, how were US voters so poorly educated that Trump's inept narcissistic behavior was rewarded with the presidency? The authors teach at the University of Alabama; it seems likely that thousands of Alabama's graduates supported Trump. The deepest sickness might be the mis-education of former and current students. Complaint is not change.

Example rant, p 48: (Bill) Marriott and Arne Sorenson stopped taking their salaries (but kept working, Sorenson sick with cancer) while they proactively reduced operations and furloughed staff in response to a near-total loss of hotel and restaurant business. The authors bemoan that Sorenson's 2018 salary was $13M, "four hundred times the salary of the average Marriott front desk associate".

However, Marriott has many employees, 120,000 as of December 2021, presumably including many employees furloughed during the pandemic and (presumably) re-employed after the hospitality business recovered.

Marriott manages 1.4 million hotel rooms, has 120,000 employees, and has a net income of $1.1B dollars out of a revenue of $13.86 billion for Marriott International (operations). Sorenson's $13M salary is less than 0.1% of corporate revenue. $10 per room per year, $110 per employee per year, lousy earnings compared to the most mediocre motel owner. If Sorenson's efforts did not increase Marriott revenues by more than his salary, he should be replaced (and so should the board of directors).

I don't know if Sorenson's performance justifies his salary, or whether the Marriott corporation could pay less money for a more competent CEO, but the company did survive and does continue to create and maintain tens of thousands of jobs, serving tens of millions of customers. Many other corporations failed during the pandemic, no longer providing jobs. Not failing is a significant accomplishment.

Marriott Corporation does not own the physical hotels; instead they organize many many people into thousands of productive teams. Real estate holding company Host Hotels & Resorts had revenues $1.6 B and net income of -$0.7B in 2020, $13B in physical assets and $6B in equity, suggesting that most of the income pays real estate debt. Marriott is an army of people; those people's livelihood depends on competent leadership and organization.

The scale of Sorenson's accomplishments may be inconceivable to a pair of second-rate academics at a second-rate university. It seems likely that the authors' students must pay for the "privilege" of working long hours for Peacock and Peterson, whose pay derives from those students' tuitions.

University of Alabama ranks sixth from the bottom of 391 universities on social mobility. Rather than parroting online media, and kvetching about how awful businessmen are, the authors should focus on improving their own institution, especially Alabama's lousy performance on social mobility.

DeeperSickness (last edited 2022-04-27 21:30:41 by KeithLofstrom)