Chuck Thome retired as manager for Caterpillar in 1993 and no doubt knows some of the people who will be affected by the job cuts… and then some. Actually, those job losses could change just about everything about the town where Jim Thome grew up and first learned how to hit a baseball. The Peoria the Thomes knew might never exist again.
After all, in Washington, D.C. on Friday afternoon, Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs gave an answer to a question that had to make folks in Peoria shudder. Even if the President’s stimulus bill works, there was no guarantee that Caterpillar’s CEO Jim Owens would hire back any of the 22,000 folks whose jobs disappeared.
Just like that they could be gone forever as if picked up and carried away by a soft breeze.
“He's not saying, ‘I'm going to rehire U.S. employees or even Peoria employees,’ ” said Rick Doty, president of the United Auto Workers Local 974, which represents thousands of Caterpillar workers.
To call these tough times doesn’t quite describe how rough things are for regular Americans.
Meanwhile, a little farther south from the White House, another press briefing was taking place. And in an indirect way this presser had something to do with the economic stimulus. At least it did to Ryan Howard, who met the press for the first time since signing a three-year, $54 million contract.
So for that first press conference Howard came adorned with shiny diamond earrings the size of hubcaps and some bling on his wrist that could cause carpal tunnel. While the rest of the country struggles, Howard is flush. Over the next three years he will take home a little more than $111,111 per game. That’s a figure more than twice the amount of the average household income ($50,233) in the U.S. in 2007, according to the U.S. Census.
Yes, for one game, Howard will get nearly twice the pay that the average American family brings home in a year of going to work every day.
Not bad work if you can find it. But then again it seems as if any work is good work if folks can find it.