Ad Nauseam: New Millennium: The Real Future

Guest editorial by a prominent local businessman

(Editor's Note: As Cincinnati's mainstream media prepared to publish their New Year's Day lists of giddy, glowing predictions of the future from local business leaders, they forgot to explain their "spin" to one executive. His candid assessment fell into our hands.)

Hell yeah, the future's going to be great. Never before have the Rules of Power been more obvious in Greater Cincinnati: Those who have the power make the rules.

Despite the efforts of malcontents and a few rogue Democrats, corporate control of daily life in the Tristate tightened toward the end of the 1990s. Along with a booming stock market, low inflation and decreasing crime, all evidence points to a local populace fat, happy and barely awake.

Which, of course, is the perfect time to slip a few things by in the name of "better government" or "more efficient production."

Take the strong mayor initiative in May. Less than 20 percent of Cincinnati voters showed up to decide the fate of our 70-year-old council/manager form of government! Luckily, most people bought our line about a directly elected mayor being "more accountable" to the public.

In the meantime, people like me were able to reduce our 2001 political contribution budgets since we'll only have to worry about two mayoral candidates while irrelevant city council members fight for $100 checks from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow.

Speaking of political contributions, things are looking up in our battle to stop campaign finance reform. A few desperate souls continue to beat the drums here for redoing how city council elections are funded, but by time they accomplish anything it'll be 2001 and we'll have the mayor's race sewn up.

Fortunately, the courts continue to back our position that unlimited political campaign contributions legally are akin to unlimited free speech and therefore are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Wow. Whoever thought up that strategy ought to get a Nobel Prize or something.

And the white male who runs the national banking lobby ought to get a prize, too — or at least another billion-dollar bonus — for pushing through banking reform in 1999. Let the mergers and acquisitions begin!

Sure, we got one-stop shopping for financial services out of the deal, but I already had one-stop shopping with Harold, who handles all of my affairs. I suppose it was good of us to throw a bone to average citizens, who can now coordinate all their stocks, bonds, annuities and retirement funds through one investment firm. Bully for them!

Isn't it funny how banking "reform" is good while campaign finance "reform" is bad? Those are the giddy times in which we live.

And that begs the question: Can things get even better in the new century? You bet!

The strong economy allows us to continue firing productive employees while increasing profits. We call it "downsizing," "rightsizing," "streamlining," "correcting," "remaining competitive," whatever.

It's a gas, I tell you. We hire hundreds of new employees to build productivity and increase sales to record levels, which boosts our stock prices astronomically, which leads to millions of dollars of bonuses for us and our boardroom cronies — and then we fire all those people to reduce expenses, boost profits even more and keep our stock prices sky high.

Every now and then we hit a bump in the road, like the World Trade Organization disaster in Seattle. Man, we were so close to completely gutting the trade rules of troublesome worries about the environment or workers' rights, and then those protesters showed up.

Our friends in the media were able to paint the protesters as tree-huggers and kooks, so luckily most of America believes our side on the free trade debate. We'll get the deal consummated the next time the WTO meets.

Another potential bump is the light rail system we're pushing for Greater Cincinnati. A few people have figured out the proposed system has three stations in Blue Ash but none in Avondale or Evanston, but I don't think that's going to be a deal-breaker. We'll buy off the local African-American community with vague promises of "more jobs" through "better mass transit" and I'm sure they'll go along with the plan, like they did with the new stadiums.

We need that light rail thing, dammit! It'd be way cool to ride a train to a Bengals game and get off at a station a few hundred feet from the entrance to my company's luxury box and then not worry about driving home drunk afterwards.

And what's the deal with that football team? We all got behind Mike Brown, got the county to give him a sweetheart deal to stay in town, and he can't repay us with a better season on the field? Man, if I actually paid for my tickets I'd probably be pretty sore.

But if a bad football team is all I have to worry about, things aren't so bad. Actually, life for the business community in Cincinnati is looking rosy for 2000 and beyond. Which should make everyone feel good.

After all, what's good for business is good for Cincinnati, right? Right? ©

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