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Lynn Tilton: Billionaire Industrialist and Woman
April 14, 2011 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Lynn Tilton: Billionaire1 Industrialist2 and Woman3. Does what it says on the can.

1 Or perhaps not.
2 Owner of distressed factories, at any rate.
3 Seems likely.

Oblig. WP.
Oblig. Prof. Bio.
Oblig. HuffPo. (Scroll down for columns.)
posted by davidpriest.ca (65 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wowsers. Words kinda fail me here. I want to say things but… huh. Must be an interesting experience, meeting her. Especially if you're in upper management.
posted by davidpriest.ca at 9:34 PM on April 14, 2011


Wow. Looks like I got out of Rand McNally just in time. Of all the CEOs I knew there (pretty straitlaced, Midwestern-like dudes), she sounds like an alien from another planet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:41 PM on April 14, 2011


Is this real?
posted by kuatto at 9:51 PM on April 14, 2011


Patriarch currently claims over $8 billion in annual revenue, and Tilton says the company has made her a billionaire as well as the owner of more businesses than any other woman in America. These claims can’t easily be verified ...

This may be a naive question, but why? Why can't these claims be verified to a reasonable degree? I did RTFA, but I don't get why her non-cooperation prevents such verification by financial journalists? Do other billionaires send their personal bank account statements to Forbes?
posted by vidur at 9:58 PM on April 14, 2011


Why can't these claims be verified to a reasonable degree?

Forbes did take a look at her, and says:

I began this reporting adventure with the goal of nailing down her net worth in order to decide whether Tilton should appear on this year’s Billionaires List. But she and Patriarch aren’t an easy onion to peel. All her holdings are private—the real estate, jewelry, jet and helicopter and the equity in 74 companies, 52 of them, she says, majority owned. Just who owns what is murky, to say the least; some equity is in Tilton’s hands, some in Patriarch’s, which she controls. Then there are collateral management fees she gets from her funds and other funds she has managed. Starting out a decade ago with $10 million from her life on Wall Street, she has become a very rich woman.
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on April 14, 2011


This may be a naive question, but why? Why can't these claims be verified to a reasonable degree?

Private vs. public companies. If a company is private / "closely held" (i.e., not traded on the stock market), it is not subject to SEC disclosure requirements. For instance, in this case, she says "I own company X, company X makes $billions per year, therefore I am a billionaire." Well, define "own" - does anyone else own any part of it? How much? And if the $8B is the revenue, what is the profit margin?

If it's not a publicly traded company, she doesn't have to answer any of these questions. Most billionaires have made their money, and hold most of their net worth, in publicly traded stocks. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc. Hedge fund managers are something of an exception.
posted by rkent at 10:21 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's a real force of nature it would seem. I don't know if the narcissism is an act or not though, as she's driven enough to put on an act as a PR and business decision, and a way for her to get her economic ideas out there.

I do wonder just how committed she really is to sustaining the manufacturing companies she owns, but as she's one of the few in finance who seems to actually care about manufacturing and the country retaining an industrial base, I really hope she's serious about it, and is able to convince others of the importance of it.
posted by Skygazer at 10:31 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is really neat. Thanks for posting.
posted by kdar at 10:32 PM on April 14, 2011


dhartung, rkent: thanks for clarifying. I did suspect the public/private ownership to be the reason, but I thought a good financial journalist would be able to put a number on things. I don't know how I missed the link to the Forbes blog from the main article.

I'll just put this quote here for everyone's reference: "Based on the information Tilton provided, and some of our own digging, we think she’s probably worth at least $830 million."
posted by vidur at 10:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's really crazy is that Patriarch Partner's website doesn't list any other partners, with the exception of a media contact (likely external). Wikipedia tells me that Tilton is the sole principal of the firm. As someone who works in (a related) industry, it's wholly unbelievable that she would have time to manage billions in distressed assets AND serve as CEO of a helicopter company AND be a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. I'm not sure a single human being would be able to review the quarterly statements and attend (telephonically) the requisite annual board meetings for 74 companies, let alone all the posturing and PR.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:40 PM on April 14, 2011


During the 2008 primaries, Tilton, who had donated to Hillary Clinton, was invited to see the candidate speak before a Women in Business event at a private residence in New York. “Lynn strutted in, and she was wearing a nice pantsuit and a nice shirt, but it was, you know, buttoned really low, and she had like a 50-carat something around her neck,” says one woman who attended the talk. Then Tilton raised her hand. “She did one of those things where it really wasn’t a question. This woman, who no one really knew, just went on and on about how much she knew and how prominent she was for like 45 minutes. She came across as a total nutjob
Yeah. A lot of rich people, like really rich people, have really whacked out ideas. They surround themselves with yes-men who flater their narcissistic opinions about everything, till they get the idea that they are elite thinkers, or whatever. She sounds like a female, liberal version of Trump.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


This jumped at me in a huge way (It almost seems pre-scripted):
She pops her eyes open. “The truth is, I believe that there will very well be violence in the streets in America,” she says. “It’s my great fear. And I think the only thing we can do to stop it is by creating employment. Social unrest comes from people who can’t take care of themselves. If we become a populace of the permanently unemployed, and Wall Street keeps going up, and multinational corporations keep making money, but Americans are unable to work and take care of their families, there is going to be social unrest.” She closes her eyes as the makeup artist fixes a line of false eyelashes. “I believe I have been chosen for this moment,” she says, “where I can make a difference.”
It's shocking to hear someone at her level of wealth to actually acknowledge this so fully and honestly. It's also incredibly frightening, because this isn't a person who's trying to figure out what's happening in America, and just how deplorable and dangerous it is in terms of the middle class being under direct assault by the wealthiest. This is someone ho has first hand knowledge of what is happening on Wall Street and in the HQ's of the powerful finance companies.

It's also a bit light on details so it almost has a political statement aspect to it, as if she's preparing to run for higher office, but I really hope she stops the tease and expands on this. Both in terms of what she sees happening and in terms of how to stop it. Which is exactly what she wants of course and they way she's playing it.
posted by Skygazer at 10:45 PM on April 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here's what jumped out at me:
She begins wriggling out of the dress. “I’m all about transparency,” she explains, as the dress falls to the floor. She’s not wearing any underwear. “Where do you get someone who’s worth looking at and listening to?”

Stark naked except for her Gucci heels, seamless Brazilian Bronze tan, and diamond necklace, she flicks through the rack of clothes. “I mean, hello. I’m just trying to be someone who provides it all.”
This woman is clearly a bit nuts. Seems interesting though.

here's a speech of hers
posted by delmoi at 10:52 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I prefer OTHER Multimillionaire Business-ladies
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I like it when paperback comic novel characters get to escape into the real world and exist amongst us.
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 PM on April 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


This woman is helarious. Here's a video of her speaking to her Helicopter company. She looks like she just stepped off the set of an 80's porno and she's telling them all that she got their logo henna tatooed on her back, and if they win "ARH" she'll get it permanently tatooed.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good to have somebody making the world a more interesting place
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:56 PM on April 14, 2011


And yes it is a sad state of affairs that a member of the upper classes expressing worry that "maybe having lots of angry unemployed people wandering about would be BAD FOR EVERYONE." is shocking and novel and noteworthy.

But then again the last decade was pretty surreal so I guess it goes with the territory.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do I really need to know how much someone else is worth?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:59 PM on April 14, 2011


Here she is talking about herself and her purchase of MD.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


well, there is the shot of her in the den.
posted by clavdivs at 11:14 PM on April 14, 2011


Here's another video of her talking about the importance of manufacturing jobs, very interesting.
posted by delmoi at 11:18 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's April. This is an attempt to outdo the Esquire "Allegra Coleman" hoax. Complete with seeded YouTube video. Be skeptical. Be very skeptical.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:24 PM on April 14, 2011


Delmoi: here's a speech of hers

The mysticism stuff aside, I agree with 99% of what she says in that video.
posted by Skygazer at 11:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


she got their logo henna tatooed on her back, and if they win "ARH" she'll get it permanently tatooed

"ARH" = Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter
posted by finite at 11:31 PM on April 14, 2011


Skygazer: Keep in mind that video was from Dec 17, 2008, when pretty much everyone was saying stuff like that.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on April 14, 2011


I kept smiling as I read the story; she's a psycho, no doubt about it, but she's likable. It's like when Reagan first became president, and the news corp at the white house were used to running over Carter, some reporter was being a jerk to Reagan and Reagan told him "You shut up! Sit down and shut up!" And everyone gasped and all but the fact is that the guy was a hemorrhoid, he did in fact need to be told to shut up and sit down, Reagan did it with panache; my father, who loathed Reagan and what he stood for, was charmed by this piece.

So this woman has that charm, that total belief in herself. I worked for a woman with some of this, real strength of character, she was an apt manager, I was a maintainence carpenter at the complex, she hired me on the spot one day when I came in to tell her that I had to move because there wasn't enough work in Houston at that time to keep me going. She loved us all, all of her people, but she would absolutely buzz-saw you if/when you got left-handed on her, not so much when you made a mistake but more when it was laziness.

Different worlds, for sure, but that same sort of gutsy woman, not afraid of anything or anyone, Charlotte was not more than 11 inches tall (okay, five foot 2 maybe) but she'd get toe to toe with anyone anytime. But then laugh with them, and love them, once things were straighted out. She was the sort of leader people would walk through hell for.

But in fifteen thousand years I can't imagine her getting personal, calling anyone a big fat fuck. And pretty as she was -- quite -- she didn't leverage it, you were dealing with Charlotte, not Charlotte's breasts.

And -- here we go, gang, get ready to tee off on me, I'm about to do sex role reversal, a big no-no here on MetaFilter but here we go -- if some charming, psycho male boss dragged some woman over to a mirror and called her a big fat fuck, all the sudden, not quite so funny. If that same guy offered to let his woman employees lick candy off his schlong as a 'reward' for work done well or whatever, I just can't imagine it going too well.

I like the idea of her, I'd quit in a heart-beat if ever I was put in the places she's put people in. I'd walk through hell for her -- I'm not a leader and I do love a good one, male or female -- I'd walk through hell for her but the instant she got all scurvy I'm outta there. In fact, that'd really be the only way to win her respect, tell her that *she* is a fat fuck or whatever, and walk out the door.

Cool post, interesting person, hope we hear more from her, and about her.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:54 PM on April 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


This woman is helarious. Here's a video of her speaking to her Helicopter company.

If the writers of SNL every parody this video, they'll bring back Kenan Thompson in a blond wig. He's the only cast member who could deliver those words with that cadence and be convincing.
posted by zippy at 11:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


That video about the decline of manufacturing is kind of bizarre (shocking, I know). It is clear that the US needs a robust job market, what she sanely advocates. Not quite so clear that the US needs robust manufacturing employment. It sounds like posturing for public office more than reality. So we're supposed to make more things because empires fall if they don't. And in the end, it should be done kind of like a make-work program, if necessary. Which is fine, as long as it's her money. But her reasons would seem to me unconvincing to me if I were looking to do manufacturing.

Thing is, manufacturing is high in the US and has been trending up overall. Manufacturing employment is low and trending down, representing real gains in productivity. That is the result of innovation, something she speaks about like a codeword. There's no innovation in simply employing more people in manufacturing for its own sake, which would kill productivity gains. So I'm assuming she simply wants more demand for more stuff overall, so that the added manufacturing will demand more jobs. That, and a pony.

The platitudes, lack of specifics and general megalomania bring to mind someone more along the lines of a next generation Donald Trump. The video just creates more questions than answers. She seems mostly harmless to the world (except to the few men emasculated by her aggressive demeanor). And she might actually do some good. I can also see her making herself a huge pain in the ass for other people poised to do some good in the world.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:43 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


That video about the decline of manufacturing is kind of bizarre (shocking, I know). It is clear that the US needs a robust job market, what she sanely advocates. Not quite so clear that the US needs robust manufacturing employment. It sounds like posturing for public office more than reality. So we're supposed to make more things because empires fall if they don't. And in the end, it should be done kind of like a make-work program, if necessary. Which is fine, as long as it's her money. But her reasons would seem to me unconvincing to me if I were looking to do manufacturing.
But what do you have instead? Just massive unemployment? In this interview she talks about how absurd it is to imagine that we can replace lost manufacturing jobs with "Service" jobs, after all, who exactly are we ultimately "serving"? She talks about cities where lots of people are unemployed because there's no one to 'service'. When the main employers go away, service jobs dry up too.

She does say, I think in that video, that she might be able to make a bigger profit moving over seas, and she does think of what she's doing as 'doing good'. She's also doing defense contracting with some of her helicopters and of course having a good political image is helpful with that. Who knows if this is what she really thinks or if she just thinks being a public figure is helpful to her goals, or maybe she's just incredibly vain and wants everyone to love her.

But I agree with you that manufacturing is going to become less labor intensive over time. The U.S. still does a ton of agriculture. Even more then we did when we were an 'agrarian' country. It's just that the amount of labor has dropped.

But what happens when the same thing happens with manufacturing? Knowledge services are even easier to outsource then manufacturing.

Maybe a make-work program makes sense. These days that's mostly what the military industrial complex is. Maybe we could have a massive space program. That would be kind of cool.
posted by delmoi at 2:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Almost any make-work program would be better than the military, which makes little of intrinsic, lasting value.
posted by ryanrs at 4:18 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Almost any make-work program would be better than the military, which makes little of intrinsic, lasting value.

I bet you could find people who would argue that the concept of "fewer brown people" is "of intrinsic, lasting value."
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:26 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I worked for Lynne Tillman for 90 days in 2008, as a contract VP doing corporate communications -- the money was irresistible to me at that time. I have never been up close and personal with a true, textbook narcissist until that experience. She was the most vulgar, aggressive, hostile and self-involved nutjob I've ever encountered in business. She would literally parade around the office in her thong while changing for an event, carrying on "business" conversations with staff. If anyone dared look away, embarrassed, she would fly into a rage. She had bodyguards, and other minions scurrying after her at all times. It was impossible to get a word in edgewise -- she knows everybody's business better than they do. I would see decent men walk into a meeting with her and come out pale and shaken -- she seemed to be on a mission to "emasculate" every man around her. I sat in on the WSJ interview, and I was literally cringing at what was coming out of her mouth. Needless to say, I got out of there as soon as my stint was up, and have stayed far away.

Just a side note, at the time, Jason Colodne, NYC Housewife Bethenny Frankel's beau, was working for Patriarch and Tilton fired him for being on the show. I think he's suing her (or they've settled by now ...) for $55 million for wrongful termination!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:36 AM on April 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


Almost any make-work program would be better than the military, which makes little of intrinsic, lasting value.

Boeing Wins $35 Billion Air Force Refueling Tanker Contract.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 AM on April 15, 2011


Apparently she used to send out some Interesting Christmas Cards
posted by bitdamaged at 5:01 AM on April 15, 2011


It's April. This is an attempt to outdo the Esquire "Allegra Coleman" hoax. Complete with seeded YouTube video. Be skeptical. Be very skeptical.

So, NY Mag, Wikipedia (article first appeared in 2009), Google (first Youtube video linked here is from 2008), and HuffPo are all in on the conspiracy, or it's an incredibly long con planned by NY Mag for years, and all for an April Fool's gag published on April 10?

Well, you've convinced me.
posted by kmz at 5:19 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This woman is an asshole.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:51 AM on April 15, 2011


omg! i love this woman. where to i sign up to be her minion?!?!?!? for every Steve Jobs or Trump we need a Lynn Tilton. seriously, am in love with her "emasculating" assertiveness. more power to her.
posted by liza at 5:55 AM on April 15, 2011


"The Traveler, a futuristic novel in which a young woman from a warrior class is trained by her father to fight against a shadow government, is practically required reading at Patriarch."

As someone who has actually read the first book of that trilogy, surely someone must argue that she runs a hostile workplace environment?
posted by JaredSeth at 6:11 AM on April 15, 2011


omg! i love this woman. where to i sign up to be her minion?!?!?!? for every Steve Jobs or Trump we need a Lynn Tilton. seriously, am in love with her "emasculating" assertiveness. more power to her.

Seriously. It would be interesting to work for her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thing is, manufacturing is high in the US and has been trending up overall. Manufacturing employment is low and trending down, representing real gains in productivity. That is the result of innovation, something she speaks about like a codeword. There's no innovation in simply employing more people in manufacturing for its own sake, which would kill productivity gains.

that manufacturing number includes pharmacueticals. In fact two largest components of US manufacturing, by the statistic you are probably thinking of, are aerospace and pharmaceuticals: two industries that have heavy government subsidy. So, the US does have a manufacturing strategy... just not a good one, or one that produces jobs.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:22 AM on April 15, 2011


seriously, am in love with her "emasculating" assertiveness.

Hey, this was not assertiveness. This was screaming, tantrum-throwing, personal insult-hurling, confrontational sexuality and vulgarity in a work environment. The poor sweet geeky IT kid would be shaking everytime she shouted his name. One of her other "VPs" said to me, "You'll never last, she hates women." And it was true -- when I interviewed she hired me because she loved my "power" -- when I told her I was not going to re-up, she derided me as too weak to hang in with her. My fatal flaw was that I refused to acknowledge or engage her kookiness, and tried to stick to business and work. She hated that I wouldn't hop into the clown car.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:28 AM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thing is, manufacturing is high in the US and has been trending up overall. Manufacturing employment is low and trending down, representing real gains in productivity. That is the result of innovation, something she speaks about like a codeword. There's no innovation in simply employing more people in manufacturing for its own sake, which would kill productivity gains.

Not exactly true. The US has one of the lowest levels of manufacturing among industrialized countries, and it has most definitely been trending downward. Productivity has skyrocketed, though. I submit this is what you get when you let business call the shots - a manufacturing sector that benefits the owners tremendously while doing fuck-all for the workers.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:30 AM on April 15, 2011


seriously, am in love with her "emasculating" assertiveness.

My wife is an associate attorney who used to work with female attorneys with "emasculating assertiveness" - she was miserable since they seemed to feel it was necessary for her to both stand up for her gender as well as just do her job. She now works for assertive male attorneys and just has to do her job and is ten times happier.

If I had to guess I'd think that being a woman working for Tilden would be a nightmare.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:38 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My fatal flaw was that I refused to acknowledge or engage her kookiness, and tried to stick to business and work. She hated that I wouldn't hop into the clown car

That's exactly what I see, passed on the article. It would be fun to get in the clown car, but after a while you'd want to get out, because it's a clown car. It's a survival experience, but you have to go into realizing you're in a clown car and be willing to enjoy that (and the paycheck, of course) for a while.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on April 15, 2011


to build on what ennui.bz just said: this is why when speaking of "manufacturing", neo-cons can only think of the endless war machine. so to have a "crazy", "emasculating" billionairess say it is not enough, makes me very happy. especially since the woman does have holdings that do get a cut of the defense budget.
posted by liza at 6:49 AM on April 15, 2011


@thinkpiece

i get that. but she's an outlier. whether she is worth a billion or not, the fact is she's the deviation not the norm when we speak of billionaires. i mean, did you see Forbes list? all the women in it but for Oprah inherited their wealth. Every. Single. One of them.

the only "self-made" (and i hate the myth of "self-made" because it's such a fallacy) billionairess out there is Oprah and now maybe just maybe Tilton. let that sink that in for a moment.

as outliers, they get to do whatever they want for now. if we have a whole generation of billionaire women skewing more to Tilton than to Oprah, then we have a problem.

but this is why trickle-down economics is so devastating. we get to have only an Oprah and a Tilton as women billionaire who didnt inherit their wealth. because wealth is only trickling down to kids of the wealthy. look at YCombinator and the people who usually get angel and seed investment money in this country and tell me that when it comes to access to capital we have a level playing field.

sure, tilton comes across as a douche, but tell me there arent many more billionaire assholes around. she gets to stand out because she's a woman in a wealth ecology dominated by men. plain and simple.
posted by liza at 7:00 AM on April 15, 2011


In my life, I've worked for the male equivalent of this person, and the fact remains: working for an asshole is not a pleasant thing, regardless of whether or not their balls are virtual or meat-based. She comes across as a total disaster of a human, I can only imagine how tiring it is to be around her for more than moments at a time. And I totally feel for her daughter.
posted by dbiedny at 7:48 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess the perspective of "who cares if she sucks as a human being, she's a female billionaire and whatever she does is fine as long as we're putting up the numbers" doesn't really resonate with me. She's been lying very low and playing cat-and-mouse with the SEC for a long time. It'll be interesting to see how things shake out now that she's going reality-tv.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2011



So, NY Mag, Wikipedia (article first appeared in 2009), Google (first Youtube video linked here is from 2008), and HuffPo are all in on the conspiracy, or it's an incredibly long con planned by NY Mag for years, and all for an April Fool's gag published on April 10?

Well, you've convinced me.


Gotcha.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:21 AM on April 15, 2011


Amazing article. Where to start? Every paragraph a pull quote.

"She still enjoys fiction—“anything with shadow hunters, angels, ­demons,” she says. “I don’t believe anything is made up. It’s just not yet been discovered.”"

'Shadow hunters' not made up? For real?

"...holding court in a conference room during her 50th-­birthday party, Tilton offered her male employees a choice: They could take a Jell-O shot off her stomach or lick whipped cream off her breasts."

What's up with the sexist behavior? Why don't her female employees get the same choice? Aren't they every bit as liable to fall in love with such an inspiring leader?
posted by BigSky at 8:32 AM on April 15, 2011


liza: " sure, tilton comes across as a douche, but tell me there arent many more billionaire assholes around. she gets to stand out because she's a woman in a wealth ecology dominated by men. plain and simple."

See, I don't think she's standing out as a billionaire because she's a woman. She's standing out because she's both creating a sideshow and establishing an antagonistic environment towards anyone who doesn't follow her lead. Just the way some men billionaires do.

I can name at least four or five billionaires off the top of my head: Liliane Bettencourt (L'Oreal), Alice Walton and Christy Walton (Walmart), Shari Arison (Carnival Cruise Lines) and Abigail Johson (Fidelity Investments). They don't stand out because they're women, unless people specifically focus on that difference between them and other billionaires.

Or are you saying she's somehow standing out as more of an asshole than male billionaires? 'Cause I'd disagree. Murdoch and Trump have been eviscerated in the press.

Interesting observation about made vs. inherited female billionaires. That had never occurred to me.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on April 15, 2011


>The US has one of the lowest levels of manufacturing among industrialized countries, and it has most definitely been trending downward.

No. The metric cited is misleading. That manufacturing is a smaller proportion proportion of GDP doesn't negate the fact that the US is the largest manufacturing country on the globe. It isn't a zero sum game here, where non manufacturing industries are killing off manufacturing. Rather it means that other sectors have grown tremendously in comparison, and the manufacturing sector has enjoyed tremendous gains in efficiency, which doesn't strike me as a bad thing.

What bothers me most, I think, is the idea that manufacturing is some kind of God given right, a magical talisman that keeps the empire from falling. This is an idea that pops up all the time from a variety of people, from pandering politicians to teabaggers. Even if this were true, the US already manufactures more than anyone else. The idea that being number one isn't enough gets into loopy land. Must we also crush our competitors, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women before we call it good?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:22 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


No. The metric cited is misleading. That manufacturing is a smaller proportion proportion of GDP doesn't negate the fact that the US is the largest manufacturing country on the globe. It isn't a zero sum game here, where non manufacturing industries are killing off manufacturing. Rather it means that other sectors have grown tremendously in comparison, and the manufacturing sector has enjoyed tremendous gains in efficiency, which doesn't strike me as a bad thing.

Percentage of GDP is the important number, not the overall size. JOBS are the important metric. It doesn't matter how efficient the sector is, if people are not working. Robots building cars with parts that are manufactured in Japan and China and Canada is smart business, but devastating to the economy. Regardless of how the money is made, our economy requires that the majority of citizens have enough disposable income to keep the ball rolling. We are failing miserably at that.

We worship efficiency and hate people. NOT a good long term strategy.

What bothers me most, I think, is the idea that manufacturing is some kind of God given right, a magical talisman that keeps the empire from falling.

Manufacturing is a reality-based economy (to borrow a term from the right). It produces tangible products with tangible inputs. Pushing paper in a "service" or "intellectual" economy has it's place, but there is no way to "own" those abilities or skills.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


She comes across as the female Donald Trump and suffers from a Messiah complex. Anyone who believes in Carlos Castaneda and messages from the other side "to be the chosen one" to do something special is clearly a nutcase.

But as usual crazy people with a strong conviction will steam roll anything in their path, because their psyche works completely different than sane people. Most "successful" people have personality disorders that propel them ahead ...

I think she makes perfect Tea Party Candidate and should run with Palin ...
posted by homodigitalis at 9:41 AM on April 15, 2011


Maybe a make-work program makes sense. These days that's mostly what the military industrial complex is. Maybe we could have a massive space program. That would be kind of cool.

"These days"? This has been the case for decades. I grew up here in So CA indirectly on public money, under a make work program called "Defense Spending". Whole communities voted on the ability of their elected officials to keep the local plants funded, fat, and happy. Spending hundreds of billions on things we don't need, and can't pay for, hasn't helped the country over the long haul and contributed to all kinds of negative externalities, some that have been obvious from the start, some that have yet to peak.

To her credit, this is something she doesn't quite advocate for "us" to do, but something she's willing to do with her own resources. But like I said, her prescription for America is unconvincing and thin on details. On its face, it sounds non viable, unless she manages to find some whipped cream covered government tit to lick
posted by 2N2222 at 9:43 AM on April 15, 2011


The cliche is "does exactly what it says on the tin". It's also weird to see it spread this far geographically from its origin in 1990s UK TV ads for varnish.
posted by w0mbat at 10:06 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Percentage of GDP is the important number, not the overall size. JOBS are the important metric. It doesn't matter how efficient the sector is, if people are not working. Robots building cars with parts that are manufactured in Japan and China and Canada is smart business, but devastating to the economy. Regardless of how the money is made, our economy requires that the majority of citizens have enough disposable income to keep the ball rolling. We are failing miserably at that.

You still got it wrong. Falling percentage of GDP does not indicate that manufacturing is dying. It indicates that other sectors are growing even faster. Furthermore, increasingly efficient manufacturing has not been devastating to the economy. What it has done is make goods cheaper and better, very good things for the economy. The problems with the economy have little to do with manufacturing and more to do with dangerous finance practices. It is true that people need to be financially prosperous, but this isn't directly related to manufacturing vs non manufacturing employment.

The problem here is people are treating "manufacturing" as synonymous with "well paying". This has never been the case unless you want to cherry pick examples. Much low skill/low value manufacturing has disappeared from the US for good reason.

Manufacturing is a reality-based economy (to borrow a term from the right). It produces tangible products with tangible inputs. Pushing paper in a "service" or "intellectual" economy has it's place, but there is no way to "own" those abilities or skills.

This seems pretty wrong, too. There is no way to own manufacturing skills, either, unless you're willing to close off competition. Unfortunately, that's a sure way to increase economic hardship, not only on locked out competitors, but on consumers who have to pay higher prices for fewer choices, and even manufacturers, who have less incentive to innovate because of guaranteed markets.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The full set of Forbes blog entries make for interesting reading:

* Lynn Tilton: Is She The Richest Self-Made Woman In America?
* Lynn Tilton: Diva In Distress?
* Five Things Investors Should Know About Lynn Tilton’s CLO Deals
* Lynn Tilton: The Wild Woman of Wall Street
* Lynn Tilton: Keeping Her Lawyers on Speed Dial
* Lynn Tilton: Court Docs Reveal Accusations of Fraud
* Lynn Tilton: In Her Own Words
* Lynn Tilton: Is She Really A Billionaire?
posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Falling percentage of GDP does not indicate that manufacturing is dying.

Again, you are pointing to productivity. Productivity is, plain and simple, a bullshit number. The US has recaptured and surpassed pre-recession productivity with 8 million fewer workers. JOBS. JOBS. JOBS.

The problem here is people are treating "manufacturing" as synonymous with "well paying". This has never been the case unless you want to cherry pick examples. Much low skill/low value manufacturing has disappeared from the US for good reason.

I've made no such complaint,although shitty jobs are almost as bad as no jobs. Eeeking by does not help the economy. Disposable income is necessary. As for the "good reason", I'd love to hear it.

The problem now is that what serves large business no longer serves the country. Justify it all you want, that is the boat we are in.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:46 AM on April 15, 2011


Again, you are pointing to productivity. Productivity is, plain and simple, a bullshit number. The US has recaptured and surpassed pre-recession productivity with 8 million fewer workers. JOBS. JOBS. JOBS.

Really? Would it be better if your automobile and iPod were crafted by hand instead of a largely automated assembly line? This idea that gains in productivity is a good thing isn't some new phenomenon. It goes back to Henry Ford and beyond. America was not tossed on the scrap heap as a result.

If you think manufacturing needs to be shored up, forget about why, how do you even propose this be done? No doubt, it would be a great thing if the country had a flood of $30/hr manufacturing jobs. It wouldn't be so great if those $30/hr jobs were in fact $10/hr jobs inflated by $20 simply for the sake of having factory jobs. There is nothing sustainable about bloated factory jobs.

Blaming current unemployment on the false "death of manufacturing", or even increased productivity is wrong. The blame looks to be largely on financial markets instead. Increased productivity will be the key to getting back on track, not the death knell of the working classes.

I've made no such complaint,although shitty jobs are almost as bad as no jobs. Eeeking by does not help the economy. Disposable income is necessary. As for the "good reason", I'd love to hear it.

OK, so you demand there be factory jobs that allow for disposable income. Also known as well paying jobs. What is the magic about the factory that makes it so much better than anything else?

In order for manufacturing in the US to be viable, manufacturing in the US needs to add value to the products. There is nothing uniquely American about, say, making alphabet blocks or brooms or clothespins. Nor millions of other goods. When they can be made elsewhere, and/or more efficiently, they are. Added value can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it means cost. Sometimes design. Sometimes it simply means a label saying "Made in the USA". But if such things are not good enough, they need to be allowed to die and/or move on.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:41 AM on April 15, 2011


Perhaps "manufacturing" is a chimera, a placeholder for the thing that people look towards that returns value and stability to the economic regime. It could be that we look to manufacturing because America at it's height (post WWII) had an economy heavily structured around manufacturing.

My opinion is that the character of the manufacturing base is as important as a the fact that we have it. I'm thinking of a manufacturing base that exists in the tradition of small cottage artisan/craftsmen as well as the emerging ultra high tech. People need the tools, resources, and education to jump in headfirst and start these things up. But first we need a middle class that is simply strong enough to participate in a future economy. We are doing an awfully good job at cutting our own throats when it comes to sustaining the middle class.
posted by kuatto at 12:15 PM on April 15, 2011


There is nothing uniquely American about, say, making alphabet blocks or brooms or clothespins. Nor millions of other goods. When they can be made elsewhere, and/or more efficiently, they are.

You're missing something rather important, because you're making an assumption with your second sentence to back the first one. When they can be made elsewhere, cheaper and more efficiently, there is nothing uniquely special about the goods. But! And this is the important part: some things can't be outsourced cheaper or produced more efficiently overseas.

What kinds of things, you ask? Well, certainly not alphabet blocks or brooms or clothespins, nor millions of other goods as you so rightly point out.

But these kinds of things? That's the kind of thing you can't outsource.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2011


2N2222: What do you propose to do about unemployed people, though? You can't just wave your hand and say 'productivity', it doesn't work that way. People with obsolete skill-sets don't magically get jobs because other people became more 'productive'.

The numbers for your argument don't add up. You're not proposing any solution other then 'ignore it'
posted by delmoi at 8:45 PM on April 15, 2011


Oh, I dunno. After working as one of only 3 women brokers in an office of 55 ------ and getting bitched out by the branch manager for wearing a sleeveless button-down shirt because I was in a cast from armpit to wrist (broken while on my way to a business event, which I STILL MANAGED TO GET TO, DRIVING THERE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ER), yet my male counterpart across the hall who broke his leg skiing got to wear sweatpants to the office for a month ------ let's just say I think I'd much rather put up with her brand of crazy.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:19 AM on April 16, 2011


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