Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quality and Quantity of Linda McMahon's WWE Job-Creation Machine Come Under Scrutiny

In the old Woody Allen joke, an elderly lady complains about the culinary offerings at a Catskills resort: “The food – terrible! And the portions – so small!”

That’s what I was thinking when I read the excellent story in today’s Waterbury Republican-American about the outsourcing of the manufacturing of World Wrestling Entertainment licensed merchandise. See “McMahon campaigns for more American jobs, but her toys are made in China,” (The full text is available only to subscribers, but the website teaser offers a good taste.)

Like the Manchester Journal Inquirer’s Don Michak in an article last week about WWE’s corporate tax breaks – which helped produced windfall stock dividends for the McMahon family even as they were trimming the staff at corporate headquarters in Stamford – the Republican-American’s Paul Hughes isn’t wasting time trying to deconstruct raunchy TV programming or nail Linda McMahon for the completely in-character name of her husband Vince’s yacht.

Instead, Hughes is raising a classic question suggested by the business background underpinning her candidacy: If WWE is such a job-creation machine, then what are the jobs and what is the quality of those jobs?

A further step would involve examining WWE’s employment onstage as well as offstage. Oh, but excuse me. I forgot that pro wrestlers are not employees. They are independent contractors. I guess that makes it OK that these “assets” drop dead in horrifying numbers caused by profiteering occupational health and safety standards – sometimes before and sometimes after their “intellectual property,” as measured by toys made in Chinese sweatshops, is exhausted.

It’s good to see at least a few Connecticut journalists hitting their stride in the coverage of the McMahon campaign.

Irv Muchnick

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