Want to see late capitalism in the raw? Check out “She Lied to My Face”: Inside the Hectic Last Days of Gymboree’s Retail Bankruptcy by David Dayen in The Intercept. The article looks at the truly horrible decline and fall of Gymboree, a retailer of children’s clothing. The company declared bankruptcy in 2017. The kicker? Most of the employees received no severance pay, which they were supposed to get, but which the company said it didn’t have the money to pay.
But, what Gymboree did have money to pay for was bonuses and gold parachutes for its upper management. Unfortunately, this has been ever more often standard operating procedure at high visibility bankruptcies across the nation. Notes Dayen, “The situation at Gymboree echoes other recent retail bankruptcies in which executives got a king’s ransom while everyone else got a firm handshake. Toys ‘R’ Us and Sears were approved for millions in executive bonuses, a fact that has enraged advocates for line-level workers. ‘These are the same handful of people who couldn’t run our company successfully, and they’re being rewarded while everyone’s severance is taken away?” asked Lily Wang, deputy director for Organization United for Respect’s Rise Up Retail campaign.’”
The question, then, is whether any system which rewards failure at the top while punishing success among line-level workers is healthy, or even can last much longer.