There are about 14 million jobless people in the U.S. today, and the unemployment rate is 9.1%.
Most of these people are struggling financially. Many have lost their homes, no longer have health insurance, won't be able to help their kids with higher-education costs, and face the prospect of living vastly diminished lives. Hardly a picture of the American Dream.
All of which makes ousted Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz's lament Wednesday to Fortune that the company's board of directors "f***ed me over" a leading contender for Tone Deaf Complaint of the Year.
Here's how the Yahoo board f***ed over Bartz: She made $47.2 million in 2010. Having been fired Tuesday by board Chairman Roy Bostock, Bartz now stands to collect a severance package in the area of $10 million.
Maybe I'm way off on this, but it's highly unlikely that the 700 Yahoo employees who were laid off 11 days before last Christmas walked away with $10 million each. Nor the 150 or so Yahoo workers who were let go a month later.
It's also highly unlikely that all of those workers were laid off because they weren't meeting the requirements of the job like, say, Carol Bartz, whose primary mission was to forge a winnable strategy for Yahoo to grow revenue and increase its moribund share price.
Instead, Bartz hacked away at the organization in a way that neither grew revenue nor boosted Yahoo's stock. She complained to Fortune that the board didn't give her enough time to grow revenue.
The Yahoo board indeed appears to be incompetent, but Bartz had more than 2 1/2 years to show progress toward those goals. It didn't happen. What was the board supposed to do? It was under tremendous pressure from unhappy shareholders.
If Bartz had developed and communicated a coherent strategy for Yahoo, maybe she would have been given more time. Instead shareholders were treated to this:
"I think Yahoo is a simple story: we're a tech company, we're content, we're media, we're innovative. We have that quality, and it allows us to really personalize the Web."
Sarah Palin sounds more coherent. If a young start-up entrepreneur hit a venture capitalist with that elevator pitch, he or she wouldn't have been able to raise enough for cab fare.
Getting fired sucks, no doubt about it. But how a person reacts to such an event is illustrative of character. Not only did Bartz include a thinly veiled cheap shot at Bostock in her "I just got fired" email to all Yahoo employees, she called up Fortune the next day to complain that the board "f***ed me over," while noting that "there are reporters at the gate… a lot of them."
The Yahoo employees who lost their jobs in the past few years due to mismanagement and incoherent strategy (not just on Bartz's part), as well as the 14 million other unemployed people in the U.S., should be so lucky as to have mansion gates for reporters to be at.
Maybe Carol Bartz should spend some time behind that gate to reflect on how relatively lucky she is, and how she would be well-served to control her classless mouth.