On Whose Scarecrow Are You Raining?

TunesDay, and this week it’s one of my favorite artists, John Mellencamp. Starting his career as John Cougar, a name he hated, he’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (2008) who has written some of the most American rock songs ever. Today we’re going to take a business point from one of my favorites – “Rain On The Scarecrow”. First – a listen:

As a founder of FarmAid, this has to be one of his most personally important songs.  It’s the dark cousin of his song “Pink Houses“.  Where does the land for all those houses come?  From the destruction of the family farm.  But the point I want to make today is buried in the middle of the song:

Called my old friend Schepman up to auction off the land
He said John it’s just my job and I hope you understand
Hey calling it your job ol’ hoss sure don’t make it right
But if you want me to I’ll say a prayer for your soul tonight

There are so many things I see these days where I wonder about what human beings are making the business decisions involved and, more importantly, how they live with themselves for having done so.  “It’s just business” is a lousy excuse.  That’s the “blood on the scarecrow.”  I know we don’t do politics here, but have a think about how the “profits over people” mentality has made this country and our world a little less human.

It’s impossible to serve our customers when we’re totally focused on the bottom like.  No, Schepman, I don’t understand.  Customers – and the people who work to serve them – aren’t numbers on a balance sheet.  Cutting staff or reducing their pay to improve profits hurts you because there are fewer (happy) staff to support customer issues.  It may be investors who make the decisions but it’s customers who pay the bills in a well-run operation.  Springsteen wrote in the similar-sounding “Cover Me” that

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough I don’t want to see any more

Maybe it’s not our economy or our businesses that are in trouble but our priorities?

This is the title song from an album about the fading of the American dream in the face of corporate greed.  That trend has only become worse in the almost 30 years since the album was released (1985).  I may be too much of an optimist but I believe that can be changed.  As with everything, it’s people and not faceless legal entities called corporations that are doing this.  People can undo this too.  What say you?

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1 Comment

Filed under Music, Reality checks

One response to “On Whose Scarecrow Are You Raining?

  1. Great one today, Keith. Call me an idealist but I think there is a ton to be gained, in customer and employee loyalty, and ultimately, business success by thinking customer first. I’m thinking of companies that have pristine reputations for customer service or treatment of employees — places like USAA and SAS. They don’t seem to have been hurt by focusing on something besides ONLY the bottom line.

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