OK, bye

Writing a column about my last column in this newspaper is a bit presumptuous. I’m not a known writer beyond the relatively small pond of San Diego’s business community, and the San Diego Daily Transcript is not the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal.

But in this 130-year-old publication, and in this small pond, I have swum for nearly 500 columns over a 13-year span. I have had the incredible freedom allowed me by the editors of the Transcript to write about anything that I felt worthy of the newsprint and the pixels. For that, I must thank the Transcript editors and owners profusely. It is a testament to the institution of free speech that news publications represent.

I also thank the people who have taken the time to respond to some of the columns, both in support and in opposition. My views are not everyone’s, and in some cases not anyone else’s apparently. I’ve always been a bit of the odd duck in terms of how well I fit or didn’t into the mainstream. Through the letters received, I found companionship with other such ducks, and spirited debate with animals of other species.

This column is called “Notes from the Corporate Underground” for a reason that is less true today than it was when I composed it many years ago. The original intention was to bring up from the cellar topics that never seemed to see the light of day in the companies I worked in, or served as a consultant. Real emotions and thoughts were often hidden because people felt at risk being themselves in the workplace.

More and more organizations are embracing humanity in its natural form, allowing diversity of thought and expression. Creativity and freedom have been the result, along with better financial performance. While not all companies strive to bring authenticity to their cultures, the trend has been increasing. I am blessed to be associated with one such company that employs people in 14 countries, and carries the same goal of “keeping it real” in every one.

I haven’t run out of things to write about, however, because humans provide an endless stream of material. Years ago I put up a blog site for “reprints” of this column, under the same title. I will take some time off and see what I might do with my Thursday nights now that the weekly deadline is ending.

If you have enjoyed the column and wish to stay connected, send me your email address and I’ll add you to the blog site subscriber list. Or you can go directly to the site and sign up: I’ll get back to writing weekly again sometime next year. In the meantime you might enjoy perusing the columns you missed.

And I have a final human observation: the Trump factor.

I believe The Donald is proof that our citizenry is starving for definitive leadership. While I may stare slack-jawed at what he says, there is no mistaking the appeal of hearing someone actually say what they are thinking, whether or not I agree with it.

Our political leaders are anything but that. They are carefully crafted personae designed to slip through the collective psyche of our country on their way to elections without getting snagged on disagreement with the electorate, all the while currying favor by privately agreeing with financial sponsors who have specific economic and social objectives.

Like Ross Perot, Trump represents the person who owes no one his allegiance. That is intoxicatingly attractive in a time when our politicians seem to owe everyone except the vast populace who has no ability to influence them, but who must depend on their actions.

When the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United overturned 100 years of campaign finance reform, the die was cast. Election spending went through the roof. Now it takes more than $1 billion to fund a presidential election. Probably $2 billion. They have to, because that’s what the opponent is spending. Because that’s what they’re getting. The political mind is following the money like it hasn’t since the turn of the last century.

Not coincidentally, the disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population is concurrently returning to the inequality that existed at that time. We are well on our way to a new Gilded Age, a social stratification that often ends in a violent way within any society that suffers it.

Two solutions to this destructive trend would be to pass a law that is constitutional to limit campaign financing opacity while limiting the amounts, and to raise the minimum wage to about $15 an hour for all jobs not exempt from wage and hour laws.

And with that, I leave you now to take a nap as I fly home from London. The driver of my car to Heathrow took the time to explain to me that if we think the United States is a mess politically, we should try living in the U.K. No, thank you. I like it here just fine.

Sewitch is an entrepreneur and business psychologist. He serves as the vice president of global organization development for WD-40 Company and can be reached at

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