Former General Electric CEO “Neutron Jack” Welch died March 1 at the age of 84.
He picked up that nickname after the neutron bomb, the ultimate capitalist weapon that killed people exposed to its enhanced radiation but left buildings largely intact.
President Reagan wanted to deploy the neutron bomb in Europe but backtracked after a torrent of protest there. The bombs were stockpiled in the US until they were officially retired in 1992.
At the helm of GE during the 1980s, Welch eliminated 100,000 jobs through layoffs, plant closings and sales of businesses.
GE workers and their union leaders regarded Welch as their archenemy for unloading assets and firing employees without sympathy.
“Mr. Welch exemplified the relentless executive willing to mow down any employees standing between him and a brighter bottom line,” according to the New York Times.
It’s puzzling why president Trump, who says he’s all about US jobs, jobs, jobs, would pay tribute to a guy who was committed to killing jobs, jobs, jobs.
Trump tweeted: "There was no corporate leader like ‘neutron’ Jack. He will never be forgotten. My warmest sympathies to his wonderful wife & family!"
Note to the tweeter-in-chief: Welch hated the Neutron Jack tag.
Bloomberg reports that Welch leaves behind a complicated legacy: "Despite all the accolades he won during his two decades atop the company, his star fell in retirement as his past decisions caught up with the company. GE struggled in recent years in part due to questionable accounting practices and a reliance on volatile finance businesses -- both legacies of Welch."