Brainiac On Banjo #083: Why Mickey Mouse Only Has Four Fingers

The Mayor and Corporation / Have declared such jubilation / ‘Cos the stork has brought / A son and daughter / For Mr. and Mrs. Mickey Mouse / Pluto’s giving a party / And before the fun begins / He’ll present a golden dollar / To the father of the twins — Mickey’s Son and Daughter, written by Tommie Conner and Eddie Lisbona, as recorded by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band 1967.

To no one’s surprise, last week The Disney Company “furloughed” 100,000 workers due to ramifications of the coronavirus plague, a move which is supposed to save The House of Mouse some $500,000,000 a month.

As horrific it is to at least 100,000 families, this is understandable. Disney makes movies, but most theaters are closed… for the moment. Disney operates theme parks, which also are closed… for the moment. Their many television operations are doing fine (well, ESPN not so much) because reasonable people are trapped at home.

I suspect their overall advertising revenue might be down some. However, I should note cable teevee revenue is less dependent upon advertising than it is on payments from cable operators, and streaming revenue is not particularly ad-dependent. Still, Uncle Scrooge doesn’t have quite as deep a money bin as he did last New Year’s Day.

You are most likely aware of many of the company’s jewels. To name but a few: the Disney movie and television empires, the Disney theme parks worldwide, ABC television, the Disney Channels (there are several), the Disney Plus streamer, Marvel Comics, Lucasfilm, The Simpsons, Pixar, Disney Radio, the Muppets, Narnia, the Disney Cruise Line, 80% of ESPN, half of A&E, half of Lifetime, 10% of Vice Media, and enough merchandising and licensing operations to warrant a seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Let me also point out that some of Disney’s top management did take pay cuts. Right now CEO Bob Iger, who just surrendered his position to a new guy, pulls down a salary of $47,500,000 and that is merely the cherry on top of his entire compensation package. This is a term that has an unfortunately salacious but entirely appropriate second meaning. He will not be keeping an eye out for his $1,200 government bonus check, as even with the pay cut he farts more cash than that after a light meal.

But, hey, good for Bob. He and his ilk didn’t get where they are today by being fair to their employees, and a historical look at Disney’s labor practices easily reveals the House of Mouse has been a slumlord for the better part of a century.

However, when they cut off 100,000 workers they continued their annual executive bonus packages which, in recent years, has amounted to $1,500,000,000 dollars, or enough to cover these furloughed employees for three months. They haven’t cancelled their 2020 stock dividend either.

Disney heiress Abigail Disney, who has a laudable track record when it comes to revealing the company’s abuses, tweeted about The Disney Company’s actions. She stated the cost-savings of the furloughs are “going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years… If even a whiff of this is sincere, none of this compensation bullshit is possible… THIS COMPANY MUST DO BETTER. Disney faces a rough couple of years, to be sure. The challenges are existential, even. But that does not constitute permission to continue pillaging and rampaging by management. In fact, if a bonus reflects performance, we might want to claw…

“I don’t have a role at the company, which is fine with me. I’m just a citizen who cares and I think that makes me free to say what I believe. But I am an heir. And I do carry this name with me everywhere. And I have a conscience which makes it very difficult for me to sit by when I see abuses taking place with that name attached to them. This isn’t all that hard. This isn’t all that complicated. Just give up SOME of your already ample compensation, especially this year. Give up, god forbid two or three basis points on the annual return.”

Well said, Ms. Disney. Good for you. Need I point out that she’s no fan of Trump’s tax cuts for the unconscionably rich?

So if you are one of those 100,000 who have now have no income… well, perhaps they now understand why Mickey Mouse only has four fingers. Obviously, the little rat has used up both of his middle fingers.