Stanley Bing

Calling OSHA!

Affluenza may be in remission, but new ailments are putting our health at risk.

By Stanley Bing

(Fortune Magazine) -- I dropped in on my friend Burbage the other day and noticed that his hand was in a splint. "What's up?" I inquired. "BlackBerry thumb," he said. "Gee," I thought. "I wonder what our health plan is going to say about that." I had some idea, of course. Last month our carrier disallowed my pal Brewster's midnight visit to his local emergency room on the grounds that it wasn't an emergency.

With new times come new job-related ailments. As the federal government looks at new regulatory initiatives, it's possible that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should be investigating the contemporary disorders that afflict us as we go about our daily duties. A partial list would have to include the following, I think:

Bluetooth ache. Occurs when the subject's aural cavity grows completely around the electronic earpiece. May result in erroneous involuntary institutionalization when subject is apprehended while seemingly talking to herself.

The shorts. Most intelligent money now having left the market, the field has been ceded to those whose entire economic world view is based on wagering against things. Whole companies are now suffering from the condition, as perfectly good operations are devalued and their operating atmosphere poisoned by negative ions.

Plasticosis. A painful condition in which an executive's formerly robust and reliable expense account first molders and then withers altogether, producing hunger, sadness, and in some instances career death. In severe cases this may lead to the associated disorder known as ...

Oenophile dysfunction. Very common in Northern California, this debilitating disease afflicts those whose minds were previously occupied with incessant thoughts of wine and, to a lesser extent, single-malt Scotch. With corporate largesse at an all-time low, sufferers are now condemned to order mid-shelf wines by the glass.

Water on the options. Also known as Black-Shoals disease. Once-mighty stock options have now been underwater for so long that they are in danger of being soaked beyond recognition. Pathetic victims are often seen shambling down the hallways of corporate America, dragging around the soggy detritus of their ostensibly long-term comp as if it were still worth something.

Earning disabilities. Flat is the new up. Up is the new flat. EPS has been reported but seldom found. When the situation will be ameliorated is anybody's guess, but people assigned to the chore must continue the odious job of looking, often bumping their heads on the downside while they do so.

Titular stenosis. Until recently, titles automatically grew and ripened as a matter of course, turning associates into managers, managers into directors, directors into vice presidents, and so on. That process is no longer assured, and titles often remain in the pupal stage for years at a time.

TARPal funnel syndrome. This condition mostly affects financial institutions. It is characterized by a severe backup of accreted federal funding, which finds its way through the front door and then is never seen again except in the form of retention bonuses for senior officers who are not retained.

Penal implants. A growing number of formerly respected businesspeople are presently headed for incarceration now that officials are enforcing laws that pertain to the rich.

Those are but a few. And until some government action is taken, I fear the prognosis is not good. I'm pretty sure that our insurance coverage, such as it is, will fail to recognize what ails us. I called our provider the other day when the cellphone neuropathy in my neck was acting up. I was told that my underwriter plans to be unavailable for comment until the recession is over or the world comes to an end, whichever comes first.

STANLEY BING's latest book is Executricks, or How to Retire While You're Still Working (Collins), available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at For more Bingstuff, go to his website,  To top of page

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