Former Kellogg Executive Writes First Fiction Novel
George Franklin spent a career with a front-row seat to the inner-workings of America’s political systems and large institutions. As a young college student, he worked as a staffer for a powerful east coast Congressman. After becoming a lawyer, Franklin was a Vice President of Worldwide Government Relations for Kellogg Company. Franklin served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Western Michigan University. He worked as a lobbyist and even had a radio program on 95.3 WBCK in Battle Creek, “Ask the Lobbyist.” Listeners realized right away that he’s a great storyteller.
Franklin wrote non-fiction books about his 30 year tenure at Kellogg’s and also about his unsuccessful run for Congress in 2018. “Yeah, that was a moment of temporary madness,” said Franklin. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but it was quite an experience, I’ll tell you that. But, I’m glad I did it and I can look in the mirror each day and say I gave it a shot.”
Now, he’s written his first fiction book, “Incentives: The Holy Water of Free Enterprise.” Franklin takes a humorous look at the world of economic development with politicians, corporations, and a cast of rogue characters all wallowing in the government trough in the name of capitalism and free enterprise. “I thought, let’s all lighten up a bit and laugh at ourselves somewhat.” The story starts in Battle Creek and revolves around a fictional economic development group called “Battle Creek First.” Franklin says the characters he created are drawn to West Michigan by economic ‘incentives’.” He jokes that the story shows how there is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program. “I take a shot at liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. I try to be an equal opportunity lampooner.”
Among Franklin’s characters in the book are a pair of Irish brothers from his old stomping grounds on the south side of Chicago, a couple of rednecks from Georgia, and an evangelical State Senator and his wife who open a topless drive-thru coffee shop in Glenn, Michigan.
Franklin acknowledges that the world of economic development has a pretty good amount of hypocrisy that exists within the business community where they say “Don’t regulate us, we believe in free enterprise, we believe in the free market, but, oh, by the way, give us the money. The masters of this are the National Football League and Major League Baseball. We give hundreds of millions of dollars to billionaires, to build their factories (called stadiums) so that 22 millionaires can run around the field in front of a lot of other wealthy people. That’s the reality of what we do and we do it with a straight face.”
Franklin, who is retired as a lobbyist, said that most people don’t understand that lobbying is business versus business. “It’s not business versus labor. It’s not business versus consumers. It’s businesses fighting other businesses to get a piece of the pie.”
He says he didn't even have to make up a lot of things in the book. Many come right from the headlines in the business sections of publications around the country.