From 2007 to the present, our economy has experienced what experts describe as the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Key industries experienced failures or required government bailouts to prevent a businesses slide from dragging the rest of us along. Lehman Brothers. CitiGroup. AIG. General Motors. These examples raise the question: Are America's best and brightest employed in the business sector? Perhaps Justice Scalia is correct when he suggested last year that too many of America's best minds are going to law school.
And just how is the business community shaping-up during this tough economic downturn? Take a quick look at this week's newspapers and you'll see the following: First, Nestle, which reportedly is a company concerned about health and wellness, purchased Kraft's frozen pizza operations (that includes Tombstone and DiGiorno). Unless Nestle plans to stop producing these products entirely, I don't see how they will promote health and wellness. (Yes, Nestle started as a Swiss company, but it is now very much multinational).
Second, Philip Morris, who no one can accuse of being overly concerned about consumer health, wants the FDA to adopt a regulatory scheme that encourages smokers to switch to smokeless tobacco. Of course, in addition to causing cancer of the mouth, and necessitating disgusting spitting, smokeless tobacco contains more of the highly addictive drug, nicotine, than cigarettes.
Third, Ford announced it is putting Internet radio and Twitter in its in-car entertainment system. Really? Shouldn't people in cars be focused on driving safely? I guess Ford successfully healed its pain over the Pinto.
These three moves might boost profits for the individual corporations, but none of them look good for consumers in the long run and, in my opinion, that makes each decision hopelessly fatal to long-term business success.
Nonetheless, for now we must rely on these geniuses to build a strong business community. Which leads to the question: What are business people reading these days?
Number four on the NYT Hardcover Business Bestseller List: The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. Hmmmm . . . not a comforting sign. The number one book on the Paperback Business Bestseller List: The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis, concerns "the evolving business of football." This may be an interesting book, but one wonders if it will lead to a stronger economy.
The full lists are found at the links above. Does all of this point to a hopeless future for business? It would be easy to be pessimistic but there is one bright spot: At least business people are reading.