Monday, September 08, 2008

#446 Hammered

#446 Hammered

Can you identify the author of this quotation?

“I’m saddened and offended by the idea that companies exist to enrich their owners.

That is the very least of their roles..."

What do you think? Karl Marx? Barak Obama? Some nutty professor indoctrinating his students into the nether world of left wing wacko-ness? A leading cleric?

Here's a hint: it was published in the last paragraph of an obituary in the New York Times on Friday September 5, 2008.

Before you know who said it, let's consider what it says.

Current Wall Street wisdom is this: Corporations exist to satisfy the stockholders and to increase their value. It's considered an axiom, if not a law of nature.

Here's another hint, the rest of the quote, the part after the "..."

"they are far more worthy, more honorable, and more important than that. Without the vital creative force of business, our world would be impoverished beyond reckoning.”

Ready? Okay. It's from Management Guru Michael Hammer, co-author of "Reengineering The Corporation, which was first published in 1993, and caused such a wave of positive lip service that it stayed on the top of the best seller list for nearly a year, got the author named one of Time Magazine's most influential Americans and caused companies large and small to do... nothing.

Hammer wanted companies to explore the pieces of their work and maybe reassemble them in a way that would help the country's economy, the individual net worth of the workers (and executives) and to apply rational self interest rather than outright greed to their policies. Lots of big name outfits leaped to his bandwagon. Well, no. They didn't. But they SAID they did. Nothing changed.

If a management guy like Hammer can't get anywhere with these guys, what is to become of American business such as there is left of it?

What's it going to take, a complete collapse? Increasing inflation, enormous debt, speculative commodities trading, internationalization of assets, energy, diversion of education into mindless fields galore, a weak dollar, greed. These factors are converging. The corporate types for whom everything is not enough will end up with nothing. And so will we.

Is all hopeless? No, of course not. There's always the probability (fantastic as it may now seem) that the world will come to its senses. Or that the dogs that survive the burning of the "Shining City on the Hill" will sit around the campfire one night and come up with better ideas than the rest of us have so far.


--How does the anti-government administration in Washington justify the hands-on takeover of Fannie and Freddy? Easy. It's election time.

--I was wrong about Hillary winning the Democratic presidential nomination. But this election is about sentiment, not ideas or even the war or the economy. So let's hope I'm AS wrong in predicting a McCain win in the general election.

--Appointments are getting more precisely timed. You get times now like 11:50 or 9:15. But people don't keep the precisely timed ones any better than the loosely timed ones they used to make - and break.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them. (R)

(C) 2008 WJR

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