Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

  • Obama and the myth of job creation

    on Jan 28, 10 • in All Columns, Business, Community, Domestic Policy, Politics, Social Policy • with Comments Off

    Obama and the myth of job creation

    A president’s speechwriter, desperate to relieve the rhetorical ramble of a State of the Union, will often stage a special guest in the gallery, or a line or two from a letter – anything to generate something like intimacy. Wednesday night, President Obama described the letters that he reads “each night. The toughest to read,” he said, “are those written by children, asking … when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.” Does official Washington really believe that we’re waiting for government to generate jobs, somehow? What is the effect

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  • Do you work in sales? Thank you.

    on Sep 9, 09 • in All Columns, Business, Featured • with Comments Off

    Do you work in sales?  Thank you.

    Had enough of the recession? Next time somebody pitches you something – whether or not you open your wallet – at least say thanks. Because economic growth is a story we tell one another. Transactions are its dialogue. And the authors of both are the master storytellers: salespeople. Before you tune out, consider this: Nothing happens until somebody sells someone something. And no matter what the rest of us do all day, our paychecks and prosperity rely on the efforts of salespeople. At some level, of course, everyone sells. Authors and academics (if they hope

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  • What can America learn from Switzerland and France about healthcare reform?

    on Sep 1, 09 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Health Care, Social Policy • with Comments Off

    What can America learn from Switzerland and France about healthcare reform?

    San Francisco Anyone put off by the poster that paints President Obama as a “socialist joker” might take a look at the typical American in the mirror. We already combine the worst features of both socialism and market forces in healthcare, because we can’t seem to learn from the best examples in other countries. It’s time we did – because that’s where the real choices are. And eventually, we’ll have to choose. On the (fully) socialized side, US Medicare and Medicaid consume 8 percent of our national income – about the same share as socialist

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  • Forget tea parties. Bring a pitchfork to a shareholder meeting.

    on Sep 1, 09 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Politics • with Comments Off

    President Obama is taking on unaccountable corporate elites this month. Why aren’t you? You probably own shares in these companies; your government doesn’t (at least not yet). Those Tea Party people are right to rage. But they’re reenacting the wrong revolution. When Louis XV’s war debts drove France into bankruptcy, people chafed at taxation, yes – but also railed at an impaired financial system, high unemployment, scarce services for war veterans, conspicuous consumption, and public detachment on the part of an entitled elite. Sound familiar? In 1789, heads rolled. Today, you’re getting rolled. Anyone with

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  • What if women ran the world?

    on Mar 26, 09 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Politics • with Comments Off

    It is getting harder to escape the sense that most of the trouble in the world – whether it’s coming out of the Senate, a mortgage lender, or a tank turret – can be traced to one overriding problem: too many men steering. Had our economic, domestic, and foreign policy been more informed by women, we might be enjoying a safer ride. Doubt it? Here’s a test. Would any of the women you admire have set up a healthcare system as byzantine, costly, and underperforming as America’s? Or a financial system where mortgage lenders don’t

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  • A Tumor at the Heart of Medicare

    on Mar 1, 09 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Health Care • with Comments Off

    GENERATING efficiency in the health-care market will be one of President Obama’s greatest challenges. To do this, he will have to create meaningful competition between drug companies, and between public and private plans. Congress’s attempt at market-driven health care offers good instruction in what not to do. Medicare Part D, the prescription benefit that went into effect three years ago, was supposed to let the elderly get their medicines more cheaply by creating competition between private insurers. Yes, the program has undeniably improved access to prescriptions. But the cost to taxpayers has been 3.5 times

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  • An Environmental Blueprint for the Obama Administration

    on Dec 14, 08 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Environment • with Comments Off

    Instead of placing sketchy bets with public money, the next administration might consider a few suggestions: First, Subsidies: To start leveling the field, phase out and eliminate subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies (begin there; coal comes later). The subsidies were established – and meant to be temporary – in an era when that industry needed help. Oil now gets larger tax incentives relative to its size than any other U.S. industry. It’s time to roll them back, not escalate subsidies for alternative fuels in a multi-front bidding war. Don’t shift subsidies from fossil fuels to

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  • A Trifecta of Economy, Ecology and Jobs

    on Dec 14, 08 • in All Columns, Business, Domestic Policy, Environment, Politics • with Comments Off

    With oil reserves getting tighter, resource-rich countries becoming more aggressive and climate change prompting louder and broader calls for action, President-elect Barack Obama has promised to invest $150 billion “strategically” to build a clean energy future for America over the next 10 years – and create 5 million new jobs. Somehow, he needs to show the country how to hit a perfect trifecta of economy, ecology and employment – placing his bets quickly to build momentum, and overcoming political and bureaucratic machinery decades in the making. His vision compels and inspires: Millions of people working in sophisticated

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  • A road map for Detroit

    on Nov 19, 08 • in All Columns, Business, Community, Domestic Policy • with Comments Off

    When your car is burning oil, you have a few choices. Buy quart after quart and watch your money go up in smoke. Scrap it and try to manage without. Or overhaul the engine and keep it for the long run. As it stands, the $25 billion US auto industry bailout championed by congressional leaders amounts to another quart of oil. The only jobs it may save – temporarily – are those of executives, without forcing real accountability for management and unions. Hope, maybe. Change? Not a chance. But Republican resistance to intervention – the

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  • What’s really burning down the financial house

    on Nov 5, 08 • in All Columns, Business • with Comments Off

    This can’t wait. It begins with the recognition that, behind all of the explanations and recriminations, what ultimately brought down the financial house were volatile investments known as “derivatives” – idiosyncratic and inscrutable securities “derived” from other securities, such as bundles of home mortgages. If we fail to regulate them, we will continue to invite the financial equivalent of arson. The value of these financial abstractions has grown fivefold since 2002, to at least $531 trillion today. That’s nearly 10 times the total output of all of the goods and services the entire world produced

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