THE NEW GILDED AGE….What a depressing story this is from Louis Uchitelle in the New York Times today. I mean, it’s nice to know that there are a few rich people who aren’t complete assholes, but it seems safe to say that the majority fall pretty safely into this category. Do they seriously believe that American executives in the 50s and 60s just coasted along on waves of cash while they not only had a world red in tooth and claw to tame, but were responsible for personally taming it without help from any other human being on the planet? Apparently so:
The new tycoons describe a history that gives them a heroic role. The American economy, they acknowledge, did grow more rapidly on average in the decades immediately after World War II than it is growing today. Incomes rose faster than inflation for most Americans and the spread between rich and poor was much less. But the United States was far and away the dominant economy, and government played a strong supporting role. In such a world, the new tycoons argue, business leaders needed only to be good managers.
….That changed with the arrival of “the technological age,” in [Lew] Frankfort’s view. Innovation became a requirement, in addition to good management skills — and innovation has played a role in Coach’s marketing success. “To be successful,” Mr. Frankfort said, “you now needed vision, lateral thinking, courage and an ability to see things, not the way they were but how they might be.”
Oy. Where do these people come from? I’m at least moderately sympathetic to this kind of argument when it comes from a genuine entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Sam Walton, but when it comes from some guy who thinks he practically risked life and limb by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder and then engineering a couple of big mergers, it almost makes me want to retch. These guys wouldn’t know risk if it hit them in the kneecaps with a two-by-four.