Readers: I am attempting an ongoing feature where I summarize and comment on articles in the business magazines I read regularly. Let’s just say the gym cross-trainers are not exactly amusement park rides. Also, ever since I worked at my first startup, the world of business has fascinated me – to a point. For example, I mentioned recently how the bonds, mutual funds, and the like bore the holy hell out of me. I consider it them a major component of the dark arts known as “making money with money without actually doing anything”. Where’s the fun in that? So, without further adieu:
Fortune – July 7, 2008:
Face-Off on the Economy
The whole issue is themed around Obama versus McCain, and how they will “fix the economy”. Good luck with that. Anywhoo, they lay out questions for both candidates, and one really stood out:
Fortune: What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?
Obama: blah blah blah…energy policy…demand outstripping supply…federal government takes charge…blahblah.
McCain: “…the struggle we have against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence”
That’s right – someone in America still thinks all our problems are caused by people dwelling in caves a thousands miles away. Not only that, but this person will have complete control of our military – including “the button”. Yes, “the button” still exists. You may not think so, but I can guarantee you its still sitting there, neglected and caked with dust. Maybe its with the tattered remains of our Constitution, I don’t know. What I do know is that is a strong statement to make to a business magazine. Imagine Martha Stewart bringing you a cake she baked that came out flat as hell. She asks you what you think happened to the cake. You point to Bin Laden on TV and say “That bastard right there“.
The Great Airport Security Race
Did you know there is a company that can prioritize you through security lines in many airports? My irritated friends, Clear is there for you, and has been for three years (according to their website). According to the article, you pay $128 a year and Clear will background check, fingerprint, and scan your eyeballs. Fortune did some testing, and actually came to the conclusion that Clear did save on average of 9.25 minutes per airport. Also, their trips seemed to be a bit less stressful. For someone (not myself) who flies regularly to specific places, this seems like a good investment. However, Clear currently only operates in 16 airports nationwide. Ah, another company making a killing off the country’s terrorist “threat” – how heartwarming. I’m curious to see who has equity in this budding industry.
BusinessWeek – July 7, 2008:
Doctors Under the Influence
There is a chance that your doctor thinks you are a dumbass. This accompanies his or her regular assumptions of hypochondria whenever you complain about a health concern that’s not visually hemorrhaging blood. Seriously, this article talks about doctors who are actually sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Your doctor, who just prescribed you VioxxMidolViagrocotin, could have just come back from lunch on that company’s tab. Conflict of interest much? As alarming as that is, here’s the clincher – many industry professionals do not think your doctor should tell you. Hell, even the TV tells me when “American Idol” is sponsored by the latest pile of crap Ford is trying to shovel us. How could they possibly justify this point-of-view?
“The more information that’s out there, the more difficult it will be for patients to process.”
Furthermore, doctors receive grants from pharmaceutical companies to study their drugs. They follow up by writing professional studies about their findings, and often do not include a disclosure. How much do you bet that only positive propaganda gets published? Matter-of-fact, it seems that meaningful disclosure is the exception, and not the norm, when it comes to pharmaceutical companies’ “investments”. Finally, this sad article about a Pfizer case where a 12-year old girl commits suicide after her doctor prescribes Zoloft. Guess who’s doctor was getting paid to promote Zoloft?
Reading about the Pharmaceutical industry is generally depressing, and I usually avoid it. The companies just want to make money, and if it was up to them you’d be taking their drugs for the rest of your life. Curing is not a good investment. Plus, they have these weird product cycles, where companies are extremely flush with cash one quarter, then struggling to break even the next. Throw in the FDA, and you have corruption potential second only to the industrial military complex or a local beauty pageant. They’d probably be the de facto “black sheep” of the business world if not for Big Tobacco. Even business magazines seem to be wary of it. The article seems to be a bit biased against, and readers even complained in the next issue about the “tone”.
On a funnier note, this issue is where I first learned about Kentucky Fried Chicken now offering a meat-free alternative. OK, it is only in Canada – for now. Resist, KFC – don’t you realize if this type of mindset starts running wild, the terrorists win!