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Letters to the Editor

Johnson & Johnson Responds

I read your article about our company ("Ouch!" Features, Apr. 4-Apr. 10), and I was truly saddened by your portrayal of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). The recent events you wrote about are disappointments for me as the chairman and CEO and, more importantly, for the men and women of our company. We own our mistakes, but your story misrepresents and understates the deep commitment of our 114,000 people who dedicate their careers and lives to serving the world's human health-care needs.

Over Johnson & Johnson's 125-year history, we have made incredible contributions to the medicines and products that so many people have counted on to cure, heal, and help their families to lead healthy lives. And we continue doing so today. We hold those achievements close to our hearts. They inspire each of us at Johnson & Johnson to work on behalf of the millions of patients and customers who use our products every day.

We don't claim to be perfect, and we would never put anything ahead of patient health and safety. In cases where we let down our customers, we have accepted responsibility for our mistakes, instituted changes, and committed our resources to continuously improve ourselves and our products for the benefit of our patients.

Your readers—our customers—should know that we are listening and remain committed to manufacturing high-quality products that improve and prolong lives. We are a company that finds no greater satisfaction or fulfillment than addressing the health issues and needs of people who use our products every day.

William C. Weldon, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.

How High the Ceiling?

Playing Chicken With the Debt" (Opening Remarks, Apr. 18-Apr. 24) was very informative. However, when you look at the staircase, one has to wonder: If not now to stop raising the debt ceiling, when? I guess the 12 previous increases were also labeled as "the sky will fall" if we do not raise the ceiling and print more money to pay our interest obligations.

If ever there was a reason to stop this death spiral, it is the increasing debt-limit trend depicted from December 2007 to February 2010. It definitely is not a stairway to heaven. More like the last steps to the gallows. It is time to say, "no more!"

Joe Angsten, Manassas, Va.

The Expendables

I'm writing to comment on "The Hidden Job Crisis for American Men" (Global Economics, Apr. 11-Apr. 17). As a 58-year-old American male who has been employed his whole adult life—until exactly two years ago, when I was laid off—I can tell you that one of the things that is hidden in the workplace is age discrimination.

While discriminating on the basis of age is technically illegal, I am certain that employers do it to the best of their ability with the goal of keeping the mature and relatively costly employee, i.e., experience, pay scale, health insurance cost, etc., out of the ranks of their "new normal" extra-high-productivity, extra-low-cost workforce. After all, isn't American business demonstrating that it can maximize profits without us?

S.E., Allen, Tex.

Them That's Got Shall Get

The cover headline "How to Pay No Taxes" (Features, Apr. 11-Apr. 17) can more accurately be stated as "How to Be a Parasite Right Out of Ayn Rand," or "How to Be a Deadbeat" from the anti-welfare point of view, or "How to Live Off the Workers and Their Unions or the Armed Services, Police, Firefighters, Teachers, Doctors, or Nurses and Other First Responders."

It is clear that the robber barons have almost total control of the tax structure, the wealth, the political system, and the upward mobility of our citizens.

David Jordan, Edgewater, N.J.

Your article excluded a method employed by millions of U.S. residents to pay no federal or state taxes on income and benefits. Millions receive government welfare payments for housing, food, medical care, cellular telephones, utility bills, counseling, public transportation, legal aid, criminal defense attorneys, waiver of mandated fees, waiver of criminal fines, school tuition, earned income credit, etc. The list is almost endless. None of the benefits and payments are taxable; thus they encourage the recipients to continue their lifestyle.

Bloomberg Businessweek should follow up with an article listing all the taxpayer-subsidized welfare programs and associated costs. Your readers deserve to know the true cost of our enormous welfare state.

Gregory Snider, Cincinnati

Economics, Ryan-Style

I liked "The Audacity of Paul Ryan" (Politics & Policy, Apr. 11-Apr. 17).

I read in another news story that economist Alice Rivlin, a former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve Board, no longer supports Paul Ryan's budget. No wonder! Ryan assumes an unemployment rate of a mere 2.8 percent by 2021. I have an MBA in economics and finance, and I know of no impartial economist that would ever assume a 2.8 percent unemployment rate. Perhaps rookie Ryan's budget uses faulty assumptions from some libertarian group such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, or FreedomWorks.

Ryan would also slash the top individual tax rate to a mere 25 percent. Both the Reagan and the Bush tax cuts proved that "trickle-down" economics do not work. The better way to stimulate the economy is to put money into the hands of middle-class consumers. Ryan's budget does just the opposite and puts money into the hands of the wealthy.

Ryan also wants to stick it to seniors on Medicare who fall into the prescription drug "donut hole." His budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act completely.

George W. Bush gave huge tax cuts to the wealthy, and Ryan wants to continue to do so, without any proof that those cuts ever stimulated the economy or created jobs. The economy did very well under the Clinton Administration, when the top tax rate was 39.6 percent. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy produced a whopping deficit.

James J. Quaglietta, Palm Harbor, Fla.

Nuclear Financial Fallout

Reading that the next generation of nuclear reactors will finally be safe ("Building a Better Reactor," Features, Mar. 28-Apr. 3), I would like to make one suggestion: Make the corporations and their executives 100 percent liable for any problems that develop. Tell them to put their money where their mouth is.

L.C. Lewis, Willits, Calif.

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