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`Reinventing America': The Floor Is Open


Readers Report

`REINVENTING AMERICA': THE FLOOR IS OPEN

From the opening "It can be done" to the succinct summary, you have the blueprint to again make us the world leader ("Reinventing America," 1992 Bonus Issue). It would have been nice to have Ross Perot to direct the traffic.

Keep hammering at the U.S. world of business, politics, academia, and more important, each of us. It must be done!

Robert W. Nikander

President

C.A. Briggs Co.

Willow Grove, Pa.

Turning each page was like opening a precious gift.

Evanne Geltzeiler

Mountainside, N.J.

You have reinvented America as deja vu all over again.

Urban A. Thobe

Barrington, Ill.

What a wonderful introductory essay! What inspiring ideas! This writing should be required reading for every high school and college student. Ditto for every CEO, manager, and worker in America! For my part, I'm going to make it part of the syllabus for my training seminars for business executives.

Claude Farley

Bothell, Wash.

I loved the issue. I would add three recommendations:

-- Reduce the five military services to just one.

-- Eliminate paper money (retaining coins). All purchases of goods and services would be by credit card, personal check, or bank debit card. This would: virtually eliminate drug dealing and use; reduce other economic crimes, such as auto theft and bank robbery; and vastly improve tax collection as the "underground economy" is destroyed.

-- Litigation reform. Mandate "no fault" laws for auto insurance, medical malpractice, and product liability. To stop frivolous lawsuits, require the loser to pay winner's legal costs.

John W. McLean

Covina, Calif.

You overlooked one extremely important aspect of the global marketplace. World-class products must be built to metric specifications to be competitive. Europe has banned the importation of nonmetric products as of the end of 1992. The Japanese stated that the lack of metric specifications of American products is an impediment to trade with the U.S. It is high time the U.S. discards an outdated jumble of units.

Hal Streckert

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

The real estate recession from which we have still not recovered was a direct result of the Accelerated Cost Recovery System enacted in 1982, which led to a boom in commercial real estate construction and by the late 1980s, to a glut of underutilized office buildings and shopping malls all over America. The following bust contributed to the savings-and-loan association disaster. I realize that the BUSINESS WEEK plan calls for expensing equipment, not real estate, but you have to be very careful about tinkering with depreciation rules.

Burwell Goode

Weston, Conn.

We should immediately initiate an industrial policy, appointing an Industrial Policy Board with full authority to "reinvent" our manufacturing base, reviving industries needed to provide jobs for our workers.

The formula was established by President Reagan in 1984, when he introduced "market sharing," giving the U.S. steel industry 80% of our market to enable the industry to survive unfair foreign competition. The results are history: The industry survived and prospered.

Using the market-sharing approach, we could swiftly revitalize the apparel, shoe, electronic, auto, machine, ceramics, computer-chip, and countless other industries whose jobs have been consistently exported under unrealistic government policies.

George Vargish

Saddle River, N.J.

I think you have covered all the bases--but one. One of our nation's most important deficits at the moment is its moral deficit. And morality has no solid foundation except in religion. The importance of morality and religion to the responsible exercise of freedom is nowhere mentioned in your otherwise admirable issue.

R. Heath Larry

Delray Beach, Fla.

Most companies can no longer look to cost for lasting competitive advantage. The new focus is on employees as the essential investment in achieving competitive differentiation. Making that happen, however, means restructuring the traditional workplace and developing a work force with the skills and motivation necessary to compete in today's tough global economy.

C. Roland Stichweh

Managing Director

Human Resources

Consulting Services

Towers Perrin

New York

Why not send a copy of it to the new President, his Cabinet, and all members of Congress? It is focused and direct, and could serve as a model for their actions.

Richard A. Newman

Cincinnati

I applaud much of "Reinventing America." My most important criticism concerns price stabilization. How much longer will we continue to rely on using unemployment to stabilize prices? As Keynes suggested, in order to promote price stability and growth in free-market economies, you need control over the money supply (the Fed does this), investment (government stabilization policies do this), and the wage-bargaining process--which we don't have.

If government, business, and labor cooperate on an "incomes policy" to keep wage gains consistent with productivity gains, then there is no reason why we can't have a high-growth, low-unemployment, and low-inflation economy.

Ted P. Schmidt

Assistant Professor of Economics

Buffalo State College

Buffalo

Our country has become the nation that de Tocqueville predicted it might become in his book Democracy in America, written in 1830--a tyranny of the majority! Japan's subtle economic forces that glue the nation together will succeed, while ours, based on laws, will continue to decline.

Robert L. Tracy

Lancaster, Mass.

While I heartily agree with the objective, how do we get corporate boards to take more clout?

After a long career in senior management, I have rarely seen one where the board took seriously the one (and only?) responsibility that really counts--namely to select, realistically grade the performance of, and, when appropriate, take firm, timely action to correct unsatisfactory performance of the chief executive officer.

It seems to me we need rules that force board member selection out of the hands of the CEO. Good-ol'-boy cronyism cheats shareholders, employees, and the economy of this country. Isn't it exciting to see the one notable current exception--GM?

Edward E. Hale

Florham Park, N.J.

Here is an attempt to boil it all down to a few inclusive and versatile items. Needed: tough-minded leadership, the empowerment of people at all levels, pervasive service, individualism at all levels, and focusing with monomaniacal intensity on quality throughout society.

Joe Batten

Des Moines, Iowa

Your photo essay ("The face of the global economy") incorrectly credited the creation of basketball as an "American invention." Rather, basketball was invented by a Canadian, Dr. James A. Naismith, a clergyman who is a native of Almonte, Ont., and a graduate of McGill University. Naismith invented basketball while he was working as an instructor at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass.

Baseball would be the more appropriate sport that America created and that has spread throughout the world, as evidenced by its popularity in Japan and its establishment in Canada by none other than the 1992 World Series champion, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Christopher A. Ho

Edmonton, Alta.

Although we certainly appreciate the coverage provided, I wish to draw your attention to an implication that is made in the photo essay that Singer "makes its sewing machines in Guangzhou." In fact, only a small percentage of our sewing machines are currently manufactured in China. Our major manufacturing locations are in Brazil, Taiwan, and Japan.

Ronald G. Peters

Vice-President for Finance

& Investor Relations

Singer Co.

Markham, Ont.

It seemed the general thematic intertwined in most of your solutions is for the government to do this or that. I had no idea the government was so very good at doing so many things. And, I had no idea the government does anything very well. I encourage you to return to what you do best--reporting about business--and leave fortune-telling to others.

John C. Hillman

Flower Mound, Tex.

For those counting on HCPCs health-care purchasing corporations providing a set fee to reduce charges: Setting a fee will hold charges, but it will not actually reduce the cost of providing the service, any more than having the government set the price of a magazine will affect the cost of issuing it.

What will happen is that either the quality will deteriorate or the service will not be made available. The overall costs will not be controlled until hospitals begin specializing in certain procedures and are able to achieve economies of scale. This would be a first step toward controlling costs while maintaining quality care.

James Hutchinson

Strongsville, Ohio


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