"The most aggressive CEO" (Cover Story, May 28) is of particular interest to me as a longtime Tyco International admirer and current shareholder. CEO Dennis Kozlowski, with an enormous ego, obviously is very talented and determined. He also must be very greedy. According to the proxy for the 2001 annual shareholders meeting, Kozlowski is assured of a pension at age 65 of $315,983 per month, which is several times his [base] salary. In addition, Tyco pays fees to its directors who also are its employees. In 2000, Kozlowski received for his services as a director the sum of $65,000. I'm waiting a while longer for the stock to go up and then will sell it at a profit and move on to something else.
Paul R. Steyermark
Tyco's CEO deserves more than the story presented by BusinessWeek, which leans toward the camp of skeptics. First, Tyco is not only an aggressive acquirer but also a structural growth company, given its 10%-plus organic sales growth the last few years. Second, you quote analyst [David Tice], who has accused Tyco of accounting irregularities ("There will be a stumble, and it's coming soon") without asking him to explain this negative view if he can, which I doubt. I miss the comments of the majority of analysts, who rate Tyco a "strong buy."
Third, calling [flat sales] on a sequential basis for its electronics unit "a spectacular slowdown" while technology is falling off a cliff is beyond reality. Cisco Systems, for example, showed a 30% decline in sequential growth--that's spectacular. So far, Kozlowski has always delivered what he has promised.
Our society is already more than filled with an oversupply of aggression. Stop popularizing this undesirable quality by putting it on a pedestal.
Lansdale, Pa. I found it interesting that "What exactly is a `living wage'?" was followed by "In Detroit, the engine sputters" (Social Issues, May 28). As the economic development director for Marion, Ohio, where a living-wage ordinance was defeated recently, it is no surprise to me that in Detroit, where a living-wage ordinance has been in effect for several years, the local economy is sputtering. As we went through the debate here in Marion, company after company told us they would not consider locating in our community with such an ordinance in place. Our city council, in its wisdom, preferred to keep Marion's doors open to new investment and let the marketplace set wage rates. With healthy competition for workers, we've seen average wages increase significantly on their own.
A more beneficial approach to the problem of how to boost pay for low-income workers would be for governments targeted by living-wage advocates to take the money that it would cost to adopt living-wage rules and use it to pay--through vouchers or other means--for worker education, training, and other ancillary programs for living-wage candidates. Increased education and training has been shown indisputably to have the single highest correlation with an increase in economic opportunity and income.
Matthew I. Slavin
I suspect I am not alone in wishing you wouldn't presume that taxpayers have bottomless pockets from which government programs can be funded.
David L. Goodwin
Rockville, Md. Gary Becker's "How rich nations can defuse the population bomb" (Economic Viewpoint, May 28) sounds like a recipe for impoverishing the developing countries even more. For years, economists have argued that the single most important factor in economic development is human capital/skilled labor. Does the brain drain from poor countries have to be elevated to policy status?
Samuel K. Andoh
Hamdmen, Conn. "Sorry, Steve: Here's why it won't work" (News: Analysis & Commentary, May 21) may have missed the point about the Apple Computer Inc. stores. Apple is not trying to sell a computer. It's selling a better computer. Apple needs to show its products in a controlled environment, since Apple is pretty much invisible in normal computer stores. The goal is to raise brand awareness and pull in new customers. As for secretiveness, a little mystique is always good for marketing. If some retailers aren't smart enough to clear out inventory when Apple stops filling orders, maybe they should stick to PCs. As far as I can tell, every Mac fan Web site knows about a month in advance when a new product is coming.
Do I have a gripe? Yes! I was called by your reporter for comments on Apple's retail plans, and I said I wasn't aware of such plans and that I wasn't in any position to comment. Your reporter and I had a wide-ranging discussion about issues affecting the personal-computer industry (including Apple). I never said: "Apple's problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers." I do not have any "gripes" about Apple, Steve [Jobs], or his management team. As I have often said, Steve's ability to surprise us all with his plans for Apple should never be underestimated.
Joseph A. Graziano
Cliff Edwards' commentary cites outsiders as saying Apple should be exploring new markets instead of developing stores. Since Apple has only 5% of the computer market share, I can't think of a bigger market to go after than the remaining 95%.
It appears that the Mac dealers aren't doing their jobs--so Jobs is!
Erie, Pa. "Inside Yahoo" (Cover Story, May 21) cites the example of Yahoo!'s ownership of Broadcast.com's streaming media content distribution, while pointing out that only a very few Internet users have fast enough connections to enjoy such a luxury. Yahoo may be short on cash, but it needs to purchase a high-speed Internet company. This would help Yahoo establish a customer base that would pay more to experience all that Yahoo has to offer.
Andrew C. Slay
Richmond, Va. Bush and his conservative friends often place free-market forces high above government interference in society. "What business should be telling the President" (Economic Viewpoint, May 14) [is that] in international affairs, these same economic dynamics are far more potent and effective than unnecessary political confrontations in helping secure long-term productive and peaceful relationships with countries such as China.
Hamden, Conn. United Parcel Service Inc. has increased its overnight and second-day air business by simply having the same truck pick up and deliver air and ground packages ("Ground wars," Industries, May 21). Ground and air packages are done on the same manifest-- compared with two manifests when shipping with FedEx Corp., which has separate trucks handling its air and ground packages. UPS's model is more efficient and has lower costs, but it is the customers who ultimately benefit.
Jerome R. Bulkan
Coconut Creek, Fla.