Sierra Madre, Calif.
Let's see...bomb-sniffing dogs are several times more accurate than bomb-detecting machines and several times faster to deploy ("High tech is starting to kick in," Special Report, Sept. 16). Why would our government spend billions of dollars for fallible machines over cheap, reliable dogs? Oh, of course--dog trainers don't hire million-dollar lobbyists and don't make multimillion-dollar campaign contributions.
There aren't enough dollars if you think security is something that can be bought ("Real security won't come easy--or cheap," Editorials, Sept. 16). Taking a clue from software engineering, you can see that security hinges on simplicity and well-defined communications. That's one good reason why Microsoft Corp. will have to start over from scratch if they want to produce secure systems [instead of] never-ending security patches. On a societal level, many of the fixes actually cause the problem--repressive government triggers opposition; reduction of freedom breeds resistance.
Rogier van Vlissingen
Riverdale, N.Y. It's a good thing that MBA programs are no longer giving short shrift to ethics and responsibility ("For MBAs, soul-searching 101," Management, Sept. 16). But will it do any good? Business schools also ramped up ethics after the Wall Street scandals in the 1980s, and we can see how successful they have been at getting the message across.
Our research on MBA students and programs makes it clear that for teaching on ethical dilemmas and the wider responsibilities of business to stick, the content needs to gravitate from the ethics classroom into the courses that matter in the MBA hierarchy--strategy, risk management, finance, accounting. Ethics courses are at best marginalized and at worst resented.
The recruitment market continues to reward "hard" skills at the expense of the real-life skills and values clarification that are at the base of ethical decision-making. MBA students expect to have to compromise their values in the workplace. They may know the difference between right and wrong, but are they equipped with the strategies and skills to [enact changes in the system] without putting their jobs on the line?
Judith F. Samuelson
New YorkEditor's note: The writer is executive director of the Initiative for Social Innovation through Business. Gary S. Becker does not seem to realize that an ineffective drug is dangerous, because it allows the disease to progress and prevents the use of another drug that could have been effective ("Get the FDA out of the way, and drug prices will drop," Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 16). In pharmaceutical research, there is a constant, but necessary, antagonism between scientists and managers. The ever-looming threat of Food & Drug Administration action often tips the scale in favor of the scientists. Relax the FDA insistence on efficacy, and the managers will win. But managers do not discover new drugs; scientists do. Scientists in pharmaceutical houses, in the FDA, and in medicine all support the need for efficacy.
Donald A. Windsor
Norwich, N.Y.Editor's note: The writer has spent three decades in pharmaceutical R&D. The only thing worse than not having insurance is thinking you do when you really don't ("Dogs and teen drivers could leave you broke," BusinessWeek Investor, Sept. 16). The only time I tried using my umbrella policy, my consistently top-rated company, which had all of my insurance business for 38 years, refused coverage because the suing person "alleged" that I caused intentional harm. Intentional harm is not covered, it seems, even if only alleged.
Harry E. Rodman Jr.