On the surface, Robert Kuttner's argument seems convincing: Nobody likes to pay taxes, and if other people don't pay them, it angers us ("How corporate tax evaders get away with billions," Economic Viewpoint, June 23). But please keep in mind that every euro transferred to the Internal Revenue Service is a transfer of power from the productive to the administrative sector. Nothing is easier to spend than other people's money and, at least in Germany, bureaucrats are not enterprising people but mostly roadblocks to productivity. To finance them lowers prosperity and creates a real burden on our children as their outlook is for security and maintenance of the status quo, not creativity.
Even the wealthiest cannot eat more than three steaks a day -- and when they do eat they create income for farmers. If they build a yacht, they secure jobs. If they buy a Rolls-Royce, they benefit everybody from BMW workers to the oil industry. If we pay less taxes, we could invest in our businesses and keep people earning their livelihoods and securing their futures without paying a bloated and power-hungry cadre of so-called civil servants and politicians that -- with very few exceptions -- spends all the tax money they can lay their hands on, and sometimes even more.
There is nothing in the democratic system to prevent this, and it needs to be improved with strict spending controls and financial accountability with sanctions. Kuttner's reasoning is understandable, but he disparages the people who try to create something.
Karl H. Grabbe
Bremen, Germany Michael Dell accurately observes the continuing shift away from proprietary technology and states that affordable standard-based technology will benefit the whole economy ("Michael Dell on what really spurs demand," Readers Report, May 26, responding to "The tech rebound: Hope and caution," Editorials, May 5). The market will eventually correct any proprietary technology that is a cover-up for the monopolistic ambitions of manufacturers.
But given the opportunity, few companies can resist other monopolistic tricks. For example, Dell Computer Corp.'s sales team was instructed that custom-made brackets to mount hard disks in their servers cannot be sold separately any longer. This effectively prevents customers from buying and installing the identical "standard-based" hard disks at open market prices without the Dell premium charge.
You can fool some customers some of the time, but....
Antwerp, Belgium As senior product manager for consumer advertising for Detrol from prelaunch until one year postlaunch, I am tired of the myth of how Schering-Plough Corp. CEO Fred Hassan came to Pharmacia (PFE) & Upjohn Inc. with a new marketing team and turned "what was supposed to be a modest seller into a blockbuster" ("Schering's Dr. Feelbetter?" People, June 23).
In my opinion, Fred's sole contribution to the marketing of Detrol is that, when he joined Pharmacia & Upjohn, he resolved a contest between the Swedes who developed the product for incontinence and the American marketing team that wanted to expand the market by coining a new medical term for what is known as overactive bladder. He agreed with us, took control away from the Swedes, and implemented the existing American market company plan. Beyond these actions, Fred's micromanagement style did much to slow the rapid advance of sales. Although he agreed that consumer advertising was necessary to drive sales of Detrol, he caused a three-month delay in its implementation by his constant reviewing and even rewriting of advertising copy.
Fred's great contribution to Pharmacia & Upjohn, and it was no small thing, was to realize that the merger of Swedish Pharmacia and American Upjohn had never occurred operationally and that it was ludicrous to maintain separate marketing headquarters on different continents. He quickly combined them in one new location (New Jersey).
Portage, Mich. I think information-technology outsourcing reveals a shortsightedness on the part of corporate executives ("India: A tempest over tech outsourcing," Workplace, June 16). The long-term harm to the U.S. economy from IT outsourcing is far bigger than its short-term cost saving benefit, if it can save any costs at all.
First, outsourcing IT to developing countries is paying these countries, our potential competitors, to learn our high-tech and trade secrets. Second, outsourcing IT exports our white-collar jobs to other countries. The loss of high-paying jobs will shrink consumer buying power and seriously hurt our economy. Well-paid corporate executives should come up with other ways to increase profits, not just simply export American jobs to cut costs. If they cannot safeguard our national interest, our government should step in.
The global market share the U.S. grabbed in the IT sector in the 1990s came because U.S. companies were first to identify and hire talented IT professionals from India and many other countries. The U.S. leadership in IT helped create more jobs for Americans in such fields as marketing, product management, and sales. And while an immigrant might be saving 15% to 20% of his gross income, the rest of his earnings get consumed in the U.S. in the shape of federal and state taxes, grocery bills, rent, car payments, clothes, vacation, etc. -- hence creating more jobs.
If states pass laws against outsourcing and if the U.S. makes the visa process for foreign workers harder, this will not only have an unfavorable impact on the business interests of U.S. companies in other countries but will also slow down America's ability to attract the best of the talent pool.