Magazine

A Big Stir Over A Sabbatical


Why the obsession with Ann Fudge's two-year sabbatical? ("Act II," Cover Story, Mar. 29). Something tells me it's fueled by the envy of people who lack the power, self-confidence, and sheer will to seek life over work, even for a fleeting moment.

Sandy Greenberg

Executive Vice-President Group Creative Director

Foote Cone & Belding Advertising

New York

Kudos to Ann Fudge for her bold move to walk away from the corporate world for two years to redefine the direction of her life and to experience what lies outside the high-powered, driven-executive suite. After devoting nearly 30 years of her life to Corporate America, does Fudge deserve to have detractors criticizing her two-year sabbatical?

Victoria T. Brown

New York

Based on personal experience, I think Ann Fudge's "can't we all just get along?" approach to Young & Rubicam Inc.'s corporate problems is doomed to failure. Over a 32-year advertising career in Houston, I bought agencies twice and sold twice. Without exception, there was an us-vs.-them mentality that was impossible to overcome.

Great agencies are staffed with people with giant egos. Fudge's approach might work in some corporations, but she will soon discover it will never work in the communications business.

Art Casper

Houston Thanks for your thoughtful piece on the aftermath of the Madrid terror bombings ("Fighting a new Cold War," News: Analysis & Commentary, Mar. 29). I am still shocked by those terrible images. It is a priority indeed to forge a new U.S-Europe alliance, similar to the common understanding that led us to NATO after World War II. Anti-Americanism in European public opinion should not be underestimated. Europeans who are pro-American (as I am) are at a point where they are nearly unable to voice their thinking publicly. Anti-Americanism has reached the point of a cultural dogma. The challenge of Islamic terrorism requires close cooperation at the economic and political levels, as well as shared intelligence.

Europe has been dismantling its armies and secret services for years. Now we need to reestablish them. As in 1945, we will need America's help. It is a pity that, after September 11 and March 11, we are still quarreling, defying common sense, and airing our differences. Perhaps it is not too late. It is a time for diplomacy. Let us repair the transatlantic bond.

Francisco J. P?rez-Latre

Pamplona, Spain

"Fighting A New Cold War" should be sent, with dispatch, to all heads of state in open societies. It contains thoughtful and measured advice that should be discussed and acted upon by political leaders and their governments. To disavow and appease the enemy at this inflection point will only cost the world more in terms of future human lives and economic resources.

Patrick L. Romano, Major

U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Washington Township, N.J.

Bruce Nussbaum's commentary is exactly the type of nonpartisan editorial that keeps me an avid BusinessWeek reader and subscriber. No recent article on the war against terrorism and the state of affairs between the U.S. and Europe better sums up my feelings than this one does.

John Sidney Trahan

Wimberley, Tex.

There is a fundamental difference between the American approach that sees only al Qaeda as the problem and the European approach that sees radical Islam as the problem and al Qaeda only as its most urgent symptom. Take Iraq. From the American point of view, Saddam Hussein's fall is at worst irrelevant to the fight against al Qaeda, and there is a good chance that it will help by providing the Arab world with a democratic alternative. From the European point of view, the chances for a democratic Iraq are small, and we may be lucky if we can save it from anarchy. But worse is that we have removed the main secular alternative in the region and thereby given the rich radicals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states a free hand to concentrate on financing the spread of their ideology all over the world.

Yes, the fight against radical Islam is like the fight against communism. Communism as an ideology crumbled when communist parties and organizations worldwide were no longer sustained by money from Moscow. Islamic radicalism will crumble, too, when we shut down its financing. But until that time, we will keep seeing Islamic revolts and power grabs from Thailand and the Philippines in the East to Nigeria and Ivory Coast in the West.

Wim Roffel

Leiden, Netherlands

A war on terrorism will succeed only in bringing more acts of terror upon us as well as the Europeans. Should one need an example, look no further than Israel -- a country that has been at war with terrorists for decades and is no safer now than it was decades ago. What the U.S. really needs to do, if in fact a safer society is what is truly desired, is to quit messing around in other peoples' backyards, even if those people control a precious resource on which we are dependent. That said, let's be clear about one thing: These people do not hate us because we are a free and open society, as both Nussbaum and our President claim. They hate us for who we are on their own soil -- a tyrant.

Robert M. Hamburger

Crestone, Colo. How dare a country like India threaten to "backlash" and "revert to a closed" society when all they are is a vacuum sucking up U.S. [information-technology] jobs and lowering the overall wages of the sector ("Ban outsourcing? Bad idea," International Business, Mar. 29)? All they have done is turn IT into a McJob, and even worse, force us to train our overseas replacements.

Mark Okubo

Auburn, Wash. Skyrocketing gas prices are primarily the result of the OPEC oil cartel's ability to squeeze off production worldwide ("Are refiners boosting the pain at the pump?" News: Analysis & Commentary, Mar. 29). The U.S. government has been a de facto member of OPEC because of the occupation of Iraq. The Bush Administration has supported everything OPEC has done in the past year. President Bush could remove Iraq from OPEC with the stroke of a pen. We wish he would.

Carl Olson, Chairman

State Department Watch

Washington

In the picture on page 48, I find it telling that the service station reminds patrons it has an ATM machine should they need extra cash. Who wouldn't need cash with prices like that?

Matt Essig

Denver

Americans continue to consume more and more gasoline. Most of us refuse to drive less, buy fuel-efficient vehicles, or slow down. All of those actions would lessen the capacity problem.

Absent a national energy policy -- with all its regulatory intrusions into our lives and pocketbooks -- we can do something about shortages right now. We need to begin thinking of the responsible conservation of gasoline as a patriotic priority. The dividends would be considerably more than decreased price at the pumps.

Dave Redic

Dayton I agree with Paul Craig Roberts in "The harsh truth about outsourcing" (Special Report, Mar. 22). Outsourcing equals the erosion of wealth for all First World nations. Although outsourcing of manufacturing was detrimental to the factory workers of the U.S., the "comparative advantage principle" was in place and provided a path to retrain and absorb workers back into American business. In contrast, outsourcing of "knowledge-based" jobs provides a direct path to economic disaster. It begins with call centers, followed by programming, auditing, accounting, engineering design, telemarketing, animation, editing, transcription, legal assistance, and finally core research.

While corporations and stockholders may realize short-term gains, these too will be eroded. Those very governments that are receptive to the relocation of U.S. jobs may not be so receptive to the purchase of U.S. autos, U.S. branded appliances, U.S. cosmetics, U.S. pharmaceuticals -- or U.S. magazines, for that matter.

Austin Neary

Andover, N.J.


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