As someone who recently left Deloitte & Touche, I would submit that accounting firms are great places to begin your career, but they are terrible in the long term ("The best places to launch a career," Cover Story, Sept. 24). Most people, like myself, burn out after three years or so of extremely long hours (especially during busy season), poor compensation and bonuses, poor management, intense office politics, and an utter lack of appreciation for work effort. The organizations are so large that they care very little about individual employees.
There's a reason why they hire so many new college grads: They have to compensate for extremely high turnover. The turnover at accounting firms is significantly higher than that in other businesses.
I don't know if i was the only one who noticed that all the African American people were positioned in the very back of the picture on your "Going Up" cover with the white male prominently displayed in the front.
I'm sure Deloitte & Touche strives to treat all of its employees the same. As an African American woman who subscribes to your magazine, I was reminded of the 1950s back-of-the-bus (or -elevator) days.
Surely you could have dispersed the people in a better way. I double-checked to see if they were positioned this way because of height, but this is not the case. There are at least three people the same height or taller than the African American woman in the back row of the cover photo.
Gina Blyther Gilliam
I hope the cover photo is not representative of today's young people entering the workforce. Gen Y and the Millennials were raised to reduce, reuse, and recycle—and many of them do. So this photo—with every person holding a nonrecyclable drink cup—doesn't bode well for the future.
North Bend, Wash.
The term "Made in China" may not be highly regarded these days, but neither was "Made in Japan" in the 1930s ("China's brands: Damaged goods," Global Business, Sept. 24). The Pure Food & Drug Act, a precursor to the Food & Drug Administration, was enacted only after The Jungle by Upton Sinclair described the filthy conditions in Chicago meatpacking plants.
China certainly faces challenges today, but it will overcome them, just as many other countries have done.
"Inside the hidden world of earmarks" (Government, Sept. 17) neglected to mention one point that is critical to understanding why congressional earmarks are so pernicious: Congress adds most earmarks without adding additional funds.
Let's say an agency submits a budget for $10 billion. Congress adds an earmark for $50 million but still appropriates just $10 billion. Now the agency must spend $50 million on the earmark that it had not planned to spend. To do so it must cut $50 million from something else. Assuming the earmark isn't essential, it's really a $50 million reduction in planned operations.
Alan Blinder's "offshoring index" study, which he admits is "largely subjective rather than objective," concludes that jobs requiring face time and personal communication are less likely to be offshored ("The changing talent game," "The future of work," Cover Story, Aug. 20/27).
Considering such parameters, the inclusion of actuaries on the list of offshorable jobs understates the interpersonal communications and management skills required for most projects that require actuarial expertise.
To be of service to senior decision-makers and clients, actuaries routinely require time with such constituents to review complex materials, models, and other products of their profession. While computing and analyzing risk is one activity of actuaries, communicating effectively and frequently with clients is equally important in making sure the actuary's work is understood and properly used.
In addition, many actuarial projects require development of unique solutions, which would be very difficult to do offshore.
American Academy of Actuaries
While I agree with the basic message of Christine Todd Whitman's "The case for nuclear power" (Ideas, Outside Shot, Sept. 17), it is brimming with America First naivete.
The nuclear-power industry is no longer American: It is European and Asian. We have sold our nuclear assets and now play second fiddle. Without a federal commitment to rebuilding our nuclear infrastructure, such as loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, we will be unable to compete with companies that have the full financial backing of their governments.
The case for nuclear-power plants must be made in Washington, where a coherent energy policy has been lacking for years. Given that we all recognize our energy addiction, why can't we get a consensus prescription?
I started my engineering career 50 years ago and have worked with Shippingport Atomic Power Station, Electric Boat, and Brookhaven National Laboratory in the nuclear power field. At this point, solar and wind power are nice but minimal. Until society can find an efficient way to store electricity, solar and wind will not be very helpful sources.
I am glad to learn that nuclear power is being promoted again. The second law of thermodynamics has not been repealed, and only through plentiful power will we all live better.
Editor's note: A story on a new way to store wind power appears in this issue.
Any accurate history of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. ("Private equity's white-knuckle deal," Cover Story, Sept. 17) should include a chapter on the Kinko's (FDX) fiasco. At Kinko's we should have realized we were in big trouble when, at our annual meeting, CEO Donald J. Gogel of CD&R said during a key speech: "We can't figure out how you [the Kinko's organization] got so far organically." The statement got a good laugh, but it should have been a red flag that they had no idea what our business culture was. After CD&R failed to listen for years to Kinko's founder, Paul Orfalea, on what worked, their answer was to lock him out.
I enjoyed the article, but you need all the facts. Talk to any of the 130 or so founding partners of Kinko's, and I doubt you'll find any praise for Gogel, George W. Tamke, or any others in the CD&R crew.
Former Kinko's employee
La Quinta, Calif.