How’s the World Doing?(A)
As I write this, I am approaching my 78th birthday, and at the risk of sounding like an even crankier Andy Rooney, I have to say: The world is getting more absurd all the time.
We have a president who likens the Iraqi constitutional process to the constitutional process we had in the United States in the 1780s, thereby earning a flunk in history.
We have American corporations lining up to buy stakes in Chinese companies left and right, yet politicians in Washington decry the attempt by a Chinese company to acquire a retrograde U.S. oil producer.
We have a president and Senate majority leader declaring that the concept of “intelligent design” ought to be taught in schools along with evolution theory, thereby undermining hundreds of years of scientific inquiry.
More and more of the items you buy in stores like Home Depot, Ikea, Circuit City and Best Buy need to be assembled after you bring them home.
High officials of the French government warned non-French companies that France would not welcome a takeover of the yogurt and bottled water company Danone. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin described Danone as one of France’s industrial “jewels.”
When the European Union and China reached an agreement this year to limit textile exports from China to a 10% annual increase, it was too late to intercept millions of garments already on their way to European stores. Stacked up in European warehouses were 3.5 million bras and 58 million sweaters.
Speaking to security analysts in London, Volkswagen CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder dismissed cars made by Audi as a “complete waste of money.” Audi is VW’s most profitable division.
The Ave Maria Catholic Values Fund, launched in 2001, reports a return of 18% a year during the past three years, easily beating the 12% return of the S&P 500. The fund, whose assets have reached $400 million, invests according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It has four criteria for exclusion: Abortion, pornography, contributions to Planned Parenthood, benefits for same-sex partners (or opposite-sex partners in a non-marital relationship). Those criteria eliminate 200 of the 500 companies in the S&P index. The fund’s portfolio includes ExxonMobil, General Dynamics and Dollar TreeStores. Tobacco and alcohol companies are okay for investment.
Unhappy with a biography of him – iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business — Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs banned all books published by John Wiley from the company’s 105 stores including such titles as Macs for Dummies, Dr. Mac: The OS X Files and GarageBand for Dummies.
Kimberly-Clark, one of the 11 companies saluted by Jim Collins in his best-selling book, Good to Great, announced that it would fire 6,000 employees – one-tenth of its workforce – and close or sell 20 factories. Amy Low Chasen, a security analyst at Goldman Sachs, praised the action: “This shows management is aggressively taking action to fix its business. This is a major and welcome change from recent years.”
This past summer, 32 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese prime minister, Phan Van Khai, came to New York to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
A public opinion poll conducted in Italy found that 35% of Italians believe that Jews secretly control finance and the media, and more than 11% believe the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was exaggerated.
I rest my case.