business news in context, analysis with attitude

We carried an email yesterday from MNB user David Livingston, who disagreed with the conclusions reached in a survey suggesting that there continues to be a real gender bias against woman as business leaders in the US. He wrote, in part:

It’s kind of hard to change human nature. If women prefer to work for men, then that's just the way it is. You have to look at the bright side of all of this. You wrote 41% of men and 33% of women said men are more likely to be effective leaders. Looks to me like that opinion is in the minority. So score one for the ladies. Adjectives like "moody," "bitchy," "gossipy", "catty" and "emotional can be taken two ways. I can tell you it certainly describes some of the women who work for me but I don't see it as a negative. Maybe to be an effective female leader one needs to be "bitchy" or "catty.”
When you multiply two negatives you get a positive...

One MNB user responded:

I think it's time to put David Livingston out to pasture and stop reprinting his ridiculous rants. His comments are an affront to every working woman who has worked her way up the ladder.

Just because you [David] are an old, white guy who never had to fight negative stereotypes doesn't mean they don't exist and it's obvious you have done nothing in your life to eliminate them. I went to a service academy and know first hand what gender discrimination is. I had fellow classmates, cadets in higher classes and even my freshman English professor tell me I didn't belong there. Guess what, I ranked in the top 5% academically in my class while I was there! I'm now on Wall Street and while 20 years ago I was quite a minority, I would say close to 50% of my peers are women (granted 5-15 years younger).

Keep one thing in mind. David Livingston says it, but a lot of other people are thinking it. Posting his comments, even if they are distasteful, allows us all to focus on issues that need to be addressed.

Another MNB user wrote:

Kevin, no doubt my note is number 1,890 of the 3,000 comments you will receive on this subject, but I had to write.

I have been most fortunate in my career to work for men and women who were great role models and coaches. It is very frightening to know that people like Mr. Livingston manage others. I feel sorry for his employees. On the other hand, his commentary has inspired me to rush into my boss’ office and thank her for her outstanding leadership!

The emails were voluminous. But for the moment, we’ll leave it at that.

We had some discussion yesterday about why US retailers aren’t expanding into foreign countries, which led to some discussion about whether the US might be nearing the end of the American empire.

One MNB user wrote:

There is often a big difference between the U.S. and foreign countries which makes transporting ones expertise from one area to another not particularly easy. There are lessons to be learned but they are often not easy at all to duplicate in the U.S. I once worked for a foreign controlled U.S. retailer, made regular trips to their country and “studied” things but many were difficult to replicate here. Consider just this one fact – the U.S. population even in metro areas is far more dispersed that other countries. It may be quite easy for say a Tesco to distribute fresh product from distribution centers where no store is more than 50 miles from the DC but it is not as easy in the U.S. I believe most of the UK supermarkets have central bakeries and send out fresh product every morning. Distances between stores and the DC make this too costly here in the U.S. so we have in store bakeries. Tesco may be about to find that out by spreading stores throughout the Southwest U.S. But then again they may find a cost effective way to make it work. No U.S. chain has done it on any greater scale than say a Ukrops.

MNB user Andy Casey had some thoughts on the broader issue:

Good lord - what a depressing litany of how America is headed down the toilet! And what a crock of crap. Do we have problems? You bet. Bigotry? No doubt. Racism? Some of that. Arrogance? Guilty as charged. And yet millions of people risk their lives each year swimming rivers, climbing fences, floating across shark infested waters on inner tubes or crossing deserts without any water just to join us in our misery. Why? Because they know you can come here and live your life more or less as you please and be successful because of your hard work regardless of where you were born or who you are.

A little advice for those who think we are living in the armpit of the world – quit watching the TV news and get out and experience the American dream. If things aren't as they should be, work to change them. We are not perfect, never were (regardless of what your parents or grandparents said) and never will be. Get over it.

We referenced yesterday a Randy Newman song, “A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country,” which includes the lyrics:

Just a few words in defense of our country.
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end.
Now we don’t want their love.
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question.
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend…

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest.
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free.
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Which led one MNB user to write:

I first heard Randy Newman in 1973, “…You don’t have to scuff up your feet…” and have admired him ever since. The lyrics you printed bring a tear to my eye, because I fear their truth. It is the way of all empires and all imperialist thrusts that they waste their resources, lives and money, on futile attempts to increase their influence and force the larger world to live in fealty. There we go, too. We think that might makes right. We have convinced ourselves that we are the smartest, best looking too, people on earth. We demand that others look like us. Diversity, Hah!

Randy Newman is first and foremost a satirist. Just listen to “Short People.” But his satire often gets at some basic truths that perhaps need to be addressed.

Our favorite email of the week came from an MNB user who objects to our chosen news sources…

I no longer read MNB because it relies too much on ruling-class media -- and the Washington Post is part of that ruling-class media... (and) a mouthpiece for the government!

Well, the folks at Walter Reed (and, for that matter, from the Nixon administration) might disagree that the Post is a “mouthpiece for the government."

We try and look at as much stuff as possible so we can get a rounded view of the business and the world.

Perhaps we should b reading more of Pravda?
KC's View: