Some people as a result of adversity are sadder, wiser, kinder, more human. Most of us are better, though, when things go better. Knowing when to keep your mouth shut is invariably more important than opening it at the right time. Always listen to a man when he describes the faults of others. Often times, most times, he's describing his own, revealing himself.
One cannot walk into an April day in a negative way. With spring, each man's plans and hopes result in new efforts, fresh actions. All of which has a mighty important bearing on the economy. There are those of us who think that the psychology of man, each and together, has more impact on markets, business, services and building and all the fabric of an economy than all the more measurable statistical indices.
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For corporations to be bedfellows with the arts is good business for both. The architecture that houses a company is a more visible statement than the president's in the annual report. Ditto interiors, particularly of offices and sometimes, dramatically, in plants. For solvent businesses, support of community cultural undertakings in music, drama, dance creates great goodwill. Also, the existence of such activities is often important to the executives and their families that companies want to keep or attract to keep.
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Real writers-that is, capital W Writers-rarely make much money. Their biggest reward is the occasional reader's response.... Commentators-in-print voicing big fat opinions-you might call us small w writers-get considerably more feedback than Writers. The letters I personally find most flattering are not the very rare ones that speak well of my editorials, but the occasional reader who wants to know who writes them. I always happily assume the letter-writers is implying that the editorials are so good that I couldn't have written them myself.
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Why, just a couple of economic seasons ago, was idle cash considered an indication of bad management or lazy management? Because it meant that management didn't have this money out at work ... Now look. Presto! A new fashion! Cash is back in! Denigrating liquidity has dropped quicker than hemlines. A management is now saluted if it has some cash, some liquidity, doesn't have to go to the money market at huge interest rates to get the wherewithal to keep going and growing. Along with Ben Franklin, my father and your father would understand and applaud this new economic fashion ....
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Crime in the city streets is more than a political issue. It's a too rampant fact.... In Indianapolis they have come up with a most sensible, affordable approach to the problem. Policemen are assigned their police patrol cars for personal use after hours. They are encouraged to use the police car while taking the family shopping, to the movies, and everywhere one takes one's family. As a result, says the Police Chief's assistant, we may have as many as 400 cars on the street instead of 100 or so per shift. [And] the presence of the police car obviously indicates the proximity of policemen.
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When a fissure off the California coast started pumping and dumping oil on the nearby towns and beaches, everybody started dumping on Union Oil. Matters weren't helped one iota by a manufactured quotation attributed to Union's president, Fred Hartley, alleging his amazement at the publicity for the loss of a few birds.... Fred Hartley never said what the press reported, as the transcript and the Senate committee members definitely established. But I don't suppose the truth will ever catch up with the more colorful falsehood.
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Over the years, I've evolved a somewhat heretical but time-and mind-saving approach to books, articles, editorials that deal with weighty matters. More often than not, by beginning at the end and contemplating the conclusions, one can determine if it's worth going through the whole to get there.
A little while ago I visited Omaha Beach for the second time in my life. In the intervening 26 years, nearly 20,000 tides had come and gone and little remains visible of the greatest military landing in man's history of endless warring. What's to be seen is mostly in a superb museum and a panoramic cemetery. The cemetery memorializes with dignity and grandeur the event and the dead, and moves one deeply. Before they die less precipitously and/or in lesser purpose, Americans who can should visit World War II's Normandy Beach. Such seeing and remembering helps a man's perspective.
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I hope a start at getting some oil out of the enormous Alaska field isn't indefinitely mired in a bureaucratic morass as a result of our national concern for the ecology. This concern must not be so misguided, misdirected, misused that it serves to stop economic growth, to bankrupt companies, to stifle new development, new jobs, new horizons. In fighting new pollution and stemming present pollution, exciting, sometimes costly means and methods exist and others will evolve. But blanket legislative naysaying to expanding power and energy sources is stupid, self-defeating.
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Some of the biggest bores I've ever known are men who have been highly successful in business, particularly self-made heads of big companies. Before the first olive has settled into the first martini, they pour the stories of their lives into the nearest and sometimes the remotest ears capturable.... These men have indeed paid the price of success. To rise to the top of a big company often takes a totality of effort, concentration and dedication. Others, too, have to pay part of the price. Wife and children are out of mind even when in sight....
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There's one post-Christmas chore I love-writing thank-you letters.... Lots of companies for many reasonable reasons, I guess, have a policy against sending even Christmas cards, never mind things, at Christmastime. But our clan gets a big kick out of opening the Warner-Lambert box containing an assortment of their wares; we argue over which of the boys is to get the Union Oil Co. necktie [and] all the holiday long we play the marvelous Christmas music sent by Goodyear.... None of these things means that Forbes or Forbeses have been had. But all of us like being thought of.
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If I owned any of these Hot New Issues that have doubled, tripled, quintupled or umptupled within days and in some cases hours after they were issued, I most certainly would grab my fabulous windfall, thank my lucky stars and invest the money. It's utter nonsense to think any newly issued stock is really worth two, ten or 20 times the [offering] price.... A management so stupid as to sell shares [cheap], and an underwriter so obtuse as not to discern the real value, together would provide reason enough for a sensible man to get rid of his shares.
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In all the thrashing about that results from our dwindling gold reserves, it's about time that this country and other countries get some perspective on the situation. The day this country is out of the stuff, that day gold becomes what it's worth as a metal and no longer will have much significance as a monetary measurement. It isn't the gold we have that makes this nation rich. It's what we make, our knowhow, our productivity. So long as this country produces more and better, the world will continue to want what we make.
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I haven't a clue about the biology or the psychology involved when a person dissolves into tears, but it is quite fascinating to note what turns them on. There are wives who can cascade over a late husband or a burned dinner, and equally pour tears of joy over a new bonnet or a renovated bathroom.... A while ago I took a ship back from Europe. Amid the tumbling confetti ... I found myself misty-eyed watching a young lady waving a tearful farewell to her boyfriend on the dock. I couldn't figure out if I was crying at her plight, or in delight that he wasn't coming along with us.
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Speaking of birthdays, our firstborn [recently turned 2]. As parents sometimes fondly do, we reminisced a bit about his early days on earth-the excitement, the wonder, the fears when we brought him home. His every squeak or squawk we were sure heralded some terrible crisis; I tested the warmth of formulas from dusk to dawn, it seemed. We were so germ-conscious my wife even sterilized the skin of the oranges before squeezing them. How firstborns ever survive their parents' attentions is beyond me. However, they do, and he did, and, in spite of our efforts, he turned out to be quite a good guy.
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At today's prices for medicines, doctors and hospitals-if the latter are available at any price-only millionaires can afford to be hurt or sick and pay for it. Very few people want socialized medicine in the U.S. But pressure for it is going to appear with the same hurricane force as the demand for pollution control if the medicine men and hospital operators don't take soon some Draconian measures... At the present rate of doctor fees and hospital costs under Medicare and Medicaid plans [taxpayers] are shovelling in billions with nothing but escalation in sight.
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It ticks me no end when people get ticked off at those of us who comment audibly and in print on events and problems. That's what we're paid for. Why clutter up your mind with a bunch of facts that might inhibit the solve-ability of us who must express an opinion? After all, all the world cries out for a solution to its problems, and we supply them right and left. Come to think of it, it's we who should be giving our deplorers and detractors the blast; because 99% of the time they don't do as we say.
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All too often we say of a man doing a good job that he is indispensable. A flattering canard, as so many disillusioned and retired and fired have discovered when the world seems to keep on turning without them. In business, a man can come nearest to indispensability by being dispensable in his current job. How can a man move up to new responsibilities if he is the only one able to handle his present tasks? It matters not how small or large the job you now have, if you have trained no one to do it as well, you're not available; you've made your promotion difficult if not impossible.
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I think legislative assaults on motorcyclists are totally emotionally, disproportionate and totally unfair....they're instigated and implemented by people who know nothing about motorcycling, but have a prejudice. It's easy to curb the freedoms of others when you see no immediate impact on your own.
Can you understand why the Congress, most states and most cities refuse to pass legislation requiring the registration and licensing of any and all guns? For the life of me, I can't. We must register our cars and be licensed to drive. In many places we must get licenses for dogs and even bicycles. Being required to register firearms and show the competence and capacity to handle them hardly seems unreasonable, hardly seems an infringement of freedom. What is it that blocks such legislation? Why do they block it? How are they able to block it?
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Several weeks of summer vacation in the Thirties I spent working at $15 a week in the FORBES office.... I worked in the mail cage, where envelopes were slit and subscription payments extracted. Dad used to come pounding down the office aisle and pause long enough to ask, How much today? Inevitably the answer was inadequate-except once. That day the controller said excitedly, Mr. Forbes, the ledger shows a slight profit this month! ... My father turned to him and said, Young man, I don't give a damn what your books show. Do we have any money in the bank?
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Will this massive outcry [about pollution] continue long enough to have effective results? Will federal and state laws be enacted with effective enforcement clauses? Will people be concerned long enough to pay the bill through higher prices? Will towns tole lost jobs when it proves too costly to clean obsolete plants?... I think so, but it sure won't be as easy as the present outcry and political oratory suggest. The answers to preserving a livable environment are not all simple, and some of the nuts now pushing simplistic cure-alls won't help bring about any lasting solutions.
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As you get older there shouldn't be anything you won't try. The payoff is that you open up whole new avenues that are fun. It's a misinterpretation of life to live it only in preparation for the next one. To subordinate the one you've got to an indefinite next round is foolish. It's a waste of this life not to live this life. What's next is anybody's guess.