7 wildly popular business myths
Former Vice President Al Gore / Flickr user World Economic Forum
(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY The sluggish U.S. economy and unemployment situation is on everyone's mind these days. The news is full of reports and commentary about what we should and shouldn't do to bring America out of its fiscal doldrums.
Unfortunately, everybody's just pushing their own idealistic viewpoint or whatever will benefit their political or business agenda. It's sad, really.
Actually, it's worse than sad. It's an appalling commentary on how selfish and polarized we've become. And you know what? It sort of drives me nuts. All I want to do is put an end to all that self-serving rhetoric. Since I can't do that, I do this. I write. It's a great outlet. It helps keep me sane. No kidding.
Today, I intend to expose seven wildly popular business myths. If I don't do that, I'll just stomp around the house, raving and brooding and scaring my wife. And nobody wants that (least of all my wife).
Big business has run amok, so we need more regulation. Government regulation is not the cure for crony capitalism, fraud, and greed because regulators and the politicians who appoint them can be just as greedy and corruptible as corporate executives. The bigger and more powerful the regulatory body, the more corruptible it is. And that corruption is most effectively exploited by -- you guessed it -- big business. Ironic, isn't it?
Government has run amok, so we need a corporate guy in the White House. I'm not saying government hasn't run amok, but a former state governor probably has all the business knowledge he needs to get America's fiscal house in order. As far as Mitt Romney's concerned, for example, the whole Bain Capital thing is a canard no matter which side of the equation you're on.
Xerox PARC (or Al Gore) invented the Internet. The truth is that just about everybody had a hand in this thing. The government's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) funded the development of the first packet switching network, ARPANET, and the basic TCP/IP protocol that the Internet uses today. The Stanford Research Institute was the recipient of the first ARPANET transmission from UCLA. After that, it's a long, long story of expansion that involved hundreds of public and private institutions. And yes, Xerox PARC and Al Gore did play a role, but neither "invented" the Internet.
Millionaires and billionaires (fill in the blank). These days, you can't turn on the TV or surf a news site without the phrase "millionaires and billionaires" or "the 1 percent" being described in a way that conjures up ugly images of Gordon "greed is good" Gekko from the movie "Wall Street." Having been in the high-tech industry for decades, I've known hundreds, maybe thousands of people who have done well for themselves. And you know what? The only thing they all have in common is they worked their tails off, day in and day out, and earned every penny of it. Also they've all paid a lot of taxes. I mean a lot.
Corporate executives should embrace social media. A recent Forbes article suggests that CEOs should embrace social media because it drives business and shareholder value. The only problem is that everyone pushing this viewpoint has something to gain from it (the guy who wrote the Forbes article conducted a study showing how few CEOs are involved in social media). On the contrary, a senior Hewlett-Packard executive tipped off competitors about the company's cloud computing strategy on LinkedIn and, according to Forrester Research, most companies monitoring social media are searching for competitive intelligence. The less said, the better.
The educational system creates future leaders. Whenever a politician wants to put the kibosh on government spending, she'll inevitably say something about how cutting school budgets destroys our nation's future. All I know is that our government funded educational system is increasingly archaic and does little to prepare kids for the real world. If you want to be a baseball player, a math teacher, or a writer, it's probably fine. As for where all the innovation and growth is going on, we're stuck in the twentieth century, and not the latter part, either.
There's a green energy boom. If anything, there's a green energy bubble and an oil and gas boom. The solar industry has imploded in agonizingly slow motion over the past several years as one company after another has bit the dust amid weak demand and a glut of low-cost panels from China. Don't even get me started on electric cars like the Chevy Volt, Tesla, and Fisker. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, oil and gas production now accounts for 440,000 jobs, an increase of 80 percent since 2003.
I had plenty of other business myths that didn't make the cut for today's story. Care to guess what they were, or maybe you've got one to add?
Image courtesy of Flickr user World Economic Forum
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