An old blog post about greed really pointed the way to the condition the economy is in right now.
Almost two years ago, when the rest of the business world was still go-go-go, the Slow movement founded by retired corporate executive Adrian Savage warned against short-term decisions driven by greed.
The two examples he gave:
1. Engineering firm ITT shared military secrets about night-vision equipment with other companies abroad, including some in China. Worse, ITT tried to mislead U.S. government investigators about what it had done.
2. Electronics retailer Circuit City announced that it was laying off 3,400 experienced sales clerks and replacing them with lower-paid newbies to save money.
So, what happened as a result?
ITT pleaded guilty to selling U.S. secrets and agreed to a fine of $100 million—half of it in the form of a new contract for night-vision technology. And it’s not clear whether any company officials suffered any consequences for their transgressions. Bottom line: A kick in the wallet and mixed signals for ITT and less security for the United States.
Circuit City’s shares ticked up briefly after the 2007 move but swiftly deteriorated, leading to bankruptcy in late 2008. Bottom line: Less for everybody.
“Do we want the pursuit of money and power to become the sole arbiter of what is acceptable?”
— Adapted from “By their fruits ye shall know them: Bad decisions reveal bad leaders,” Slow Leadership, Pusch Ridge
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