American Greed: Rethinking the 'Boom' in Boomers
Posted Mar 08, 2012, Published 2012-01-01
The basis for this editorial comes from comments made by some of our How's Business Survey participants. So many laboratory owners are working through very tough economic years and yet most remain hopeful that they'll pull through. The question they ask, however, is not what business strategies will help them along; instead they ask us all--as a community--to reexamine our moral compass. If there is blame for the mess our economy is in, where does our compass tell us to lay that blame?
Aren't we Boomers the generation of invention, of innovation, of hope for a better, cleaner, more enlightened universe? Yes, history will record that this era ushered in the digital age and all the innovation that followed. Yes, we're industrious; the generation that readily embraced laptops and smartphones so we could work while on vacation.
But it saddens and pains me to acknowledge that we live in an era of greed. In sheer numbers alone, the blame lies squarely with us--with our generation--and with the generation immediately before and after us.
How ironic it is that just 25 years ago we openly scoffed at Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko character in the 1987 movie, Wall Street. How awful he was, how dreadful, how unlike any of us--or anyone we knew--we told ourselves! There were grumblings, of course, about how the movie smacked of truth. How Wall Streeters held lavish parties, got crazy-high bonuses, made huge market killings. Though we heard about the moneyed Wall Street crowd, we didn't pay much attention to it . . . until 2008, when millions of people fell victim to its shenanigans.
It's easy--and well deserved--to point a finger at Wall Street but the sad truth is that greed has seeped into American culture in many ways. What has happened to us?
I hope this whole rotten mess will be the subject of another Malcolm Gladwell book. For me, he's the chosen one to shed light on the history of our decline in such a way that even those among us who have blinders on, are forced to see their reflection in life's hall of mirrors.
And then there's our community.
We are going through some tough times as an industry and yet many of you express gratitude for the innovative, productivity enhancing technologies that have enabled you to improve your profit margins despite lower volume. I applaud you for looking at the bright side, for keeping your expectations low and your spirits high.
As you'll read in Maribeth's analysis of our How's Business survey data, our community is making the most of these difficult years and reveling in its ability to keep its staff working as much as possible. It's quite a statement to say, "business is way down but we're all still here," as so many of you said, focusing on our relationships because that's what really matters. I'm so proud of "us."
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