Reflections from under the Derby

you're not thinking about this stuff

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The Almighty Dollar
I've had the fortune to be participating in a business strategy exercise. One of the things I've learned over the last couple of days is that I have no business being a businessman. :) A couple of things have stuck with me during the activities. More than once, the old adage that "it's all about making money" has been uttered. I understand that businesses must make money or they don't survive. But I can't reconcile myself to the suggestion that making money is the only thing. Whenever I hear someone talk about the financial bottom line, I constantly recall Bobby Kennedy's famous quote about gross domestic product:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

The bottom line is all about making money, but at what cost? Another adage I've heard a lot is that free markets are highly efficient. Efficient at what? Delivering the almighty dollar - it's the only thing that matters, after all. But take the case of health care and the pharmaceutical industry. Toward the goal of maximizing profits the industry has developed managed care organizations to control prices and maximize profits. In thinking about what this has gotten us in regards to health care, I can only come to the conclusion that markets might well be highly efficient at maximizing dollars, but they're apparently really crappy at delivering a healthy population. And in thinking about Bobby's quote, isn't that the more important thing to focus on? At what point is it NOT about the almighty dollar and it becomes about the person, the human being, the soul?

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Hey, Doc! I haven't been good about commenting here lately but am stopping by to wish you an early Happy Birthday! I send wishes of joy and laughter, and dreams fulfilled in the coming year.

thanks, Tracy!

The whole LJ land seems to be a victim of twitter/FB...

Happy birthday, Doc! (a day late)

Edited at 2011-03-07 06:57 pm (UTC)

and a really late, thank you!

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