Clinton in Davos

 Posted by on 23 January 2004 at 6:03 pm  Uncategorized
Jan 232004

Bill Clinton actually had some true and useful things to say in Davos, according to the hard-to-please Jay Nordlinger:

Speaking of the discontents of the world, he noted that terrorism is not necessarily “caused” by poverty, because so many of the terrorists are not poor — in fact, some of them are downright rich. This is elementary for you and me, but it was good for this crowd to hear it, particularly from the idolized Clinton.

He noted that one response to globalization is to revert to a tribalism, or a primitivism — people around the world have done that. He said that “the anti-globalization people” have some valid criticisms, but they tend to mourn a past that probably never existed. Was there ever a time when economies were localized and perfectly self-sustaining? He quoted Will Rogers, whom he said was a big figure during his youth in Arkansas. You know the old line: “I lived in the so-called good ol’ days, and the good ol’ days ain’t never was.” (Forgive me if I don’t have the vernacular just right.

And this bit on Carly Fiorina’s talk is well worth noting:

On to Carly Fiorina: She is CEO of Hewlett Packard, and she speaks in crisp, clear English. It is almost completely devoid of international-conference-speak, which is refreshing. She is like a cool glass of verbal water.

But what is the content of that water? She says that “the fundamental objective” of her company — the fundamental objective, mind you! — is not “to make money” but “to do good,” “to be a good international citizen.” When she says “make money,” she makes it sound so dirty. She borrows the old Quaker business about not just doing well but doing good.

Fine and dandy, of course, but I find myself wishing — not for the first time — that businessmen would be a little less defensive and more self-confident. They have nothing to apologize for. Does Hewlett Packard want to do good? Then let it invent and manufacture products that people need — or want, or that make their lives better — and sell them at affordable prices. That is doing good.

I hate to be more pro-Hewlett Packard than the CEO of Hewlett Packard, but . . . I tell you, I would wet my pants with joy if one of these people, at one of these conferences, said, “You know? People like Henry Ford and Bill Gates have done more for humanity than any thousand soi-disant benefactors-of-humanity put together.”

I’d like to see that too, although I probably wouldn’t wet my pants with joy.

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