Excess altruism threatens the Northwest economy

We could do with a little less vision and values and a little more profit
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We could do with a little less vision and values and a little more profit

I worry about the Northwest economy. Our major corporations may go bankrupt because they don't care about money. That's right. I checked their Vision and Values statements. They care about things like respect, community, diversity, and integrity. They don't give two hoots about money. Microsoft's vision "is to empower people through great software." Their values are:

  • Customers
  • Innovation
  • Partners
  • Integrity
  • People
  • Entrepreneurial culture
  • Diversity
  • Community
Money does not make the values list. This might explain the lackluster performance of Microsoft stock since 2000. One thinks that banks would obsess about money, since all they do is take yours and loan it back to you at a higher rate. However, our leading local bank, Washington Mutual, pays scant attention to money. They want to be:
  • Fair
  • Caring
  • Human
  • Dynamic
  • Driven
This is a big change for WaMu. A few years ago, their values were:
  • Ethics
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation
  • Excellence
This irresponsible attitude toward money is killing our local economy. We need reinvestment from profits and what do we get? Companies like Puget Energy that "put their customers first." "Our goal," they state, "is to deliver the highest quality energy at the lowest possible price." Sounds like a great stock to short. Companies that ignore money constitute a hazard. Look what happened to Enron. Their vision was "creating innovative and efficient energy solutions for growing economies and a better environment." Their values were:
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Communication
  • Excellence
They did not value money, so they went broke, threw 5,000 people out of work, and plunged Houston into recession. I had hopes for Weyerhaeuser when they listed "financial responsibility" as their last value, trailing:
  • Our Customers
  • Our People
  • Accountability
  • Citizenship
But then they defined financial responsibility as being "prudent and effective in the use of resources entrusted to us." Forget about money, this crowd doesn't even want to cut down trees. Boeing is another problem. After listing their values:
  • Leadership
  • Integrity
  • Quality
  • Customers
  • Satisfaction
  • People working together
  • A diverse and involved team
  • Good corporate citizenship
Boeing added, almost as an afterthought, "enhancing shareholder value." But given the nobility of their motives, this probably refers to making shareholders more sensitive to environment, community, integrity, and diversity. Are Boeing, Microsoft, WaMu, Weyerhaeuser, and Puget Energy all in the same business? The competition is becoming ruinous in the integrity, respect, and teamwork industries. To keep the Northwest economy growing, we must find a way to get CEOs to focus on profit instead of spending all their time worrying about people working together, the environment, and excellence. I have the solution – pay them. When a CEO makes only $28.9 million (as did Boeing's last year) or a paltry $16 million (as did WaMu's), they get the message that their employer doesn't value making money. And by accepting such uncompetitive compensation, these CEOs reveal that they, also, don't care about money. If we rewarded CEOs for making money, they might give profits the same emphasis as open communications, accountability, and diversity. Then the economy would flourish and I could find a paying job.   

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