MIscellany

BUILDING DEMOCRACYIn Albanian towns like Noj, The New York Times reports, peasants are sealing the end of communism by pulverizing [...]

June 1 1992 by Chief Executive


BUILDING DEMOCRACY

In Albanian towns like Noj, The New York Times reports, peasants are sealing the end of communism by pulverizing the government buildings that served as headquarters for collective-farming programs. In what they call “spontaneous privatization,” the peasants tear the buildings down and cart off the stones, roof tiles, woodwork and fixtures for their own use. It’s inspiring. Today Noj, tomorrow Washington.

-National Review

SIMMERING SIMIANS

The Financial Times reported recently that various papers and documents were destroyed in the Indian town of Assam when monkeys broke into government offices and started shredding files. Perhaps the simians were simply protesting government bureaucracy.

-International Business

WING, LEG OR THIGH?

Workers at Proctor & Gamble Company’s plant in Iowa City had to dump 192,000 pounds of toothpaste after discovering that a small bird (species unknown) got chopped up in a batch of Gleem.

-Across the Board

HALCYON DAYS?

When you talk about a person in Japan who has a job for a lifetime, well, think about that with me just a minute. We had a situation here in America where we had jobs for a lifetime; it was when we had slavery.

-T. Boone Pickins, Harvard Magazine

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

How is it that the Republican-really, the Reaganite-right has far better access to, and influence on, the Russian democrats than do more mainstream Sovietologists and the liberals who urged a kinder, gentler U.S. approach to Moscow? I put the question to Andrei Kortunov, a fairly neutral observer, and to Richard Perle, a committed one. “American liberals invested so heavily in Gorbachev they could not afford to see him go. After all, many of them were even trying to find positive things to say about Brezhnev back in the bad old days,” Kortunov replied. “I think they were reluctant and slow to recognize that power was shifting. The Heritage Foundation was in Moscow 18 months ago trying to work with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Brookings wasn’t.”

-Jim Hoagland,

The Washington Post

DEATH BY BUREAUCRACY

The Mandarin-speaking officials in Peking seem to have overlooked an ominous sign, evident to Hong Kong’s highly superstitious Cantonese-speaking residents. Peking intends to appoint 44 advisers: In Cantonese, the words “forty-four” sound like “double death.”

-The Observer, London

BUT WHERE’S SADDAM HUSSEIN?

Selling is often compared to war, so why not carry the metaphor to its logical conclusion? For a half-hour video to his sales force, Thomas Miltenberger, the head of mutual-fund marketing for Edward D. Jones & Co., decked himself out in combat uniform-complete with gas mask-and called himself Stormin’ Norman Schwartzenberger. In the course of a Desert Storm-type news conference, he declared an “all-out war” to sell more mutual funds to clients. Customers who deigned to prevaricate were dubbed SCUDS (Some Crummy Unenthusiastic Dudes).

-Across the Board

PAY PHONE

Attention chief executives: Has all the talk about lavish executive pay got you down? Do you worry that your sweet pay deal is about to become history?

Well, help is just a phone call away. It’s called the CEO Compline. Through the end of September-and maybe even longer-it will be staffed by compensation professionals.

The service was the idea of Brent Longnecker, who heads the compensation consulting practice in the Southwest for KPMG Peat Marwick, the big accounting firm. He sent a letter to chief executives of 160 companies based in Texas, offering the free service on a line that is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Longnecker promises sound advice.

What’s in it for Longnecker? If the questions become too complicated, his letter says, his firm can answer them more formally-at mutually agreed-on rates.

-Amanda Bennett,

The Wall Street Journal

VLADIMIR, WE MISS YE

The sad truth that whether you loved communism or hated it, politics is rather boring without it-like a cartoon that has Elmer Fudd but no Bugs Bunny.

-Joe Conason, Avenue