When former Senator Dale Bumpers gave his celebrated speech to the Senate in defense of Bill Clinton, he began by saying that the great impeachment farce was just about sex, and certainly not honesty and values.
When former Senator Dale Bumpers gave his celebrated speech to the
Senate in defense of Bill Clinton, he began by saying that the great
impeachment farce was just about sex, and certainly not honesty and
This should remind us that, when someone begins an argument with the
words, ’This isn’t just about money,’ it’s just about money.
So we looked at the commentary about the most recent mega-merger - AOL’s
dollars 150-200 billion for Time Warner - and waited for hard-headed
businessmen like Steve Case, Gerald Levin and Ted Turner to acknowledge,
even brag, that they had put together the biggest money-making company
of all time.
After all, we’re embarking on the digital age, and here comes a merger
of all these media - cable systems, movies, great film libraries, books,
sports - with the potential to be carried from home-to-home,
person-to-person, studio-to-studio, via the Internet. News, opinions,
analysis, the uninformed viewers chatting with the uninformed
’journalists,’ your grandchildren on your screen minutes after their
birth - the whole world online. And all at monopoly rates, if a few
recalcitrants like AT&T would only fall in line.
But by the early programs Tuesday, one could find no gloating - it
turned out the deal was all public service for the betterment of
Here was Levin, the CEO-to-be: ’This is not just about money, this is
about making a better world for people.’ Honestly. An analyst in The New
York Times quoted Steve Case of AOL, chairman-to-be of the merged
company, asserting the merger was a social good, a great advance for
But the same analyst went on, darkly and probably accurately, to point
out that this was the blurring and perhaps the obliteration of brand
boundaries and hence of the edge of competition.
This was, after all, another step in the creation of a mass, uniform
culture dominated by a single, globalized corporation - but few made
that observation. Instead, we got an amazing PR spin. This would be a
boon for everyone; the world at our fingertips. But this is a world in
which children starve, populations are decimated by ethnic wars, and
even in the strongest, most wired nation in the world, nearly 50 million
people can’t afford medical care. ’Making a better world for people?’ By
conveying the run-up to the Super Bowl on 100 channels instead of 50; by
enabling the wealthy and a portion of the middle class to buy what was
What if these companies had decided to spend dollars 200 billion to
restructure a society, to build affordable housing and schools? Then we
could say it wasn’t just about the money.