3M CEO on Plant Closings

This is via Doug Henwood at lbo-talk, posted under the heading “Capitalist Thought.” He says he doesn’t know the origin of it, but that it’s from a reliable source.

In 3M Co.’s quarterly update this month, Chairman and CEO George Buckley talked about how the company had closed 16 plants over the last year and a half, has been drawing down inventory and cutting capital spending.

“Is this healthy?” he said on the call. “All of us acknowledge we’re collectively making the situation worse, but I think the first responsibility we have as leaders of companies is to make sure that we ensure the health and survival of our own companies first, not necessarily other people’s companies, or, for that matter, the whole U.S. economy.”

Left Economics Education Gets a Nod

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was in the news (and under arrest) last week after he disrupted a Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases on large tracts in southern Utah — by walking into the auction and bidding on multiple leases. He won some leases, of course with no intention of paying up, and succeeded in bidding up the price on others.

DeChristopher was interviewed on Democracy Now! on December 22. Turns out he is an econ major at the University of Utah, which is home to one of the very few economics departments in the United States with a significant heterodox/left presence. DeChristopher discussed the importance of his econ courses:

The professors, especially, have been really supportive and have joined my team so far. And, you know, they kind of did their job beforehand. They kind of did their job in getting me ready for this and committing me to hold true to my values and in teaching me what was going on. In fact, the final exam that I took on Friday morning, one of the questions was about this oil sale and about, if only the oil companies were bidding on this land, are they actually going to be paying the real price for the production of oil? And, of course, the answer that the professor was expecting is no, they’re not, because there’s a lot of external costs that all of us have to pay for the production of oil that aren’t included in those. So they did their part ahead of time in putting me where I needed to be.

(Find out about other left and heterodox economics departments here.)