Culture

The new wild west

Culture | Corporation chic and other cultural buzz

Issue: "School-to-Work debate," Sept. 5, 1998

From Grey Flannel Suit to guerrilla marketing
Hey, buddy, there's a digital revolution going on. Isn't it time you cashed in? That's the theme of a quickly rising business magazine called Fast Company. It presents the latest trends in management and corporate strategy in post-Gen-X style. Old advice about winning friends and influencing people is out; guerrilla marketing, stock options, and building a brand are in. From one look you can tell this is not your father's business magazine. Flashy graphics and a bold text urge the new generation of American business onward. Sections include "Job Titles of the Future," "NeoLeisure," and "The Big Idea." The people who read this have been through both Wired and the Wall Street Journal and have spent many an hour on the Net. The tone of corporate battles has changed, and Fast Company shows it. You may call it postmodern, but they call it cash flow. In many ways it packages the old button-down ideas in new forms and better layout. Fast Company is like a fashion magazine showing off the latest in super-duper CEOs and the latest strategies for climbing the ladder of success. Here's the place to find how to handle office politics, rewrite your resumé, and move your company from your garage to the Fortune 500. Why shouldn't this magazine be outspoken? After all, men like Netscape's Mark Andreessen and Yahoo's Jerry Yang went from nowhere to being masters of the universe. Why can't you? Go digital, young man. The managers presented in Fast Company are portrayed as the exact opposite of the pointy-headed bosses of Dilbert. A cynic might say that innovation is in the eye of the beholder, and one man's out-of-the-box ideas are another man's eccentric garbage. Yet Fast Company is a great symbol of the transformation of corporate America, especially in high-tech firms. Bold and brassy are in. Get the current wisdom so that you can be on the pedestal that the next guy is aiming for. Failure is not an option. Neither is job security. People don't prevent crime: guns do
Here's a title that tells you everything you can expect from a book: More Guns, Less Crime. In 200 very dense pages, John R. Lott Jr. details why gun-control laws don't work. Instead of political rhetoric, he provides chart after chart and example after example to make his point. Much of this study comes from FBI crime statistics. Mr. Lott's book is not a political act, but an academic study that has been hotly challenged by proponents of gun laws. In areas all over the country where average citizens can easily carry guns, criminals are less likely to attempt violent crimes because they don't want to risk getting blown away. This is especially true when concealed weapons are plentiful. Stricter gun controls only open the door to more heinous attacks on innocent people. After all, Mr. Lott asks, if a few passengers on that tragic Long Island railroad train had carried weapons, would Colin Ferguson in 1993 have been able to kill six people? Mr. Lott's logic is simple and sound, and he has 18 years of statistics behind him. Criminals like helpless victims. A gun owner is less likely to be helpless. Where guns are common, the typical crook is more likely to try car theft or larceny than rape or robbery. Even those who don't own weapons are less likely to be hurt where guns are plentiful. Every year that a concealed-carry law stays in effect, Mr. Lott says, the murder rate drops by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent. "Because guns may be concealed," he writes, "criminals are unable to tell whether potential victims are carrying guns until the attack, thus making it less attractive for criminals to commit crimes that involve direct contact with victims." Obviously this is one of the great hot-button issues of our time, and this book isn't likely to change the mind of one already convinced. However, it does present strong evidence that the availability of guns does not lead to lawlessness.

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