So Much Affluence...
"For many people, owning a home defines the American Dream, and 68 percent of families now do — the highest percentage on record. Three-quarters of Americans drive their own cars."
The vast majority of households own:
- Color televisions 98%
- Videocassette recorders 94%
- Microwave ovens 90%
- Frost-free refrigerators 87%
- Washing machines 83%
- Clothes dryers 75%
— Reason magazine, August 2002
You Don't Want to Know the Answer
"Do you believe me? Do you believe what I've said about Enron?"
— Disgraced former CEO Jeffrey Skilling's frequently asked question to people he meets in Houston, according to the New York Times.
Reversal of Fortune
Now they tell us! Fortune recently named Cisco Systems and CEO John Chambers to its "Greedy Bunch" — the "25 companies with the greediest executives." Chambers's sin? Selling shares valued at $239 million while investors were buying — and losing their shirts. What the article failed to mention was that just a few years ago, when Cisco shares were at their peak, Fortune ran a cover story that began as follows: "Suppose you were stranded on a deserted island and could own just one single stock. What would it be?" Its answer: Cisco. If only the foresight of America's most puffy-chested business magazine were as 20/20 as its hindsight.
...Why So Many Prisoners?
"America has overtaken Russia as the world's most aggressive jailer....Roughly 2 million Americans are currently behind bars, with some 4.5 million on parole or on probation.... Another 3 million are ex-convicts who have served their sentences and are no longer under the control of the justice system."
— The Economist, August 8, 2002
I Want My DVD!
$8,100,000,000 = Estimated 2002 spending on copies of films for home use, in DVD format, up from $5.4 billion in 2001.
30,000,000 = Number of U.S. households with a DVD player, up from zero five years ago.
3,700,000 = Low end of the estimate for the number of copies of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring sold on DVD in the first week of its release. The high end of the estimate was 5 million DVD copies.
— Source: the New York Times, August 26, 2002
A version of this article appeared in the November 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.