What JCPenney's Failed Imitation Says About Retail—and Identity
A leader out to revive JCPenney tried to make its stores look like Apple stores. It failed spectatularly—but not for the reasons you think.
The Republican platform slams Obama for failing to get rural America online. But the GOP's preferred solution wouldn't do that either.
Located halfway between the state capital of Columbia and the port city of Charleston, Orangeburg County, South Carolina is among the more geographically blessed areas of the country. It’s also one of its poorest. Over a quarter of its population lives below the poverty line, with a per capita income of $17,579. And this is poverty of a particularly stubborn sort.
Some commentators have attributed the FCC’s decision last week to block the $39 billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile to the spread of anti-corporate sentiment in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests. “Imagine if the government didn’t take sides” lamented the conservative blog Red State. “Because AT&T really is getting an unfair deal.
In my first cover story for the magazine, which went up on-line today and will hit newsstands next week, I tell the story of Rick Perry's remarkable rise, with a focus on the enterprise he's built around himself in Texas: a flow of money (campaign contributions coming in; contracts, appointments, and awards from his $800 million in economic development accounts going out) that is unprecedented in scale even in Texas, where the sky's the limit for political donations. Perry's primary rivals have already tried to give this enterprise a name -- the dread alliterative, crony capitalism.
In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.
Last week, FCC commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker announced that she was leaving the commission to become the chief lobbyist for the newly merged Comcast/NBCUniversal.
Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications By Richard R. John (Belknap Press, 520 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time, some thought it obvious that competition was a bad thing, particularly in communications. As Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, put it in 1913, “The public as a whole has never benefited” from competition. Monopoly, he said, was the better choice. The reason, he argued, is that “all costs of aggressive, uncontrolled competition are eventually borne, directly or indirectly, by the public.” Nowadays corporate executives carefully avoid expressing such sentiments.