In commerce, however, it’s possible for competing companies to all win. Innovation and advances in productivity actually enlarge the pie, making it unnecessary for competitors to fight over the same slice. That’s why vitriolic advertising is not the norm in a free economy.
Right now, however, our economy isn’t so free. The mortgage meltdown and credit crisis have set heads spinning in Washington and in boardrooms across the country. We have no idea what will happen next, or if the “bailout” cure will be worse than the disease. All we know is that nobody knows what’s coming, and in an uncertain environment fear becomes the common currency. As the bad news continues to unfold, we are all looking for ways to hunker down and protect our slices of the pie. In doing so we, like politicians, may be tempted to act with increasing desperation. Don’t.