The terrorists are finding themselves at war with an unexpected foe: the ingenuity and expertise of American businessmen and women.
Business is helping the post office respond to the current crises, helping Americans survive anthrax exposure, supplying and improving tools to eradicate bioterrorist agents, giving public morale a huge boost and making other contributions.
Reassurance about the security of the mail comes not just from government, but from Mike Critelli, CEO of Pitney Bowes.1 Critelli's and Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan's Mail Industry Task Force has brought together eleven corporate CEOs to help the Post Office respond to current challenges.2
The Postal Service is reeling from the effects of the terrorist attacks, which include $63 million in damage to a post office located near the World Trade Center and the anthrax threat. Related declines in mail use and rising security costs, added to the $1.65 billion the Postal Service was already expected to lose this year,3 are threatening the USPS's financial viability.4 Critelli's task force is riding to the rescue with recommendations to keep the mail moving - securely.
Business is at the front lines in other ways. Bayer Corporation, the Pittsburgh-based division of the German drug and chemical company Bayer AG, is tripling production of Cipro from 20 million tablets a month to 200 million tablets over the next three months. To meet the U.S. government's request for a stockpile of the drug, Bayer is running Cipro production facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has reopened one of its manufacturing plants.5 It's told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services it will make 2 million Cipro tablets available free for emergency workers responding to situations where anthrax exposure is possible.6 Despite high demand, Bayer is not raising its price for Cipro - in fact, it lowered it, to 95 cents per pill from the original wholesale price of $1.77.7 As journalist James Glassman noted, a typical original retail price, $1.83 per pill, or roughly $220 for the recommended two months anthrax treatment, is "less than what most workers must pay for parking in central cities."8
How many government agencies can move as fast as a pharmaceutical company, and at such low cost?
Privately-funded researchers are burning the midnight oil to make Americans safer. New vaccines against hostile bioagents are under development. Sensors that can detect chemical and biological warfare compounds at a distance are being invented. Sunscreen-like compounds than can be spread on skin for protection against biological attacks, and immuno-modulators, which boost immune systems to help people fight infections, are being devised.9 Businesses that eradicate bacteria in food and on medical supplies is stepping up to zap the mail with electron beams to kill anthrax without harming mail.10
Business is at the core of the single largest outpouring of philanthropic donations in the history of the world - over $1.04 billion for terrorism relief as of mid-October.11 Exxon Mobil pledged $20 million; Citigroup $15 million and AT&T 11.3 million. Pfizer, Philip Morris, Microsoft, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, DaimlerChrysler, Johnson & Johnson, the NFL and General Electric contributed $10 million each. Verizon donated $9.4 million, Cisco Systems $6 million, Amerada Hess Corp, IBM, Chevron, and the Bank of New York $5 million each; Hewlett-Packard $3 million, Sony $4 million, Wal-Mart, Bertelsmann, ALCOA and the PGA Tour $2 million each; News Corp, AT&T, Hitachi, Home Depot, Lowe's and MGM Mirage $1 million each. The Eli Lilly endowment pledged $31 million, the Starr, Ford, Merrill Lynch and Carnegie foundations $10 million each; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation $5.5 million, the UPS, AOL Time Warner, Prudential, Rockefeller and Robert Wood Johnson foundations $5 million each, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation $4.5 million, Shell Oil Foundation $4 million, the Annie E. Casey Foundation $3 million, Anheuser-Busch Foundation and Liz Claiborne Foundation $1 million each.12
A billion dollars in gifts equals a trillion dollars' worth of morale.
The public is appreciative. A Brookings Institution poll shows that the public's favorable opinion of business has increased by five percentage points.13
Many today feel frustrated that we can't do more to personally advance the war on terrorism. In one of his sonnets,14 John Milton wrote of his struggle to put to best use the talents God had given him. Blinded at 42, he was unable to serve society as he wished.
Milton consoled himself that thousands
of others were making the contributions he could not make, and
trusted that he'd learn a way to participate. He did. And ordinary
businessmen and women today should be commended as they, too,
are finding a way to serve.
1 For an example, see "USPS
Turns To Technology to Quell Fear," by Dan Davidson, Federal
Times, October 22, 2001.
2 "2001 Mailing Industry Task Force Recommends Thirty Actions to 'Grow the Mail' Under Current Law," Release of Pitney Bowes, Inc., Volume 23, October 2001 and "Seizing Opportunity: The Report of the 2001 Mailing Industry Task Force," October 15, 2001.
3 Doug Bandow, "Impending Postal Rate Raid," The Washington Times, October 24, 2001.
4 Ellen Nakashima, "Attacks Imperil Postal Service's Fiscal Future," Washington Post, October 20, 2001, p. A1.
5 "Bayer Commits to Supply 200 Million Cipro Tablets Over the Next Three Months," Press Release, Bayer Corporation, October 16, 2001, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.CiproUSA.com/cipro_supply.asp on October 22, 2001.
6 "Bayer Confirms Cipro Talks with HHS and Reaffirms Offer of Donation Of 2 MM Cipro Tablets for Emergency Responders," Press Release, Bayer Corporation, October 20, 2001, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.CiproUSA.com/10_20_01.asp on October 22, 2001.
7 Laura Meckler, "Bayer Agrees to Lower Cipro Price," Associated Press, October 25, 2001.
8 James K. Glassman, "Without Bayer, We're Bare to Bioterror," TechCentralStation.com, October 22, 2001, downloaded from http://www.techcentralstation.com/NewsDesk.asp?FormMode=MainTerminalArticles&ID=91 on October 22, 2001.
9 Melana Zyla Vickers, "Can't Hardly Wait: Promising Bioterror Defenses Just Around the Corner," TechCentralStation.com, October 19, 2001, downloaded from http://www.techcentralstation.com/DefenseCommentary.asp?ID=125 on October 22, 2001.
10 See Martin Gross, "Anthrax Post-Mortem: Message to Tom Ridge in Safer Mail Delivery," The Washington Times, October 24, 2001, among other sources.
11 Ian Wilhlem, "September 11 Donations Hit $1-Billion," Chronicle of Philanthropy Update, October 16, 2001, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.philanthropy.com/free/update/2001/10/2001101601.htm on October 22, 2001.
12 Sources: Newsday, October 11, 2001; Houston Chronicle, September 16, 2001 and September 14, 2001; New York Post, September 23, 2001; The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 21, 2001. Note: The Chronicle of Philanthropy has published a long list of major donations to terrorist-relief related charities by businesses and foundations and has posted it online at http://www.philanthropy.com/free/update/2001/09/2001091904.htm.
13 "Rating Government," Washington Post, October 22, 2001, p. A17.
14 John Milton:
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide,
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
Is kingly - thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.'
Amy Ridenour is President of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington, D.C. think tank. Comments may be sent to [email protected].