Why Foreign Publishers Love America

By Murdoch, Rupert | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, September 1985 | Go to article overview

Why Foreign Publishers Love America


Murdoch, Rupert, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Since I am addressing the American Business Press, I thought perhaps I'd offer you, as briefly as i can, some opinions on America, on American business and on your American Business Press. We all know and we all say what a great country this is. Perhaps we still have to remind ourselves of all the advantages we have here, which are too often taken for granted. As an Australian-born businessman with three decades of experience on three continents--Australia, Britain and, more recently, the United States--I cannot help but view this country, America, as the land of opportunity. I've been here now as a resident for 11 years and, I must say, as a taxpayer, I feel as much a part of the scenery as anybody else.

America has an amazing Constitution that offers all citizens real freedom and social mobility. The immigrant influx from Mexico, Puerto rico, the Philippines, and elsewhere is a tremendous plus. It's not just that new immigrants have a net positive effect on the gross national product, it's that these people from foreign countries help keep the immigrant spirit alive.

Pay scales that motivate

Allow me to compare and contrast a few random issues that have an all too profound impact on our daily lives. Having paid taxes in three different countries, I can tell you firsthand that, deficits notwithstanding, America has got it right and is getting it better. People do get paid more in this country for greater efforts and get to keep more of it. And this creates a wonderful incentive for people to work hard and creatively.

In England, chief executive officers do not earn very much for making very importan decisions. And when young American MBAs go over to London to work as management consultants, they are sometimes paid more than the chief executive they are advising. And that can be a little embarrassing. But it tells you something about the United States and it tells you something about England.

To add insult to injury, not only do other people in other countries earn less, they are taxed more. In Australia a worker at $35,000 enters the 60 percent marginal tax rate. And taxation in Britain is, if anything, worse than in Australia. So the American dream is alive and well here, wherea in other countries (and I take the two countries that I know and are most like this country) the dream is more elusive.

I'm not simply speaking about lower taxes or fiscal rewards, but also of the intangibles, such as hope, motivation and the spirit that we are seeing throughout this countyr among the young people today. In America you can achieve rewards that are commensurate with risks. It's no secret that, in high technology, America dominates. And that is not because the rest of the world is stupid; it is because in this country capital markets and raw brain-power find each other. Venture capitalists find each other. Venture capitalists take huge chances, they lose often, but when they win, they win big and they pay their government not too much of their booty. That is wonderful. These opportunities just do not exist to the same degree elsewhere.

Now, what about the problems? Sure there are constraints, but they are not all that bad when you observe from a global perspective. Take labor, for example. I have to laugh a little when I read in Business Week and Fortune about the labor problems that some owners experience in this country. At least labor problems here don't cause the entire nation to grind to a halt. Last year the coal miners strike in Britain caused everybody tremendous grief. Our properties, on all three continents, have unions to deal with. And at the risk of sounding condescending, I have to say that many of you would find our labor problems on Fleet Street and at The Times of London mind boggling. You may complain, but other countries have it infinitely worse. [Editor's note: A printers' strike in Australia (over new techniques) in late June cut publication of Murdoch's flagship national newspapers, The Australian, and forced executives to produce his two Sydney daily tabloids. …

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