Prestigious editor shared economic and political insights

Prestigious editor shared economic and political insights

Margaret Eby

On Tuesday, April 9, Millikin welcomed Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large of Fortune magazine, for a speech on what we can do about the dire situation of our economy. Sloan gave economic, business and political insights from his extensive career in the news business.

“I’m very old and at large, to me, means I can’t be contained. I’m an old person who does what he wants,” Sloan said. “My responsibility is to have fun, spread joy, make a living and by accident, enlighten people, hopefully myself.”

Sloan writes a business/finance column in Fortune and has previously worked for Forbes, Money, Newsweek and has won numerous journalism awards, including the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award. With more than 40 years working in business journalism, Sloan shared criticism about the current governmental climate but advice and optimism for the future of the economy.

“What’s nuts about it is the society has become much more divisive than it used to be,” Sloan said. “We’re acting like children. We want to keep what we have, and we want somebody else to pay for it.” He says that the American people and government have a hard time stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. “They assume that what’s best for them is what’s best for America,” he said.

Being able to see the bigger picture, in large part, requires realizing that everyone at every level needs to share in the sacrifices and triumphs of the economy. “We’re all in this together,” Sloan said.

Sloan attributed the divisiveness to the fragmented society to the internet and to how audiences have become increasingly targeted and specified. While the business model of the media used to be gaining the most viewers for the most advertisers, it has shifted greatly in the opposite direction. The internet has created a sea of extremely specific audiences according to their interests.

With this divisiveness stalling the steps forward that the country needs to be making economically, Sloan encouraged the audience to keep three points in their minds. “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” he said. This point inspires broader horizons, tolerance and perspective. He emphasized the need to have a sense of history.

“People think that what they see is going to last forever. Nothing is forever,” Sloan said. When the American public keeps this in mind, it realizes that all actions and reactions come in waves of gloom and euphoria.

His main point and call to action was to understand that the people holding the power are simply people doing the best they can. They do not deserve to be worshipped or demonized. “Don’t wait for the salvation of your political leaders,” Sloan said. “Try to improve the part of society that you can improve.”

Sloan believes that there are signs of hope already present in the economy and in politics, but “people keep arguing about it without realizing it’s already happening.” He ended with resounding optimism, reiterating his love for America, the hope he has for it and the actions we can take to improve it. “We will prevail,” Sloan said to end.