Skip to comments.Thanks for the Job, Mr. Rumsfeld
Posted on 01/04/2014 4:57:50 AM PST by Kaslin
When I was in high school, one of my part-time jobs was driving a hotel van to and from the airport for the Howard Johnson in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb just north of Chicago. It was a great job. I got to know a ton of different types of people.
To this day, its the second favorite job I ever had.
One type of person that I got to know driving to and from OHare International Airport were pharmaceutical sales reps from a company, also headquartered in Skokie, called Searle Pharmaceutical.
Searle, like a lot of companies in the mid-1970s had fallen on hard times, relatively speaking. Profits were hard to come by, the regulatory burden was incredibly draining, and the hostility to business from government was intense.
The company was rescued by former- White House Chief of Staff, former- NATO Ambassador, and former-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who was tapped by the Searle family to turn things around.
By the time I was old enough to work, not only had Searles stock price surged under Rumsfeld, but the company was contributing to the community in many ways, including support jobs, like mine, driving between the Howard Johnson and the airport.
To some extent, what Rumsfeld did at Searle became the textbook for how to save an ailing public company, and ailing communities too.
Rumsfeld first came to Searle in 1977, after leaving public service in the wake of President Fords defeat. He had served Ford as both a chief of staff and Secretary of Defense.
The Searle family was looking for someone who had both the executive skills and the public relations savvy to turn the ailing family business around. The company had invented a new artificial sweetener in 1965 called aspartame, but the FDA had not approved the sweetener for sale. Patents had expired on drugs that Searle developed and they now had to compete with generics. It had been years since the company had developed new drugs for commercial sale.
Searle also warehoused a ton of money in Puerto Rico, and a sizable portion of the companys earnings came from the tax advantages realized in keeping the money out of the continental United States. But by the time Rumsfeld took over, the tax advantages of offshore warehousing had been played out for the company.
By 1977 the companys stock had moved down from $25 to around $6 per share amid congressional investigations of the pharmaceutical industrys safety protocols in releasing new drugs to the public. The investigations were holding up FDA approval of aspartame with a blanket hold put on all Searle drug applications.
Daniel Searle, the companys patriarch, knew Rumsfeld from the politicians time as congressman representing Illinois 13th Congressional District, which included about 100,000 voters from Chicago. Rumsfeld, first elected in 1963, served as the 13th Districts congressman until 1969, when he left to be an undersecretary in the Office of Economic Opportunity. From there Rumsfeld moved on to become U.S. ambassador to NATO before taking up duties as Fords chief of staff.
So when one of the richest men in Chicago was looking for someone to make him even wealthier, Rumsfeld was a well-known quantity to Searle. Searle had the added advantage of being a Navy man, as was Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was a pilot and flight instructor in the United States Navy from 1954 to 1957.
Rumsfeld says that bad news never travels up the chain of command, but rather down the chain. In an effort to identify problems at Searle, and get the bad news from down the chain of command, he gave investment analysts unfettered access to his company, with the proviso that they report back both the good and bad news that they found.
The subsequent improvements in process and workforce started paying off immediately.
Rumsfeld also went to work bringing home the offshore money, which he put into research and development. He sold off non-performing subsidiaries, and cut the workforce by as much as 60 percent.
Not content to cut, Rumsfeld also devoted $100 million in repatriated money to the drug-makers research pipeline in a way that mirrors todays pharmaceutical business model. Today, biotech and pharmaceuticals live off of their research pipeline and distribution networks, just as Rumsfeld engineered at Searle.
By 1981 the company had finally secured approval from the FDA for the marketing of aspartame under the name NutraSweet. The company had also formed what became known as Pearle Vision Centers, thereby diversifying their portfolio of health care products.
In 1980 Rumsfeld was named Outstanding Chief Executive Officer in the Pharmaceutical Industry by the Wall Street Transcript. In 1981 he received a similar award from Financial World.
I was barely aware of any of this at the time that I was driving my van between the airport and the Howard Johnson. I didnt even know then what I know now: Rumsfeld and I both graduated from the same high school, New Trier, and he was born in Evanston, Illinois, the town near Skokie where I grew up.
I found these facts out only as I prepared to interview him for an Evening with Donald Rumsfeld at the Atlanta History Center sponsored by Talk 920 AM WGKA. There were close to 400 people there for the event.
These facts were impressed upon me as living things when a man showed up while Mr. Rumsfeld and I spoke back stage for an hour before the public interview. The man was a classmate of Rumsfelds, one year back, and had a picture of the football team that they both played on. It was clear from the back and forth that Rumsfeld not only remembered people he went to high school with, he was still in contact with many of them.
He and I spent another hour and half together, mostly with me asking questions, and he answering on stage. The crowed was wowed, as was I.
But in all that time theres one thing I forgot to say to him. Thanks for the job, Mr. Rumsfeld.
Aspartame becomes a poison when it reaches 85 degrees F or higher.
The human body is 98.6 degrees F.
Don’t put poison into your body.
Shame on Mr. Rumsfeld for getting this passed the FDA.
Are you a biologist are did you sleep at a cardboard box last night?
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Tomatoes are poisonous too, but they're still mighty yummy w/bacon & lettuce !
An important point Ransom doesn’t address is whether today’s high school student could have that same job of driving a hotel van on the airport run. I think the answer is clearly NO and big government Pubbies, like Rumsfeld, are part of the reason why a similarly-situated teenager would not have that job. The times Ransom recalls were the Carter years and “normal” was becoming a fading memory with only a brief and spotty respite under Reagan.
Ransom’s best point in the column is the one about companies repatriating money held overseas for tax avoidance purposes. Removing that block could be the kickstart needed in the same way Searle had to do that.
I started work at G.D. Searle in early 1975 as a “research investigator” looking for new screening models for potential new drugs. At the time the joke was that the best way to hurt our competition was to “let them steal our best ideas”. The FDA hit us very soon after I was hired and I had to move from “pioneering research” to drug development to stay employed. I too thank Mr. Rumsfeld for keeping the core pharmaceutical company together. One of the things he did to get to know the company and improve moral was to invite groups of around 20 “exempt” employees to his house to “get to know us”. He and his wife were very gracious hosts and seemed to actually like mingling, unlike several of his sucessors. Again, thank you Mr. Rumsfeld.
Just do a search.
Some here on this forum do not understand the perils of ingesting aspartame.
I posted for them.
You should keep drinking from your lead flagons - I don’t give a sh!t.
I do not trust a Searle employee or department regarding the toxicity of aspartame.
Nor do I trust a Monsanto employee or department regarding the ‘safety’ of Round-up-ready corn or other GMO’s.
Nor do I trust that Hillary will get to the bottom of the Benghazi attack.
Nor do I believe that I can keep my Doctor if I like him.
My opinion: do your research.
I stay away from aspartame and GMO’s.
After reading the posts, I vote cardboard box.
Couldn’t be cardboard box — it’s too early for the library to be open on Saturday morning to use the computers.
Have you checked under your bed ?
Just keep in mind that the plural of anecdote is not “data”. Searle tried to recruit enough people with complaints to do controlled studies, but there were never enough to design a statistically valid , double-blind study. So if it gives you a headache don’t use it, but there is no scientific basis to call it a poison.
What brand of tin foil do you use for your hat?
As a U.S. representative, Rumsfeld was on the left. Wasn’t he replaced in a special election by Phil Crane, who was very conservative but had personal problems? IL has given us very few good people, Phyllis Schafly being an exception, and the people there twice defeated her for Congress. She had to overcome the people of IL; so she moved back to her native MO, some improvement.
I don’t want to step into the middle of your argument, but I offer this up. I have been drinking inhuman quantities of Diet Coke for well over 20 years. I am fine. Admittedly, I am not a large enough sample size to base any conclusions on. However, if aspartame was a deadly poison I would be long gone. I am cutting way back, exercising more etc...as I realize I am hitting the big 50. I have slowly but surely increased Diet Coke with water, but not because of any mutations or side effects. I do notice I am less edgy but that is probably because of the decrease in caffeine. Just thought I would offer that up. Happy New Years.
You can’t distrust everything.
GMO foods are what all grains and most vegetables are. Original potatoes were inedible poison. Tomatoes too. Corn , peppers, wheat soy beans, rice; all were modifies by man. The Monsanto and DuPont and Dow innovation was to modify seeds in a shorter time frame with science. That is already changing the world and its food supply.
I guess you don’t trust applied science.
Lying politicians should generate mistrust. Practical scientific successes, just because they are engineered by a big corporation, should be judged by results.
Rumsfeld is 5'7" according to Wiki. I would have guessed that he is much taller.
... there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns there are things we do not know we don't know.
No tall, but well built. I think I remember he was a wrestler in college.
People who tell you that methanol and formaldehyde are by-products are correct but they fail to mention that the body handles the small amounts regularly.
People who tell you that methanol is poison are omitting that it is only toxic at high concentrations just like booze.
By the way, if you drink too much water in a short period of time it can destroy your cells and kill you DEAD!
Thanks for the segue... Whatever his physical height and whatever his imperfect conservative credentials, he’s head-and-shoulders a superior human being and executive than any of the current cabinet.
Science is hard. You should continue avoiding it.
I don’t know about that but fake sugar does suck.
As does neocon foreign policy and backing Ford over Reagan.