The Future is Not Bleak

6 Feb ’05

I’ve posted recently on the topic of risk, and in particular on how the world is not as risky and dangerous as many business lawyers would have their clients believe (remember all of the doomsday predictions about Y2K?).  But of course the phenomenon is not specific to lawyers.  Everyone does it, for different reasons.  And there have been several reminders about this lately – some particularly of the "sky is falling" variety.

The NYT is reporting that the smoking ban is not having the damaging effect on restaurant bar business that was predicted.  Money quote:

Back in 2002, when the City Council was weighing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to eliminate smoking from all indoor public places, few opponents were more fiercely outspoken than James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association.

He frequently ripped Mr. Bloomberg as a billionaire dictator with a prohibitionist streak that would undo small businesses like his bar and his restaurant. Visions of customers streaming to the legally smoke-filled pubs of New Jersey kept him awake at night.

Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr. McBratney sounded changed. "I have to admit," he said sheepishly, "I’ve seen no falloff in business in either establishment." He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.

Golly.

Next, business in the aftermath of Sarbanes-Oxley is brisk for the big accounting firms, despite their doomsday predictions about the impact the auditor independence rules would have on their business.  As a friend who knows far more about these things put it:

1. They won the big fight to keep tax advisory 2. They are all back in the consulting game, just not for audit clients – they trade opportunites with each other and keep the smaller accounting firms out.

And business is so good they are dropping clients in droves.

Gosh.

Reminder to ask yourself what the messenger is selling before you listen to the message; for many, sowing fear and doubt is often the best way to create a need for whatever they are selling.

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