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No Defense for Firms

July 16, 1989

Regarding your June 11 Viewpoints column, "Should Defense Firms Switch From Swords to Plowshares?":

Having done some business with defense contractors, I know that retraining workers on the production line is not a problem. That's a matter of a few weeks at most.

The problem is in feather-bedded management. How is somebody going to learn to be competitive in the marketplace on a fixed-price item? In civilian production, cost overruns are not forgiven or accommodated. Cost overruns mean bankruptcies.

Universities should gear up to teach executives how to get along with fewer people, how to cut salaries, including their own, and how to motivate workers to do quality work and fire those who don't do the job. If universities are unprepared to teach courses like these because the professors lack the background, they can enlist qualified instructors from the world of small business entrepreneurs.

JACK BIRNS

Oxnard

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