White House: Tiffany Should Cut Prices, Not Advertise Gripes

Mar 26, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Tiffany & Co. recently ran a letter in the Washington Post taking issue with the Bush Administration’s decision to approve construction of a silver and copper mine in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area near the Montana-Idaho border. The letter called on the chief of the Forest Service, Dale Bosworth, to reverse the decision.

Mark Rey, an undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, responded to the letter by saying, “I’m guessing this ad in The Washington Post cost upwards of $50,000. For $49,999.63 less, they could have sent us this letter and given their customers a discount on their products.”

Tiffany responded, “It is by no means the first time that we have communicated with appropriate government officials about our desire to see precious metals and gemstones extracted in environmentally and socially responsible ways. Our record on that score goes back nearly a decade.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are you surprised by the response of the Bush administration to the Tiffany & Co. letter
in the Washington Post?

According to a Associated Press piece we found on the Los Angeles Times’s Web site, Mark Rey said the Tiffany letter was filled with a number of errors
although he declined to elaborate.

It has also been suggested that Tiffany has taken this action to square itself with its customers and groups opposed to mining in wilderness areas.

Based on our scoring system, we have this at Tiffany 1, Mr. Rey and the Bush Administration 0.

We have to admit disappointment with the Bush administration’s response but not surprise because this is not the first time the President’s people would
have been better off staying quiet and didn’t.

You may recall an op-ed piece run by Warren Buffett in the Washington Post last year that was critical of the Bush administration’s tax proposals
saying, in essence, they unfairly advantaged the rich at the expense of the poor.

Pam Olson, assistant secretary for tax policy, in the Treasury Department shot back, “a certain Midwestern oracle, who, it must be noted, has played the
tax code like a fiddle, is still safe retaining all his earnings.”

Mr. Buffet’s response in the 2003 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Annual Report was direct and to the point. “If only 540 taxpayers paid the amount Berkshire
will pay, no other individual or corporation would have to pay anything to Uncle Sam. That’s right: 290 million Americans and all other businesses would not have to pay a dime
in income, social security, excise or estate taxes to the federal government.”
Anderson – Moderator

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