November 1, 2011

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Best of Business 2011

Spencer Dickson

November 1, 2011

Best Character that Ian Fleming Never Dreamed Up

Jeremy Johnson is 35 years old, a pilot, philanthropist, gambling addict and multimillionaire. That’s quite the résumé. But apparently that’s not even the half of it. His St. George-based internet company, iWorks, has been accused of bilking a million consumers out of $375 million over the last decade.

In addition to his list of titles and accomplishments, might we add, “grammatically challenged?” Is iWorks short for, “I Works on Ripping People Off?” If so, Johnson probably considered more descriptive company names like iCheats or iLaughs All the Way to the Bank before settling on his more prosaic moniker.

Then again, reports indicate that rather than giggling maniacally during trips to his local financial institution, Johnson actually might not avail himself of a bank’s services at all. In July, Johnson associates testified that he had gone to great lengths to stash large sums money in odd places. How odd? Try mountainous locations only accessible by helicopter, at the bottom of bodies of water in special waterproof bags, and even good old-fashioned gold coins and silver bars hidden in secret rooms.

Sheesh, this guy sounds like a James Bond villain. And, as such, he deserves a nickname. Goldswimmer? Mr. Renege? Doughfeld? We’ll keep thinking. “Jeremy Johnson” just isn’t cutting it for us.

Best Issue for Self-justification

Are you a hardliner or a softie? A hellfire-and-damnation, letter-of-the-law traditionalist or a turn-your-back, turn-the-other-cheek apologist? Wherever you land, probably somewhere in between, there’s a place for you in the ongoing debate about illegal immigration in Utah and the nation at large.

Recently, Gov. Gary R. Herbert spoke out about President Barack Obama’s decision to focus illegal immigration enforcement only on those who have committed serious crimes. Half of you are asking, “You mean, serious crimes like entering a country illegally?” while others consider the president’s approach to be measured and rational.

Herbert sees it as giving illegal immigrants amnesty. This is the same Gary Herbert who backed HB116, which was passed this year. You know HB116—the bill that allows undocumented immigrants to work in Utah if they pass a background check and pay a fine. Sounds awfully similar to what Obama is doing, doesn’t it?

And thus the vagaries of the immigration debate continue. It seems like everyone has plenty of fodder, whether religious or secular, to justify their position. But in the end, it’s only immigration. We’re just talking about people’s lives and livelihoods here—not something as essential as the outcome of the BYU–Utah game.

Best News for Republican Presidential Candidates

Mitt Romney now has another vote he can count on in 2012. That’s because last December, the long-awaited day finally arrived—Utah got its fourth congressional seat (and one more vote in the Electoral College). This after 10-plus years of hand-wringing when we were denied the seat back in 2000 after the Supreme Court decided that LDS missionaries must not be people. How else can they explain the fact that the thousands of missionaries from Utah were not counted toward Utah’s population total?

No matter. The fourth seat is ours. And now the challenge is to divide the previous three districts into four. Easy, right? Not so fast. We’re talking about politics and, by extension, politicians here. Surely they’ll find a way to keep the hand-wringing going for a little while longer—it’s their job. Maybe they should call Romney for help—you know, draw on some of that Olympic magic and get this thing figured out. Let’s make him work a little for that vote.

Best Attempt to Rebrand Coupon Clippers

Shoppers of the world, unite and take over!” It’s not just a paraphrased Morrissey lyric, it’s the credo behind Groupon and countless copycats that have sprung up recently. They’re all about helping consumers get great deals while supporting the efforts of local businesses. And they’re doing their darndest to make coupon clipping cool.

That cool factor took a serious ding back in February when Groupon ran a horrendously ill-conceived TV spot during the Super Bowl. You might remember it: the commercial started out like a serious Free Tibet Public Service Announcement and then drastically shifted its tone to flippantly plug a fictional strip mall eatery. At best it was jarring; at worst it was culturally insensitive. Poor form all around.

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