BP#5 Utilitarianism and the decline of a family fortune

The New York Times published a interview with Frances Stroh about her book that tells the story of her life, her families lives, and the decline of their family fortune. In her book she explains that the quickest way to diminish a families fortune is the family itself. Ms. Stroh is heiress to the Stroh’s fortune. In the 80’s the Stroh family owned the largest beer distribution companies in the United States. Forbes published the families net worth after their quick fall to bankruptcy at $9 billion dollars in todays dollars. Stroh addresses admits that some of the issues facing the family company were related to poor business transaction and the problems in the Detroit area. The company is based out of Detroit and saw a major hit as the city progressively worsened for business and their residents. She places blame mostly on the family itself. She explains that the family became accustomed to a lavish lifestyle even when it was apparent that the fortune was declining and wouldn’t last forever. She also went into detail of how her family soothed their loses with drug use and alcohol; which is common for wealthy families who see a lose in their fortune. “I heard from all kinds of people about lost fortunes, lost businesses, often coupled with substance-abuse issues within the families,” said Stroh. The fortune decline began when the fourth generation made the family addition to expand the successful family business to a international mega business, along with other business transactions all taking place at one time. This resulted in the quick decline in a once successful family business because of the hunger for wealth of the newest generations. Stroh stats that the generation that drove the business into the ground is the same generation who took advantage of the lavish lifestyle the most. She explained that the drive of new generations to make their family business bigger and better quickly can be the decline of a family fortune. For the Stroh family; John Mill’s utilitarianism ideals could have saved their company. It is better to have less of a lavish lifestyle and progressively grow the family business then to give into material items, short pleasures like drugs and substance abuse and lose your families fortune.


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