This attitude was reflected a little more indirectly in the cuts in benefits and pensions everywhere including major companies like AT&T, layoffs in which senior people were cut on the principle that they were easy to replace; among other people mismanagement decisions that seemed to me to be incalculably stupid. Incalculable, unfortunately, because the decisions and decisionmakers at these companies were protected by layers of indirection (about the reasoning, minimally) and because there is profound difficulty in measuring the damage to the company, products, and customers, both long and short term. Stupid, because the people in the trenches doing the work understood the impact every day, in terms of workload, quality of work, culture, their attachment to the company, belief in the industry and in what they were doing...
More than one person I knew who was young and abused in the dot com era decided they were "getting out," went to open a record store (or flower shop) and never looked at a computer again. In an era of declining enrollment in computer science programs, we as an industry can't really afford that.
Here's a guy in the game industry--one of the most famously abusive software sectors--trying to make the case with a fairly well-researched article on the subject: IGDA - Articles - Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons. Tagline: There's a bottom-line reason most industries [except the software industry] gave up crunch mode over 75 years ago: It's the single most expensive way there is to get the work done. Of course, in the software industry, quality hasn't mattered that much, till recently. Will things change? Will software management change? Will the calculation become easier to make to argue against the stupid?
And here's an article, only tangentially related, but I think still related, on why America is lagging in R&D. The State of Research Isn't All That Grand. R&D is being outsourced, because it's cheaper that way; and R&D is "hard to measure" because it's a long-term investment. Most American companies aren't actually that good at long-term anything, in a profits-now-or-your-bonus-is-impacted business world.
Why hasn't Built to Last had more impact?