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Actionable news in DD: E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY,

Dow-DuPont Merger: Better Living Through Layoffs

But there is a mournful edge to the whole idea. It’s as if these two companies—absolute bedrock of U.S. industrial might—have given up faith in themselves and their futures.

Is thriving, surviving, and adapting through 331 years of total history not enough to keep these companies confident? DuPont was founded in 1802, Dow Chemical Co. in 1897. Surely they’ve persevered through things tougher than activist investors in argyles and loafers.

Self-confidence seems to brim only in Silicon Valley. Across the American business world, the goal is to cut costs, consolidate, do more with less.

You can literally feel it when you are shoved onto on a shrunken middle seat on a United Continental CLR 3.48 % or American-US Airways flight. Or perhaps when you drink a future Budweiser-Miller brew. Or are left selecting health insurance among a dwindling set of megaproviders.

The argot of American business has been reduced to “sensible growth,” “dividend return” and “listening to shareholders.”

This is not an America playing to win. It’s an America playing not to...


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