A Good Person, Really?

A Good Person, Really?
A Good Person, Really?

A Good Person, Really?

At the bottom of the page is an excerpt from “War Machine’s” suicide note. For whiny self indulgence, it would be difficult to exceed. In his mind, he is being persecuted, apparently for being a “real” man.

What does this have to do with business ethics? Haven’t you noticed that men’s sports seems to involve on a routine basis, a level of misogyny more appropriate for the Dark Ages than 21st century America? It’s not an aberration. It’s part of the win at any cost mentality. It’s part of a male centered system in which moving a ball around an enclosed area is somehow of critical importance.

A lot of this is about money. A hooked customer is much better than a thinking one. But on the other hand, a lot of it isn’t. The feeder teams, the high schools, have only limited money incentive to compete (aside from the enormous costs to education) yet here too we encounter misogyny on an incredible scale. Rape victims are re-victimized. Hazing of a particularly deviate kind is considered a “boys will be boys” problem. Parents rush to defend football programs where the players act more like a youth gang than a sport.

It results in attitude’s like War Machine’s note. War Machine is a victim in his view – a very high level of Freudian projection. The woman he seriously injured is persecuting him. When she broke up with him and moved on, she had the nerve to have sex with someone else. You can almost hear an orchestra of tiny violins. And he’s unfairly being charged with crimes because he’s a guy living in the wrong era. Ah, if only there was a good Viking raiding party needing a few good men, maybe some horde ready to ride out of the wilderness and destroy a fledgling civilization. But unfortunately, he lives in a nation where there is some law and he will be held accountable.

This bleeds over into schooling, work and politics.

One of the worst elements of misogyny that seems to leak into every part of work and play is the amazing capacity for males to blame women for male behavior. Be it rape, pregnancy, or spousal abuse, every single time, no matter what the circumstances, “she” should have done something else. She should not have been out that late, She should not have worn those clothes. She should not have talked back. She should not have resisted or she should have resisted. She should have known what to expect. She should not have been drinking.

Or on the job – she should not have been so aggressive. She should not have applied for the job if she was just going to get pregnant. She should not have joined a job if she couldn’t take being or not being in the “boys’ club. She shouldn’t take so much time off. She shouldn’t have so many children.

See, it’s all the women’s fault. You might think rape is an affirmative act requiring decision making and physical action on the part of the perp, but no, men are lured into rape by the siren call of cunning, conniving women. You know, the root of all evil, cursed by poor negotiating skills with snakes. And women get pregnant by themselves. And beat themselves up, etc.

A new era is upon us. We are going to have to think about these issues. The note from “war machine” is a wake up call to the rest of us about the costs of misogyny, the macho culture of sports and the stupidity, the self-righteousness of some men.

James Pilant

Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend

However, his attitude changes later in the letter as he admits to “crying like a lil’ bitch” and blames Mack for the “f*cking ridiculous” allegations that have ruined his life. He wrote:

“They wanna charge me with battery and domestic violence? Fine, do it, but don’t railroad me with B.S. fantasy charges like: Rape! Attempted murder! Kidnapping! And Burglary! It’s making it impossible for for justice.

I’m a good person with a huge heart and everyone who knows me know that, especially Christy.” (source)

War Machine seems to have forgotten that he fractured Mack’s rib, ruptured her liver, knocked out her teeth and broke her nose. Not to mention that he attempted to kill her, and would have succeeded if she hadn’t run away. Instead, he suggests that Mack’s “scumbag agent” is pressuring her to testify against him for cash.

Toward the end, War Machine again whines about men’s rights, saying:

“Society has killed men, I was never meant to live in this era anyway. Follow your dreams and think for yourselves.” (source)

via Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend.

A Few Relevant Comments from my fellow bloggers -

Now, it wasn’t as if I was personally attacked by someone of the opposite gender on this mundane monday afternoon. God, no, I doubt I even had an encounter with the beast we call “men”. But after checking twitter, and deciding to look on an individual’s account (granted, I have no fucking idea how to use twitter), I was shocked horrified and downright confused. Do boys like this even talk to their mother?

Hysteria, the root of the word “hysterical,” was used as a medical diagnosis into the Victorian age, almost up to present times. Throughout history, women were frequently connected with the misogynistic theories of the Greeks that set them out as being the weaker sex. Christian Europe purported that women were weaker than men, that they were more fragile and prone to “demonic possession.”

No matter how often women try to explain about the discrimination, the abuse, the pain, the fear, and the hate that women are subjected to in our society, a man will try to knock her down some more.  Well guess what guy?  I’d rather spend the rest of my life alone than submit myself to the likes of you.  Bring on the negative comments!

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job? | Technology | The Observer

Many moons ago, shortly after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA first appeared, I wrote a column which began, “Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story”. I was infuriated by the way the mainstream media was focusing not on the import of what he had revealed, but on the trivia: Snowden’s personality, facial hair (or absence thereof), whereabouts, family background, girlfriend, etc. The usual crap, in other words. It was like having a chap tell us that the government was poisoning the water supply and concentrating instead on whom he had friended on Facebook.

via The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job? | Technology | The Observer.

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Wasteland of American News

I was reading a joke the other day. It went like this:

CNN was changing its name from “The Most Trusted Name in News” to “Holy crap, we’re all going to die.” This is from the Borowitz Report from the New Yorker Magazine. This is only a short distance from the truth. The media coverage of the spread of Ebola has been sensationalism at its worst. The 24 hours new cycle has been turned over to know-nothing commentators, crank conspiracy theorists and a band of insipid hosts who appear to have given up on even the appearance of journalism. From time to time an expert appears only to be ignored or marginalized or both. It would be hilarious if the subject wasn’t so important and the stakes so high. I’m seeing comments on Facebook talking abut the millions of dead from the Spanish Flu Epidemic and classroom talk of death dealing sneezes.

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

I have graduate hours in journalism. I’m not seeing much in this crisis. It’s been replaced by a corporate inspired search for higher ratings and for at least one network, political attacks of the most base kind. It’s all about the money. And as long as it is, the money will be on lies, exaggeration and the fomenting of panic, anything to keep the gullible and uninformed glued to that empty screen and these substitutes for competent professionals.

Surely, this tells us as a society, as a people, that glorifying greed carries a terrible price. Just when we need the truth we receive ratings fodder. Can it be any clearer that honor, fairness and truth are the basic foundation of a successful society?

If every human endeavor is only worthwhile if it is profitable, if success is measured only in coin, then this kind of “journalism” is fully justified. If a company’s only responsibility is to increase its profits, the public be damned. Even when misinformation kills, it sells.

Is business ethics just a joke? Certainly, when I tell people what I do, I get a lot of ironic smiles, chuckles and looks of pity. Maybe that’s all I deserve, a voice in the wilderness who sees Americans increasingly devolving into prey animals, narcissists who hunt for the last dollar from the last of their fellow citizens.

If common humanity, if simple human decency, cannot compel responsible journalism, how far has the nation’s moral fabric decayed?

James Pilant

Here are some linked quotes from other bloggers whose writing is superlative –

The Fourth Estate as we know it is in its death throes, fighting for a last breath before meeting its maker.

Journalism is a slippery slope. In order to uphold the fourth estate and provide the public with current news, ethical issues arise left, right and center. News-gathering, interviewing and reporting are areas of journalism where ethical conduct is imperative at all times in order to maintain the respect for the media as a reliable source of public information.

Journalism is not public relations. It’s goal is not to spin stories and appease audiences for personal gain, but of course, corruption is everywhere in this world even if we choose to ignore it. Unnamed sources can be fishy for a number of reasons, with the biggest one being that it encourages lazy journalism. 

This is currently being threatened by the same conglomerates that overtook television and made it the face-rotting advertisement box are trying to change the rules so companies can pay extra money for an ‘internet fast lane’.

The last one is a little peripheral, but damn, what writing! (jp)

 

The Three Percent!

The Three Percent!
The Three Percent

The Three Percent

Spare me your “femvertising”: The advertising industry’s weird, persistent woman problem – Salon.com

Recently, at New York’s Advertising Week, a hedonistic celebration of all things commercial, a half dozen panels focused on women. Discussion topics ranged from the instructional, namely how to avoid insulting women when you’re trying to sell them stuff, to the philosophical, which asked tough questions to the tune of, essentially, “Could it be women’s fault they’re not being promoted?” Panels with titles like “Women Aren’t Creative?” readily recognized that women make 80 percent of household purchasing decisions.  What the smiling executives at center stage were a little slower to acknowledge is that women are only 3 percent of the creative directors making decisions about how to best sell things to these millions of shopping ladies. The word “femvertising” was thrown around a lot, but never the word “feminism.” Perhaps that’s because in an industry famous for being sexist, feminism is scary even if it sells.

via Spare me your “femvertising”: The advertising industry’s weird, persistent woman problem – Salon.com.

Where are the women?

Women might be smarter when it comes to selling things to other women. Certainly, they would bring experience to the table. There are differences in male and female shopping. But does “The Three Percent” reassure you that women are being represented?

Yes, in the advertising field, only three percent of the creative directors are women. And this is in a world, a nation, where women go to college and graduate in larger number than men. Is it easy to believe that women are just not applying for these jobs? – that they are just no qualified – that women lack creativity and useful knowledge about marketing to women?

There has to be a suspicion about hiring practices and employment in the industry. Suspect “like hiring like” or an “old boys network” or a” set of frat connections,” there is something wrong.

Can it be that the constant horror of ads in garish poor taste directed at women is a result of women’s absence in key roles in advertising? (1)

You want to pound your head against a stone wall. How can people be comfortable with a field dominated by men when every day we have solid, clear and compelling evidence that when it comes to women, they just don’t get it. Three percent is not an accident, not a statistical anomaly; it’s a conscious decision by hundreds of men to not hire women. And by not hiring women, they damage their ability to make money and please their customers. So, this kind of hiring misogyny is foolish and counterproductive.

Surely, someone, somewhere, can view this statistic and make a better decision. It’s time to hire some women to sell to women.

James Pilant

 

 (1) Given advertisers’ complete willingness to exploit women’s fears and insecurities whenever necessary to promote a product — especially when that product is edible — I wasn’t terribly surprised this morning when I walked onto a Manhattan-bound R train and saw this advertisement …

One Child, One Teacher

One teacher, one student

One teacher, one student

One Child, One Teacher

12 incredible Malala quotes that will make you want to give her the Nobel Peace Prize all over again – Salon.com

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

via 12 incredible Malala quotes that will make you want to give her the Nobel Peace Prize all over again – Salon.com.

The Importance of Teaching

Teaching changes individuals and societies. The idea that human beings who were not aristocrats could improve themselves is an Enlightenment concept(1). This is a relatively new idea in history and hopefully an abiding one.  Those of us who teach have a responsibility to shape minds and character. Many teachers transmit either willingly or unconsciously their own biases. But the real revolutionary act is to transmit the basic skills of a respect for facts and the ability to use reason.

A developed mind, fact and reason oriented, is a lethal weapon against stale tradition, incompetent leadership and, above all, complacency. It tends to activate the mind and invigorate the recognition of self-importance and action.

We live in an age where conspiracy theorists, internet come-ons and manipulative business practices are common. We can try to knock them down one by one or we can seek to create in a student’s mind the intellectual skills necessary for self-defense. The skills that help a student understand the risks are very similar to those enabling them to recognize opportunities, and that empowerment is another goal fulfilled when the student-teacher cooperation toward learning occurs. Remember education is not purely a matter of teaching skill. The student can always choose to past tests and ignore the rest of the content.

An undeveloped mind is a playground for manipulators, whether corporate flacks, PR experts or venal politicians. A critical thinking human can learn to protect himself from scams, false claims and other nonsense.

As Americans, we always need to ask ourselves what kind of people are we creating? What are we conveying in the way of culture to our posterity. One of the perils of an increasing “incentivized” is the very real peril of conflating money with success. If money becomes the only measure, who will be wise, brave or committed. And without the wise, the brave and those committed to the higher good through public service, what kind of society, what kind of nation will we live in?

For an educator, a teacher, that is the mission. To raise a human being from a state of understanding less to understanding more. In itself this is a life and society changing event.

James Pilant

 

(1) Leading educational theorists like England’s John Locke and Switzerland’s Jean Jacques Rousseau both emphasised the importance of shaping young minds early. By the late Enlightenment there was a rising demand for a more universal approach to education, particularly after the American and French Revolutions.

Pink-Washing

Pink-Washing
Pink-Washing

Pink-Washing

Pink-Washing

NFL marketing using breast cancer as a tactic is bad business ethics and blatant hypocrisy. It’s bad business ethics because there is so little money actually given in relation to the hype. It’s blatant hypocrisy because the NFL cannot seem to find any consistent policy toward violence against women.

Maybe it is time to think of green or pink washing for the cynical tactics they are. Obviously, it can be argued that getting money from the NFL is better than no money at all. But is allowing a serious issue to become a corporate money maker and a pink silk veil to hide their problems really a wise decision in any long term sense?

As a marketing tool, the pink ribbon will appear on cups, on uniforms and countless varieties of merchandise. This is a formidable marketing tool. You’re telling the public that you care about a serious issue of personal relevance to them while pulling in large sums and giving very little actual money to the cause. The level of cynicism is staggering.

Is this the future of charity? If it doesn’t make a company a profit, we’re not giving any money? It is Milton Friedman to the max. We serve the shareholders first and foremost. I more reminded of William Henry Vanderbuilt’s quote, “The public be damned.”

Making money off the deaths of millions of women is cold blooded and is in no way a form of charity.

James Pilant

The NFL’s breast cancer scam sells bunk science to profit off pink clothes | Karuna Jaggar | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Pink ribbon marketing is great PR; breast cancer is good for business. Corporations use Breast Cancer Awareness Month to make money every October from pink merchandise and to make even more money in the long-term by generating customer loyalty for a supposedly do-good brand. As for the women living with and at risk of breast cancer, we supposedly benefit from all this “awareness”.

In reality, the NFL’s support of breast cancer philanthropy is outrageous, hypocritical, outdated and inaccurate. The NFL is exploiting breast cancer for its own gain and setting a pathetic example for big business: with nearly $10bn in annual revenue, they have given a mere $4.5m to breast cancer research since the pink misdirection play began.

via The NFL’s breast cancer scam sells bunk science to profit off pink clothes | Karuna Jaggar | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

Here is the trailer for Pink Ribbons, Inc. I think this documentary is a must watch for those more curious about the use of the pink ribbon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QPZfcYTUaA

Are Corporations an Achilles Heel?

Are Corporations an Achilles Heel for the United States?

Achilles was a Greek warrior at the siege of Troy. He was immune to all harm except on one heel. He was shot and killed by a poison arrow in his one vulnerable spot.

The United States has an Achilles heel. There is an American vulnerability that other nations even those with little credible military power can exploit.

!!!Molesw-hellsangelsTo disrupt the German economy during the Second World War, the Americans used strategic bombing. They targeted key industries like ball bearing plants and oil production. There were attacks on infrastructure like bridges, governments offices and railroads. The effort required great sacrifice on the part of the Army Air Force. The 8th Air Force alone suffered 47,000 casualties with 26,000 dead.

One of the greatest missed opportunities of the campaign was the German electrical system. American intelligence did not realize how stretched German resources were and appear to have never considered the German grid a worthwhile target. But in this internet age, such vulnerabilities will be much more apparent and they are vulnerable to other to more than aerial assault.

Bombing the United States presents serious problems to any potential aggressor. The distance is prohibitive for almost all the other nations on earth. Flight time would be measured in hours.

But strategic attacks can be made at the speed of an electronic transmission.

You can attack infrastructure through corporations, both domestic and multi-national. They possess critical targets held as data and in other systems like control of the electrical grid. Instead of physical attacks on infrastructure, hacking attacks with the same purpose would take place instantaneously and in multiple locations.

Of course, this could be considered wild speculation of the worse kind, a “chicken little” diatribe aimed at the weak minded. Unless you note that such attacks have already happened and are happening now. Unless you reflect that such cyber attacks are based overseas and have every appearance of state sponsorship, apparent trial runs for the “real thing.”

Currently Burger King is moving its headquarters outside the United States to evade taxes. It’s hard to think of fast food place as a matter of strategic interest to the United States but the fact is this company holds several million credit card records including pin numbers as well as a considerable amount of employment information as well as corporate gateways to large financial institutions, lobbying organizations and other companies like suppliers. Throwing all this on the internet for the free market of theft would be a form of sabotage but a foreign hacker would probably gather many company’s data before launching a concerted attack to disrupt the economy by making credit card use difficult or impossible while crippling commerce and banking, a strategic attack without the loss of a single man.

What kind of vulnerabilities do we as a nation have to these kinds of attacks beyond financial information? Here’s some examples:

Hacker uses an Android to remotely attack and hijack an airplane

Hackers Find Open Back Door to Power Grid With Renewables

Hacking Hospitals: The Present and Future Threat to Your Data

What nations are interested in hacking American or multi-national companies? Here’s some examples:

Russian hackers attacked US financial system stealing gigabytes of data in suspected retaliation for Ukraine sanctions

Iranian Hackers, Getting More Sophisticated, Target U.S. Defense Companies

US Report: China Hacked Into Key US Defense Contractors Site

So, are corporations an Achilles heel in the defense of the United States?

It is obvious that American corporations should act to help defend the country and themselves from these kinds of attacks. According to some, however, corporations are people. Are these “people” patriots or citizens with responsibility? By the tenets of free market fundamentalism, there is no problem of patriotism or duty here. The profit motive will solve these problems simply and easily. Hacking causes problems that cost money, thus the companies will act to defend themselves. So far, so good. But a great deal of money and expertise has already been expended and American data seems to be hacked daily. It is quite likely that companies will attempt to defend themselves. On the other hand, will they defend themselves with the depth of commitment necessary for a infrastructure asset of the United States?

If a corporation has no patriotic duty. If its only duty is to its shareholders. If demands that it act in loyalty to the national interest be described as parochial then there is no need for preventive action in accordance with a nation’s needs. It is difficult and requires the outlay of money and time to defeat this kind of highly skilled and apparently state sponsored attack. Any company embarking on such a program of defense would be placed at a competitive disadvantage with its fellows. While, it would be acting in the interest of the United States and acting in accordance with the duty expected of any American citizen, this would not be in accordance with the “only” real purpose of a corporation, that is, to act only for shareholder value.

What do we do?

By the tenets of neo-liberalism, the market should solve this problem. Perhaps, Russian, Iranian and Chinese, etc. will find having access to American markets more important than exploiting our vulnerabilities? Perhaps will just be lucky – which is apparently our primary mechanism of defense so far.

Or we could demand and establish by law a responsibility to act in concert to act as patriotic citizens on all American corporations and fully prevent them from moving to other nations to escape the obligations of American citizens. After all a corporation, is created by the state and its benefits depend on state protection. While many find the idea of corporate personhood persuasive, I do not. But in any case, they don’t have human mobility and thus their geographic presence can be regulated in a way that human movement cannot.

Patriotism and responsibility for vital national assets like credit card numbers, defense secrets, etc. should not be a matter of choice for a corporate board, but expected behavior from fellow Americans.

James Pilant

 

Hackers’ Attack Cracked 10 Financial Firms in Major Assault – NYTimes.com

Questions over who the hackers are and the approach of their attack concern government and industry officials. Also troubling is that about nine other financial institutions — a number that has not been previously reported — were also infiltrated by the same group of overseas hackers, according to people briefed on the matter. The hackers are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government, the people briefed on the matter said.

via Hackers’ Attack Cracked 10 Financial Firms in Major Assault – NYTimes.com.

Women Make Gains in California

Women Make Gains in California
!!@@#dddddd444plate17-th

Women Make Gains in California

California’s legislature: Led by women, passing laws to help women.

The California Legislature passed nine bills aimed directly or indirectly at “women’s” issues. Calling them women’s issues seems inaccurate since they are quite legitimately society’s issues.

California is just one state but it is actually larger than most nations on earth and in the United States, its policies have at times become national policies. These legislative acts are in a real way an historical landmark, a turning point. And this follows my recent theme of women’s issues being the most important ethics issues before us. This is a time in which real change can happen. Social change often takes place in leaps. There is rarely constant and continual social change on any issue. When it come to progress, women’s issues have come to the front only for a few years at a time often followed by a bitter reaction.

But if my classes are good examples, the young women of today are angry and aware. That’s a good combination. They’re going to make things happen and as women gain more power, there may well be a kind of snowball effect with change forcing more change, something we’ve never seen before. I’d like that.

A lot of these are business ethics issues, for instance, airports must have private spaces for breastfeeding and there will be three guaranteed paid sick days a year.

An appreciation of the talents, skills and rights of all members of humankind strikes me as a good rule for all business ethics.

James Pilant

From the article:

Here’s what passed:

A bill requiring the state’s commercial airports to offer a clean, private space for mothers to breastfeed or pump.

A bill barring the sterilization of prison inmates

A bill establishing timelines for local law enforcement to process rape kits.

A bill expanding the definition of the word “harm” for the purposes of a restraining order to include and protect minors who were present during an act of domestic violence.

A bill making it easier for pregnant graduate students to finish their studies.

A bill bolstering Title IX enforcement.

A bill strengthening the California attorney general’s oversight of hospital mergers (mergers that could limit access to abortion services).

A bill requiring colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies.

A bill ensuring all California workers have the right to earn and use three paid sick days a year.

via California’s legislature: Led by women, passing laws to help women..

NFL Thought We Wouldn’t Find Out

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NFL Thought We Wouldn’t Find Out

NFL Thought We Wouldn’t Find Out

Ray Rice elevator video was sent to the NFL three months ago, source says | World news | theguardian.com

A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive three months ago, while league officers have insisted they didn’t see the violent images until this week.

The person played the Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”

via Ray Rice elevator video was sent to the NFL three months ago, source says | World news | theguardian.com.

A Common Sin

A common sin in the world of business ethics is to make a stop gap measure and hope to avoid the full consequences of what happened. If the NFL indeed had that video for three long months, we are dealing with that scenario.

The NFL when confronted with a player’s misbehavior did a minor penalty and expected to ride out the controversy. But then the video came out. Now apparently having new evidence of more serious conduct the organization fired the perp. Except it wasn’t new evidence. They knew that the film was devastating but as long as no one else saw it, they would be fine.

Justice?

What was the NFL doing? They apparently knew that their man had acted abominably and that the video would the put the League’s actions under a blaze of hostile media coverage. But no one knew and they were comfortable with that. And they should not have been. They were evading their responsibility to do justice for their members and to be seen doing justice by the public at large. It’s wrong to take a half measure when presented with evil. It’s wrong to judge a crime an inconvenience that can be overlooked. It’s wrong to reward reprehensible conduct with a minor penalty. And above all, it was wrong to imply that battering a wife is no big deal.

A Failure Both of Judgment and Morality

This is a business as usual problem. Undoubtedly the League got away with this kind of stalling tactic before. But the world has changed. We are moving from a society where beating women is just something people do, often a matter of some humor,  to a society that takes crimes against women seriously. The boy will be boys crap is going out of style.

And there is the added factor of technological change. Increasingly we are under surveillance at all times in all places. You’d think the League would have had enough intelligence to figure out that there was a high probability of another tape. Probably they didn’t care.

The lesson here is plain. Do justice. Be accountable. Of course, the tendency to take the apparent easy out will usually take precedence, human nature being what it is.

James Pilant

Power From Below!

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Power from Below

Power from Below

Power From Below!

From the Guardian Newspaper.

Swaziland’s royal family have long kept their distance from the paparazzi in a way British royals can only dream about. Not any more, thanks to the rise of Swazi Leaks, an online group determined to expose the opulent lifestyle of Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The movement, inspired by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, frequently publishes pictures of King Mswati and his family living the high life. One recent post says: “Our taxes pay for the king’s children to party in Los Angeles in the USA, will we struggle to eat here in Swaziland.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/29/swaziland-king-facebook-exposure-swazi-leaks

The Little People’s Power

What is meant by “power from below?” It is the ability of those with little economic or political power to actively oppose the current order. One way is by publicizing the flaws of the system. That is what is being done in the article quoted above.

As economic and political power has concentrated in the hands of the one percent, this type of activism is becoming more and more important. It may in the end become the only vestige of democracy remaining.

Net Neutrality

One of the arguments for net neutrality is that if there are fast lanes and slow lanes, the non-commercial side of the net, politics in particular, will operate at a handicap. This is a serious problem. It would take a lively, vital and continually developing medium of democracy and neuter it.

Business interests often find democracy to be an obstacle in their path. Communities seem attached to neighborhood schools. Thus school boards can be a problem when privatizing or “incentivizing” public education. Some towns prefer fracking to not take place within the city limits.  And so companies react by lawsuit, massive campaign contributions and from time to time, simply destroying the elected body, in particular school boards.

Is there a business ethics problem here? In the minds of many corporatists, democracy is the problem. Can you imagine their pleasure in a two lane internet? The first lane for the commercial interests at full speed. The interests of corporate business enshrined. The second lane for the public. The interests of the public consigned to a ratty, ill-used dirt road – the very epitome of second rate.

Often, we get the impression that multi-national corporations prefer the the sweet guarantees of totalitarian dictatorships over the democratic societies where they were born and nurtured. And this in spite of the fact, that the dangers of such deals are well documented.

Is it wrong for a corporation to hamstring the will of the people using its massive financial advantages and its many friends in politics, academia and the church? Sometimes, corporations use their power to secure tax money, evade taxes and other responsibilities. Sometimes they take the regulated and convert it to the unregulated (fracking). Sometimes they blackmail cities and states for one benefit or another.

The Jesse James Theory of Citizenship?

The Jesse James Theory of citizenship is when a corporation desires and expects the protections of a nation state while at the same time declining any responsibility toward the welfare of that same nation state.

Corporations are under the fascinating concept that they are in a real sense, independent nations. Currently under American auspices they are seeking treaty making powers. Having nation status without a geographic presence, or a military might sound ridiculous and it is. What is happening is the desire of the modern corporation to exist between nations without any responsibility save for its own interests.

In times to come, there will be attempts to set up corporate utopias on abandoned oil rigs or perhaps even an island. The power of even the smallest criminal gang to annihilate one of these intellectual exercises is not understood by those who have lived in the protection of an organized society. They understand “the real world.” This is, in spite of its name, a bizarre fantasy where they are the tough, realists who understand how everything works. When these overpaid, over-praised denizens of the skyward reaches of organized societies are casually plundered by “unorganized” societies, the rest of us less favored ones will find it difficult to generate sympathy.

We don’t live together in societies to oppress the creative classes as in an Ayn Rand fantasy. We exist in societies, nation states, because they have demonstrated over hundreds of years the ability to protect their citizens and organize economically. The word, parochial, has been used to describe the attitude of those of us who find the willingness of corporations to abandon a nation a demonstration of a lack of patriotism. But we do consider ourselves Americans, Canadians, Frenchmen, etc. It is a rabid and selfish form of self interest that pushes for this kind of corporate abandonment of national and ethical responsibilities.

Self-interest is not the key to utopia. In morals and ethics the distance between self interest and raw evil is only a matter of scale.

James Pilant

 

A Comment from “Why We Are Screwed”

(The original post being commented on is at http://pilantsbusinessethics.com/2014/08/28/business-ethics-women/)

Why We Are Screwed

Why We Are Screwed

Hi James,

It’s your friend over at “Why We Are Screwed” again.

I wanted to reply to your posts, “Women Scared of the Big Issues?” and “Business Ethics and Women”. Thank you for posting them. I wanted to share a few personal experiences with you and your readers.

I spent the last number of years working in an area of science/engineering consulting. Most recently, I had to deal with harassment, wherein I was the unfortunate recipient of an inappropriate sexual remark made by a male coworker, who was attempting to mock and disrespect me. I subsequently left this position because of this and many other reasons; either way, I did not want to continue working in that type of environment and I’ve now been unemployed for many months.

Although overt harassment, toxic workplaces, etc. are issues that affect women, (and not just women of course), the less overt male behavior I observed was probably more disappointing because it was more prevalent yet more difficult to identify since it was just under the surface of the company culture, e.g. a bunch of isolated occurrences/behavioral observations. Let me elaborate.

One manager I worked with always talked about sports with the guys around the office common areas, but never engaged with women in the same way because he just didn’t know how. When the annual company golf tournament approached, this manager made sure to “stack” his team with the best male golfers so he would have a shot at winning, which was obviously much more important to him than encouraging teamwork or just having fun. During one golf tournament I attended, this manager made a comment in front of me at a table of mostly men that he was “able to play 27 holes of golf” and something to the effect of, “women could only do 18 holes or less because they’d be too tired to do more than that”. I’m quite sure he was trying to show off in front of his buddies by blurting out his completely irrelevant comment, and was probably attempting to get a dig in at me because he was upset that I was no longer working in his office. I was the only one to speak up (none of the men at the table would bother, I mean, it didn’t affect them, right?), but none of the women said anything either. I replied sarcastically, “Oh, is that it? Women just can’t do it?”. After I made this comment, there was total silence at the table.

This same manager actually asked a female colleague if she was pregnant during an annual performance review. One could hardly think he was effective at his job, and yet, no one would bother to do anything about it, because well, the business was making money, he’d just been with the company for a long time, and, the company was run by men.

I’ve watched women have children and later leave their jobs, or, after being overlooked for promotion, elect to work part time after having children. There is nothing wrong with this option of course, but is working part time a free choice a woman makes, or is it the result of a workplace refusing to accommodate parental needs? It was absolutely true that some managers thought that it was not possible to promote any woman who was aged 25-40ish, if married and childless, into a management role, since she might potentially have a baby (I emphasize the word potentially, not even pregnant). The problem was, no one thought to ask these women whether they would want to consider taking on more responsibility.

On a positive note, I’ve noticed Generation X/Y and onward males often have a better attitude towards women in the workplace, and thus I hope that the culture will slowly change for the better.

And by the way, since I worked mostly with men, I wore pants to work, but I made sure to speak my mind. It was already challenging enough being a woman in the workplace, let alone reminding other men I was a woman by looking more like one. When in Rome…

(From James Pilant – Pilant’s Business Ethics: “Why We Are Screwed” is one of my favorite web sites to visit and it features a wise and witty author. Please visit it often.)

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