Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Author: James Pilant (Page 3 of 204)

Industrial Policy Edition

The Industrial Policy Edition

I was reading an article in Internet Magazine, The Week, by Jeff Spross (one of my very favorite writers),  entitled “Donald Trump is already picking winners and losers in business. Good,” when I realized I had found a very pointed comment regarding business ethics.i_00i_281_tn

You see we live in the age of the Chicago School of Economics, a school the school itself would argue is devoted to free men, free choice and the free market. And I would argue is devoted to the destruction of every human value not directly priceable in dollars.

One of their beliefs is that if a company wants to move American jobs overseas, that is just ducky, more power to them. Spross argues in favor of industrial policy, (the same position I take and here is a brief selection from his article directly on this point. –

First off, politics is still politics. So industrial policy still happens, but just on a “pork barrel” basis, changing from industry to industry and locality to locality. Mainstream economic skepticism didn’t kill off industrial policy, it just made it scattershot and incoherent.

It also made industrial policy far more pro-corporate. The U.S. government could use the sticks of higher taxes, tariffs, and regulation, or even the brute force of its own spending power to build up certain industries. But mainstream economics pooh-poohs this approach. So instead industrial policy defaults to carrots: tax breaks and de-regulation that entice businesses to put jobs and investments in certain places. That drives up inequality, makes it harder to pay for social programs, and gives those businesses more freedom to exploit the public. This practice is especially rife at the state level, where governments routinely offer tax breaks and such for companies to relocate within their own borders.

But mainly, skepticism of industrial policy created a world where many Americans feel like the government’s attitude toward their lives, families, and towns is benign neglect. And of course, once we abandoned industrial policy, GDP growth still slowed down, wages stagnated, unemployment became a much bigger problem, and small towns and the countryside began to die economically.

All of which is a big part of why Trump won.

For the last thirty years business and industry have united to move jobs overseas justified by an economic school of belief which thinks it has moved beyond such petty ideas as those of good and evil. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, communities have become impoverished and the resultant concentration of economic power in the hand of the few has perverted our government.

This is evil.

We have a responsibility under Western Civilization, as fellow citizens and human beings to look after one another. We are not atoms bouncing about and only free when self interested. Life has responsibilities beyond economic predatorship.

Please think about these things. The idea that everything has its price is an easy mode of analysis that seems to make sense but do I even need to explain that subtlety, nuance, morality and ethics have their place as well?

James Pilant

The Universal Basic Income Edition

The Universal Basic Income Edition

i_286My good friend, Jason Michael McCann, has taken on this difficult topic and says this on his blog, The Random Public Journal

A Universal Basic Income is in the pipeline for a trial in Fife. People, regardless of how much they earn, will get an annual basic sum in cash to spend as they please. Experiments over the past forty years have shown that it works. Lucky Fife.

We’re all getting poorer. As it is the economy pretty much everywhere is structured in a way that benefits a tiny minority of the global population, leaving the rest of us to work for a living with stagnant wages in an environment where the cost of living is rising. What was once the dream of science fiction is increasingly becoming reality; smart technology is doing more of the jobs we used to do, giving people free time they can ill afford. Employers are selling the idea that flexi-time and zero-hours contracts suit workers better because these arrangements give us the free time we have always wanted, but there’s a catch – we have less money to spend.

Governments don’t want to broadcast the fact that the majority of people receiving state benefits are the underemployed and the underpaid – the working poor. This trend towards weaker employment contracts, fewer hours, de-unionisation, and lower pay has been developing for a few decades, and right now, all around the developed world, we are reaching crisis point. Here in Scotland this shift in the economy has put an unbearable weight on the welfare system. It is exactly the same story in England and Wales, and the Westminster government knows that it can’t go on blaming the victims for much longer. We have cottoned on to the massive wealth transfer from the bottom to the top, and we’re not going to let them off with it for much longer. Something has to give.

Now, of course, there is more from Jason but I don’t want to spoil your surprise and delight when you visit his web site for the rest.

What does this have to do with business ethics? Unfortunately what is ethical depends in part on circumstances. What is fair pay? What is a fair return for labor? If we are entering a time in which labor is almost valueless and our economy is job based, how are people to make a living and how is economy supposed to function? Is this a solution?

I don’t know. What I have seen is interesting and something along these lines may become necessary. It is obvious to me although not to too many others that modern capitalism is in crisis and perhaps even close to collapse or, more likely, reconceptualization. (Did I just invent a word??) Again, it is obvious to me that free market fundamentalism is based on flawed and nonsensical assumptions. So, reality is busily destroying the modern assumptions of globalization and international elites, and currently there is nothing to replace the current set of beliefs.

James Pilant

The Exploding Washer Edition

The Exploding Washer Edition

Let’s say you make a product, a relatively small item that explodes with such force that airlines are forced to ban them. Of course, this is hypothetical, because, I mean, only a Bond Villain would manufacture millions of exploding for an unsuspecting population, right?

Anyway, our utterly hypothetical company also makes washing machines! Isn’t that cool and they share a common characteristic with the aforementioned hypothetical cell phones – they sometimes explode. So, exploding washers and exploding cell phones – all from the same manufacturer.

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The Exploding Washer Edition

From BBC news

The firm also faces a suit from a US law firm which alleges that some of its “top-loading washing machines explode in owners’ homes,” leading to potential injury or damage, according to attorney Jason Lichtman.

“Users have reported Samsung top-load washers exploding as early as the day of installation, while other owners have seen their machines explode months or even more than a year after purchase,” the firm said in a statement.

It’s nice to know that if you are going to make mistakes, you might as well make a lot of them and endanger as many consumers as possible.

What’s the business ethics here? Well, most product problems revolve around issues of not working and not being a good value for the money. This is a taking a product defect to the next level, active danger – that is, they explode. I wondered why they didn’t pick this up in testing but discovered that according to Samsung, the real culprit is outside heat. And I understand totally, the idea that people would use cell phones where is was hot was totally unexpected. Obviously people who live near the equator, in tropical countries or in temperate locales experiencing heat waves should know better than to use electronics. For goodness sakes, if you live where it’s hot, get a land line or talk to people face to face.

And obviously, no cell phone is ever kept in a pocket or hot car. So, it’s all the consumer’s fault, just like the washing machines. You see as long as you don’t wash anything heavy in the washing machines, they’re fine but run a comforter or some other heavy object, and they can overheat and malfunction, sometimes exploding. So, Samsung has nothing to worry about and those tiny fragments of shrapnel are probably figments of your imagination.

Good Luck!!

James Pilant

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The Judge Robin Camp Edition

The Judge Robin Camp Edition

Is what Judge Robin Camp did forgivable?

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The Judge Robin Camp Edition

Business ethics suffers by comparison with judicial ethics. Judicial ethics has actual legally enforceable rules. Business ethics floats in a sea of belief systems where morality may or may not exist and the laws are often ignored.

That doesn’t mean that judges don’t make ethical mistakes. It just means that we have a much better idea of when a violation takes place and the significance of that violation.

Should we incorporate a code of business ethics into the law? The “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” are in a way a standard of business ethics applicable from the law but the interpretation and application of this standard vary widely in how binding these standards are.

Today, we deal with an alleged ethics violation by a Judge Robin Cook and it is from the Canadian judiciary rather than the American. Nevertheless, it is very relevant because the mistakes he made has been heard in American courts as well.

Sex and Pain sometimes go together?

From MACLEANS

In June 2014, Camp took on the second sexual assault trial of his career, that of Alexander Scott Wagar, a homeless man accused of sexually assaulting a homeless 19-year-old Cree woman at a party, atop a washroom sink. When interrogating the complainant, Camp asked, “Why didn’t you just keep your knees together?” and “Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?” Elsewhere in the trial, he remarked that “sex and pain sometimes go together… not necessarily a bad thing.” He appeared to question Canada’s rape laws, and he urged the accused male to tell his friends they have to be “more gentle” and patient with women, to “protect themselves.”

After Camp acquitted Wagar, the Alberta Court of Appeal last fall ordered a retrial, writing that the judge’s decision suggests he misunderstood aspects of sexual assault law and bought into discredited sexual stereotypes and myths. He’s not the first judge to provoke outrage once his conduct was revealed. But in the world of judicial tenure and near-untouchability, he’s the first federally appointed judge whose mishandling of a sexual assault trial has placed his job on the line.

Amid Camp’s time-out from Federal Court hearings, he received personal mentoring and counselling from a leading judge, a feminist law professor and a psychologist expert in gender biases and the judiciary. All three women testified Camp earnestly strived to root out his unconscious biases and become self-vigilant. “I wish every judge could have an education as good as that, and I wish they could make it before they make a mistake like the one that Justice Camp made,” says Emma Cunliffe, a University of British Columbia law professor.

What is the significance of all this?

Whether or not he will be removed has not yet been decided but this is an important development. The fact that he is in danger of removal for remarks that would not have been considered out of the ordinary a generation ago is significant. Change in our views of rape as a crime have been happening with some rapidity over the past twenty years and I think for the better. In my mind, rape is a criminal violation not something women invite.

I’ve written many times that business ethics are a sub-set of a society’s larger ethics and if I am right in this, an improvement in our understanding of crime and women’s rights are both changes in the larger ethics environment that will have visible reflections in business ethics in time.

Change is not always positive. Nor can it be guaranteed that changes will remain in place. The struggle for morality and ethics is constant and never-ending. There are no permanent victories.

This is a small step in the right direction.

James Pilant

The Emily Yoffe Edition

The Emily Yoffe Edition

i_00i_248_tnWhat’s good business ethics? There are a lot of ways to talk about business ethics but let’s simplify. When you buy something, take it home and it works perfectly right out of the box, you are experiencing a form of good business ethics. Unfortunately not all products come in neat boxes or can be unpackaged in a physical way.

Such is writing. We absorb a lot of writing every day. I read at least two hours every day and on most days a lot more.

This morning there was a lot of amazing things on the web. I spent close to thirty minutes reading about the Guardian’s expose on the John Doe investigation in Wisconsin. And there was a lot more. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume and power of the business ethics issues presented today.

And then I came across an article in the online magazine, Slate, “The Woman Who Taught Me Prudence.” 

Here’s a paragraph –

There’s another thing, too. As we were becoming friends, I had just become a mother and was still trying to figure out how to put that together with the vagaries of freelance journalism. One of Marjorie’s great subjects was the intersection for women of family and work—she was writing brilliantly about the dilemma I felt I was figuring out badly. One day, stuck at the veterinarian’s office trying to corral my miscreant beagle and my 3-year-old daughter, a Washington talk show appeared on the waiting-room TV, and there was Marjorie. She looked glamorous and was dropping bon mots, and I felt the sharp sting of jealousy. I hated myself for it, especially since I knew that Marjorie’s success was earned. How well I knew this was demonstrated by the fact that before I undertook any writing of my own, I would read something by Marjorie. Not to copy her voice, but to help me find my own, to be inspired by her tart precision.

This is good writing, very good. Follow my advice and go read the whole thing.

So today, instead of or in addition too, writing about various horrors perpetrated on the American people and this is important. I’m going to let it take a back seat to writing about the glory and wonder of doing it right.

Emily Yoffe wrote well today.

James Pilant

The Epic Failure Edition

The Epic Failure Edition

I am referring, of course, to Wells Fargo.

hmlbr17Today we begin with a business ethics post from the blog, Lead Today. If you readyesterday’s post, you will note that both Mr. Keating and I are on the same page on this issue. Of course, as one business ethics blogger has complained, I’m shrill. Perhaps Mr. Keating my be considered more measured in his approach. In any case I was delighted with his take on the Wells Fargo Ethics disaster and I’ve included the first four paragraphs from it. However, you really must go and read the whole thing. And please like it and rate it, etc. Give the guy some attention for a fine piece of writing and a willingness to talk ethics in a business climate where people give you knowing smirks while occasionally rolling their eyes when you say words like morality or accountability. 

There is then a post about the loss of black teachers followed by some excellent writing from Eslkevin’s Blog. Next, a writer ridicules mainstream economics, a sentiment I very much share. There is a quick link to a clever post from “Hello Kitty, Some Blog,” a site I visit often. 

And we close with a remarkable business ethics disaster, the F-35A. Did I say remarkable? Really I’m thinking “legendary.” It’s going to make the Sgt. York Air Defense system, the M-16 and the F-111 into minor footnotes in the Pentagon’s long history of financial and military disasters. 

James Pilant

As usual, Please LIKE, Please Share and please subscribe.

 

This is Steve Keating writing in the blog, Lead Today

i_00i_145_tnWe have been presented with two options to choose from. Either the executive team at Wells Fargo is as corrupt as an executive team can be or they are the dumbest group of people ever to run any organization. 

5300 Wells Fargo employees were terminated last week for creating millions of fraudulent accounts to meet what has been described as nearly unbearable pressure and demands to add new customer accounts. Progress at some branches was reviewed as many as 4 times a day. The pressure was relentless. 

Nothing, not morales, not ethics, not even those little things called laws could slow down the relentless push to meet the Wells Fargo corporate initiative known as “Gr-eight Initiative.” Wells Fargo has a goal that every customer should have eight separate accounts with the bank.

Apparently goals are more important than anything at Wells Fargo. In order to meet the goals of the initiative employees opened new accounts for current customers without the customer’s approval or knowledge. This required forging signatures, creating fake email accounts, and moving customer’s money between these accounts without their knowledge, sometimes causing a customer’s real account to go into the red.

….

The loss of black teachers

i_00i_258_tnRizga focuses on the story of one teacher, Darlene Lomax. But the story she tells is about the widespread shedding of black teachers, women and men who were the backbones of their communities. In Philadelphia, almost 20% of black teachers are gone; in New Orleans, 62%; in Chicago, 40%; in Cleveland, 34%. School closings have been concentrated in historically black communities. Black teachers have been disproportionately displaced by “reform.”

There’s still hope according to Eslkevin’s Blog! (I think so, too. jp)

(This is really a good piece of writing – this is another one you really should go to the original blog and read the whole thing while browsing all the other writing there. jp) 

i_00i_286_tnI say all this because, as a journalist in this crazy year of our lord 2016, on a good day the temptation is to tilt toward cynicism. It’s our job to rake the muck and expose the trolls, to cast light on the wrongdoing and the failings in our society, but it’s up to others to set them right. Today, at this site, Bill Moyers writes about the greatest failing, the true disaster, of our time: the scourge of growing inequality, economic and political. He describes it as “a despicable blot on American politics,” as the very wealthy convert their financial might into political power to guard that wealth while exacerbating inequality further. The statistics Moyers deploys are chilling. Consume enough of them and you’re liable to feel a bit gloomy. But like those undergraduates, Moyers (very distinctly a post-graduate of our difficult political world) holds onto the hope, as today’s piece suggests, that Americans can still fix our world, make it a better place.

Paul Krugman Wrong

i_00i_281_tnThe only economic analysis that Krugman and other mainstream economists accept is the one that takes place within the analytic-formalistic modeling strategy that makes up the core of mainstream economics. All models and theories that do not live up to the precepts of the mainstream methodological canon are pruned. You’re free to take your models — not using (mathematical) models at all is, as made clear by Krugman’s comment on King, totally unthinkable —  and apply them to whatever you want – as long as you do it within the mainstream approach and its modeling strategy. If you do not follow this particular mathematical-deductive analytical formalism you’re not even considered doing economics. ‘If it isn’t modeled, it isn’t economics.’

That isn’t pluralism.

That’s a methodological reductionist straightjacket.

 

British fat cat gets average annual wage in 45 minutes

New American Fighter may need to be rescued by older fighters should it enter combat. 

The 16-page memo,first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Below is the memo referred to above. Frankly, this is an upper class version of a lower class male frothing at the mouth administering a obscenity laden diatribe that would make an old sailor blush. This is a rain dance of hatred written in officialese. 

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Better than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?

 

 

Let me utterly simplify its conclusions – The plane is not as good as current serving aircraft. 

That’s an incredible statement particularly when discussing 400 billion dollars worth of plane. jp

(The document shows perfectly in tests but it looks like it doesn’t always appear when the site is accessed – my apologies. jp)

Five Business Ethics Predictions for 2017

Five Business Ethics Predictions for 2017

What is going to happen in 2017? I have some hopefully educated guesses which I will share. So, here is my five guesses for what will happen in the new year.

  1. Many more heads are going to roll at Fox News

!!!50053mThus far, the Murdochs have tried a middling approach to the aftermath of Roger Ailes, replacing some of the more objectionable of Ailes allies while retaining many others.

It isn’t going to work. The leadership that allowed the business ethics disaster at the network is still dominated by many of the same people. Geraldo Rivera implied in his latest Facebook post that the network still had work to do while Greta Van Susteren was emphatic that there was a failure in leadership.

It is quite likely that that the coming shakeup will not take place until after the election  but it has to happen sooner or later.

And don’t get confused, the sexual harassment charges may have started this thing but what’s driving it now is the use of corporate funds for settlements and black ops not to mention an apparently highly aggressive surveillance of employees across the corporation that is driving the need for action.

2. Corey Lewandowski and CNN will part ways

!!!i_00i_055_tnThis business ethics disaster is one for the textbooks. It will be studied in later textbooks as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong with both the hiring and employment process.

A quick recap for those who don’t follow the news cycle – Lewandowski was signed as a commentator by CNN in spite of the fact that he had just been bounced as Trump’s campaign manger and has a still active non-disclosure and basically a no criticism clause in his contract with Trump. Since his hiring, he has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the candidate almost to the point of comedy.

Will they can him after the election or before? After. The network is far too devoted to making Donald Trump and his supporter happy in the pursuit of its demi-god, ratings, than to take any risks.

3. Criminal charges will be filed against some of Volkswagen American executives

Twenty Minutes of Action

Since the feds managed to roll one of Volkswagen’s employees, we can expect some of his fellows to grab a deal while they can while the others form a defensive circle of deniability. But these are big, big fish. This is a multi-year, multi-billion dollar fraud against all Americans but not just that, they tricked several federal agencies and made the them look like incompetent fools. Steal from people, kill people, okay – just another day at the office. But make the feds look silly and blood must flow.

Of course, Barack Obama, the consummate corporatist may yet overrule his angry prosecutorial warriors but his term is about up and he has many fights on his hands. We’ll see.

4. Wells Fargo will fire or allow some top executives to resign

g099Oh come on, did you really think any intelligent person buys the idea that thousands of low level employees concocted an enormous conspiracy to create false accounts for thousands of unsuspecting customer for more than five years? All by their little selves? Not a chance.

Someone upstairs at Wells Fargo decided to impose clearly impossible goals on the employees and still yet, even in the world of the American corporation, the word, accountability still gets said. It is said timidly, perhaps only whispered but it is still a presence.

The monumental stupidity of the harshly imposed goal system is going to claim some actual villains – probably before the end of the year. Watch for the executives resigning to “spend more time with their families.”

5. The Dakota Access Pipeline will be permanently cancelled

i_296Three federal agencies turned a big thumbs down on the damn thing before it even started. Only the Army Corps of Engineers got the thing going and how do they look now?

Their esteemed corporate pipeline company proceeded to turn a probably manageable public relations situation into repeated disasters. Of course, I suspect that in North Dakota stepping on the Native Americans and extolling the virtues of pipelines is normal for both government and industry, so unleashing the dogs on protesters and charging a presidential candidate with defacing a dozer blade with spray paint made good local sense. But to the rest of us, well – Hicksville on the plains.

The Army Corp of Engineers now knows that the company they went to bat for, can’t manage its way out of a wet paper bag. I have to admit the vision of bulldozers sent out like commandos on a strike mission to destroy Native American burial sites before the state and feds knew what was going on – looks just like a plot from a Billy Jack movie.

Here’s Billy Jack dispensing justice:

 

Where’s Tom Laughlin when you need him?

So, that’s my five.

Please Like, Subscribe and Share AND if possible – tell me what I missed. Do you know of some looming business ethics tragedy? I want to know.

James Pilant

The Secret Eyes Everywhere Edition

The Secret Eyes Everywhere Edition

Business Ethics Blog Posts 9-10-2016

We start with a post from “Secret Eyes Everywhere” about what you should do if you think Wells Fargo embroiled you in its system of forced enrollment for bank  accounts, credit cards, etc. It’s very good advice. Lynn Stout takes on the banking idea of virtue and demolishes it – very nice work. David Yamada in his blog, Minding the Workplace gets reflective on us. “Hello Kitty, Some Blog” has some more on induced earthquakes and we have two good posts from the blog, “The Net Economy.” Last we have a post from “A Philosopher’s Blog,” a site I talked about at length about a week ago. 

Best Wishes!!

Please Share, Subscribe and Like — Not just me, but these people are my colleagues and in my mind I see them as soldiers in the good fight and we need as many good hearted souls as we can get in these difficult times. Show some support!

James Pilant

i_00i_216_tnFrom Secret Eyes Everywhere, Your Customer Service Advocate

Get all of your accounts listed

According to The Los Angeles Times,  the bank has 90 days to provide federal regulators with a plan to compensate all its customers. Go into a branch or call the customer service line and get a full list of all your accounts in your name. Should you close any or all accounts, be sure to get a receipt showing the account was closed. If there is something on them you don’t understand, be sure to raise hell about it to get it resolved. If a refund of fees is not given, do the next step.

Seek legal assistance (please go to the web site and read the rest! If I include all the good parts I’ll be posting the whole thing instead of an excerpt. jp) 

Lynn Stout writing for The Net Economy

i_00i_010_tn(If you read anything today, go to the link and read this. jp) 

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously told a reporter that bankers are “doing God’s work.”

This is, of course, an important part of the Wall Street mantra: it’s standard operating procedure for bank executives to frequently and loudly proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive.

There’s just one problem: the Wall Street mantra isn’t true.

From Minding the Workplace and the invaluable David Yamada! 

i_00i_070_tnOn this Saturday morning, I’m enjoying some reflective moments that midlife sometimes invites — or requires. And although I don’t have the means to do a demographic survey of this blog’s readership, my best intelligent guess is that a good chunk of you have crossed the 40 year mark. I thought I’d collect a group of previous posts that enable some of that healthy reflection, especially for those who identify as being in midlife, but also hopefully useful to anyone who wants to live meaningfully. In these posts you’ll find some of my own commentary, as well as recommendations of books and articles for further inquiry. (He has a wonderful list – please follow the link to see. jp)

From Hello Kitty, Some Blog

From one of my very favorite blogs, Warrior Publications! 

Mounted Lakota warriors, their horses resplendent in traditional regalia, charge a line of law enforcement. They gallop headlong, push back the police, pull up only at the last moment, and then circle back for more.

The scene could be the Battle of the Little Bighorn, circa 1876. But it’s not. Here, along the banks of the Missouri River, just beyond the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, indigenous land and water defenders are standing together to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens their land, water, ancestral burial grounds, and future generations. They are part of a decades-long struggle to assert and reclaim indigenous lands, jurisdictions, and sovereignties. And they are doing so on ground that has given rise to indigenous resistance for centuries.

For the average American, it’s easy to mistake the resistance at Standing Rock for a one-time re-run: indigenous warriors emerge from the wild, put up a brief, fierce, but ultimately tragic fight before succumbing to progress and providence. Cowboys and Indians II: Pipeline edition.

From the web site, The Net Economy.

!!!i_00i_142_tnIn a post-scarcity society, everyone would be guaranteed an income that yielded a standard of living significantly better than poverty, and this guarantee would be unconditional. The move from a near-poverty benefit subject to eligibility conditions to a livable, guaranteed minimum income would require both an increase in productivity, such that a smaller number of workers could produce an adequate income for all, and some fairly radical changes in social attitudes.

It seems clear enough that technological progress can generate the necessary productivity gains, so what is needed most is a change in attitudes to work that would make a guaranteed minimum income socially sustainable.

And another post from The Net Economy

!!!i_00i_055_tnYet, ordinary people have not accepted this self-evident, ‘common sense’ knowledge shared by trade experts. They have not only challenged trade expertise by mobilizing counter-expertise (for instance, economic analyses that refute the Commission’s numbers), but they have also mobilized many people in order to make their epistemic claim more vociferously: what the trade experts hold true iswrong, false knowledge. The quarter of a million protesting in Berlin had posited: No, we do not believe that the world is going to be better off due to the TTIP; each and every family will not be 540 euros per year richer; and, no, we do not think that the regulations coming out of the TTIP bodies are going to respect the environment.

Trade experts are not seen here as neutral arbitrators of public policy but rather as representing a particular stance as to public policy or public interest.

From A Philosopher’s Blog

!!!i_00i_097_tnMy adopted state of Florida was just hit by a category one hurricane; my adopted city of Tallahassee sustained considerable damage. A week after the storm hit, there are still people in the city without power. There are also people who suffered considerable property damage. Fortunately, there seems to be only one death attributed to the storm here.

I was rather lucky; though my power was out from Friday to Monday, my house sustained no damage and I was well-prepared. I also had the good fortune of leaving the city on Sunday morning on an already scheduled program review at St. Francis University. While I normally dislike airports, it was great having access to AC and electricity again. While I waited for my first flight out, I enjoyed the cool air and recharged my laptop.

The Fox News Regrets Edition

The Fox News Regrets Edition

i_050Two who spoke out in behalf of Roger Ailes express regret.

It’s a banner year for business ethics disasters. We have Corey Lewandowski’s hiring at CNN. I haven’t written about it yet because the saga continues to carve out new terrain in ethically challenged comments and decisions. It’s like the Greek Tragedy of Oedipus, you don’t want to write about it until he blinds himself and a lot of people die. I’m waiting for the unfolding disaster’s climax.

We have Wells Fargo’s decision to fire a bunch of low level employees for upper management decision making. After all, it’s the American way to pass the buck from those responsible to those that weren’t. If they wanted job security, the little people should refuse to perform the unethical acts upper management threatens to fire them for.

And then, of course, we have the major media companies giving Donald Trump several billion dollars of free air time because it was good for ratings. Perhaps some modern day William L. Shirer will rise to the journalistic challenge of documenting this business ethics disaster?

But high on the list has to be the lawsuits, the investigation and the firing of Roger Ailes.

015bThe Business Ethics Debacle at Fox News

The revelations of immorality at Fox News are both shocking and seem to be never ending. If the charges are true we are talking about the misuse of funds, corporate espionage and sexual harassment of a particularly long term and degrading kind.

When Gretchen Carlson filed her lawsuit a few weeks ago, several of her fellows at Fox criticized her decision to sue. Among them were Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren.

Both now express regret.

Rivera published on Facebook a statement which includes the following –

The man we knew as the blustering genius who invented our mighty Fox News Channel is a deceitful, selfish misogynist, if the charges against him are true. And if they are true, then his shame and banishment are well earned.

Like virtually all my colleagues at Fox News, I was totally blindsided by his sexual harassment scandal, which is why I responded to Gretchen Carlson’s initial filing of her lawsuit with extreme skepticism. The man she described in her pleadings was unknown even to those of us who thought we knew him well.

And Susteren wrote on her Facebook page  –

I read Geraldo’s FB post in which he said he regretted not believing Gretchen Carlson’s claim of sexual harassment.

We all regret it – I made my regret self evident in my GretaWire posting about 3 weeks ago which ended with this: “Gretchen, you go girl.” That said it all.

Both Rivera and Susteren were critical of Fox management in their Facebook posts although Rivera implied mistakes were made while Susteren directly said that mistakes were made.

From Rivera’s:

50181mManagement’s role is to keep the playing field level, professional and fair. As society evolved from the “Mad Men” era of the 1950-60’s, giant steps have been taken to protect subordinate employees from harassment and unwelcome advances, particularly by superiors. Sure, there is far to go, but as the seismic response to Gretchen and the other purported victims makes clear, the news business will no longer tolerate boorish conduct by anyone, however powerful. Strict policies including sensitivity training are in place. Perpetrators do so at tremendous peril to their careers and families.

To all the victims of sexual harassment, direct and indirect, I am sorry for what happened to you. As the father of three daughters, including one in the news business, I urge all who have been offended to reach out. Similarly, if you see harassment, say harassment, even if the alleged offender is an old friend.

From Susteren’s:

0019mBut I have regrets beyond Geraldo’s and beyond not believing a civil complaint written by lawyers.

I regret that Roger Ailes was not supervised by those in a public corporation who had the duty to supervise him. This included his seniors, the CFO’s of both Fox News Channel and 21CF (and its predecessor NewsCorp), the Board of Directors and what I assume this public corporation had, outside auditors. Checks written that were suspicious should have been spotted.

Is all this sincere? In these kinds of cases, I let time tell me what’s really going on. Usually in six months or a year, you have a pretty good idea who meant what. Of course, that is a belief based on long experience. Often what appears in the news is not what it seems in just a few days. 

But if sincere, these Facebook posting suggest a dramatic decline in Ailes influence on his former colleagues.

James Pilant

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(I don’t think you guys understand the thrill of having people like your work. When I’m looking at other people’s blog and I’m impressed – I make sure and hit the like button so they know. It’s a big deal. There is no money at all in this – approval from our peers keeps us writing. jp) 

The Matt Lauer Catastrophe Edition

The Matt Lauer Catastrophe Edition

A failure of competence or a collapse of journalistic ethics or both?

!!!i_00i_207_tnIt has to be difficult for anyone with any knowledge of journalism to watch the Matt Lauer disaster entitled the “Commander in Chief Forum” without suffering immense pain. 

What did he think he was doing? He had a week to prepare. Did he use any of it? 

Basic journalistic ethics when faced with a “forum” between two candidates would indicate that you should offer both candidates similar treatment. It absolutely doesn’t have to be equal in every way but there should be level of similarity between the two sets of questions so that we have an impression of fairness. We didn’t get that – not even close. 

Why? No one knows. The web and the media are running all kinds of ideas. I’m not very interested. This is a failure of business ethics. We have an election to determine the leader of this nation and one candidate was clobbered for the umpteenth time about the private e-mail scandal to such a length of time that all the rest of the questioning had to be limited in time. The other candidate was given soft balls so soft and pudgy, it was difficult to believe what you were seeing. And when Trump lied about matters of public record, our intrepid interviewer just when on with another soft ball question. 

i_00i_197_tnOne commentator said that she had not believed that Trump could be elected President until she saw this program. 

I fully agree. Clinton was asked difficult questions as if to knock her off balance early on while Trump was simply allowed to hold forth on his ideas even when they didn’t make logical or political sense. 

What NBC news should have done instead of relying on a saccharine morning host was to have found someone in the news division willing to do their homework and demonstrate some journalistic integrity. 

They didn’t and the ethical failure is more theirs than Matt Lauer’s. It’s their business to know who to deploy and they sent their second or third string in. 

And they may have wanted to softball Trump and continue to profit from the ratings he generates while being afraid of provoking the wrath of the often mercurial candidate. 

I don’t know but if this is the kind of interviewing and questioning the candidates are going to get in the debates, who wins is anybody’s guess. Softballing one candidate and being tough on the other serves to level the playing field. 

i_00i_113_tnWe used to have journalists. Where are they now that we need them?

James Pilant

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The New York Times

Like Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has had a few controversies related to the military. You might recall him feuding with a Gold Star family, or mocking Senator John McCain of Arizona for being captured in Vietnam, or likening his prep-school attendance to military experience.

Mr. Lauer evidently didn’t recall any of that. He kicked off by asking Mr. Trump what in his life had prepared him to be president, the kind of whiffle ball job-interview question you ask the boss’s nephew you know you have to hire anyway.

Trevor Noah Rips Matt Lauer for ‘Terrible’ Job on Trump’s ‘Blatant Lies’ The Daily Show 9/8/16 – YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdprE6tQJek

Network Privately Admits Interview was “Disaster”

One executive, speaking anonymously, was blunt about it: “Disaster.”

The day after Lauer’s back-to-back interviews of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, several high ranking sources at the network said they hear the criticism and agree with at least some of it.

Even his internal defenders acknowledge flaws in the forum’s production.

Lauer was widely criticized for failing to fact-check or follow up when Trump falsely claimed that he was opposed to the Iraq war when it started. Some viewers thought Lauer held Clinton to a higher standard than Trump. The Clinton campaign agreed — it blasted off a fund-raising email on Thursday afternoon titled “Matt Lauer.”

But this was not merely partisan warfare. Prominent journalists were sharply critical of NBC. And several people who were sitting in the audience told CNN that they were frustrated too.

 

Authoritarian Farce

Trump played his usual tricks. When he was quizzed about foreign policy, he changed the subject to trade. When he was pressed for solutions, he talked instead about President Obama’s failures. When he was asked about atweet in which he had blamed military sexual assaults on the integration of women, he acted as though he had always believed the problem was insufficient prosecution. He also claimed, contrary to fact—and undisputed by moderator Matt Lauer—that he had been “totally against the war in Iraq.”

Trump said at least two newsworthy things. First, he bragged that Mexico’s finance minister had just been ousted for setting up Trump’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. “The people that arranged the trip to Mexico have been forced out of government,” Trump said. “That’s how well we did. And that’s how well we’re going to have to do.” This boast tells you two things about Trump. It tells you that he measures success by the discord he sows in countries he visits. And it tells you that he likes to humiliate these countries.

Second, Trump claimed that in the classified intelligence briefing he received on Aug. 17, he learned “that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts” had recommended “in almost every instance.” That’s quite a claim, since the briefing was prepared by James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence. The session was classified, so Clapper and his briefers can’t rebut Trump in public. This tells you how Trump would treat classified information as president: He would lie about it for political gain and dare the intelligence community to violate the law by exposing him.

A Waste of Time

The moderator, NBC’s Matt Lauer (who proved himself unready from Moment 1), grilled Hillary Clinton on her emails—entirely appropriate, but then two of the veterans in the audience also grilled her on the emails. (Were the questions screened?) By the time Lauer got around to asking her about the Iran nuclear deal and she started to explain the deal’s context, he interrupted and urged her to make her answer quick. He did that a couple of times.

Lauer put some challenging questions to Donald Trump as well, asking, for instance, what in his experience made him qualified to be commander-in-chief. He replied, “I built a great company, I’ve been all over the world, I’ve dealt with foreign countries. … I have great judgment, I know what’s going on”—saying (and being asked) nothing about his company’s four bankruptcies, the fleecing of vendors, or the fundamental difference between running a business (where there’s a clear profit-loss tally) and running a country (where there are competing views of what the goals should be).

NBC’s Commander In Chief Forum was a failure

There were no questions about Trump’s recently fired campaign manager and hisshady, likely illegal financial ties to a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. There were no questions about Trump’s insane posture on nuclear weapons, or his intention toreinstate torture as official policy of the United States, or his enthusiasm for committing war crimes. Lauer did ask, however, if Trump felt he was “prepared” to be commander-in-chief. Trump, you’ll be shocked to learn, said yes.

 As for Hillary Clinton’s portion of the forum, it wasn’t handled much better, nor was it any more enlightening. There were the requisite questions about Clinton’s email server, which resulted in the Democratic presidential nominee spending several minutes discussing the particulars of email headers used in official government communication. After burning his first few questions on email protocols, Lauer prodded Clinton to respond “as briefly as you can” to a question from a veteran in the audience about her threshold for using military force.
But on Wednesday night, Trump got some help. Clinton and Donald Trump were making dueling appearances in New York in a live forum hosted by NBC’s Matt Lauer to address subjects including national security, veterans’ welfare, and sexual assault in the military. Here, Clinton was called upon once again to defend her emails, her hawkish foreign policy record — and ultimately answer for her femininity.
In the aftermath Lauer has been widely called out for what many saw as an unfair, sexist approach to moderating.

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