Pilant's Business Ethics

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Category: Editorial (Page 1 of 7)

Bye Paul Krugman

Bye Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman was the first web site I read every morning for years. I didn’t read the column so much as his blog which seemed more personal and in depth.

Many, many times, his clever observations on economics delighted me.

i_286All went well for many years, he wrote – I appreciated. But then Bernie Sanders ran for President.

It seemed to me like just another Democratic primary. I’m for Sanders but to Krugman, it appeared as if a horned helmeted barbarian was stomping in his yard, and he took to his column and blog in outrage.

At first, I thought this was a phase that would pass. Somebody would take him aside and say, “Hey Paul, try not to get too excited about this guy, remember there are a lot of people who side with your economic view who are also supporters of his.” But apparently no one did and the columns became more and more – well, just weird. Try this one – My Unicorn Problem or this one, Sanders Over the Edge. I would have appreciated a little neutrality in the race particularly considering that Hilary Clinton and her former President spouse seem to have precious little use for him or his economic views.

I can’t see being a Democrat and being a Clinton supporter as having to be the same thing. I think I can be a more progressive Democrat and back another candidate for the nomination.

So, bye Paul! Enjoyed the columns.

James Pilant

In case, you think I’m alone in my estimates of the Krugman columns – read below-

Paul Krugman, who has turned his New York Times column into a mouthpiece for Clinton talking points, told us (not for the first time) that Sanders and his supporters were ill-informed about how things worked in the real world, and needed to get off his lawn.

Paul Krugman has been waging a one-man war against Bernie Sanders, lobbing bombs and missiles from his perch at the New York Times, in column after blog post after column. It is interesting that has chosen to repeatedly smear Bernie, ad nauseum, rather than try to promote some positive qualities about Hillary Clinton or her record, about which he has said very little. Perhaps it is because for Krugman, who is neither a moderate Republican nor a conservative Democrat, nor a neoconservative militarist on foreign policy, it’s not so easy for him to promote Hillary.

But to argue, as Krugman does, that the Sanders campaign has “lost its ethical moorings” by going after Clinton’s relationship with fossil fuel lobbyist is wrong-headed and misses the entire point of his campaign. Sure, we can quibble about the specific amount of dollars Clinton has accepted from the industry, and perhaps Sanders has exaggerated on this front, but there’s no question money has indeed been exchanged.

And last, from the web site, Beat the Press:

I have tremendous respect for Paul Krugman. I also consider him a friend. For these reasons I am not eager to pick a fight with him, but there is something about his criticisms of Bernie Sanders that really bothered me.

A Second Chance?

A Second Chance?

I looked at the blood pressure machine twice, not quite believing what I was seeing – 200 over 110.

“That’s not good.” I thought to myself.

It was a little after eleven at night. I was about to moisturize my face. When you reach the age of fifty-nine, your face attempts to dry out, locking in a scary expression and probably eventually sliding off your head. It’s just like everything else at this age that seems to be going badly wrong. I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed a clearly visible blood vein under my left eye. “Never saw that before,” I thought. So, I went and searched in the back of a drawer until I found my blood pressure monitor.

200 over 110 – what to do?

I remember thinking. “You’re going to die, James. Maybe not this minute but probably soon, and if you don’t die, you’ll probably have a debilitating stroke, and live the life of a plant. You know, spoon fed lots of jello and rice pudding, if they remember to feed you.”

A Second Chance?

A Second Chance?

I had suspected that fear of death focused the mind but once I was there looking at death from the range of a close acquaintance I knew I was fiercely concentrating and focused.

I spent the next twenty minutes researching on the Internet and developing a plan. The hardest part of that night wasn’t studying and planning, it was trying to go to sleep. I kept thinking that I might not wake up.

The next day, I purged salt from my diet discarding a variety of canned and frozen foods. I went to the store and bought fruits and veggies. I decided red meat had to go but fish would probably be okay.

It was at the store I found evidence that God had a deep and abiding fondness for me. I had been looking for a reclining exercycle for months, and had repeatedly refused to buy one at full price. And yet, here I was ready and determined to buy one at full price and the store had a dinged one for half off, which I immediately purchased, hauled home and assembled.

While at the store, I tried out their blood pressure machine to see if I could get a different result. It declined to give me blood pressure numbers, merely putting up a message that I should get to a hospital immediately. “I already know that.” I observed to myself.

Since then, it has been a struggle. On the positive side, eating fruit everyday has been nice although grapes are just way too expensive. On the negative side, food choices are a little bland and I crave salt particularly in the form of potato chips. I can’t figure out what to eat guacamole with, if not chips? I put the exercycle next to the computer and move it into viewing position, watch a nice you-tube video (usually a history documentary) for about twenty or twenty-five minutes at a time.

I didn’t re-check my blood pressure for the first week and the next check showed a drop of about twenty points. After that, I splurged and bought a little wrist blood pressure monitor. I test my blood pressure like I’m supposed to, after ten minutes of sitting quietly but after a while I became curious and starting testing it after exercise and meals, in the morning, at night, etc. I wanted to see how much it varied and why. It became readily apparent that the most important factor in whether it was high or not was my salt intake.

So, currently I’m getting readings at my usual time and after proper rest of about 140 over 90. That’s not great but it is more in the yellow zone of taking care of yourself and less of the “my head is about to explode” zone.

So, is this a second chance? – a new lease on life? I don’t know. I know it changed my behavior. I look, feel and live a lot harder, a lot more intensely, and that remains. Sometimes when I walk out a door, I pause and just look at the sky and the trees and the people. I let the wind blow my hair and feel the warmth. I marvel at my students who seem half asleep and walk the halls like zombie extras but then I wander down to the mall and see their elders are even deader, consumers studying the products, eyeing the next bargain ignoring any and all human interaction.

I’m blunter, more friendly and probably a much more engaging lecturer than I have ever been before. I listen a lot better because I want to know what other people are saying and thinking because I’m curious why they keep going on living when I have doubts that I should or can.

One theory has been advanced. My Tuesday-Thursday Business Law class claims that I was preserved among the living so that I could give them all A’s. I told them that should a celestial choir awaken me from sleep to tell me of me of my grand purpose, it was highly unlikely that giving them all A’s would be the name of the tune.

I think that maybe I should go back to where I began in Northeastern Oklahoma and remember what my beginnings were, try out the old trails once again. Maybe that is my purpose, but even if it is not, it is still a path with heart, and that sounds pretty good right now.

James Pilant

Are Shifting Cultural Values Creating an Entitlement Society? (A Guest Column From the Ethics Sage!)

Are Shifting Cultural Values Creating an Entitlement Society?

(This is a guest column by Steven Mintz, the Ethics Sage. I am proud to have one of his columns appear on my site. I strongly recommend you visit his site (listed below), favorite it and visit regularly. jp)

We often hear that an entitlement society has developed in the U.S. over a number of years. In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that one is deserving of some particular reward or benefit—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a “sense of entitlement”).

Philosophically, entitlement theory comes from the Theory of Justice. John Rawls argued that the state should have whatever powers are necessary to ensure that those citizens who are least well-off are as well-off as they can be(though these powers must be consistent with a variety of basic rights and freedoms). This viewpoint is derived from Rawls’s theory, one principle of which is that an unequal distribution of wealth and income is acceptable only if those at the bottom are better off than they would be under any other distribution. Hence we have the viewpoint to tax the rich and transfer resources to the least well off amongst us. This view of Justice Theory would justify the reallocation of resources in society.

The issue I deal with here is what is behind the entitlement mentality. I am not saying some people do not want to work and feel entitled to benefits from the government out of a sense of justice. Rather, I believe the entitlement notion stems from a shift in cultural values brought on, in part, by what we see on television and in social media. People with wealth flaunt it. TV shows glorify it. Social media exacerbates the feeling of jealousy for those without it. It’s in our face all the time from the housewives of wherever to the grossly over-the-top CNBC program The Secrets of the Super Rich.

What is the average person expected to think when they see such a television program that glorifies over-the-top wealth? Last Wednesday one segment featured a $200 million-plus ridiculously lavish yacht. The reality is that if that amount was split between 5,000 people it could clothe, house and feed them at the rate of $40,000 per year.

The entitlement mentality also comes from the way in which many Millennials were brought up and given just about anything and everything they wanted. Moreover, today we are debating whether children should be rewarded not for winning a competition but for just competing, even if they come in last. They are entitled to be recognized for their effort. But, is that how the real world works? Do you think in China and other Asian countries youngsters are rewarded for finishing behind the pack or last? I doubt it.

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

Students on college campuses feel entitled to voice their views in a way that shuts other voices down. The administration of many such colleges give in for fear of alienating one person or one group without thinking about the rights of others.

So, the key becomes how to define “entitlement.” In this regard we can turn to the theory of “moral rights.” Rights theory provides that human beings have certain fundamental rights that should be respected in all decisions: the right to free consent, privacy, freedom of conscience, free speech, and due process. A right is a capacity, a possession, or condition of existence that entitles either an individual or a group to enjoy some object or state of being. For example, the right to free speech is a condition of existence that entitles one to express one’s thoughts as one chooses.

The moral force of a right depends on its strength in relation to other moral considerations applicable to the context in question. According to rights theory, as long as the distribution of wealth in society is achieved through fair acquisition and exchange, the distribution is a just one regardless of any degree of inequalities that may ensue. The morally correct action is the one that a person has the moral right to do, that does not infringe on the moral rights of others, and that furthers the moral rights of others.

So, in my view entitlement is linked to having a fair and equitable opportunity to reach one’s God-given potential within the free exercise of one’s will. The goal is best achieved through persistence and practice. As the ancient Greeks knew, we develop good habits and ultimately success by applying them in a variety of situations.

Especially in a capitalist society, people must be free to develop their God-given talents without interference from the government. All well and good but does this occur by giving those who may not have earned it a reward or other form of recognition? No, but it does, in fact, occur because of our social-media conscious society which reflects a shift in cultural values.

All too many act in a way to achieve their fifteen minutes of fame whether it is a You Tube posting or other form of social media exhibitionism. We want what we want and no one should get in our way less they violate our rights. Unfortunately, the pursuit of wealth and fame take over and shove hard work and responsibility into the background. This is a narcissistic approach to life and one that leads to the entitlement mentality. I believe it is dangerous and threatens the values we have long aspired to such as to act with integrity and develop a strong work ethic.

Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage. Professor Mintz is on the faculty of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He blogs at: http://www.ethicssage.com.

Progression of Women by Casey Dye

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Progression of Women

Progression of Women

(This is a guest column by Casey Dye, a colleague.)

Women, since the 19th century, have seen a dramatic increase in the quality of life in most parts of the world. Oppression of women in the form of equality began to subside as women continued to prove they were not inferior to men on an intellectual standpoint. Women were once looked at as property, then as females who couldn’t own any property, to being able to own their own property and have the ability to have their voice heard. The culture of domesticity has faded from today’s society almost entirely, and leaving women to venture after their dreams. Many of these dreams included the furthering of the power of the women’s voice whether it be a movement to end the drunkenness of the American man (Prohibition), or the ability to vote. With the right to vote came the possibilities of a woman being able to divorce their drunk abusive husbands and save their children. From here women began to take control of their lives from who they married, to where they worked, to what they wore. Fashions began to change to create more sensible attire for women in the work force. More than fifty years after the American government freed the slaves they gave women the right to vote showing this was no easy task, but with this new freedom women are now able to enter the public sphere for the first time. This continued to chip away at the idea the women belonged in the home. Social reform through freedom of press and speech for women, along with the increase in capitalism, gave them the opportunity to prove their equality rather than just preach it. Now women hold leader positions in fortune five hundred companies and in those circumstances are getting paid better than most men.

To say women’s fight for equality is over is far from the truth, but for as far as they’ve come they have just steps to go in hopes for true equality. I for one believe in this movement whole heartedly. My mother is a strong independent woman who raised me with respect for women. With this message being passed along we might see true equality in our lifetime.

The Minutia of Record Keeping?

THE MINUTIA OF RECORD KEEPING? 

This snippet below is from the Guardian –

In a conversation with NBC journalist Chuck Todd on a range of criminal justice issues, Lynch said on Thursday that she does not support a federal mandate to report people killed by police.

“One of the things we are focusing on at the Department of Justice is not trying to reach down from Washington and dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of record keeping, but we are stressing to them that these records must be kept,” she said at the Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute.

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The Minutia of Record Keeping?

Here’s what I think.

Whether or not a police department kills someone is not a part of the “minutia of record keeping.” 

If we as a people acting through the federal government cannot demand that law enforcement agencies tell us when they kill people, what powers do we have? Are we somehow getting into their “business” when we ask law enforcement to tell us about the minutia of record keeping concerning police shootings?

The only good source for shootings by law enforcement in the United States is the Guardian. Look at it here.  I shouldn’t have to go to a private web site to find criminal justice statistics.

Okay, I’m not a neophyte. I understand the drill. If we actually collect the data, it isn’t going to look good. I already know part of the story from previous research. Some law enforcement agencies have a lot of shootings while many agencies never kill anyone at all. And if that isn’t bad enough, who gets shot and why also varies dramatically from place to place. If you’ve been following the news, once again, you know who I am talking about, the mentally ill. They get shot by law enforcement regularly and under widely varying circumstances.

If the feds require law enforcement agencies to disclose their killings, the world of policing will come under a lot of scrutiny. It is in the interest of many departments not to have their shootings publicized. Why?

In the United States, policing varies dramatically. Some police departments do it right. They don’t get much publicity because competent, professional police departments tend to have fewer PR disasters. But there are “rogue” police departments where there are a lot of shootings, a lot of excessive force and regular charges of corruption. I suspect that a culture that encourages shootings has a downside in other parts of policing.

If the numbers are publicized – if every police shooting is scrutinized, there are going to be changes. As long as police departments are measured only by local or state standards, change is slow and haphazard but if every department is held up to national standards, many people will be surprised at how poorly many of these agencies stack up.

And that is why the feds should require mandatory reporting of law enforcement shootings, to bring national scrutiny to a national problem. This isn’t some book keeping issue. It is a vital issue of what kind of justice we believe in. When law enforcement kills, there is no trial, no peaceful resolution. These kinds of shootings should always be matters of necessity.

James Pilant

Psychological Hostage by Kelsey Palmer

(Writing a guest column today is Kelsey Palmer.)

Psychological Hostage

Abuse, malefaction, molestation, violation, physical, mental, trauma, Rape. This is not an unknown word among us. Often we would hear it being yelled by teenage boys in the crowded halls of high school, but what was fun for them to yell is not fun at all. Sadly, it is not an unknown action to too many of us. Usually women. Many many women that really mean “yes” when they say “no”.  Really mean “continue” when they “stop”. No! Some say they deserved it. Others say they led the guy on. Call them Femi-Nazis for trying to bring to justice a criminal act against them! How dare you. How dare you all for thinking in the slightest that this is a small matter. No! Rape is a criminal act or is it? It leaves scars, physical and emotional. Then there are women who think they can cry wolf when there are so many who actually see it.

!!@@#dddddd444193mIn light of rape, it is a criminal act. When someone (usually male) chooses to molest another (usually female) it is not out of the kindness in their hearts. It is not them looking out for the other. It is someone deciding to take away the freedom and rights the other has. That is why it is a crime! It is in violation of the rights we hold as humans, but you would never guess that from the way the law enforcers handle it. Thousands of unsolved cases and why? Because they are too expensive and time consuming. What about what this person had to go through? What about the turmoil this person has to face, the fear that their rapist is still out there lurking in the shadows. I would like to say I am proud of congress for finally doing something about this, but this should have been worked through years ago. Before the rape kits began piling up to extreme heights. Of course, like many other things America was slow to realize that this was an important matter and because of this many have suffered.

In continuation of my sentence before, many have suffered. No one can truly understand the psychological difficulties that come with a scene such as this until they have lived through it themselves. The trauma that comes with it at times can be more than one can bear.  It makes a person want lock themselves into a dark room, curl into a ball, and never allow anyone to come near them again. One could never understand the power of the mind until years after an event something as simple as a scent could bring it all hurtling back. Stuck in your mind till you forcibly distract yourself. It can cause a perfectly normal person to feel like a monster because of the horrible thoughts and ideas that come to their mind. To do to others what was done to them. Some are lucky enough to bypass these mind games and others have to shove them out until they are gone. Suffering in every step of the process because they have been broken just because some man decided it would be fun. And because of that man one could think that they will never be worthy of another because they have been used and abused like some dog’s toy with no soul, life, or future. Definitely no ability to make decisions for themselves. There are scars that exist far beyond the eye can see and the victims of a crime like this have them. So they go to the police in the hopes to find some peace of mind, but instead they are greeted by the high prices of rape kits. You might as well stamp a sign on the door saying “Have you been raped? Sorry, we won’t help you.” Even if a girl has the ability to do a rape kit all that will happen is it will be thrown into the back of a lab to collect dust until years later a bored detective decides to give it a shot. It still might not be that girl’s kit though, since there is a pile of these kits from over the years. To conclude, I feel that if America would get a grip and find a heart this would have been solved already because they would understand the pain that came with these crimes.

My last thought for this paper is that women should not cry wolf unless they see one. What I mean by this is that if a woman has sex and then regrets it they should not file rape. If a teen has sex, but does not want to get in trouble they should not file rape. If a woman is not raped, they should not say they are. I am not saying this is always the case because it rarely is, but it should not happen. When this happens, people are less likely to believe those who are actually raped. When women who are raped go unnoticed all of the psychological issues I spoke of before only progress because they need help! If there are so many cases of true rape that we already “do not have time for” we definitely do not have time for those that are not rape at all.

To conclude my paper, rape is a horrible thing that must be stopped in some way or another or at least diminished. Women going unnoticed and criminals continuing to be free is not the American dream I had in mind and I know that many people feel the same. These women need peace, help, and the ability to recover from the pain that has been forced upon them. This is not an easy task to undergo due to the fact that there are so many victims, but I know that if we just try to help them and solve their cases not only will they have more peace, but we will show the men that there WILL be consequences for these actions. In this way they will hopefully think twice before making such a damaging and idiotic decision.

Kelsey Palmer

Bruce Weinstein’s New Book

Bruce Weinstein’s New Book

Bruce Weinstein is also known as “The Ethics Guy.” I consider him a friend and enjoy and approve of his work. He has a blog which I recommend you visit, favorite, and return to often.

And now he has a new book called, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees. You can get it on Amazon, here.

His theme is that character is critical to success but it is not given priority in the hiring process. So, he gives guidance on what to look for in an employee that indicates high character.

He’s, of course, right, and since he has been dealing with these issues for some years, he has insights worth sharing.

Buy the book.

James Pilant

James, the Jihadist

James, the Jihadist

I have argued that allowing gays and lesbians to be discriminated against in business transactions is wrong and poor business ethics. I have advocated that this legislation be changed before enactment and if enacted to be repealed. In this, I have acted inside the bounds of political activity traditional in this nation. At no point have I advocated violence against any religious establishment.

James, the Jihadist

James, the Jihadist

Nevertheless, people who agree with me and have made similar public comments have been described as “Jihadists” by Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. A Jihadist? I don’t think I qualify. I am not currently involved in a Jihad, have not advocated violence against anyone over this legislation, and look ridiculous in a burnoose. I personally am a Christian and I am not part of a conspiracy to wage a Jihad against my own religion. I would find that personally divisive.

Being accused of being a Jihadist is not the only insult that people who share my beliefs have received on this issue. According to former Presidential candidate, Newt Gringrich, we are part of a lynch mob. And he backs up his claim, by explaining that people like me have to be deluded because the bill is “exactly the same as in Connecticut.” I believe he is implying that the bill is like the one in many states and the one passed by the federal legislation during the Clinton Administration. That’s a lie.

It’s not a little lie. It’s a giant hulking monstrous lie. As an attorney, I am well aware that adding a single comma can change the intent or the effect of legislation. The Indiana bill contain two entire clauses not in other bills save for the one in Texas. But the Texas bill has a civil rights exception that protects gay and lesbians. The Indiana bill doesn’t. The Indiana bill was designed like a laser beam to hit a single target, gays and lesbians in the market place. The foundation of the bill was in the fact that neither Indiana nor the federal government has legislation protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. All the other groups, women, minorities, etc., were protected by previous laws. Gays were the only people without cover The new clauses and the absence of a civil rights protection made the legislation dramatically different from what had been passed before. The bill does look similar to the bills passed before but if it walks like duck, quacks like a duck and has dripping fangs as well as razor sharp teeth, it’s not a duck anymore.

That the bill was identical with other state legislation and therefore did nothing new was a great talking point but that doesn’t make it true. No matter how loud or how often a lie is said does not make it reality.

But there was still more, I am not only described as a Jihadist and a leader of a lynch mob, I also lack perspective. According to Tom Cotton, the new Senator from Arkansas and famous letter writer, I lack perspective because, “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

No, that’s not how it works. If I point out that a man is starving, and you point out that another man up the street is also starving but that I wasn’t paying attention to his problem – a point has been made. But Cotton’s argument is too distant in nature and form from the situation in Indiana. As an American citizen I can have little effect on the law in Iran. But as an American citizen, in this country, I have both the right and the responsibility to participate in the affairs of the nation. I cannot and will not close my eyes to injustice that I can do something about. And that is where Cotton’s argument fails. However much I may lament the actions of people in other nations, I live here and what happens affects me directly.

Why are the first two criticisms so bizarre? It seems pretty obvious that group of citizens, newspaper writers, politicians and leaders in business are neither Jihadists nor part of a lynch mob. These two criticisms have no connection with any objective reality but they are designed for use. There will be radio shows, television pleas and letters, literally millions of letters, saying this –

HOMOSEXUAL JIHADISTS ARE PLANNING THE DESTRUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY, YOUR CHURCHES WILL BE DESTROYED, YOUR BIBLES BURNED AND RELIGION AS WE KNOW IT WILL CEASE TO EXIST!!

CAN YOU SEND $100, $50 OR EVEN AS LITTLE AS FIVE DOLLARS TO SAVE THE WORD OF JESUS CHRIST FROM BEING WIPED OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH BY THE GAY LYNCH MOB?

And then they’ll talk about this being a critical point in American history and the need to act now, right now, and how sending them money will allow brave men (insert current anti-jihadist fund raiser) to act on their behalf to defend American values.

I’ve seen fund raising letters like these dozens of times; the writing is usually in all caps, although usually the lead statements are in giant blood red letters that virtually scream crisis off the page.  How many of you remember the letters sent out charging that if John Kerry won the Presidency, bibles would be banned? That was in the 2004 campaign but these kinds of fund raising appeals are made constantly preying on those who would believe the worst of their fellow Americans.

To me, it seems obvious that the Jihad and lynch mob lines are set-ups for fund raising letters and Senator Cotton was just commenting. After all, you can’t really do much with a “lack of perspective” charge in a fund raising letter.

In conclusion, there is no Jihad, period. There is no lynch mob. And there is plenty of perspective.

What happened was democracy in action. I wasn’t pleased with all of it, but businesses, individuals, and elected officials stepped up publicly and opposed the legislation and it was changed. That is how things are supposed to work.

I participated in that as an American citizen as is my right under the law. And that is just what I am, an American.

James Pilant

(Below are my sources and the quotes I drew from for the above article. jp)

Senator Says Critics Of Indiana Should Get ‘Perspective,’ Be Thankful State Doesn’t Execute Gays

Appearing yesterday on CNN, Senator Tom Cotton (R) urged critics of Indiana’s “religious freedom” law to get “perspective,” suggesting the treatment of LGBT people in Indiana compared favorably to countries where gay people are executed.

“I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective,” Cotton said. “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/04/02/3642060/senator-says-critics-indiana-get-perspective-thankful-state-doesnt-execute-gays/

Newt Gingrich Slams ‘Lynch Mob’ For Opposing Indiana Religious Freedom Law

The fact is, for example, the governor of Connecticut announced he wouldn’t send people to Indiana. Well, Connecticut has exactly the same law. They adopted it 20 years ago. The head of Apple announces that he’s deeply disappointed. Apple sells cell phones in Saudi Arabia, where being homosexual is a death penalty. The level of selective outrage, the opportunity to pick a fight — the news media couldn’t help themselves.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/newt-gingrich-lynch-mob-indiana-religious-freedom_n_6986808.html

Ted Cruz: ‘Jihad’ Was Waged Against Religious Freedom Bills

“We look at the jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Cruz said during a panel moderated by conservative radio host Steve Deace on Thursday. “We need to bring people together to the religious liberty values that built this country.”

via Ted Cruz: ‘Jihad’ Was Waged Against Religious Freedom Bills.

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

(You might want to read the brief article quote at the bottom of the page – I am commenting on that.)

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

It is unlikely that any individual found responsible for environment damage to the state of New Jersey walked away with three cents on the dollar of what the state had laid claim to. But then it is unlikely any individual would have the power and influence of Exxon, in many ways the equivalent of a small nation without borders.

This isn’t a fine, it’s a claim. The difference is big. A fine would be a form of punishment to deter the wrongdoer. A claim is what is owed. Exxon contaminated the land and water of New Jersey for many years. This has consequences.

This is an enormous wealth transfer on several levels. First, Exxon does not have to pay the vast bulk of the claim. Second, Exxon profited from evading its responsibilities to not harm the state and country in which it operated. Third, a powerful message has been sent to every responsible public official that once a corporation has been brought to the docket and wrongdoing adjudicated, their efforts, their idealism, and their commitment to the public interest are less than nothing to political figures with other priorities.

On the other side of the deal are the people of New Jersey. It is they who suffer from Exxon’s actions and it is they who will pay for the cleanup. They are, in effect, subsidizing Exxon and its shareholders. For the citizens of New Jersey, this will not be a one time pay off. The people are likely to suffer the effects of environmental degradation for the foreseeable future and the continuing expense will last for decades and will quite likely never be able to restore what was taken.

For the public, the deal is a disaster but for the political class, it is a bonanza. This is an off year. So, any negative publicity will die down before the election. Any left over pain can be dealt with by active public relations financed by campaign contributions given by those whose faith in the kind of justice dealt out in New Jersey justifies the expenditure.

This is not a form of bribery. These are campaign contributions. They only appear as bribery to those without the proper legal education.

Remember what Justice Kennedy said in Citizens United –  “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

It is obvious that Justice Kennedy is right. The campaign contributions and soft money given by billionaires and giant international corporations are just speech – just like you talking to your neighbor about some issue.

A cynic would say that the interests of the nine million people were overridden in the name of corporate influence. But we in America are not cynical. We know that enormous political expenditures by corporations with more income than most nations on the earth are a form of speech representing their valid interest in the lively marketplace of ideas necessary for a democracy.

And we in America owe Exxon and Justice Kennedy our sincere thanks for making this a nation where money is speech and that freedom to speak is sacred.

But today no one owes more to our Supreme Court than the people of New Jersey who will live with the toxins from Exxon for decades or quite possibly, centuries to come.

James Pilant

Christie’s Office Drove Exxon Settlement, Ex-Official Says – NYTimes.com

For more than a decade, the New Jersey attorney general’s office conducted a hard-fought legal battle to hold Exxon Mobil Corporation responsible for decades of environmental contamination in northern New Jersey.

But when the news came that the state had reached a deal to settle its $8.9 billion claim for about $250 million, the driving force behind the settlement was not the attorney general’s office — it was Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel, Christopher S. Porrino, two people familiar with the negotiations said.

via Christie’s Office Drove Exxon Settlement, Ex-Official Says – NYTimes.com.

Dan Bodine Has a New Post

abom11thDan Bodine Has a New Post

It is with great pleasure I post the opening of Dan Bodine’s new post at the Desert Mountain Times. Please go to his web site and read it. Sign up as a follower and enjoy being part of a real writer’s experience.

James Pilant

All this talk about Texas being “backwards” is a conspiracy

Want to pass along a link to a new HBO film series that includes Texas’ “religiosity” – vis a vis its “backward” political culture – that’s guaranteed to ruffle some feathers! Even has my favorite congressman in it. …

 

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