Pilant's Business Ethics

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Tag: new york times (Page 2 of 2)

Manufacturing Enemies

“Pleas hellp,” Tudor Ureche, a college student who was participating in the U.S. government’s J-1 visa program, wrote in the email. He added that he was suffering from severe back pain from the work, and that his bosses said his temporary visa would be revoked if he complained.

Ureche never received a response. But two months later, at least 200 foreign exchange students walked out of the Pennsylvania factory in protest, saying they spent thousands of dollars to pay for their cultural exchange visa only to end up in grueling factory jobs. (The factory packed Hershey’s candy, but was operated by a subcontractor.)

You can find all this here from today’s Yahoo News.

The J-1 visa program was designed to give students from overseas a taste of the American way of life during the Cold War. Presumably, our honored guests would go home with a new appreciation of the wonders of manufacturing in this great nation. Well, times have changed. Now, we give students a taste of our current corporate decision making process. Our new welcome for these foreign students is a semi-minimum wage job from which room and board are deducted so they have even less money than when they came!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from Yahoo News

The J-1 visa program brings foreign students to the country to work for two months and learn English, and was designed in part to fill seasonal tourism jobs at resorts and seaside towns. The 400 students employed at a Pennsylvania factory that packages Hershey’s candies told The New York Times that even though they make $8.35 an hour, their rent and program fees are deducted from their paychecks, leaving them with less money than they spent to get the visas and travel to the country in the first place.

So, our brilliant, innovative and thoroughly patriotic corporate leaders using subcontractors take idealistic, impressionable youth from foreign cultures, uses them for cheap labor, bullying and abusing them in the process, and then sends them home. Wow, so it seems we Americans don’t have enough enemies in the world, we have to manufacture more of them?

Let’s be blunt. If bringing foreign youth here at their own expense and using them for semi-slave labor isn’t illegal, it should be. If this is in anyway, some weird throwback program to the Cold War, it needs to end now.

We Americans have a responsibility to treat our guests with a modicum of respect. Letting corporations, in particular, Hersheys’ sub-contractors do these things is wrong. It’s vile.

It’s bad enough that Americans have to deal with soulless corporate minions on a regular basis. Subjecting would be friends to these people is more than cruel, it is counterproductive.

James Pilant

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The TARP Bank Bailout Saved Huge Financial Institutions But the Benefits Failed to Trickle Down to Most Americans

Gretchen Morgenson writing for the New York Times has an article called The Rescue That Missed Main Street in the paper today.

Here’s the lead in paragraph –

FOR the last three years we have been told repeatedly by government officials that funneling hundreds of billions of dollars to large and teetering banks during the credit crisis was necessary to save the financial system, and beneficial to Main Street.

She explains that we were right to be concerned that benefits were designed to help all. For one thing, the bank bailout was not 600 billion but double that. That information was only available by use of the Freedom of Information Act (Our thanks to Bloomberg, Business and Financial News). It seems our government felt that telling us that they had bailed out banks for 600 billion when the actual number was double was information we could not be trusted with.

Another fact that concerns the public that has been widely publicized are the enormous profits culminating in record bonuses for the executives of the bailed out institutions. This is particularly disturbing in the light of likely fraud and other illegal misconduct during the course of the bank meltdown. Of course, since the federal government has failed to launch any prosecutions and the statute of limitations has expired, we will never know what level of misconduct was involved in the catastrophe.

But we do know that incompetent executives often acting without regard to their fiduciary duties to their clients have made a great deal of money and have not been penalized in total contrast to an American public placed under incredible strain.

The public, innocent of almost destroying the world economy, suffered the loss of tens of millions of jobs, roughly one third of their retirement investments and now suffer increasing economic insecurity.

The contrast between the winners and losers, the undeserving and the deserving can hardly be more pronounced.

Let the article explain further –

This important topic of bailout inequities came up in Congress earlier this month. Edward J. Kane, professor of finance at Boston College, addressed a Senate banking panel convened on Aug. 3 by Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat. “Our representative democracy espouses the principle that all men and women are equal under the law,” Mr. Kane said. “During the housing bubble and the economic meltdown that the bursting bubble brought about, the interests of domestic and foreign financial institutions were much better represented than the interests of society as a whole.”

THIS inequity must be eliminated, Mr. Kane said, especially since taxpayers will be billed for future bailouts of large and troubled institutions. Such rescues are not really loans, but the equivalent of equity investments by taxpayers, he said.

But the inequity will not be eliminated.

We do not live in a society where the needs of people below a certain income level need be considered. Increasingly this nation is a society of haves, have nots, and those who are losing ground.

Those who are losing ground still harbor hope in elections and democracy. Whether or not this hope is justified will be evident soon.

James Pilant

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NYT: Debt Limit Deal “A Nearly Complete Capitulation to Hostage-Taking Demands of GOP Extremists” – 8/1/11 (via Tarpon’s Swamp)

This is an accurate description of the situation. I am hoping for much more savage denigration of the current holder of the Oval Office. I am going to do some of it myself.

James Pilant

The liberals at the New York Times don’t like the Debt Limit Deal President Obama and Leaders of Congress have agreed to. That’s always a good sign. Here’s some of their bluster in an editorial published this morning: NEW YORK TIMES: There is little to like about the tentative agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House except that it happened at all. The deal would avert a catastrophic government default, immediately and probably … Read More

via Tarpon’s Swamp

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Photo reporters have feelings and souls (via Blognovic's Weblog)

I, too, believe that photo journalist are not getting the credit they deserve. The risks they take are not appreciated as we focus more and more on the strange talking heads that inhabit our media world.

With the recent deaths in Libya, we should all become more aware of the guts it takes to go into a shooting war with only a camera.

James Pilant

My thanks to Blognovic’s Weblog.

If you have read my post about Obama’s answer to Donald Trump during the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondent Association, maybe you’ll know I found sensitive from his part to take some last and serious words to recognize the work of journalists in war zones. Some days after, when I found an article by Bill Keller, executive Editor of the New York Time who, after spending time reporting in conflict zones is now in charge of sending prof … Read More

via Blognovic’s Weblog

The True Grit Era

This is from a Frank Rich column analyzing America in the light of the two True Grit films –

That kind of legal and moral cost-accounting seems as distant as a tintype now. The new “True Grit” lands in an America that’s still not recovered from a crash where many of the reckless perpetrators of economic mayhem deflected any accountability and merely moved on to the next bubble, gamble or ethically dubious backroom deal. When Americans think of the law these days, they often think of a system that can easily be gamed by the rich and the powerful, starting with those who pillaged Lehman Brothers, A.I.G. and Citigroup and left taxpayers, shareholders and pensioners in the dust. A virtuous soul like Mattie would be crushed in a contemporary gold rush even if (or especially if) she fought back with the kind of civil action so prized by the 19th-century Mattie.

Frontier justice. That would send the Wall Street gamblers packing, wouldn’t it? Of course, right now, I’d take just about any kind of justice. The current situation in the finance world if analogous to a movie would be Heaven’s Gate. In that film the villains after a murderous spree are tracked down by a posse from the local people and rescued by the cavalry on direct orders of the governor. That’s about the situations we have here.

James Pilant

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