Pilant's Business Ethics

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What I Am Reading Today!


What I Am Reading Today!

What I Am Reading Today!

I should probably just list business ethics issues but my interests are quite varied and business ethics has an incredible range of applicability. Listed in here are some of my interests, the perceptions of the one percent, Texas politics (always unusual and often frightening), gender issues particularly pay, and economics. I put a brief description on each one in the hope that you might find something you enjoy. My reading each morning includes around fourteen web sites (currently). The number goes up or down depending on the quality of the writing, what I ‘m interested in, and anything offensive was published.

Revealed: The insane delusions fueling rich conservatives’ temper tantrums


The Koch brothers are dead wrong: Half of America is living in or near poverty


Rick Perry: Current political focus on the gender pay gap is “nonsense”


Women in the “best states for women’s salaries” still make 90 percent of what their male colleagues earn


A Forgotten Scandal in Baltimore’s High Society


New Study: Nearly Half Of All Americans Are Dangerous Stupid Idiots


Krugman and DeLong on Avoiding Secular Stagnation


U.S. prosecutors eye new approach on company misconduct after Toyota


The End of Jobs?




Not What We Expected

international student movement

international student movement

Not What We Expected

Political Animal – The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us

Our pension system is a shambles and we’ve seen a wave of mortgage foreclosures. Many people in this economy have lost their jobs and everything they’ve worked hard for all their lives, and have no realistic prospects of finding a decent job ever again. They are understandably freaked out, stressed out, and depressed. Losing one’s job is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a person, especially in this dismal economy. Moreover, when people lose their jobs, they also tend to lose their health insurance. And without access to decent mental health care, many depressions go untreated.

In the Times, one expert has this to say:

“The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn’t panned out that way,” she said. “All these conditions the boomers are facing, future cohorts are going to be facing many of these conditions as well.”

How many people in this country will end their working lives having seen a significant decline in their living standards, relative to the standards their parents enjoyed? For the first time in America, declining economic mobility is a reality for many of us. The dashed dreams and expectations so many Americans are experiencing may explain much of the increased suicide rate. This economy is literally killing us.

Political Animal – The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us

I was a little boy when Walter Cronkite had a program called “The 21st Century.” It talked about the wonders we could look forward to in the new century. We had a lot of hope and belief in continuous progress. The United States had done so much and had been so successful, we knew things could only get better.

We were wrong. The 21st Century is not what we expected,  not in our wildest dreams. Some of what people thought was supposed to happen was silly: personal robots, etc; but economic insecurity? in the United States? No one would have believed that.

The middle class is severely damaged, opportunity more circumscribed than the Gilded Age. The dreams of building great cities, great wonders, etc. don’t even seem to exist.

For the 1% this is a golden age beyond all imagining, and yet they do not have enough. They want more.

Yes, some people in the face of this kind of world are opting to die. I’m not surprised. We were supposed to be better off not worse.

James Pilant

Bill Moyers Fights the Good Fight

Here is a selection of the words of Bill Moyers. The first is from Salon and is in print today, February 14th, Valentine’s day. The next three are closing remarks from episodes of Bill Moyers’ Journal. You might say that this is a valentine to Bill. May he live a hundred years and continue to inspire us every day of that time.

James Pilant

America’s billionaire-run democracy – 2012 Elections – Salon.com

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn’t just happen. Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by and for the 1 percent. So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics, influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft for rented politicians to enact.

America’s billionaire-run democracy – 2012 Elections – Salon.com

Plutocracy and Democracy Do Not Mix

Bill Moyers on Greed

Bill Moyers on the American Dream

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Komen Backs Off and We’re Supposed to Forgive and Forget?

English: Prevention Park, is the largest Plann...

Image via Wikipedia

Komen Apologizes; Pledges To Continue Planned Parenthood Grants | Crooks and Liars

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Komen Apologizes; Pledges To Continue Planned Parenthood Grants | Crooks and Liars

Wow, I should be impressed except I’m not.

The organization has already provided solid evidence that women’s health is not their first concern. They have only reversed their decision based on politics. And be clear, they backed down on this particular issue but it is only a temporary setback for their anti-Planned Parenthood stance and their move toward anti-abortion politics.

Think of all the different ways through other grants and political pressure that they can influence the future of women’s health in this country and in the world. They gave up on this point under political pressure but can it be more obvious what the future stance of the organization is going to be? This is not victory for women’s health or a defeat for their organization. It is a truce to allow them to regroup and fight another day.

I want you to read the brief excerpt above. Notice the phrase “disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” I can drive an ocean liner through that exception. How many district attorneys are there in the United States – just a few thousand? So, all we to do to disqualify Planned Parenthood again is to have one of these district attorney conduct a “criminal” investigation. Now you might object that doesn’t consider the word, “conclusive,” which of course means a conviction. Except that it doesn’t. If they had wanted a conviction to be necessary to disqualify an organization, they would have used that word. I’ll tell you what the word, conclusive means in that sentence – anything they want it to.

From now on they will act to defund Planned Parenthood and services to poor women and we know they will because they have already by their actions demonstrated their intent. If they intended to really reverse the policy decisions of the last few days, there would be firings and changes in personnel at the top of the organization. Do you see any?

One of the most disturbing elements of this whole affair is how stupid the Susan G. Komen Foundation leadership believes the public are. They cut off Planned Parenthood on the most spurious of grounds (a Congressional investigation) against a background of Republican donations and the hiring of a stalwart in the anti-abortion movement. Then they tell us it was non-political. Look at the phrasing of their press release . They claim they were only fulfilling their “fiduciary” duty by cutting off the organization. First, I think they used the word merely because it was multisyllabic and sounded legal. Second, I have to wonder if it was their fiduciary duty to cut off Planned Parenthood what happened between yesterday and today that nullified that duty? Fiduciary responsibilities are not optional, they are binding.

I still believe that giving money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation is a questionable decision based on the events of the last few days. I believe if you look at the evidence you will come to the same conclusion.

James Pilant

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False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

I am totally with James Fallows on this issue (and we definitely don’t always agree). But it is just wrong for the beltway media to take “ a plague on both your houses” attitude on the news when it comes to discussing passing or not passing legislation. An accurate description of who voted for what and who used the filibuster is far more relevant and intelligent than an attitude that those Democrats and Republicans should play nice with each other.

I don’t want them to play nice with each other. I want the middle class in this country protected and I’m tired of compromise.

How do you tell who your friends and enemies are if the dominant media narrative is the two political parties aren’t worth a damn and you should leave politics alone because it’s a dirty business?

I don’t like the Democrats and I like the Republicans even less but if the media drives most people from political discussion and action than a small minority are going to be the activists and that is counterproductive in a democracy.

James Pilant


James Fallows

False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

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Why Young Adults Are Walking Away From Church by Christian Piatt

In a column in Huffington Post, Christian Piatt discusses the why behind the exodus of the young from church.

Here’s my favorite paragraph –

Alisa Harris’ memoir, “Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics,” reflects on the apparent cultural, spiritual and economic desert time in which we find ourselves. We have witnessed the carnage of a financial system that was intended to perpetually buoy a nation, but whose “invisible hand” has instead crushed the dreams of millions. We’ve watched as the two-headed political serpent attacks itself until it is impotent. We’ve seen religious figures scandalize their institutions empty, as a generation walks away in search of something more relevant to their daily struggle.

Church attendance has fallen dramatically over the last twenty years. In 2005, Protestants represented half those practicing a religion in the United States for the first time.

What’s going on?

I see two trends. The mainline Protestant churches continue to bleed membership. The evangelical movement has hit a wall in recruitment and can neither maintain its growth and or maintain its current numbers. The second trend is new. I suspect that it has a great deal to do with the impact of the political action on a church organization. It is probably a delight to go out and organize precincts handing out conservative literature instead of sitting through a boring sermon, after all, politics is a lot easier than Christianity. But for many the Christian call remains a powerful inducement and a church that acts as a political action committee has little time for gospel issues.

I do not see these trends reversing although I suspect the mainline bleed has to end at some point.

James Pilant

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David Talbot, Editor at Salon Calls for an American Spring!

An American Spring. Talbot believes that is what this country needs. I am in total agreement. Here’s the crux of his message –

Americans are deeply worried and dispirited. Three years ago, as the country slid into a bottomless recession, we rallied around a presidential candidate who promised real change, only to see him fall captive to the same forces of greed and endless war that have brought us to ruin. The alternatives presented by the Republican Party would only accelerate this national decline. We’re faced on the one side by a well-meaning but ineffectual leader who has waited far too late in his presidency to rally the people around the powerful themes of jobs and economic justice — and on the other side by GOP leaders who are competing to see how quickly they can dismantle the last decent vestiges of public life in America.

Reliance on elected officials has been a failure. The Democratic Party has drifted into a state of almost total ineffectuality. The President has been an almost hourly disappointment. His fine words mean little and sometimes nothing.

We have to rely on the advocacy of ideas in a public movement to apply continual political pressure. We must not plan for anything like two or a four year election campaign but ten or twenty years merely to get a good start. This is the long war. But that is the only real way.

Now is the time. This is what Talbot saw at the Wall Street demonstrations

Last week I visited the young people who were camped out near the New York Stock Exchange, in protest against Wall Street’s reign of greed. They told me they had little to look forward to in today’s America. No jobs, a crushing load of student debt, and a political system that seems completely rigged against people like themselves. But they had not given up hope. Inspired by the social upheavals in the Arab world and the protests in Europe against rapacious financial elites, these young Americans are calling for their own “American Spring.”

Does David Talbot expect to build more subscriptions and influence through this movement, maybe even profit monetarily? It’s quite possible. I won’t speculate. Frankly, I don’t care. I want action. I want to start organizing now. This is the time.

Let’s act.

James Pilant

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Blanche Lincoln Returns Once More to Claim the Mantle of “Centrist”

She’s back. A sort of, kinda, maybe, at times, Democrat but more usually a saboteur of Democratic iniatiatives. She implies that she is a “centrist,” a good old-fashioned, common sense, middle of the roader (Did I get all of her usual adjectives in there? You can play a game with her writing and speaking and count how long it takes her to say “common sense.” It’s kind of fun.)

From the Huffington Post

Unrelenting partisanship can strangle our nation’s political process and divert our energies from building our economy. And in the midst of this year’s deficit debate, we’re seeing a great deal of that deleterious behavior playing out inside the Beltway.

         When adhering to a partisan mindset, lawmakers reject any ideas that originate from their opposition, regardless of merit. And the political welfare of our nation — which is increasingly comprised of independents who are practically and politically moderate problem solvers — suffers as a result.

         This partisanship has been evident in the current debate over federal regulations. Catering to their base, the administration has been resolute in its pursuit of aggressive, sometimes duplicitous, and often excessive regulatory agendas. And all of these, as we know, come with a hefty price tag — ill-timed as we continue to see stagnant job growth and unemployment numbers.

I had the pleasure of voting against Blanche Lincoln in both the primary and the general election. Her successful efforts to water down the provisions of the health care bill are not something I am liable to forget any time soon. She is one of the reasons, the huge 60 person Democratic majority in the Senate meant very little in practice.

She’s found a new perch at Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations. You can read that with total accuracy as small businesses for no regulations because that is what it means. You could say, “James, she says in the article that some regulations are necessary.” I don’t believe her for a moment. She was a Senator here for a long time and I was a citizen here for a long time. Her very occasional efforts at anything but total industry support, (remember her derivatives amendment when she was running in the Democratic primary?) disappeared as soon as politically possible.

I figured she would find a safe place to land after her defeat. I hate that she can do that. It’s not fair that when rejected by the public, politicians go on to much, much greater sums of money as lobbyists but that is the nature of the corrupt beast governing us today.

James Pilant


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Pathetic Weakness – President Obama Caves In Again – You See a Pattern Yet??

President Obama caved in on issuing new regulations on clean air. You can read about it here –  Obama yields on smog rule in face of GOP demands.

But what can you expect. The President only caves when challenged. Oh, wait a minute, sometimes Obama caves before being challenged – Obama says he won’t raise debt ceiling on his own. I’m a big student of history and I simply can’t remember a historical figure who admits defeat or throws away his negotiating points before any negotiations have begun. It strikes me as a superb mechanism for becoming a historical footnote.

Here’s what Paul Krugman has to say –

I’ve actually been avoiding thinking about the latest Obama cave-in, on ozone regulation; these repeated retreats are getting painful to watch. For what it’s worth, I think it’s bad politics. The Obama political people seem to think that their route to victory is to avoid doing anything that the GOP might attack — but the GOP will call Obama a socialist job-killer no matter what they do. Meanwhile, they just keep reinforcing the perception of mush from the wimp, of a president who doesn’t stand for anything. (My emphasis.)

I remember when Obama was campaigning and it sounded like all my political dreams come true – Guantanamo closed, bankruptcy reform, Justice Department scandals investigated, torturers brought to justice, government transperancy, single payer health care, help for foreclosed homeowners, effective regulation of the financial sector, net neutrality, and on and on. It’s still a dream, a nightmare of daily disappointment. This is not what I voted for.

Here below are videos easily found on the web and mainly on You Tube chronicalling the President’s incessant cave-ins. I was more than a little disturbed at how easy it was to come up with them. Basically it was a matter of running three searches, 1. Obama caves, 2. president caves and 3. White House caves. I am a superb searcher. I know all the tricks. There was no need for any web searching skill here. It was similar to looking up the Capital of the United States.

Obama Admin Caves Again (And Again…)

Obama Caves On Net Neutrality – GOP Claims Government Takeover

White House Caves To Fox News, Forces Resignation

Obama Caves On Budget, Brags About It

Bad News: Obama Caves On Something Else

Obama Caves to Birthers

4 The Progressive – Obama Caves on Settlements

White House Caving On Rich Tax Cuts – MSNBC w/ Cenk

Obama – Cave To GOP To Please Markets

Obama Caves in Again

Is there a pattern here? I would assume it is very obvious that we have a President who has no beliefs worth fighting for. But what is far worse, his guarantees of action or promises to refuse to yield on vital political issues are useless. No matter how strongly he has asserted that he is on your side, the moment when push comes to shove, you lose.

That is not Presidential, this is rule by a political loser who revels in what he calls compromise. We are led by a President who calls every loss a victory and every defeat a win. But there is a reality out there and the American people are well aware of what a loser is.

James Pilant


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Nassir Ghaemi: Linking effective leadership and mental illness (via Minding the Workplace)

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major...

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at the Battle of Antietam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nassir Ghaemi Links Mental Illness to Success

This is different. Very different.

Mental illness as an advantage?

I find that difficult to believe on many levels but the article is persuasive.

Are mental problems really an adaption to difficulties. If the strategy is successful, maybe its not crazy but a successful adaption.

Maybe, someone smart enough to adapt in so strange a fashion has superior powers of creation and those have application in other fields?

I don’t know.

See what you think?

James Pilant

Sane ideas from Tufts psychiatry prof: Linking effective leadership and mental illness When Nassir Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, studied prominent figures of the American Civil War, he discovered that many of the greatest leaders during the war (e.g., Abraham Lincoln and Union general Ulysses Grant) were mentally abnormal or mentally ill, while many … Read More

via Minding the Workplace

From the web site, Struggling with the Elephant in the Room:

The first creative leader identified with full symptoms of bipolar disorder is General Sherman of the American Civil War. Sherman is the man credited for revolutionizing warfare from the Napoleonic style of en masse warfare to total warfare, where civilian infrastructure is targeted. It set the stage for warfare that would rule the 20th century and is credited for its extensive role in ending the American Civil War. Sherman displayed everything from failure due to mania in his previous life before taking over as General in the war where he failed to hold down any sort of job and constantly moved; while also appearing to have severe depression, even psychosis. He constantly paced, had intense energy levels, and also had his depressions that threatened his life and terrified his closest friends. But through the mania, he became creative and saw a new form of warfare that could end the war. It was risky, he cut off his supply chain, marched toward Atlanta with no back up. He was considered mad for taking such a risk, but it is this riskiness that led him to carry out a plan that defined a new breed of warfare.

From the web site, What We Blog About When We Blog About Love:

A First-Rate Madness ranges across the 19th and 20th century (with a quick toe dip in the 21st) to identify historical figures (all men, it turns out) whom Ghaemi believes illustrate this inverse law. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, FDR, JFK, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., are all examples of leaders with mental illness — usually depression, but also mania or other disorders. Ghaemi’s examples of sane leaders (he defines them as “homoclites”) are less numerous and more ambiguous: he contrasts Neville Chamberlain with Churchill, then lumps Richard Nixon, Tony Blair and George W. Bush into one chapter at the very end of the book. (If there is one thing Richard Nixon was not, it was a mentally stable individual.)

And finally, from the web site, Bipolar Today, Life at the Poles:

I have a slight twinge of concern, however. The moods that come from bipolar disorder are pathological. They can’t be counted on and, though positive in themselves, are a part of an illness that overall causes a great deal of suffering (something that Dr. Jamison notes as well). It’s also important to note that most poets, for example, are not mentally ill. My concern with a book like this is that it separates off mentally ill people from people without mental illness, giving mentally ill people almost special powers. While the creativity that comes from hypomania and the realism that comes from depression are both good traits, we would still be better off if we had those traits in a non-pathological way.


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