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Tag: The Ethics Sage (Page 1 of 2)

The Ethics Sage Addresses Unintended Consequences

The Ethics Sage Addresses Unintended Consequences

In an article entitled, Unintended Consequences of the H1-B Visa Program and sub-titled: Are American Workers Adequately Trained to Fill High Tech Jobs?, Steven Mintz, better known as the Ethics Sage, discusses the likely impact of a coming Trump executive order.

Here is (what I think is) the most critical paragraph –

Trump is taking a short-term view of a long-term problem, which is our colleges and universities are not training an adequate number of American students to fill jobs in technology and the sciences to meet the growing needs of American companies. However, no one is addressing the real problem which is American colleges and universities give preference to foreign students, especially public institutions. The reason is they pay about four times the tuition of residents of a state. Given the magnitude of state budget cuts for public colleges and universities in the aftermath of the financial recession, foreign students are highly sought out for their financial wherewithal thereby crowding out American students.

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

As always, when I give you a brief selection from Steven’s work, you should take the opportunity to go to his site and read the whole thing. I am confident my quick summaries of his work and choice of selections never do full justice to the quality of his efforts.

I have not decided quite how to deal with the new administration and I’ll probably wait to see the executive order itself since I’m trained as an attorney, I firmly believe the devil is in the details. So, it could be just as Steven says, worse or (most likely) a whole lot worse. The drafting of these executive orders has not been impressive. In fact, there is a theory running about that they are Leninist political maneuvers designed to divert attention from the real issues while damaging and dividing enemies of the new administration. I don’t know, myself, whether this is true but I will be watching to see if a pattern forms.

Please LIKE, Favorite and re-blog if you like.

I enjoy the attention and any allies I can find who believe in business ethics are very welcome to join the struggle.

James Pilant

The Steven Mintz Edition!

The Steven Mintz Edition!

The Ethics Sage

The Ethics Sage

My friend, Steven Mintz, better known as The Ethics Sage, has a beautiful new web site which can be found here. For a good number of years now, Professor Mintz has published a blog on ethics, particularly focusing originally on accounting ethics but broadening his focus as time went by.

He also has a Facebook page which like his new web site is quite beautifully laid out.

https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics

I highly recommend his work and he is a prolific author. So there is a lot to see and read.

So visit, share and add to your favorites!

James Pilant

This is Steven’s self introduction from his new web site –

Known as “The Ethics Sage” to many, Dr. Steven Mintz is a well-known Professor Emeritus from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. His blog, The Ethics Sage, was voted number 49 out of the Top 100 Philosophy blogs and one of the top 30 blogs on CSR. Steve provides insights on workplace issues with his blog “Workplace Ethics Advice.” He has written articles for various media outlets including the Pacific Coast Business Times, Chronicle of Higher Education and The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility’s Business Ethics Online. Dr. Mintz is an ethics expert and available to speak on a variety of ethics issues including workplace ethics. . He offers courses on accounting and workplace ethics through “Geniecast.” 

The Ethics Sage Explains Cognitive Dissonance

The Ethics Sage Explains Cognitive Dissonance

My friend, Steven Mintz, better known as the Ethics Sage, has a new posting on his web site, entitled: The Ethical Link Between Our Beliefs and Our Actions.

Cognitive dissonance is one of the important concepts in ethics, how so often our actions and ideas are in conflict and how we manage to reconcile what to so many would seem simple hypocrisy. Mintz explains the concept and its significance in a brief and clear essay.

Below are the first two paragraphs from the blog post –

Cognitive Dissonance and Ethical Decision-Making

A highly ethical person knows his or her values, principles and beliefs. Those values, principles and beliefs would then determine one’s actions when faced with an ethical dilemma. A person who does not understand or fully know his or her values, principles and beliefs, might act in an ethical situation without thinking through the consequences to others, known as System 1 thinking, rather than first considering how our actions affect others, or System 2 thinking. Later on, rationalizations may be used to reconcile actions to ethical beliefs and reduce cognitive dissonance, that is, the disconnect between what our belief says we should do and what we actually do.

A person who always justifies or rationalizes his actions has a flexible belief system or is lacking in the moral virtues and consistency in behavior. In effect justifications and rationalizations become the belief system of that person and relativistic’ situational considerations inform decision-making rather than sound ethical principles.

As always, in the case of this author, I recommend that you visit his web site and read the full article. And maybe stay and look at some of his other work.

James Pilant

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage Explains Cognitive Dissonance

Ted Cruz’s Machiavellian Decision to Drop Out

Ted Cruz’s Machiavellian Decision to Drop Out

(This is a guest post by my friend, Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage.)

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

Ted Cruz’s fellow senators believe he is selfish. They believe he is out for his own good and that he has had aspirations to be President of the United States since his election to the Senate from Texas just four years ago. Last week we witnessed that selfishness when Cruz dropped out of the Republican primary.

Just six days prior he brought Carly Fiorina aboard to be his choice for vice president. He threw Fiorina under the bus. A very competent and spiritual woman, Fiorina gave it her heart and soul albeit for less than a week. Cruz used Fiorina only as long as it benefited him. The decision to drop out six days later smacks of thoughtless behavior. Ted Cruz is the ultimate egoist who acts in his own self-interest.

Just one week before the Indiana primary, Ted Cruz and John Kasich drew up a pact that Kasich would not actively politic in Indiana while Cruz agreed to not do the same in states such as Oregon and New Mexico. Once Cruz dropped out, Kasich had no other choice but to drop out. He also forfeited the opportunity to compete in Indiana. Cruz used Kasich as long as he needed to and then threw him under the bus.

What about his donors who gave about $80 million to the campaign? Didn’t they deserve better? Didn’t they deserve more loyalty to the cause. Didn’t they expect Cruz to be a man of integrity when they agreed to support him? Whatever happened to the pledge to stay in the race until Cleveland and win a floor battle after Trump failed to garner enough delegates on the first ballot?

The irony is that Cruz ran as a principled conservative and violated many ethical principles along the way including honesty, integrity, and responsibility. He abandoned many supporters when he decided it was no longer in hisinterests to pursue the Presidency. No rational person could say he did it for the good of the party, a noble motivation.

Cruz’s behavior illustrates a common problem in workplace ethics. Egoistic leaders attract supporters to the cause because they promise so much but in the end many fail to deliver. In other words, they are not true leaders and their followers abandon ship or are thrown overboard.

Political ethics may be an oxymoron today but that wasn’t always the case. It used to be a high calling to serve the people and place their interests above all else. Cruz’s decisions and actions illustrate the decline in political morality just as there has been a decline in morality in society.

I searched for a parallel from history to characterize Cruz’s actions. I found one in Machiavellianism. It is the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct. The word comes from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, among other works.

His cunning in politics is well known. On September 24, 2013, Ted Cruz finally released his grip on the Senate floor after more than 21 hours of speaking about the need to defund Obamacare. The Texas Republican had seized control of the Senate floor vowing to “speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.” This was the self-interest motivated act that created dislike for Cruz for many Republican senators and why so few supported his candidacy.

In modern psychology, Machiavellianism is one of the dark triad personalities, characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain. As far as Cruz is concerned these traits fit his personal style to a “t.” Perhaps the dark triad is too strong but it may explain why he isn’t a likeable sort. The self-interest and personal gain characteristics are a perfect fit.

Our politicians have let us down so often in the past perhaps we should not be surprised by Cruz. The way he abruptly dropped without considering the consequences of his actions on others – many who had deeply believed he was a principled conservative – speaks volumes about the character of the man and just how far politicians have slide down the proverbial ethical slippery slope with no hope of climbing back up and regaining the high road.

By Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage.

The Ethics Sage Explains Ethical Behavior

Rules for Ethical Behavior in Life and the Workplace

(This is a guest column by Steven Mintz, the Ethics Sage. This is a great privilege for me. He is allowing me to post this before it appears anywhere else. You see it here first!)

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

Have you ever taken something from your employer’s workplace thinking nothing was wrong with “borrowing” office supplies for your home or using company software on your home computer? Surveys consistently show that about 20% of workers take something from their employer that doesn’t belong to them and use it for personal purposes. Well, not only are these people engaging in “asset misappropriation” but they become untrustworthy employees.

So, where do we draw the line between a minor offense that may be excusable and one much more significant that warrants a strong response from management? Well, folks, it doesn’t work that way. There is no materiality test on what is right and what is wrong. Taking something that belongs to your employer is no different than taking something from your neighbor’s house without their permission. Would you go to your neighbor’s medicine chest and take some pharmaceutical item? Of course not so why do the same where your employer is concerned?

Many people do not understand what ethics is. Ethics are not like a spigot that you can turn on and turn off. The ancient Greeks knew that ethics requires practice – practice doing the right thing so that it becomes habitual. Good ethics is dependent upon repetitive acts. It becomes part of your DNA. It’s almost as if you don’t have to think about what the right thing to do is. It becomes instinctive.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you deliberate about what action you should take.

  1. What is the nature of my ethical dilemma (i.e. taking something that doesn’t belong to me; a conflict of interest; or how I treat someone else).
  2. Who are the stakeholders potentially affected by my actions? (i.e. my employer; a co-worker; a friend or family member).
  3. What are the potential consequences of my action? (e.g. potential harms and benefits of my intended action).
  4. Am I potentially violating any party’s rights? (e.g. employer’s right of loyalty; confidentiality; fair-treatment of others).
  5. Reflect on your intended action. How would you feel if your intended action made the front pages of tomorrow’s paper? Would you be proud of your action? Could you defend it?

Some ethical decision-making rules are:

  1. Ethics are not relative to the situation; they are based on long-standing norms of society. Ethics/ethical behavior is based on certain immutable traits of character (i.e. virtues) such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility.
  2. The ends do not justify the means. The way in which you get to your goal is just as important as getting there. If not, you might rationalize an unethical action by saying it accomplishes your goal.
  3. The rights of one party affected by my action directly influences my ethical obligation to that party. My employer has a right to expect me not to divulge confidential information so I have an ethical obligation to act accordingly.

What if you make a mistake; do something you later regret; and want to acknowledge your mistake? Here is my advice in that regard.

  1. Admit your mistake in no uncertain terms; don’t rationalize your misbehavior.
  2. Seem genuinely remorseful for your actions; you’re not admitting it because you got caught.
  3. Promise never to do it again; make amends to those harmed by your actions.
  4. Take steps to change any behavioral patterns that led to your mistake.

We all do things that we regret later on. It’s how we handle the next step that counts most. The problem in business is many try to cover up their actions and their misdeed becomes much worse. One lie begets another until they are sliding down the proverbial “ethical slippery slope” and there is no way to reverse course and seek the moral high ground.

I like to think of ethics as what we do when no one is looking. There is a difference between what you have a right to do and what the right thing to do is. Moreover, under pressure a person’s true character is revealed. You can’t always control the situation you find yourself in, but you can control how you react to it.

Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, is a Professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He blogs at www.ethicssage.com.

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

Ethics of Affirmative Action

(A Guest Blog by My Colleague, Steven Mintz. Visit his site here!)

University of Texas Affirmative-Action Program is upheld by a Federal Appeals Court

Are considerations of affirmative action ethical policies for a university to follow? This is the overriding question to be addressed in evaluating race-based decisions about admission to colleges and universities. I raise the issue because a federal appeals-court panel handed at least a temporary setback to critics of affirmative action last Tuesday by ruling that a race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin had passed a strict-scrutiny analysis ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Critics of the ruling might believe that the ethical principles of justice and fairness work against race-based policies because people should not be treated differently because of race. The ethical support for this kind of opinion holds that equals should be treated equally and unequals should be treated unequally. In other words if there are legitimate reasons to treat one group differently than another, then such treatment is justified.
The problem with this argument is by saying one group (i.e. minorities) should be given preference over another group (i.e. whites) we give credence to the idea that certain groups are inferior because we then assume that the favored groups cannot reach the required level of achievement through their own efforts. Moreover, affirmative action policies lead to lower standards since some less qualified candidates will be admitted if race is allowed to override general standards applied to all.

Opponents of race-based policies hold such views because they value the equal treatment of every person on the basis of common standards. It’s hard to argue this position from a fairness point of view. On the other hand, I believe a diverse population in colleges and universities add to all students’ experiences as they learn in their classes how some groups historically have been discriminated against. I believe the motivation for affirmative action is to right a past wrong and not to give one group preference over another in admissions decisions.

The federal appeals court decision that brought to the fore the affirmative action policies of the University of Texas means that consideration of some applicants’ race are necessary to achieve sufficiently diverse enrollments there. In a 2-to-1 decision revealing continued disagreement among the judges over the appropriate standard for evaluating such policies, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit In response to an overwhelming Supreme Court decision Supreme Court decision that faulted the Fifth Circuit’s previous endorsement previous endorsement of the undergraduate admissions policy as too deferential to the university, the two judges in the majority said the policy withstood stricter scrutiny than applied before.

The appeals-court panel affirmed, for a second time, a 2009 summary judgment by a U.S. District Court dismissing the lawsuit brought by Abigail Noel Fisher, a white applicant who had accused the Austin campus of illegal discrimination after being denied admission as a freshman the previous year.

The ruling Tuesday’s ruling in the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, almost certainly does not mark an end to the legal battle over the policy. the legal battle over the policy. The Project on Fair Representation, an advocacy group that brought the lawsuit on Ms. Fisher’s behalf, said it expected to appeal the decision all the way back to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

“This panel was proven wrong last year by the Supreme Court, and we believe it will be proven wrong once again on appeal,” said Edward Blum, the organization’s director.

Judge Emilio M. Garza, the dissenting member of the Fifth Circuit panel appeared to lay some of the groundwork for an appeal with an opinion arguing that the majority had again failed to treat the university’s assertions with sufficient skepticism.

“By holding that the university’s use of racial classifications is narrowly tailored, the majority continues to defer impermissibly to the university’s claims,” he wrote, adding that such deference “is squarely at odds with the central lesson” of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the case.

In that ruling the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 6-2, that Michigan voters have a right to amend their state Constitution to ban racial preferences in admissions at public universities. In so doing, the court affirmed laws in eight states that have 29 percent of America’s high-school population and more than 40 percent of its Hispanic residents.

In the case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the court’s only Hispanic member, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, wrote a widely acclaimed dissent, in which she challenged Chief Justice John Roberts’s colorblind approach to college admissions as “out of touch with reality.”

A new report by the Century Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, suggests, however, that the concerns of both justices can be met: Alternatives to race-conscious affirmative-action, if properly structured, would produce more diversity than just concentrating on race.

According to a chapter by Anthony P. Carnevale and his colleagues at Georgetown University in the new report, The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education Diversity After Fisher v. University of Texas, using socioeconomic preferences and/or plans that admit a top percentage of students from every high school, if structured properly, could produce even higher levels of black and Hispanic representation at the most selective colleges than racial preferences now achieve. That approach would work because it reflects economic disadvantages that are often shaped by racial discrimination.

Sotomayor’s dissent in Schuette is a strong reminder of the importance of race. “Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up,” she wrote. “Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’ ”
In Schuette, Sotomayor wrote that preferences provide the only realistic path to racial inclusion in higher education, correctly noting that race-neutral alternatives have failed to produce adequate diversity at three high-profile institutions—the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The question of whether affirmative action policies, whether based on racial differences, to right past wrongs, or socio-economic considerations, is a complicated issue from an ethical perspective. Like most contentious issues each position can be argued from different points of view in part, I believe, because the motivation for such preferences underlies the issue of ethical ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness.’

In virtue ethics, motivations are an integral part of the ethical equation. If we can say the motivation for race-based decisions is the inherent goodness of such policies, then the Fisher ruling is ethically supportable. On the other hand, doesn’t Fisher have an ethical right to be given preference based on higher achievement of admissions criteria (i.e. SAT scores)? Doesn’t the University of Texas have an obligation to Fisher to admit her because she was more qualified and denied admission based on socio-economic factors that enabled less qualified candidates to be admitted?

These are difficult questions to answer. I am conflicted because each argument has some merit. As a college professor I have seen first-hand how having a diverse population in my ethics class adds value to the learning experience of all students. On the other hand I can understand the position of a student denied admission because other considerations allowed another student to be given preference for whatever reason.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 22, 2014. Dr. Mintz is a professor in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: www.workplaceethicsadvice.com.

 

The Ethics Sage Discusses the Sterling Scandal

The Ethics Sage Discusses the Sterling Scandal

Steven Mintz also known as The Ethics Sage has some thoughts on Sterling’s racial comments and their origin. As always, please go to his site and read the whole entry, stay for a time and enjoy some of his many other posts and then sign up as a follower to get first notice of new posts.

James Pilant

The Ethics Sage

The Ethics Sage

Does Sterling’s Punishment fit the Crime? – Ethics Sage

I grew up in the 1960s and recall many arguments with my parents over the treatment of African-Americans in the U.S. The differences were not whether schools should be segregated or blacks should sit in the back of the bus or that businesses could refuse to serve black people. It wasn’t that blatant an offense that we disagreed about. It was the more subtle issues such as whether blacks were as capable as whites to make a success out of their lives and be contributing members of society or whether they could learn as well as whites or whether they have the same work ethic as whites. …

via Does Sterling’s Punishment fit the Crime? – Ethics Sage.

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Lizzy P. Beauty.

http://lizzypbeauty.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-racism-and-the-clippers/

This recent audio that has surfaced is truly saddening but there is a wider issue as a whole with the NBA owners in general. Anybody remember when Lebron James left Cleveland and his owner wrote a letter that stated he felt like he owned him personally. As if to imply he was his slave, oh yeah you all let that one pass because you were mad at Lebron. Right???

Steven Mintz Has Written a Textbook

The Ethics Sage

The Ethics Sage

Steven Mintz Has Written a Textbook

My friend, Steven Mintz, has a new textbook. Below is a segment of the review. Please share my pleasure at the accomplishments of a colleague.

James Pilant

Steve Mintz Accounting Ethics Textbook Reviewed – Ethics Sage

From a review by W. Steve Albrecht in the Journal of Business Ethics, March 2014

One of the book’s great strengths is its excellent cases. The first seven chapters include 10 cases each, many of them famous ethical cases where accountants, executives, and corporate directors have been sued or held liable for their decisions and actions. I have personally been an expert witness in several of the cases covered in the book and so I studied the authors’ treatment of these cases in detail. Their write-ups were always accurate, presented in an interesting manner and provided great references for further study by students. The accuracy of the cases led me to follow up on several of the references cited in the chapters which I also found helpful. My conclusion after reading the book, examining in detail some of the cases and reading the 20 discussion questions per chapter was that this book would work equally well as a stand-alone ethics text or as an excellent supplement in auditing, corporate governance, financial reporting, or other business and accounting classes.

via Steve Mintz Accounting Ethics Textbook Reviewed – Ethics Sage.

From around the web.

From the web site, Cal Poly.

http://www.cob.calpoly.edu/faculty/steven-mintz/

Dr. Mintz enjoys an international reputation for research and teaching ethics in business and accounting. He has published two textbooks the most recent publication is Ethical Obligations and Decision Making in Accounting: Text and Cases. Dr. Mintz has published dozens of research papers in the areas of business ethics, accounting ethics, corporate governance and international accounting. Dr. Mintz teaches courses on accounting ethics and international accounting.

 

The Ethics Sage Responds to the Post: Maybe It’s Time For A Movement – A Movement That Moves Beyond Doing Good To Doing Right (via First Friday Book Synopsis)

Steven Mintz

The Ethics Sage, Steven Mintz, comments on an earlier post.

Yes. We can do what is difficult but the first step is recognizing there is a problem. I haven’t seen that from any of our leaders and it’s certainly not discussed in the media. The work ethic and hunger for learning that once existed no longer is there. We have become a soft nation; too many have had it too good for too long. It used to be young people were motivated to succeed at least in part to have it better than their parents. Since they have been given everything they need and want, what’s left? The problem is exacerbated by our instant access culture. Press a button and you have what you want. Go on the Internet and download what you need. We are not a doing society anymore. We are a let others do it for us society. It has taken its toll and those of us who are trying to educate young people are constantly frustrated by the prevailing mentality of students — tell me what I need to know to get the highest grade or best job. I don’t have any answers because I don’t think many people recognize the problem or, if they do, it’s easier to just make believe it doesn’t exist.

Good Words. I, too, see a lack of leadership on moral issues. But we really can’t have a national dialogue without enforcement of the law against the financial sector. When we read daily of the profits of investment bankers against a back drop of investigative reports showing their culpability in financial disaster, it is difficult to tell anyone that high ethical standards are important. Just the opposite. The great investment banks live for profit without any consideration of any moral or ethical principle. They are willing to participate in the destruction of democracies, economies and the, occasional, forest; if it makes money.

In the next life they will be punished. I find that cold comfort when their actions are solid evidence that an immoral corporate culture can make you rich.

These people do not deserve their money. They do not deserve the high opinion in which they are held. They do not deserve the influence they have over the lives of others.

 

James Pilant

They do deserve salaries in proportion to what they produce, not a comical casino profit insured from blunder by the government, but salary based on value produced. Those among them who have committed crimes, prison sentences and confinement in real prisons with real prisoners. These captains of investment deserve to be rated according the their actual accomplishments and abilities not held up as examples to steer youth into ruthless pursuit of gain.

 

The culture I want rewards people based on their merits and at the very least values the common brotherhood of all human kind.

James Pilant

Honesty/Ethics in Professions (via Ethics Sage)

From Professor Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage taken from his post, Honesty/Ethics in Professions.

What should we make of such rankings? I think it reflects the fact that the public is smarter than politicians seem to believe. Bankers, for example, went from a ranking of 37% for high or very high ethics in 2006 down to 23% in 2010. Bankers are now tied with TV reporters. That seems about right. Each group seems to want to put their spin on a story whether it’s the supportability and relative safety of mortgage loans that led to the financial crisis or how one side of the political spectrum portrays the other as the evil incarnate.

The bottom line is the public has lost all respect for the political process that is driven by lobbyists who cozy up to members of Congress by acting as used car salespeople to promote their cause all the while advertising that that they are trying to help the public.

Professor Mintz argues that these poll numbers indicate that the public has lost all respect for the political process. I agree.

However, I would like to add that the public has virtually no way of taking any effective action whatever their feelings.

There is little chance of being elected to office in the United States without money usually a great deal of it. Most Americans cannot make the kind of contributions that makes them a player in political campaigns. Those few that can give that kind of money have different interests than most Americans. So, what most Americans want done will not be done while what a minority of Americans want will be done.

It seems hopeless to even try to think of how to change the system.

The influence of money in elections is not decreasing, it is increasing. The total costs of the 2006 congressional campaigns were about two and one half billion dollars. The 1998 races were a billion dollars less.

The two party system makes it difficult to run as a candidate with non-traditional views. Look at it as a consumer. Essentially we have two flavors of political thought that no one really likes and the way the system is set up we can’t have another flavor. Political thought is homogenized into a form non-threatening to major donors. You can only make one of two choices in an election both of whose party organizations are devoted to fund raising.

If that wasn’t bad enough, political thought is also marketed by the enormous media empires. Their influence is manifested in a common political view expressed by pundits in print or on television. Overwhelmingly the most influential are concentrated around a New York – Washington zone of media coverage. Sometimes referred to as the beltway, this small group generally determines what is politically acceptable and politically possible.

Another factor in public dissatisfaction is the power of international finance and global corporations. Although corruption and a casino mentality produced a financial cataclysm in 2007, a disaster that leaves us with ten percent unemployment even now, these giant organizations were never called to account but in fact rewarded with hundreds of billions of dollars in loans, trillions in financial guarantees and the privilege of borrowing from the Federal Reserve at zero percent interest. There have been no criminal prosecutions and their profits (and bonuses) have increased.

Because influence is concentrated with those who make large campaign contributions, most Americans have negligible influence in the government. Their concerns and needs do not appear important either to the government or media.

Day after day goes by with the government acting on issues critical to the interests of the donating classes and beltway philosophy.

This day by day continuous grinding repetition of political powerlessness creates a majority of Americans who hate the political system and consider the participants to be marginally better than criminals.

James Pilant

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