Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Tag: White House (Page 1 of 3)

Unpaid Internships, A Career Pathway for the Wealthy

Unpaid Internships, A Career Pathway for the Wealthy

Unpaid Internships, A Career Pathway for the Wealthy

Unpaid Internships, A Career Pathway for the Wealthy

The scourge of unpaid internships must stop. It’s give an enormous advantage to those with the money to live without income. It’s a slap in the face to every highly skilled motivated American who has to pass on these opportunities they lack inherited wealth or well placed families.

These are jobs, period. Most of us can’t work for no money. But these jobs provide vital contacts for later careers specifically politics and lobbying.

Essentially these are an extension of the charmed lives of the children of the wealthy, you know, the pompous fools proclaiming they got everything they have through hard work and intelligence when their every move was cushioned by private and public wealth. It is an ongoing somber warning to the 99% that you are not a player in this game.

It’s time for this practice to end and that the Obama White House continues to do it is not surprising. This administration is just as wired into the system of the malefactors of great wealth as any previous administration.

Let’s have a real system of interns made up of the best and brightest of those in our colleges and universities. Ability and competence are common characteristics among this great people, the Americans. Surely we can set up a program where college students can compete on the basis of ability not birth.

James Pilant

How the young elite rise in Washington, D.C. – Salon.com

What do you call an employer that refuses to pay its workers any salary at all? Answer: The White House.

via How the young elite rise in Washington, D.C. – Salon.com.

Abraham Lincoln and the Bottom 47%

Abraham Lincoln and the bottom 47%

Abraham Lincoln and the Bottom 47%

Recently, a presidential candidate referred to bottom 47% of the American population as self identified victims. Abraham Lincoln had a different view of the poor. He had a deep concern for the less fortunate in society as is illustrated by this story (below). Would we lived in such times that this kind of judgment (and the kind of man who would make it) were honored and esteemed. Instead we are told to worship and respect the “job creators,” the PR name for what are often little more than predators.

James Pilant




An Ohio Senator had an appointment with President Lincoln at six o’clock, and as he entered the vestibule of the White House his attention was attracted toward a poorly clad young woman, who was violently sobbing. He asked her the cause of her distress. She said she had been ordered away by the servants, after vainly waiting many hours to see the President about her only brother, who had been condemned to death. Her story was this:

 She and her brother were foreigners, and orphans. They had been in this country several years. Her brother enlisted in the army, but, through bad influences, was induced to desert. He was captured, tried and sentenced to be shot—the old story.

 The poor girl had obtained the signatures of some persons who had formerly known him, to a petition for a pardon, and alone had come to Washington to lay the case before the President. Thronged as the waiting-rooms always were, she had passed the long hours of two days trying in vain to get an audience, and had at length been ordered away.

 The gentleman’s feelings were touched. He said to her that he had come to see the President, but did not know as he should succeed. He told her, however, to follow him upstairs, and he would see what could be done for her.

 Just before reaching the door, Mr. Lincoln came out, and, meeting his friend, said good-humoredly, “Are you not ahead of time?” The gentleman showed him his watch, with the hand upon the hour of six.

 “Well,” returned Mr. Lincoln, “I have been so busy to-day that I have not had time to get a lunch. Go in and sit down; I will be back directly.”

 The gentleman made the young woman accompany him into the office, and when they were seated, said to her: “Now, my good girl, I want you to muster all the courage you have in the world. When the President comes back, he will sit down in that armchair. I shall get up to speak to him, and as I do so you must force yourself between us, and insist upon his examination of your papers, telling him it is a case of life and death, and admits of no delay.” These instructions were carried out to the letter. Mr. Lincoln was at first somewhat surprised at the apparent forwardness of the young woman, but observing her distressed appearance, he ceased conversation with his friend, and commenced an examination of the document she had placed in his hands.

 Glancing from it to the face of the petitioner, whose tears had broken forth afresh, he studied its expression for a moment, and then his eye fell upon her scanty but neat dress. Instantly his face lighted up.

 “My poor girl,” said he, “you have come here with no Governor, or Senator, or member of Congress to plead your cause. You seem honest and truthful; and you don’t wear hoopskirts—and I will be whipped but I will pardon your brother.” And he did.


A Complete Collection of the Funny and Witty Anecdotes that made Abraham Lincoln Famous as America’s Greatest Story Teller With Introduction and Anecdotes

By Alexander K. McClure

(This material is in the public domain.)

Enhanced by Zemanta

President Claims to be Concerned with the Mortgage Crisis

The following article title and brief selection is by Zandar from the web site, Zandar Versus the Stupid.

I very much want you to visit the site and read the article in full. If at all possible explore the web site and look at other essays.

My commentary is below the article excerpt.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 84

A White House official said Obama has taken the housing crisis seriously since the start of his term and will look to augment the effort in the months ahead.

“From day one the President has worked to stabilize the housing market and help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, including through refinancing efforts, foreclosure prevention programs and programs directed at the hardest hit states,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

“The President will continue to expand on these efforts and look at new ways to help homeowners, just as he has over the past few months with new programs to help underwater homeowners and expanding forbearance so more unemployed homeowners can stay in their homes,” she said.

I wish that were true. I wish the mortgage crisis had been an important concern for the White House but it has not been a concern and is unlikely to become one.

When the President was first elected he had large majorities in both the House and Senate. He could have made mortgage foreclosures a priority instead he created TARP, a plan which did not allow for mortgages to be reduced in line with reduced home values but only extended the time for payment. The banks used this program as a club to expedite foreclosure. They told clients to skip payments for three months to qualify for the program, then foreclosed on them telling them they had decided they were ineligible. The government didn’t even keep records of what the program was doing for the first year.

When the robo-signing scandals began, the federal government did nothing. When the scandal expanded to impugn the record keeping and practices of several large banks, the federal government did nothing.

And now the federal government attempts to cut a sweetheart deal with the industry so that they can evade any legal responsibility for their acts while, in theory, bringing some minimal aid to homeowners.

This administration has always been far more a servant of the banks than a servant of the people. I want as many State Attorney Generals as possible to no longer cooperate with the administration and pursue their own negotiations with the financial industry. That will mean that justice at least has a chance of being served.

James Pilant

Enhanced by Zemanta

Are Your Children Likely to Make More Money than You?

No. The statistics are clear.  The ability to change class to move upward is very, very limited. Most people on average and most commonly will make about the same money as their parents.

Why are we in this situation? Well, education is no longer a likely venue to higher income. The privileged have access to Ivy League schools and privately educate their children from the nursery to college. Currently we have what is essentially two education systems in the United States, one for the upper class and public education for everyone else. God help anyone self-educated like Abraham Lincoln. People like that aren’t even in the ball game.

What else? Well there’s hiring practices. The upper middle class reassured by such books as “Emotional Intelligence” hire on the basis of comfort. And comfort by and large means hiring your own social class. It diminishes the importance of ability and makes skilled work annoying to others.

Contacts are another critical factor. I’ve heard many people say, “It’s not what you can do, it’s who you know.” I don’t think that knowing the plant manager is that big a deal down in the lower class where I dwell. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about access to Congressmen and Governors. I’m talking about the heads of corporations and the deans of business schools. I’m talking about knowing the players in the financial sector, of knowing where the levers are when it comes to getting loans, jobs and influence. Those are the contacts that make a difference.

Tell me, what’s all A’s at state U, compared to Harvard or Georgetown? What is raw ability when you don’t golf, wear the right clothes or speak the language of the upper class? What is your chance of moving up in the world when maybe you know a state representative and the other guy has a letter from the White House?

We can do better.

Ability should be the measure of success. Social class shouldn’t be a burden borne only by the workers. The cozy club atmosphere of the privileged should be open to all comers.

James Pilant

Here is the article title and a paragraph explaining the numbers behind my claims.

The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States
Alan B. Krueger
Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
January 12, 2012

More research has been done on intergenerational income mobility. Studies find that your
parent’s income is a good predictor of your subsequent income. Studies that use income data
averaged over longer periods of time for parents and children tend to find higher correlations
between parental and children’s income. A reasonable summary is that the correlation between
parents’ and their children’s income is around 0.50. This is remarkably similar to the correlation
that Sir Francis Galton found between parents’ height and their children’s height over 100 years
ago. This fact helps to put in context what a correlation of 0.50 implies. The chance of a person
who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10
percent as an adult is about the same as the chance that a dad who is 5’6” tall having a son who
grows up to be over 6’1” tall. It happens, but not often.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bachmann Criticizes Obama’s Student Loan Plan – From the Wires – Salon.com

Obama is changing the rules governing student loans to make them easier to pay. Bachman does not like it.

Like her right-wing brethren, Bachman has a fetish for a thing called “personal responsibility.” I put it in quotes because what she means by the phrase is different than an actual English interpretation of it. Let’s quote from the article:

“There is a morality in keeping our financial promises, and I don’t think we should push that off onto the taxpayer,” she said. “The individual needs to repay and be responsible for repaying their student loan debt.”

 Bachmann Criticizes Obama’s Student Loan Plan – From the Wires – Salon.com

In English, personal responsibility means that individuals have a responsibility for their obligations. But Bachman only means the little people, those individuals with mortgages, student loans and credit card debts. She is merciless in her desire to have every last dime extracted from these individuals.

But she is less enthusiastic about investment banks, American corporations’ overseas operations, or any legal accountability for the economic catastrophe of the Wall Street Crash of 2007 and it subsequent bailout (at a 100% of the value of the toxic assets). How long could I go on about the incredible lack of responsibility by much of our corporate and ruling class?

So, personal responsibility is only applicable to certain people.

Let me make a guess as to how the little people, those with personal responsibility, as opposed to those without are divided. It’s purely driven by the size of their campaign contributions and the number of lobbyists they field.

It is not surprising that Bachman is unable to manage any criticism of a student loan system that among other problems happily pays out money for valueless degrees by unaccredited institutions. It is not surprising that imposing twenty and thirty years of debt on America’s young is not a problem in her eyes. It is not surprising that the pain of ten of millions of Americans who live day to day one step above financial insolvency while American* corporations horde their money and enjoy record profits does not strike her as a serious problem.

James Pilant

*I sometimes wonder just how American they are. Corporate fidelity to the moral standards of a patriot seem questionable at best. Many business thinkers deny that corporation have any responsibility toward the nations whose laws and military protect them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Business Ethics in History – Abraham Lincoln

… An old acquaintance in Illinois, having organized a bank under the new National Bank Act, wrote offering some of the stock to Lincoln, who replied with thanks, saying he recognized that stock in a good national bank would be a good thing to hold, but he did not feel that he, as President, ought to profit from a law which had been passed under his administration. “He seemed to wish to avoid even the appearance of evil,” said the banker.

Carl Sandburg’s

Abrahm Lincoln – The War Years, 1861-1864

Page 344

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Defining Moment of the Obama Presidency

The defining moment of the Obama Presidency occurred on August 14th, 2010.

On August 13th, the President made a ringing endorsement of the right of any religion to build a temple to their faith anywhere in the United States. I was very impressed. I had been developing doubts about the President and his willingness to perform those promises from the campaign. Here was a good reason, a very good reason: the defense of basic American rights, to take a second look and maybe come back around to backing the President. I began to think about what I should do.

But I didn’t have to think long.

On August 14th, the President walked it all back. He continued to back the right of believers to build their own places of worship as a general principle but he was not in charge of deciding individual cases – he was not judging the “wisdom” of the decision to build the mosque.

The President was unable to maintain a basic Constitutional principle for 24 hours. It was incredible.

As far as I am concerned the President probably believes what he says while he is saying it. After that he merely considers the political advantages of whether or not to continue believing. He deserves no support from any believer in anything but the most mundane theory of situational ethics.

I do not believe his recent call for jobs is anything but a temporary gambit to lure the foolish among the Progressives and Liberals to return for his election campaign.

I am not going to assist. I am done with the President.

James Pilant

Here are his words and a brief television news report. See if you see it differently.

August 13, 2010, from the BBC

“We must all recognise and respect the sensitivities surrounding the
development of lower Manhattan, Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground. But let
me be clear, as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the
same right to practise their religion as anyone else in this country.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre
on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and
ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be
unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this
country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential
to who we are.”

August 14th, 2010 from Fox News

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the  decision to put a mosque there,” he said in response to a reporter’s question  after he spoke about efforts to aid the Gulf Coast region. “I was commenting  very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.  That’s what our country is about.”

Here you can see much the same material from CBS News.(Warning – you have to watch a thirty second commercial)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Elizabeth Warren Announces for the U.S. Senate

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressiona...

Image via Wikipedia

This is from Daily Kos. The actual announcement is not supposed to be out until tomorrow.

Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren will officially launch her campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts on Wednesday, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

“The pressures on middle class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington,” Warren said in a statement. “I want to change that. I will work my heart out to earn the trust of the people of Massachusetts.”

Warren has been exploring a run in recent weeks, and has been on a listening tour of the state.

Professor Warren has addressed many issues particularly  consumer fraud. One of her specialities is the pressure on and the decline of, the Middle Class in America. I have watched this presentation. I recommend you watch it as well. Just click on the link.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

You may consider this web post an endorsement of Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy. I wish her well and hope to play my small part in the struggle for that Senate seat.

James Pilant

Enhanced by Zemanta

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


Enhanced by Zemanta

Bob Cesca – Are Progressives Losing Touch With Reality?

(I want you to know that I recognize that this essay is going to offend readers. I am sorry about that. I wanted very much over the last two years to write about how home owners were saved from foreclosure, how the banks were stopped from paying bonuses with public money, how thorough investigations were conducted into the banking practices which resulted in the financial meltdown, how the financial regulation of the 1930’s was reinstated to prevent future disasters, how white collar criminals were frog marched from their fancy offices and incarcerated, and how the President called on Americans particularly in the business world to act ethically, morally and responsibly. I didn’t get to write those essays.)

This is a response to Bob Cesca’s essay in the Huffington Post

Bob finds the President’s ability to sacrifice core beliefs that he asserted a few days before to be admirable displays of negotiating ability.

The President agrees to extend the Bush tax cuts after unequivocally saying he would not.

Losing touch with reality? Those funny people can read newspapers, observe blogs and understant ideology and facts.

The facts are clear. The President has no principle he is willing to stand for. None. Nada. Zero.

You expect a President to occasionally give up an ideogical point for negotiation. With Obama, whoops, excuse me, Mr. Cesca, I mean President Obama, everything is on the table.

Watching him eaten alive by Republican piranha is hardly the political vision held by Americans when he was elected.

Let me make it absolutely clear to you, Mr. Cesca. Lyndon Johnson said he knew the difference between chicken s**t and chicken salad. We’ve been fed a steady diet of chicken s**t by this White House.

It’s time for something different. It’s time for a primary challenge.

It would be better to have some exercise in actual belief than continual surrender.

It would be better to have a human being with some sincerity, some vestige of belief, some commitment to his own words, than this.

You want political reality, Bob? You want some straight talk, Cesca?

Try this. A good section of the Progressive movement are fed up and disgusted. They are not coming up with money, knocking on doors and doing all that other stuff that paid off with exactly, precisely zero. Progressives worked for this President. Oh, did I get that right, Bob, saying President? Does that make you feel more comfortable? Progressives are the cutting edge of the blade. They are the people that organize and fight for a candidate. No, they are not a majority of the Democratic party, just the part that gets out and fights. What are you hoping for? That Palin is the nominee, and all the Progressives will say they are sorry and come flocking back to fight?

What if it’s not Palin? What are you going to do then? Will you write how Progressives are out of touch while they sit at home?

This is rage, Bob. This is what you get when you get betrayed over and over again.

This is what you get when you watch banks bailed out to the last dime and watch the HAMP program (run by a twenty year veteran of Citibank) go down in flames having helped less than a million Americans of whom more than twenty percent are going back into foreclosure.

Oh, I guess that doesn’t bother you, Bob. See those are real, breathing, walking around Americans having the largest investments in their lives seized and turned into quick cash by those same bailed out banking institutions.

I teach business law and business ethics. Did you ever walk into a class and try to explain how a privileged class can crush the economy by gambling on derivatives and playing with home mortgages like monopoly money and walk away with their millions (billions) intact. No criminal investigations, no action taken to recover the money, the President constrained from even light criticism. All I have to do is explain that virtue is its own reward. Hard sell, Bob?

But morals, ethics, campaign promises, they can all be dispensed with for pragmatism. After all, cutting a deal, however bad, is what it is all about. Right?

Losing touch with reality? Lord God, I wish. This is a nightmare.

If anyone had told me two years ago, this would be the result of the election, I would have thought they were mental.

There was a lack of contact with reality. But it was then, not now. We know what we have now and it’s not much.

James Pilant

Enhanced by Zemanta

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén