Five Business Ethics Films!! 3/10/2015


Here is a list of films with business ethics issues. I use these in class. Some are documentaries and some are more conventional movies.

Scandalous women of the 19th century

(Write me a minimum of five sentences using the format in the syallabus to explain whether or not the changes these women inspired in the legal status of women have any relevance in your life today. 8 points extra credit.)

Love Affair

The Charles Boyer character in the film can spend his life with the woman he loves in a state of financial insecurity or marry a beautiful wealthy woman and live a life of indulgence and pleasure seeking. The film is from an earlier era and to them the choice was obvious. What would you choose and why? Is your choice simple and how time do you spend weighing the economic advantages? Could you be happy without financial security?

Three Godfathers

The three men depicted here are bank robbers. Is the film reasonable – does it make sense in the light of our current beliefs? If you were one of the three men, would you have been willing to do what they did? Are there more important things in life than wealth and ease? Could you name some?

Jane Eyre

Jane is a plain girl, with no money, no connection to the aristocratic classes and in fact, very little connection to even the gentile middle class. Rochester can marry a beautiful woman of impeccable breeding who will bring money and influence to the marriage. Is this just some silly Gothic novel designed to alleviate the pain of plain women or is it something of an eternal observation about the fulfilled life as opposed to fulfilling the expectations of society?

Persuasion

According to the film, does the heroine cravenly seek money and position? In a nation heavily influenced by neoliberalism, aren’t we supposed to use the free market to maximize our gains – why or why not? Isn’t matrimony just another form of financial transaction? Aren’t men and women objects of investment and return?

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations


One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

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

One Law for the People, Another for Corporations
One Law for the People, Another for Corporations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Pilant

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

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

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

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

Art and Reductionism


Art and Reductionism

I was listening this morning to the music of Paul Van Dyk. He does techno music and, of course, not everyone enjoys that genre. Nevertheless, I find him quite talented and he is also commercially successful. And that got me thinking. Isn’t he one thing under economic analysis  and another as an artist? And this thought began to trouble me. (Here let me give you an example of his work from the people at You Tube) –

As an economic unit, we can discuss him in terms of record sales,  and perhaps check actuarial tables to see how long he might be expected to live and what profits he might generate over that period. But there are other elements that might be considered. For one thing, when I hear the music I want to dance and I know that I want to hear it again. There is a recognition of pieces of music that I have hard before and the knowledge that this music will be incorporated in that greater experience.

Music is an art subject to creativity. So there are standards other than profitability. We know that a five year tapping enthusiastically on a toy piano is not the equivalent of Tchaikovsky. But measured only by monetary standards, the artistic merits of different works melt away.

Here is an example of a once popular song that you might consider as not being on the same level of talent as the one above-

Imagine yourself as a television or a cable executive. If you have a perception of art as an independent value, you are likely to choose Van Dyk over Stevens. But if you have no perception or much more likely you were taught in business school or in an administrative program that only economic value is important than Stevens might be a better choice.

In fact, under Milton Friedman’s reasoning using anything but Stevens should that music generate the most profit is stealing from the shareholders. A firm has no social responsibility to any stakeholder save the shareholders for they are the economic engine of the organization. Considering the actual power of shareholders in the corporate, this is a fairly comical concept. Here, here and here are vivid examples and explanations of shareholder impotence. (In the third entry, while the author hates the idea of shareholder power, he admits they are currently powerless.)

Perhaps, since in fact, the shareholders are a secondary consideration, we should consider the customer, the audience, to be a legitimate stakeholder? Is there any duty under free market fundamentalism or Neo-liberal doctrine to the consumer? No, they are economic units whose interests are to be weighed in terms of profitability. But there is, if you think of the audience as human beings who may be harmed or degraded by kitsch art and enlightened by great art. But if you do a reductionist analysis – if every element of society from art to a new born child is subject to economic analysis and solely to economic analysis, than the audience is a mass of disassociated atoms who may be used in any manner desired. So why not bombard them with schlock? Why not lie or mislead if that is more popular than the truth? Why not encourage them to hate minorities, despise foreigners and think illegal acts by the government are a pretty good deal? It seems to me that adherence to that kind of reductionism, the idea that monetary value and greed are the basic elements of economic life and life in general, will work to nullify all the thousands of years of philosophy and religion and all the other elements of our cultural heritage that support the concepts of morals, ethics and brotherhood.

I understand the breath taking delight of a unified theory that explains everything. And I have met those who explained to me that economic analysis explains everything from child rearing to heroism and finally to all history. There was a book I read once that explained the American Civil War as purely an economic event. However, my perception is that slavery was a major factor and that the horrifying nature of the practice goes far beyond any economic practice. I worry that if a person were to make decision based on purely economic factors, judging human worth only in terms of value, than slavery begins to make a lot sense. I don’t think so.

Besides slavery, 16 hour days, child labor and moving dangerous industries overseas can all be justified economically. Taking logically to its final conclusion, human rights and democracy are serious impediments to economic development. How about a real life example? How about this one, or this one or this one. It often seems that if a local government questions privatization be it nursing homes or charger school, people begin to talk about abolishing it. Have you noticed what happens when local governments do things that anger corporate interests even in the most peripheral ways? How about this one or this one or this one or this one? These examples show cases where people are losing the ability to make decisions for themselves.

I have been told directly that if I judge one form of art, (if memory serves, my specific example was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as less worth preserving than other art, I’m an elitist. My student seemed to feel that he had won the argument once he trotted out the word “elitist.” While I am cognizant that much of what passed for high art has been discarded over the years and much that was originally derided as trash has been re-examined and reassessed, I don’t worry too much about the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” being reassessed as better than “Citizen Kane.” There are standards and many of them have stood the test of time. But I have been regarded as a fool and a pathetic one for not recognizing the obvious truth that people are a means to an end, that rules are for the weak and that I was never going to make real money with my attitude. In other words, standards, whatever they may be, art work or relational, are irrelevant. Monetary value is the thing.

I ask you to reflect. What if you have a child? Maybe schlock is okay for everybody else’s children but what about yours? I think you might consider doing what I did and not have television in the house. In my case that was from when my son was eleven to the present. He’s now 21, very well read and very much a gentleman. I believe that decision was important in raising a child with strong moral beliefs.

If you are willing to protect your child from poor taste, bad morals and just wasting their time on broadcast nonsense, and I believe you do – than together we believe there are standards that are important and useful. If that is the case, that calls into question the premises of free market fundamentalism and Neo-liberalism. It can’t be that everything is quantifiable in terms of value and yet there are important standards resting on other rationales.

Can we use economic analysis if there are other values? Absolutely. All we have to do is remember that this form of analysis is just a tool. Sometimes it’s useful. Sometimes it’s not. Applying it to every human endeavor is taking a valuable form of thinking and stretching it beyond its capabilities. But there are many who find this kind of gross simplification persuasive and because of the seductive nature of these ideas to wealthy elites, it has become a powerful tool for remaking civilization in the image of the market. That’s a form of idolatry. There are worthy ideas but this one destroys other ideas, in particular, the concepts of inherent human worth, the precepts of religion and philosophical reasoning. Can you imagine a society purely designed along the lines of a market?

We don’t have to live in a world where everything is economically valued. We can live with truth and beauty, love and honor. And we can use economic concepts for economic problems while remembering there are other ways of thinking and other ways of making decisions.

James Alan Pilant

Bank Robberies and Business Crime


Bank Robberies and Business Crime

I was looking at the FBI’s bank robbery statistics for 2009, interesting stuff. And it got me curious – what would business crime look like in terms of profitability by comparison?

 

Violations by Type of Institution

Robberies

Burglaries

Larcenies

Commercial Banks

4,495

44

10

Mutual Savings Banks

16

0

0

Savings and Loan Associations

105

3

0

Credit Unions

398

13

1

Armored Carrier Companies

0

0

1

Totals

5,014

60

12

This table is copied with sincere thanks to the FBI from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/bank-crime-statistics-2011/bank-crime-statistics-2011

That’s 5,014 bank robberies. A little further down you find that the total take on all these robberies was $38,343,501.96. This comes out to an average of $7467.29. To get a middle class income you are going to have a rob several banks.*

Now, let’s have a look at a fairly typical business crime. Here’s a little quote from the SEC

In a complaint unsealed yesterday afternoon in federal court in Denver, the SEC alleges that Kristine L. Johnson of Aurora, Colo., and Troy A. Barnes of Riverview, Mich., have raised more than $3.8 million since April 2014 from investors they enticed into buying positions in their company Work With Troy Barnes Inc., which is doing business as “The Achieve Community.”  In Internet videos and other web promotions, investors were pitched “you and anyone you know can make as much money as you want” by purchasing positions that cost $50 each, and as they progress through the matrix they would receive a $400 payout on each position within three to six months.  Barnes claimed to have hired a seasoned programmer to perfect the triple algorithm investment formula supposedly generating the extraordinary returns.

Unlike a bank robbery where deposits are insured by the federal government, there is little change of recovery under these circumstances. The federal government (SEC) alleges that the funds were used to pay returns for the earlier investors. If true, this would be a classic Ponzi-scheme.

294 Bank Robbed!

I ask you to compare the profits. By any standards, the alleged Ponzi is a much better use of time and probably far safer than bank robbery. If we assume a profit of 50%, that is 1.9 million dollars. A bank robber would have to rob on the average 294 banks to get the same return. If our bank robber hits one bank a day, he’s working more days than a legitimate job at considerable hazard and his work doesn’t have medical insurance or sick leave.

If you do the business crime instead, you get to wear nice clothes, choose your hours and if you figure your profits (1.9 million) by a forty hour week at 52 weeks, that is $918.46 an hour. Now, should you point out there were two of them, you would be right and therefore each would only be getting $409.23 an hour. I would kindly suggest that they didn’t work that many hours.

So, what’s my point? There is business ethics and there is criminal justice. Criminal justice curbs crime and crime pays poorly. Business ethics is also concerned with crime and on a scale undreamed of by the common criminal. Now, of course, the criminal justice is also concerned with business crime. After all the SEC is acting in this case.

But not all business crime is prosecuted and when it is, there are often only fines. Are you aware of the Holder doctrine? Here’s William D. Cohan’s take on it:

That Mr. Holder prefers large settlements to prosecutions is no surprise to anyone familiar with the so-called Holder Doctrine, which stems from his now-famous June 1999 memorandum — when he was deputy attorney general — that included the thought that big financial settlements may be preferable to criminal convictions because a criminal conviction often carries severe unintended consequences, like loss of jobs and the inability to continue as a going concern.

So, if a typical American citizen commits a crime he can expect to go to prison while a bank executive’s whose conviction might have “unintended consequences” will pay a fine. This is where the accused in the SEC case (referred to above) erred – they didn’t run a larger organization where there could be unintended consequences of prosecution.

So, in conclusion, business crime pays hundreds of times better than regular crime, and if done on a large enough scale, prosecution will be waived and fines imposed instead.

It makes it difficult to understand why anyone would want to do something so mundane as rob a bank.

James Pilant

* I have decided to call the amount of money made in an average bank robbery in 2009 – a Pilant Unit. That is, an average of $7467.29 so that the scale of business crime might be better described. In future articles I will refer to business crime in terms of these units. jp

I’m Not Gone!!!


My Kind Readers!

Beginning around the 25th of November, I began to deal with sinus and ear infections.

It was rough. I still managed to go to work (the life of an adjunct is what it is) and stayed even on the bills.

But anything else had to wait. So, I’ve posted but little and for that I apologize.

I finished the third bout of antibiotics last Thursday, the 4th of February. Except for a touch of bronchitis I am very much myself.

Last year, 2014 will gradually fade into memory – my dreams were shattered and what remains is pleasure in books and a love for my students – it will have to be enough.

The blog continues.

So do I.

James Pilant

Bizarre Experts Are No Accident


Bizarre Experts Are No Accident

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Bizarre Experts Are No Accident

Recently Fox “News” had a televised disaster, a terrorism expert whose knowledge and expertise were laughable.  But this cannot be a surprise to those of us who pay attention to the content of cable news.

(At the bottom of the page is a piece from Addicting Info in which a capable journalist discusses the problem.)

In the far off past of the 1960’s, television news lost money. It was supposed to. The news was a return to the public by the networks in return for the use of the airwaves. It was required and expected by the law creating the FCC and part of the administrative rules of the agency.

How times have changed.

The networks were released from these responsibilities to provide a public service. This was in the name of the free market. Because we all know that only when business is freed from regulation and responsibility to the public can real benefits be expected. After all businesses are self-regulating. They will not act against the public interest – Didn’t you read Milton Friedman?

And what benefits we have reaped! Now we have the opportunity to watch “news” programs where facts, reasoning and any semblance of respect for reality are expendable.

So what’s surprising about experts on terrorism who couldn’t cross the street without a map and a boy scout? People who have no concept what they’re talking about are often far more interesting (provocative?) than real experts. After all, you go to college for years and then work in a field for more years, write scholarly papers in an almost inscrutable form of scholarly and bureaucratic English, you tend to be wordy and cautious. This is boring. Since news must turn over the big bucks – (boredom kills profits.) We gotta’ have action. That means extreme statements, and they have to be loud and certain – because that generates ratings.

And if your network has an ideological basis, any real expert is verboten. We’re not just selling news, we’re selling ideology – a one-two punch of certainty  for a specific demographic.

So, by converting to a free market formula for news and giving up any responsibility to the public, we have the opportunity for a representative democracy in which a majority of the population believe nonsense, in which science is ridiculed, conspiracy theories treated as legitimate news and demogogary elevated to an art form.

This is bad business ethics.

James Alan Pilant

Addicting Info – Watch This Journalist’s Brilliant Take Down Of Cable News Experts (VIDEO)

During an interview, Scahill told CNN’s Hala Gorani:

“CNN and MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism expert-industrial complex, where you have people on as paid analysts that are largely frauds who have made a lot of money off of portraying themselves as terror experts and have no actual on-the-ground experience. … Some of your paid analysts, that you have on this network or other networks, basically are just making money off of the claim that they’re experts on terrorism and really don’t have the scholarly background or on-the-ground experience to justify being on your network or any other network.”

via Addicting Info – Watch This Journalist’s Brilliant Take Down Of Cable News Experts (VIDEO).

Obama’s Wonderful Words


Obama’s Wonderful Words

Tom Wheeler is Chairman of the FCC. Tom Wheeler before becoming Chairman of the FCC was a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama.

Obama's Wonderful Words
Obama’s Wonderful Words

President Obama is calling for strong protections for net neutrality with his usual eloquence and newsworthy phrasing. Where was this concern when he appointed Tom Wheeler?

If the President says he wants something done and he appoints someone who is not on the same page, whose fault is it? And how seriously should we take a President who says wonderful, wonderful things but whose actions are not in sync with those same wonderful words?

I believe in net neutrality. Without it, this web site and many others like it will load slower and probably eventually disappear from the net altogether. The President appears to be on my side. It is well said that appearances can be deceiving. If he really wanted net neutrality he would have appointed a stalwart defender of the concept and not an advocate for the cable companies to the commission.

What he wants it to have it both ways and he’s getting it. He wants to be seen as being on the right side of the issue but doesn’t want that right side to become law. So, the President puts on his game face, calls us to battle and then does nothing while keeping up appearances.

It’s called being played and I don’t like being played. I’m not tired of his talk – I’m disgusted with the talk. I believe in the power of words. I’m a teacher. But words are only one element of leadership. Sometimes words are the only things you have but this is the President. He actually gets to appoint people and direct policy. You would think that there would be synchronicity between the two things but with this President, you would be wrong.

I want to see Net Neutrality enshrined in law. The President says he is on my side. How much he means and how much it matters remains to be seen.

James Pilant

Obama Net-Neutrality Stance May Spur Fight With GOP – WSJ – WSJ

Mr. Obama specifically called for the Federal Communications Commission to go beyond its previous proposals and explicitly ban broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or giving preferential treatment to some websites. To achieve that, he said, the FCC should classify broadband as a utility or common carrier, which would open up the industry to greater regulation.

via Obama Net-Neutrality Stance May Spur Fight With GOP – WSJ – WSJ.

The Billionaire Price Index


The Billionaire Price Index

Paul Singer, a billionaire, believes inflation is a serious problem and he is dumfounded by government data that show otherwise. According to him, the evidence before his eyes shows there is a high rate of inflation. He tells us that he has personally witnessed a dizzying increase in the price of up-scale real estate and high-end art prices.

Obviously, this is a silly conclusion based on the most fragmentary evidence, but why is it a business ethics problem?

Simple. Mr. Singer is a billionaire, for many, a fount of wisdom. And the fact is, he is far more influential than thousands of voters (or bloggers). Politicians shake with fear that he might give to their opponents and hope upon hope that he will give to them. Financial publications, business television and newspapers breathlessly publish his words as if he were a newly minted Old Testament Prophet.

But here, he, a major figure in the financial world, shows that he does not understand inflation. What’s wrong with his analysis?

First, the top 1% are doing extremely well right now having captured the lion’s share of the income gains since the financial crisis of 2007. So, obviously prices will increase for high end items when high end incomes are increasing dramatically. That’s pretty simple.

But his analysis is worse. If you’re looking for inflation outside the numbers presented by the CPI, such analysis would seem to include a look at major nation wide prices on such things as energy. Further, if there is an actual high rate of inflation, shouldn’t it be reflected in the currency markets as well as in the countless economic transactions like those on the Chicago Mercantile?

Reasoning and logic are basic to business ethics. Before you can analysis the ethical and unethical, it is a necessity to understand what’s going on. Mr. Singer is calling for dramatic changes in economic policy. These would have the effect of more protection for already accumulated capital and make the labor market more difficult across the country causing hardship for millions. His reasoning is nonsensical but his influence is vast.

It seems to me that disregarding evidence and making policy based on that disregard is irresponsible and unethical.

It also implies that the “ruling class,” the “beltway,” and the “very serious people” (all very much the same group) have a loose grip on reasoning but a hard and strong grip on ideas that favor protecting their interests.

James Pilant

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The Billionaire Price Index

An Excerpt from The Washington Post -

This billionaire thinks the Fed is missing the hyperinflation in the Hamptons – The Washington Post

Which brings us to Paul Singer. He’s the hedge fund billionaire who’s made a small part of his fortune buying bonds from countries on the edge of default, and then suing them to get paid in full.* (This hasn’t worked quite as well with Argentina). Well, it turns out that he has some very idiosyncratic ideas about what inflation actually looks like. His latest investor letter recycles all these ideas, inveighing against the Fed’s “fake prices,” “fake money,” and “fake jobs,” before zeroing in on where inflation is really showing up — his wallet:

Check out London, Manhattan, Aspen and East Hampton real estate prices, as well as high-end art prices, to see what the leading edge of hyperinflation could look like.

That’s right: Paul Singer thinks Weimar-style inflation might be coming because he has to pay more for his posh vacation homes and art pieces.

via This billionaire thinks the Fed is missing the hyperinflation in the Hamptons – The Washington Post.

Testing Madness


Testing Madness
137
Testing Madness

Students attending Holyoke public schools have their test scores posted in their classrooms on the walls. (See the article at the bottom of the essay.)

“Under Dr. Paez’ direction, teachers are currently required to post student data including test scores, reading levels and other academic scores and information in their classrooms and other public areas of schools,” said Paula Burke, of Lawler Street, parent of a third-grader at Donahue School.

Humiliation used as a means of social control? – or for “encouraging students?” It sounds like a Dickens novel.

That’s not teaching. That is corporate culture. Teaching encourages learning and has a deep and abiding concern for the psychological welfare of the students. Because we that teach know that a damaged learner gets few benefits from an education. Corporations post results to force competition and winnow out the winners and the losers.

But these are not corporate pawns made to suffer psychological abuse to make them push for higher sales. These are children.  We’re not supposed to be dividing them into winners and losers. First, of all, they are children. Children going to school can have good and bad years, good subjects and bad subjects, etc. Second, designating human beings in the midst of the development of their skills and judgment is bound to be wildly inaccurate. Is is simply not fair.

But what does fairness have to do with testing madness? It is designed to determine winners and losers – principally losers.

But what is the matter with the truth? After all they earned those scores, they should know where they stand?

No, they are not adults with a capacity to absorb criticism. This is because adults have formed self perceptions with defenses. These children are very young and they have little to filter out the devastating effects of early stigmatization. This is a definition of labeling theory? – Do you see the connection?

Unwanted descriptors or categorizations – including terms related to deviance, disability or diagnosis of a mental disorder – may be rejected on the basis that they are merely, often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. A stigma is defined as a powerfully negative label that changes a person’s self-concept and social identity.

There is a perception among many that labeling people as losers particularly early in their lives has an effect on the rest of their lives. That testing partisans are willing to curse children by stigmatizing them does not speak well of the testing movement.

What is this competition thing, anyway? I’ve heard people speak of competition as if it were the natural process of life that everything revolves around. There have to be winners and losers. Not always. There are some things in our society that lend themselves to that but many, most, don’t. We don’t educate children into winners and losers. We educate them to have basic abilities like reading and writing but principally we educate them to be good citizens because that is what makes for successful democratic societies.

We cooperate in social settings, in obeying the law and doing such complex tasks as driving. To get to work, to successfully achieve our goals, cooperation is generally more important than knocking the other guy down.

Sometimes we compete but most of the time and in most situations we cooperate. Generally speaking education is a cooperative endeavor.

Turning it into a meat processor devoted to dividing students early and often into groupings of success and pain is only good to the most twisted of minds.

This is corporate thinking and corporate processing aimed at the most impressionable of our population. It calls into question the judgement and intelligence of our corporate elites. This kind of formulaic, one size fits all, group think is not an indicator of ability. It’s an indicator of a pervasive lack of thought. In short, an inability to understand business ethics and apply ethical thinking to the world at large.

Over and over again, I see simple business ideas of dubious quality applied to every situation apparently because if it is an idea from business it must be good.

I believe in a reliance on facts and reasoning. That is how you make good judgements in life and in education.Formulaic thinking has good results when luck and chance favor it. That’s not good enough.

James Pilant

“Poster child for tenure”: Why teacher Agustin Morales really lost his job – Salon.com

Last February, Morales and some of his colleagues, as well as parents whose students attend Holyoke public schools, spoke at a school committee meeting (the equivalent of a school board) and protested a directive from higher-ups to post students’ test scores on the walls of their classrooms, complete with the students’ names. Paula Burke, parent of a third-grader at Donahue, called the walls “public humiliation.” Some teachers questioned whether posting data publicly violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. As I reported at the time for In These Times, the superintendent tried to turn the tables on teachers, saying that they were never told to use students’ names and that the directive did not come from the administration, but the teachers released a PowerPoint from their training session that clearly showed photos of sample data walls, with first names and last initials.

via “Poster child for tenure”: Why teacher Agustin Morales really lost his job – Salon.com.

An additional note from the Washington Post –

Today’s version: data walls, where teachers are making lists of all kinds of data — very often student test scores and grade data — and putting them up for display so everybody can revel in the glory of data. The use of “data” to “drive instruction” has become a mantra among many school reforms in recent years, and, as one manifestation, teachers in states across the country are being encouraged to create these data walls. They are even getting professional development in how to create them. Some include the names of students — even kindergarteners — while some don’t.

A Good Person, Really?


A Good Person, Really?
A Good Person, Really?
A Good Person, Really?

At the bottom of the page is an excerpt from “War Machine’s” suicide note. For whiny self indulgence, it would be difficult to exceed. In his mind, he is being persecuted, apparently for being a “real” man.

What does this have to do with business ethics? Haven’t you noticed that men’s sports seems to involve on a routine basis, a level of misogyny more appropriate for the Dark Ages than 21st century America? It’s not an aberration. It’s part of the win at any cost mentality. It’s part of a male centered system in which moving a ball around an enclosed area is somehow of critical importance.

A lot of this is about money. A hooked customer is much better than a thinking one. But on the other hand, a lot of it isn’t. The feeder teams, the high schools, have only limited money incentive to compete (aside from the enormous costs to education) yet here too we encounter misogyny on an incredible scale. Rape victims are re-victimized. Hazing of a particularly deviate kind is considered a “boys will be boys” problem. Parents rush to defend football programs where the players act more like a youth gang than a sport.

It results in attitude’s like War Machine’s note. War Machine is a victim in his view – a very high level of Freudian projection. The woman he seriously injured is persecuting him. When she broke up with him and moved on, she had the nerve to have sex with someone else. You can almost hear an orchestra of tiny violins. And he’s unfairly being charged with crimes because he’s a guy living in the wrong era. Ah, if only there was a good Viking raiding party needing a few good men, maybe some horde ready to ride out of the wilderness and destroy a fledgling civilization. But unfortunately, he lives in a nation where there is some law and he will be held accountable.

This bleeds over into schooling, work and politics.

One of the worst elements of misogyny that seems to leak into every part of work and play is the amazing capacity for males to blame women for male behavior. Be it rape, pregnancy, or spousal abuse, every single time, no matter what the circumstances, “she” should have done something else. She should not have been out that late, She should not have worn those clothes. She should not have talked back. She should not have resisted or she should have resisted. She should have known what to expect. She should not have been drinking.

Or on the job – she should not have been so aggressive. She should not have applied for the job if she was just going to get pregnant. She should not have joined a job if she couldn’t take being or not being in the “boys’ club. She shouldn’t take so much time off. She shouldn’t have so many children.

See, it’s all the women’s fault. You might think rape is an affirmative act requiring decision making and physical action on the part of the perp, but no, men are lured into rape by the siren call of cunning, conniving women. You know, the root of all evil, cursed by poor negotiating skills with snakes. And women get pregnant by themselves. And beat themselves up, etc.

A new era is upon us. We are going to have to think about these issues. The note from “war machine” is a wake up call to the rest of us about the costs of misogyny, the macho culture of sports and the stupidity, the self-righteousness of some men.

James Pilant

Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend

However, his attitude changes later in the letter as he admits to “crying like a lil’ bitch” and blames Mack for the “f*cking ridiculous” allegations that have ruined his life. He wrote:

“They wanna charge me with battery and domestic violence? Fine, do it, but don’t railroad me with B.S. fantasy charges like: Rape! Attempted murder! Kidnapping! And Burglary! It’s making it impossible for for justice.

I’m a good person with a huge heart and everyone who knows me know that, especially Christy.” (source)

War Machine seems to have forgotten that he fractured Mack’s rib, ruptured her liver, knocked out her teeth and broke her nose. Not to mention that he attempted to kill her, and would have succeeded if she hadn’t run away. Instead, he suggests that Mack’s “scumbag agent” is pressuring her to testify against him for cash.

Toward the end, War Machine again whines about men’s rights, saying:

“Society has killed men, I was never meant to live in this era anyway. Follow your dreams and think for yourselves.” (source)

via Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend.