The “What Now?” Edition


The “What Now?” Edition

And so we arrive at the end of the Barack Obama administration by my account and that of objective reality – a business ethics disaster. The villains who almost destroyed the world economy found not justice but money and friendship in the Obama Administration. The financial criminals who did so much to destroy the fabric and any sense of honor in this society walk the streets as free men and, in fact, take their places at the highest levels of government in our new administration. Barack Obama failed at one of the most critical duties of the President of the United States. He failed to bring evil men to justice.

And now some of those same evil men will be making policy in the new administration. That was easily predictable.

I refused to support Hilary Clinton because many of those same bankers were part of her campaign and would have been part of her administration. When given the opportunity to speak to the criminal scum that endangered our society and have destroyed the economic lives of millions – this was her approach:

Far from chiding Goldman Sachs for obstructing Democratic proposals for financial reform, Clinton appeared to sympathize with the giant investment bank. At a Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in October 2013, Clinton almost apologized for the Dodd-Frank reform bill, explaining that it had to pass “for political reasons,” because “if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it’s all the fault of Wall Street, you can’t sit idly by and do nothing.”

Of course, she tried to keep this boot licking approach secret by refusing to release the transcripts of the speeches. In the foolishly moral like me, it would seem speaking in secret with a message of government servitude to the banking industry while saying something different to us would be wrong but her lack of ethics and morality were apparent to only people like me. There were many that were willing to overlook this kind of behavior on the grounds that the other guy was worse. I decline to do so. And I made the right decision. This administration will be terrible but the kind of sustained think tank, contributor controlled, Democratic Leadership Council inspired oligarchy, could have continued for decades. She could very well have made this Neo-liberal monstrosity a permanent part of our institutions.

I do not think it is irrational behavior on my part to wait for a candidate who is willing to enforce the law against the banking industry. I do not think that expecting a President to defend the nation from those whose financial excesses endanger the common good and the economic lives of millions should be surprising or outside the bounds of our politics.

So what now, am I willing to hold Donald Trump to the same standards I expected of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton? Yes I will. I do admit there is a level of strangeness in the new President that I find daunting. Let me explain.

I have taught for many years and I have my students write essays. A good portion choose to do no research before writing, not even the most casual internet browse. And it’s like talking to your neighbor over the offense or in the bar with a fellow drinker. They just write their gut feelings which are very often just ill conceived nonsense. And that is the sense I get from President Trump. Further, I sense no intellectual depth at all. His behavior is almost primal.

People often want to put me in some kind of ideological box. I am supposed to be a liberal or a progressive or something. People are astonished at my criticisms of Obama because “Well, isn’t he your president?” He was President of the United States and I voted for him the first time and refused to vote for him the second time. In my mind, following the party line is wrong whether it is that of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or any other party. I am a passionate advocate for women’s equality and I have come to a point where I consider racism such despicable nonsense that those espousing it are no longer in my judgment ladies or gentlemen.

I have no illusions that the stranglehold of contributors on the Democratic Party establishment will be broken or that the Republicans will find a sense of purpose beyond winning and servitude to the wealthy.

I speak for business ethics and that is enough.

James Alan Pilant

The Epic Failure Edition


The Epic Failure Edition

I am referring, of course, to Wells Fargo.

hmlbr17Today we begin with a business ethics post from the blog, Lead Today. If you read yesterday’s post, you will note that both Mr. Keating and I are on the same page on this issue. Of course, as one business ethics blogger has complained, I’m shrill. Perhaps Mr. Keating my be considered more measured in his approach. In any case I was delighted with his take on the Wells Fargo Ethics disaster and I’ve included the first four paragraphs from it. However, you really must go and read the whole thing. And please like it and rate it, etc. Give the guy some attention for a fine piece of writing and a willingness to talk ethics in a business climate where people give you knowing smirks while occasionally rolling their eyes when you say words like morality or accountability. 

There is then a post about the loss of black teachers followed by some excellent writing from Eslkevin’s Blog. Next, a writer ridicules mainstream economics, a sentiment I very much share. There is a quick link to a clever post from “Hello Kitty, Some Blog,” a site I visit often. 

And we close with a remarkable business ethics disaster, the F-35A. Did I say remarkable? Really I’m thinking “legendary.” It’s going to make the Sgt. York Air Defense system, the M-16 and the F-111 into minor footnotes in the Pentagon’s long history of financial and military disasters. 

James Pilant

As usual, Please LIKE, Please Share and please subscribe.

 

This is Steve Keating writing in the blog, Lead Today

i_00i_145_tnWe have been presented with two options to choose from. Either the executive team at Wells Fargo is as corrupt as an executive team can be or they are the dumbest group of people ever to run any organization. 

5300 Wells Fargo employees were terminated last week for creating millions of fraudulent accounts to meet what has been described as nearly unbearable pressure and demands to add new customer accounts. Progress at some branches was reviewed as many as 4 times a day. The pressure was relentless. 

Nothing, not morales, not ethics, not even those little things called laws could slow down the relentless push to meet the Wells Fargo corporate initiative known as “Gr-eight Initiative.” Wells Fargo has a goal that every customer should have eight separate accounts with the bank.

Apparently goals are more important than anything at Wells Fargo. In order to meet the goals of the initiative employees opened new accounts for current customers without the customer’s approval or knowledge. This required forging signatures, creating fake email accounts, and moving customer’s money between these accounts without their knowledge, sometimes causing a customer’s real account to go into the red.

….

The loss of black teachers

i_00i_258_tnRizga focuses on the story of one teacher, Darlene Lomax. But the story she tells is about the widespread shedding of black teachers, women and men who were the backbones of their communities. In Philadelphia, almost 20% of black teachers are gone; in New Orleans, 62%; in Chicago, 40%; in Cleveland, 34%. School closings have been concentrated in historically black communities. Black teachers have been disproportionately displaced by “reform.”

There’s still hope according to Eslkevin’s Blog! (I think so, too. jp)

(This is really a good piece of writing – this is another one you really should go to the original blog and read the whole thing while browsing all the other writing there. jp) 

i_00i_286_tnI say all this because, as a journalist in this crazy year of our lord 2016, on a good day the temptation is to tilt toward cynicism. It’s our job to rake the muck and expose the trolls, to cast light on the wrongdoing and the failings in our society, but it’s up to others to set them right. Today, at this site, Bill Moyers writes about the greatest failing, the true disaster, of our time: the scourge of growing inequality, economic and political. He describes it as “a despicable blot on American politics,” as the very wealthy convert their financial might into political power to guard that wealth while exacerbating inequality further. The statistics Moyers deploys are chilling. Consume enough of them and you’re liable to feel a bit gloomy. But like those undergraduates, Moyers (very distinctly a post-graduate of our difficult political world) holds onto the hope, as today’s piece suggests, that Americans can still fix our world, make it a better place.

Paul Krugman Wrong

i_00i_281_tnThe only economic analysis that Krugman and other mainstream economists accept is the one that takes place within the analytic-formalistic modeling strategy that makes up the core of mainstream economics. All models and theories that do not live up to the precepts of the mainstream methodological canon are pruned. You’re free to take your models — not using (mathematical) models at all is, as made clear by Krugman’s comment on King, totally unthinkable —  and apply them to whatever you want – as long as you do it within the mainstream approach and its modeling strategy. If you do not follow this particular mathematical-deductive analytical formalism you’re not even considered doing economics. ‘If it isn’t modeled, it isn’t economics.’

That isn’t pluralism.

That’s a methodological reductionist straightjacket.

 

British fat cat gets average annual wage in 45 minutes

New American Fighter may need to be rescued by older fighters should it enter combat. 

The 16-page memo,first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Below is the memo referred to above. Frankly, this is an upper class version of a lower class male frothing at the mouth administering a obscenity laden diatribe that would make an old sailor blush. This is a rain dance of hatred written in officialese. 

013a
Better than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?

 

 

Let me utterly simplify its conclusions – The plane is not as good as current serving aircraft. 

That’s an incredible statement particularly when discussing 400 billion dollars worth of plane. jp

(The document shows perfectly in tests but it looks like it doesn’t always appear when the site is accessed – my apologies. jp)

Five Business Ethics Predictions for 2017


Five Business Ethics Predictions for 2017

What is going to happen in 2017? I have some hopefully educated guesses which I will share. So, here is my five guesses for what will happen in the new year.

  1. Many more heads are going to roll at Fox News

!!!50053mThus far, the Murdochs have tried a middling approach to the aftermath of Roger Ailes, replacing some of the more objectionable of Ailes allies while retaining many others.

It isn’t going to work. The leadership that allowed the business ethics disaster at the network is still dominated by many of the same people. Geraldo Rivera implied in his latest Facebook post that the network still had work to do while Greta Van Susteren was emphatic that there was a failure in leadership.

It is quite likely that that the coming shakeup will not take place until after the election  but it has to happen sooner or later.

And don’t get confused, the sexual harassment charges may have started this thing but what’s driving it now is the use of corporate funds for settlements and black ops not to mention an apparently highly aggressive surveillance of employees across the corporation that is driving the need for action.

2. Corey Lewandowski and CNN will part ways

!!!i_00i_055_tnThis business ethics disaster is one for the textbooks. It will be studied in later textbooks as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong with both the hiring and employment process.

A quick recap for those who don’t follow the news cycle – Lewandowski was signed as a commentator by CNN in spite of the fact that he had just been bounced as Trump’s campaign manger and has a still active non-disclosure and basically a no criticism clause in his contract with Trump. Since his hiring, he has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the candidate almost to the point of comedy.

Will they can him after the election or before? After. The network is far too devoted to making Donald Trump and his supporter happy in the pursuit of its demi-god, ratings, than to take any risks.

3. Criminal charges will be filed against some of Volkswagen American executives

Twenty Minutes of Action

Since the feds managed to roll one of Volkswagen’s employees, we can expect some of his fellows to grab a deal while they can while the others form a defensive circle of deniability. But these are big, big fish. This is a multi-year, multi-billion dollar fraud against all Americans but not just that, they tricked several federal agencies and made the them look like incompetent fools. Steal from people, kill people, okay – just another day at the office. But make the feds look silly and blood must flow.

Of course, Barack Obama, the consummate corporatist may yet overrule his angry prosecutorial warriors but his term is about up and he has many fights on his hands. We’ll see.

4. Wells Fargo will fire or allow some top executives to resign

g099Oh come on, did you really think any intelligent person buys the idea that thousands of low level employees concocted an enormous conspiracy to create false accounts for thousands of unsuspecting customer for more than five years? All by their little selves? Not a chance.

Someone upstairs at Wells Fargo decided to impose clearly impossible goals on the employees and still yet, even in the world of the American corporation, the word, accountability still gets said. It is said timidly, perhaps only whispered but it is still a presence.

The monumental stupidity of the harshly imposed goal system is going to claim some actual villains – probably before the end of the year. Watch for the executives resigning to “spend more time with their families.”

5. The Dakota Access Pipeline will be permanently cancelled

i_296Three federal agencies turned a big thumbs down on the damn thing before it even started. Only the Army Corps of Engineers got the thing going and how do they look now?

Their esteemed corporate pipeline company proceeded to turn a probably manageable public relations situation into repeated disasters. Of course, I suspect that in North Dakota stepping on the Native Americans and extolling the virtues of pipelines is normal for both government and industry, so unleashing the dogs on protesters and charging a presidential candidate with defacing a dozer blade with spray paint made good local sense. But to the rest of us, well – Hicksville on the plains.

The Army Corp of Engineers now knows that the company they went to bat for, can’t manage its way out of a wet paper bag. I have to admit the vision of bulldozers sent out like commandos on a strike mission to destroy Native American burial sites before the state and feds knew what was going on – looks just like a plot from a Billy Jack movie.

Here’s Billy Jack dispensing justice:

 

Where’s Tom Laughlin when you need him?

So, that’s my five.

Please Like, Subscribe and Share AND if possible – tell me what I missed. Do you know of some looming business ethics tragedy? I want to know.

James Pilant