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February 2010

Can you Pick The Top Business Ethics Student from this Lineup?

One of these guys mugged 100,000 homeowners (now homeless) with a subprime loan after taking Business Ethics from me. I tried to pick him out of the lineup, but candidly, I see thousands of these students every year. After awhile, all I pay attention to is their check. Does it clear? The rest I leave in the hands of the Almighty Market. If God did not want American Consumers to be stupid, he would not have made them that way. We all must follow Market Signals. To do otherwise would be Socialism.

Benchmarking Business Ethics: Morals Tutors go Head to Head

You can't manage what you can't measure. What gets measured is what gets managed. To conduct business ethics in a businesslike way, we must first measure the ethical state of every employee and provide management with a "score card." From quarter to quarter we can then measure ethical improvement. We can also measure the cost. We can graph these, and provide ratios. We will then have the proper basis for testing which tools and techniques are most cost-effective in improving the morals of management, staff, and the rank and file employees. I say, sermons, public relations, bromides, case studies, and hypocrisy will work best, as being the cheapest and least costly in terms of sales, and the least disruptive of business as usual. My former mentor, now disgraced, The Happy Tutor says that bare butt spankings starting at the top and working down will produce the best results, or time in a Dungeon hanging by their thumbs, or public disgrace, the wheel, rack, and pillory. We can test both methodologies, and we can then see which produces the best ethical outcomes at the lowest total cost. May the best Morals Tutor win! Let's televise me against The Happy Tutor and let the people decide. Tutor being as drunk and disorderly as he is pretty much assures my victory, but times change and Tutor's methods are practically Medieval.

Tortilla-Eating Leftist on the Crisis of Capitalism

63-year old Joe Bageant pan frying tortilla's in Mexico and waiting for his Social Security check to arrive:

There is a terrible science fiction-like awe in the autonomous American economic monolith, in the way that it provides for us, feeds on us and keeps us as its both its lavish pets and slaves. The commodity economy long ago enslaved Americans and other "developed" capitalist societies. But Americans in particular. The most profound slavery must be that in which the slaves can conceive of no other possible or better world than their bondage. Inescapable, global, all permeating, the commodities economy rules so thoroughly most cannot imagine any other possible kind of economy.

Well, philanthropy is still the best investment in saving capitalism.

Tiger's Reality TV

Mark Moreford:

Tiger wasn't apologizing to actual people, to his wife or kids or even his confused fans. Tiger was apologizing, straight up and to the bone, to capitalism itself. To his own brand. It was a scary attempt to shore up the multimillions in endorsement deals, his future as a billion-dollar icon. Tiger the man was apologizing to Tiger, Inc., mostly for tainting its earnings potential.

If the heads of the bond rating agencies were to apologize for their fraudulent ratings of subprime-backed bonds, and if Congress were to apologize for not prosecuting each other, and the justice department were to apologize for structural injustice, we might have a merry night of it. We would be clear by show's end that we might as well celebrate malfeasance as fight it. Tiger may retire from golf and start a porn channel. Or maybe he could join Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. Why not? We the People want it all ourselves, including obeisance. To see the great grovel for our forgiveness, how great is that? We are in charge here, as Kings and Queens of Consumerland.

I too was once as flawed as you

To be aware of a single shortcoming in oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in someone else. Dalai Lama.

Perhaps this is why immortal satire, other than my own, is written within the persona of a Fool, Madman, or Hypocrite.  The wounded healer, the physician dying of the plague he would cure. The Fencer of Stolen Goods hanging the Highwaymen who supply him. The Hack deploring the decay of learning. "Physician, heal thyself!" The correlative dictum, posted over the Delphic Oracle, was "Know thyself." We demonstrate self knowledge when we limn ourself as an apprentice Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage. Of course that was then, when I was young and foolish. Now, as a legit Morals Tutor to America''s Wealthiest Families, I can honestly say I am a good man doing good thing for good people for good causes in a good way. Excuse me, the Special Envoy from Lloyd Blankfein is on the line re: Uplifting the downtrodden.

Pontiff Costume on Sale in Time for The Predator's Ball

Marked down from $37.99 to $19.99 for those seeking to bestow bogus Papal Indulgences as part of some philanthropic pr effort upon the sage advice of their fellow Harvard MBAs. I once ran the philanthropy Scene Room in Wealth Bondage, dressed as a Carmelite Nun, so I am not pointing fingers here. Whatever Blankfein has done, I did worse and for less money. If I had a Harvard MBA I would probably be running Wealth Bondage by now. Ah me, the choices we make. I could have had a billion dollar bailout instead of begging for alms. We are all fine people to be taken at our word. Keep the indulgences, give me the money.

"Even if it smacks of Papal Indulgence," writes the Harvard MBA of Goldman's Philanthropy

Georgia Levenson Keohane  in Center for Effective Philanthropy:

So what is Lloyd Blankfein to do, when his primary responsibility is to Goldman’s profitability?  Indeed, this is the job Goldman’s shareholders hired him to do and the reason we entrusted him with taxpayer dollars to begin with. 

First, even if it smacks of papal indulgence, Blankfein must rise to the charitable occasion.  This means more conspicuous and top-down philanthropy, setting a standard within his firm and the industry which acknowledges that taxpayer-enabled market dominance confers an obligation to make up Wall Street’s charitable slack. 

A Papal Indulgence was a get of hell free card sold by a corrupt Pope, often to a wicked King. What this has to  do with Blankfein and double bottom line businesses saving capitalism from itself beats me. Which of these guys is the Pope and which the King or King maker? The sparsio of the Roman Emperors and later the Popes might be closer to it. Goldman does not need a get of hell pass from Congress, they already have that. They need to win over the ordinary people by flinging candy and nuts from their limos. More Robinhood, right?

Arthur Brooks to head up American Enterprise Institute

US News and World Report:

Brooks succeeds Christopher DeMuth, who rescued AEI from financial collapse and led it for two decades. Today, AEI has 145 resident scholars (along with 80 adjuncts) and a budget of about $30 million. "I don't want to sound like I'm sucking up, but I think Arthur was a brilliant choice," said Murray, who remains at AEI. Brooks brings new energy at what Murray describes as "both one of the most important and one of the most interesting times I have ever experienced at AEI."

Brooks and Murray stand for the proposition that conservatives are more generous than liberals, happier than liberals (because more virtuous), and that the underclass is genetically, shall we say, disadvantaged, such that welfare will never cure them of the evils they bring on themselves. What caught my eye, though, was the budget. $30 million per year buys a whole lot of thinking. So much philanthropy for making the world better. AEI is, their solication says, "a sound investment in limited government, private enterprise, vital cultural and political institutions, and a strong foreign policy and national defense." So what would be wise investor get as a solid return on that sound investment in public policy? Higher minimum wage, environmental protections, robust public goods, and greater social justice. Just kidding.