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Monday, April 24, 2017

On a New Era Dawning in the E.U. State of France


With Emmanuel Macron finishing first on the first-round of voting for the head of state in the E.U. state of France, the media declared a new era in the state politics was already a foregone conclusion. Yet the support of the political elites at both the state and federal level could be read as tempering any such landmark announcement.
The full essay is at "Macron in Europe." 


Friday, April 21, 2017

On the Spread of Private Governments in a Democracy: Should Churches and Universities Have Their Own Police Forces?

In mid-April, 2017, Alabama’s Senate approved a bill that would authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to create a police department. At the time, the church hired off-duty police employees to provide security-- “a common practice among nonprofit organizations.”[1] With 4,000 congregants, a K-12 school and thousands of events on its land each year, church officials had difficulty finding enough off-duty cops who were available. More important than being able to make up for any shortages, the proposed law “would empower a religious group to do a job usually performed by the government.”[2] That the group is religious in nature whereas police power is governmental (i.e., “church and state”) is less important than that the “job” had come to be viewed societally, as per the quote from The New York Times, as usually performed by government. In other words, the slippery, subtle slope is itself a red flag.

The full essay is at "Private Police Forces."



1. Ian Lovett, “Alabama Church Wants Police Force,” The New York Times, April 17, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Transgender Europeans: Activated by Political-Correctness or Human Rights?

The European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on April 6, 2017 “in favor of three transgender people in France who had been barred from changing the names and genders on their birth certificates because they had not been sterilized.”[1] I submit that the use of the term sterilization is misleading. Such a framing gives the erroneous impression that human rights are at issue. In other words, it is possible for a human-rights activism to go too far.



The full essay is at "Transgender Europeans."



[1] Liam Stack, “European Court Strikes Down Required Sterilization for Transgender People,” The New York Times, April 12, 2017.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Company Police-States: United Airlines Attacks a Passenger

A manager of United Airlines boarded on the ground in Chicago to have three security employees of the Chicago Department of Aviation bloody and drag a physician off the plane to make room for an employee not on the flight’s crew. Although the airline was technically within its rights to forcibly remove the man for refusing to give up his seat, which he had paid for, removing paid passengers at the last minute to make room for additional, non-essential staff showed a lack of judgment. Accordingly, the police-power of the company is problematic and should be dialed back. In fact, the power of the industry, including its companies, may need to be reduced.

The passenger, a physician, was the victim of a disruptive and belligerent company manager and his henchmen. (Source: CNN)

The full essay is at "United Airlines Attacks a Passenger."


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Strategic Use of Regulation in Government: A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks

The strategic use of regulatory reform is no stranger to businesses—especially to the strongest both financially and, relatedly, politically. Such proposals of more regulation are crafted not to benefit the macro economy or even the industry; rather, the point is to enhance a dominant firm’s competitive advantage over rivals. It follows that such proposals are not counter-factual to the thesis that republics are susceptible to the gravitational pull of plutocracy, the rule of wealth. A case in point is the U.S. Trump Administration’s consideration of a legislative proposal to reinstate the main content of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking such that a bank could not do both.

The full essay is at "A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks."

Gary Cohn, former number two at Goldman Sachs, talking to U.S. senators on behalf of the Trump Administration.
(source: Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

International Response to a Chemical Attack in Syria: Beyond the U.N.

In the wake of the chemical-weapons attack in Syria on March 4, 2017, Russia blocked a condemnation and investigation into the source by vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution. Meanwhile, the American administration’s view of the Syrian government was shifting. President Trump told reporters, “my attitude toward Syria and Assad . . . has changed very much.”[1] Cleverly, the American president would not disclose whether the United States would respond against the Syrian government. The question of whether an empire like the U.S. or an international organization like the U.N. should respond hinged on the question of whether the latter was institutionally hamstrung on account of the power of national sovereignty in the organization. In short, if the U.N. was impotent, then the moral imperative could shift to the major powers in the world, such as China, Russia, the E.U., and the U.S.


 U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley presenting evidence of the chemical attack in Syria.
(Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The full essay is at "Beyond the U.N."

1. Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, “Trump’s View of Syria and Assad Altered After ‘Unacceptable’ Chemical Attack,” The New York Times, April 5, 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spirituality as Distinctively Religious

While it may be alluring in the business world to conceptualize spiritual leadership as being essentially ethical leadership, this convenient tact would not do justice to the distinctly religious sphere in which spirituality is based. The same error would be entailed in treating evil as though it were merely bad. Therefore, rather than foisting spiritual from its native domain and redefining it to fit within a secular context in order to apply the concept to leadership in business, we can relate the religious and secular concepts to each other with due deference to their respective natures.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Craft a Non-Partisan Constitutional Court: The Case of the U.S. Senate Confirming Justices

In interpreting a constitution, justice is best carried out when the justices are non-partisan rather than politically ideological. To be sure, every living and breathing human being has a political ideology, even if implicitly. Even so, the institutional process by which justices are chosen can mitigate this point by being oriented to non-partisan candidates. In other words, a system can be designed so as to minimize the likelihood that a partisan of one political party or another will sit on a constitutional court. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court can provide some insights in this regard.

The full essay is at "How to Craft a Non-Partisan Court."

The U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting on Gorsuch's nomination on April 3, 2017. (NYT)

On the Impact of the Mind’s Infallible Assumptions in Declarations of Religious Belief

In religious affairs, we don’t typically notice the sheer declarativeness in the assertions of belief. In passing, we don’t isolate the underpinning assumptions. We are all human beings relative to the divine, and yet distinctions within our ranks are asserted or declared to be so, even if implicitly. All too often, the human mind overreaches with impunity. Rarely are the leaps themselves the subject of attention and thus subject to critique. Much more commonly, the substance of the religious belief is noticed and debated. I submit that the assumptions typically involved in making religious statements—even the very nature of the declarative assertion—are more worthy of note on account of the human mind’s vulnerabilities that are rarely noticed, much less subject to rebuke.

The full essay is at "Infallible Assumptions in Religion."

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Legislature Court: A Conflict of Interest Averted in Venezuela

Fundamentally, a court differs from a legislature, so it would be strange were a state’s supreme court to take it upon itself to act as the state’s legislature as well. In late March, 2017, Venezuela’s Supreme Court did exactly that, ignoring the qualitative difference between interpreting contested law and legislating. The court wrote that lawmakers in the legislature were “in a situation of contempt,” and that as long as that situation lasted the justices would “ensure that parliamentary powers [are] exercised directly by this chamber, or by the body that the chamber chooses.”[1] Understandably, Julio Borges, the head of the legislative Assembly, exclaimed, “They have kidnapped the Constitution, they have kidnapped our rights, they have kidnapped our liberty.”[2] Luisa Ortega, the Attorney General,” wrote that the court’s decision represented “a rupture in the constitutional order.”[3] This was true both in regard to the basic, or fundamental distinction between judicial review and legislating and democracy itself.

The president and chief justice of Venezuela. A conflict of interest in the making?  (Source: Reuters)

The full essay is at "A Legislature Court."


[1] Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, “Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule,” The New York Times, March 30, 2017.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.




Friday, March 31, 2017

Life in Prison for Killing a Cow: Law and Religion in Gujarat


At the end of March, 2017, the state of Gujarat in India extended the punishment for slaughtering cows from seven years in prison to life-imprisonment. The penalty for transporting beef was also raised to a maximum of 10 years, from three. The severity hinges on religious assumptions presumed to be beyond questioning or reproof.





The full essay is at "Life in Prison for Killing a Cow."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Regain Reputational Capital: The Case of Wells Fargo


How does a firm rebound from the toll taken in reputational capital from a track-record of unethical practices? Paying $175 million to settle accusations without admitting any wrongdoing, such as Wells Fargo did in 2012, does not suffice, but neither does merely admitting culpability without real change going forward. The case of Wells Fargo may provide an explanation for how reputation recovers.

The full essay is at "How to Regain Reputational Capital."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Young Russians Protest Government Corruption

Russia witnessed the largest anti-government protests in more than five years on March 26, 2017. At the urging of Aleksei Navalny, “tens of thousands of Russians—many of them in their teens and 20s—poured into the streets in scores of cities . . . to protest endemic corruption among the governing elite.”[1] The police responded by beating protesters—a barbaric and psychologically pathological response to peaceful protest—and arresting more than a thousand. As the protests were not directed against Putin, but, rather, corruption, the Kremlin should have been a cheerleader rather than antagonist to the protests.


The full essay is at "Young Russians Protest."

Aleksei A. Navalny at a court in Moscow on Monday. He told reporters that he was “amazed” by the number of cities and by how many people had taken part in demonstrations. Source: Denis Tyrin/Associated Press




1. Neil MacFarquhar and Ivan Nechepurenko, “Aleksei Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Receives 15-Day Sentence,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017.

Making a Joke Out of Liberty: Unmasking a Political Travesty


“Land of the free” is a ubiquitous expression that Americans use to describe the United States. Presumably those states esteem liberty as a political value even though it is oxymoronic for a government to voluntarily limit its own power over the governed. Hence, ratification of the U.S. Constitution was predicated on a Bill of Rights quickly to follow. Declaring governmental power to be limited was not enough. That many States have had “mask laws,” many still on the books as of 2017, testifies as to how invasive government power can be precisely at the expense of personal liberty wherein no one is harmed.
The full essay is at "Making a Joke Out of Liberty."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Perspective on the European Union

At the signing of the Rome Declaration at the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Community on March 25, 1957, E.U. leaders expressed their intention to further strengthening the federal Union. Even as “regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism and social and economic inequalities,” as well as Britain’s upcoming secession provided a sense of pessimism, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, said, “Let us not lose perspective.”[1] I submit that this advice was at the time very important.


The full essay is at "Perspective on the European Union."


[1] James Kanter and Elisabetta Povoledo, “E.U. Leaders Sign Rome Declaration and Proclaim a ‘Common Future’ (Minus Britain),” The New York Times March 25, 2017.