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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Age of the Imperial CEO: The Case of Fred R. Johnson at RJR Nabisco

Frederick Ross Johnson, as CEO of RJR Nabisco, was known “for the fleet of corporate jets that ferried him to celebrity golf events and other luxurious perks he awarded himself.”[1] The key words here being awarded himself, for Johnson epitomized the sort of imperial CEO that made an oxymoron out of the notion that the corporate board is to serve as an overseer of corporate management in corporate governance. Awarded himself should be the oxymoron, for such a conflict of interest runs against the logic of any viable business calculus.

The full essay is at "The Imperial CEO."

1. James R. Hagerty, “F. Ross Johnson,” The Wall Street Journal, January 7-8, 2017.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Pro-Wealth Buddhist Temple in Thailand and Pro-Wealth Christianity: Is Religion Inherently Weak?

In Thailand, Phra Dhammachayo, the head of the Wat Dhammakaya Buddhist Temple—Thailand’s largest—could be heard, as of 2016 at least, exhorting non-monk meditators, “Be rich, be rich, be rich!”[1] This pro-wealth message, with its “endorsement of worldly comforts,” has attracted worshippers even as it has “unsettled the government and the Buddhist hierarchy.”[2] Indeed, the top body of Buddhism accused him of heresy—a charge you don’t typically hear in that religion—and stripped him of his religious title. Yet his popularity at Wat Dhammakaya was undiminished. It is no wonder the Temple’s popularity continued to grow, with cash machines placed near a meditation room—the machines’ screens declaring, “Shortcut to making merit.” By giving money, and even credit-card points, to the temple, a Buddhist’s merit can be enhanced. Other things equal, the additional good karma results in a better reincarnation in the next life. The worshippers, or more strictly speaking, meditators, at the temple could presumably be rich in this life and be born into a better life next time around simply by practicing Buddhism.

The full essay is at "A Pro-Wealth Buddhist Temple."

1. Seth Mydans, “Parsing Buddhism in a Shrine to Abundance,” The New York Times, December 21, 2016.
2. Ibid.


Augustine wrote that Christians are ideally in the world but not of it. The fallen world is not the Christian’s true home. For the 5000 (plus crew) prospective colonists hibernating aboard a mammoth spaceship in the film, Passengers (2016), the planet Earth was presumably not their true home—or maybe that home was becoming climatically rather untenable and the 5000 were lucky souls heading for a new, unspoiled home. In any event, the film’s central paradigm can be characterized as “travel to” and “end-point.” That is to say, means and end characterize this picture at a basic level. The film is particularly interesting at this level in that so much value is found to reside in the means even as the end is still held out as being of great value.

The entire essay is at "Passengers."