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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Google Executives Evaded Jail Time in Brazil: Is Business Too Powerful?

In late September 2012, the Brazilian state police detained the head of Google’s operations in the state after the company’s management failed to act on an electoral judge’s order to remove videos from its YouTube site criticizing a candidate in a rural county election. Separately, a judge ordered Google to remove a religiously-offensive video, which had sparked riots in the Middle East, within ten days or face fines. Google’s lawyers claim that the company is not responsible for what users upload. Earlier in the year, Brazil’s government threatened the head of Chevron’s operations there with arrest and passport-confiscation after a small leak occurred in the company.

The full essay is at "Are people in international business above national laws?"


The U.S. Supreme Court: Too Much Ideology in Jurisprudence?

Should the electorate in a republic be able to remove Supreme Court justices due to their past decisions on particular cases? Can this basis be distinguished from removing a justice for judicial incompetence? One thing is clear: the general public does not have the technical expertise to perform a “supervisor’s evaluation” on a judge. Obviously, anyone can see that someone who skips work on a regular basis is not fit for the job, but this is different than evaluating a job by the technical criteria of the profession. Distinguishing between a particular decision and general judicial approach, for example, is more difficult. Moreover, it can be difficult to balance the rights of popular sovereignty (i.e., rule by the people) against the rule of law without respect to majority opinion.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

The full essay is at "Ideology Twisting Legal Reasoning."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Schindler’s List

In German-occupied Poland during World War I, Oskar Schindler spent millions to save 600 Jews from the death camps. In the 1993 film, Schindler’s List, the gradual transformation of the luxuriant capitalist is evident as the film unfolds. At the end,  he comes to an emotional realization as to the worth of money as compared with human lives. He realizes that had he not spent so lavishly, he could have saved even more lives. He realizes, in effect, his selfishness that had blinded him even to the obvious severe suffering of the Jews around him. The story is thus not simply that of greed giving way to compassion. 

The full essay is at "Schindler's List."



Questioning Universal Basic Income


The gist of basic income is that a government “distributes cash universally. As the logic runs, if everyone gets money—rich and poor, the employed and the jobless—it removes the stigma of traditional welfare schemes while ensuring sustenance for all.”[1] The “logic,” I submit, is flawed even if the basic idea is solid.

The full essay is at "Universal Basic Income."


1. Peter S. Goodman, “Inequality? California City Is First in U.S. to Try,” The New York Times, May 30, 2018.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Free Speech in the E.U.: Criminalizing Denials of Genocides


While the world continued to look on—like an impotent rich man who cannot afford Viagra—as a genocide was taking place in Syria (i.e., the systemic killing of a group—in this case, of pro-democracy demonstrators), France’s state senate approved a bill on January 23, 2012 criminalizing the denial of officially recognized genocides, which according to the state includes the Nazi Holocaust and the Turkish killing of Armenians beginning in 1915. In the twenty-first century, fining people and putting them in prison for not wanting to remember things so horrible evinces the same kind of nationalist thinking that had led the twentieth to be the bloodiest century. In contradistinction to that decadent century, turning a new leaf following the Arab spring in the twenty-first is a far better strategy.

The full essay is at "Free Speech Compromised in the E.U."

Extrapolating from the Arab Spring to Corporate Social Responsibility

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and a myriad of other companies, sees a natural extension or follow-through from the pro-democracy protests in the Middle East and North Africa to more corporate social responsibility. As much as I would like to think that the twenty-first century proffers a new world, I think we have to acknowledge the weight of the political, economic and social strictures that we have uncritically inherited.



The Russian Conscience on Human Rights in Syria

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned on January 18, 2012, according to the New York Times, “that outside encouragement of anti-government uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa could lead to ‘a very big war that will cause suffering not only to countries in the region, but also to states far beyond its boundaries.’” A very big war, it would seem, with very big stick, would be the result of “outsiders” stepping in to protect the Syrian protesters from their own government. In fact, the Times reports that “Lavrov said Russia would use its position on the United Nations Security Council to veto any United Nations authorization of military strikes against the government [of Syria].” It made no difference to Lavrov that the United Nations, including the Secretary General, had “repeatedly called for Syria [to] end a crackdown on opposition demonstrators, which Arab League monitors say resulted in hundreds of deaths over the past month.” In other words, the U.N. was officially impotent in being able to act on the basis of its “demand” because one of its members has a veto.

The full essay is at "Russia on Human Rights."