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Thursday, January 17, 2019

What is the Basis of Business and Society?

Scholars and practitioners alike in the field of business & society tend view it as being synonymous with corporate social responsibility. It is easy to do. Another error concerns the conflation of CSR and business ethics. In fact, the very name of the topic, corporate social responsibility, is problematic. Straightening all this out could result in more topics in business & society even as the field ceases to overstep into business ethics and the nature of CSR becomes more transparent in business as well as society. 

The full essay is at "Basis of Business & Society."

Increasing Rates of Acceleration of Ice-Melt: Difficult for Humans to Grasp

The findings of two studies published in January, 2019 indicate that Antarctic’s ice had been melting “at an alarming rate” since 1979.[1]  The rate of melting looked at precisely tells part of the story of why people in general were even in the year before 2020 still catching up in realizing the full extent to which climate change was going on. The key here is the concept of acceleration. The rate of ice loss has not been consistent in that ice disappeared faster in each successive decade.



1. Brandon Miller, “Antarctica Ice Melt Has Accelerated by 280% in the Last Four Decades,” cnn.com, January 14, 2109

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Egyptian Court Overreached in Declaring a Legislature to be Unconstitutional

In 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Madison v. Marbury, which established the authority of the court to declare a law to be unconstitutional, and thus invalid. A basic principle underlying this authority is that a constitution is on a level superior to a statute. An entity established in a constitution to interpret it can thus invalidate a law passed by another body established in the constitution. Invalidating that other body itself would be an entirely different matter, as it would involve one constitutional body dissolving another of equivalent grounding. Accordingly, the constitutional court in Egypt overreached on June 14, 2012 in declaring the parliament dissolved.

The full essay is at "Egyptian Court Overreached."



Addressing Systemic Risk: Beyond the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010

After the financial crisis in September 2008 in the U.S., the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, admitted to a Congressional committee that his free-market notion that a market will automatically self-correct itself had a major flaw. He had come to this realization because the financial market for mortgage-backed bonds had failed to correct in terms of price for the dramatic increase in risk. Instead, that market, and that of overnight commercial paper, had seized up rather than simply adjust price to the decreased demand. Fear had paralyzed what had hitherto been thought to be a self-correcting market. The failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers introduced us to the concept of systemic risk, wherein the failure of a bank (or company) causes a market to collapse. Such a bank is thus too big to fail. If actualized, such risk interferes with even the basic operation of a market, not to mention its self-correcting feature. One question is whether banks that are too big to fail should merely be more adequately regulated or broken up, as the U.S. Supreme Court broke up Standard Oil in 1911.
Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank
   The full essay is at "Addressing Systemic Risk: Alan Greenspan."

Affluence and Democracy in China: A Complicated Relationship

The Financial Times reported in 2013 that there was “no great clamour in China for western democracy.”[1] The assumption in the West that prosperity in China will someday inevitably usher in democracy may unduly privilege Western political values in an exogenous context. The newspaper suggested that prosperity can be the source of rising pressure for political change rather than an antidote to it. In other words, the power shift between the state and individual that is unleashed by rising incomes does not necessary privilege the individual. Time and again, China’s leaders have refused to shift power to the individual at the expense of the state; social harmony, and power, are just too important. To be sure, cronyism and corruption, while endemic in China, are not esteemed cultural values, and the rising middle-class may demand that the state clamp down on the unfairness of government officials “wetting their beaks.” This would be particularly problematic if the growing upper-middle-class demand more transparency in government and more rule-of-law to instill fairness over the personal aggrandizement of government officials. However, President Xi, at least publically, would hardly object, as he set out to come down hard on corruption even in the state. At the very least, the matter of increasing wealth and democracy in China can only be complex, yet we can come to some conclusions based on Chinese history and the Chinese view of democracy being Western.
 

1. Philip Stephens, “Political Cracks Imperil China’s Power,” The Financial Times, January 24, 2013.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hidden Warnings of Climate Change: A Paralyzed Species Looks On

Global warming has been so difficult to slow down through political means at least in part due to the fact that most of the action has been going on in the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding permafrost land (which, it turns out, is not so permanently frozen after all), far from almost all of the world’s population. In short, what is occurring in that region is both dwarfing the impact of human-released carbon and serving as the canary in the coal mine. The implications are truly astonishing.

The full essay is at "Hidden Warnings."

Monday, January 14, 2019

Protecting Minority Stockholder Rights: On a Conflict of Interest at Revlon

The principle of majority rule is a staple of democratic theory. Typically the victor of a close election is quick to proclaim that “the people” have spoken. That “the people” corresponds to 51% of those who voted is beside the point. What about the 49% who voted against the victor? What about the minority’s rights? In the U.S. Senate, the fact that it takes 60 out of 100 votes to end a filibuster means that a large minority can halt a majority’s bill. In the European Council, the qualified majority rule means that for a bill to pass, the states in the majority must be at least 55% of the total number of states and must have at least 55% of the E.U.’s population between them.  A large minority can therefore stop a small majority. In both of these “intergovernmental” bodies, the implication is that 51% of a vote is not as significant as the principle of majority rule suggests. What about the rights of a minority of shares of stock in corporate governance? When a majority stockholder has control of management, the interests of the minority stockholders can be shirked. This is particularly true when a majority stockholder proposes a going-private transaction with the aid of management.

The full essay is at "Protecting Minority Stockholders."

1. Peter Lattman, “To Perelman’s Failed Revlon Deal, Add Rebuke From S.E.C.,” The New York Times, June 14, 2013.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

On the Particular Kind of Love Evinced by Jesus: A Better Criterion for Christianity?

The film, Paul: The Apostle of Christ (2018), carries great weight theologically in that Paul describes a very particular kind of love that Jesus preaches and lives out in the Gospels. In so doing, the film shows an overlooked criterion by which people who claim to be Christian can be ascertained as such or not. One implication from the film is that Christianity has contained (and still contains) a number of nominal Christians who are not in fact Christian. A related implication is that the historically (and modern) criteria by which people are considered (and consider themselves) Christian is not as useful (and valid) as the overlooked criterion that is so salient in the film.

The full essay is at "Paul: The Apostle of Christ"