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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Superficial Hospitality in Hospitality Management: A Weak Industry?

Staying at a motel or in a hotel can involve being at close quarters with people coming with various backgrounds and cultures, and with different lifestyles. A group of teenagers may be in one room, while an elderly couple is trying to sleep next door. It seems to me that hospitality management should take a look at Crowne Plaza's instituting “snore monitors” to patrol corridors in the designated quiet zones in the hotels in London, Leeds and Manchester in the E.U. While the monitors were apparently particularly oriented to detecting particularly loud snorers, such an understanding of the problem may be superficial, for most noise issues, I submit, involve others things, such as people shouting, or loud television or music. In short, the sheer extent of inconsiderateness toward strangers in society generally is doubtlessly reflected in hotels and motels. What may be surprising is the extent to which employees and even managers working in the hotels or motels are inconsiderate themselves in refusing or otherwise failing to enforce their own noise rules. This weakness may have a wider extent within the business sector, at least in the U.S., wherein employees and their supervisors act as individuals (with momentary power over customers) rather than as agents, for significantly less power is involved in the latter than the former role/mentality.

The full essay is at "Superficial Hospitality in the Hotel Industry."

Managing and Presiding: Leading as CEO and President

A manager does not preside. To manage is to be actively engaged in the operations of an organization; it is not to “sit before,” as in representing the organization itself externally and intervening in it only as needed in serving as guardian of its “constitutional” order. For example, if a company’s corporate governance system is about to implode, the President is there to preside as the board (and major stockholders) come to terms. In other words, the President would be oriented to maintaining the meeting foremost—intervening in the discussion only if a key juncture is likely to result in an implosion of the governance system.

Material from this essay has been incorporated into The Essence of Leadership: A Cross-Cultural Foundation, which is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon. 

On the Futility of Divided Government at the Empire Level: The Case of the U.S.A.

Rick Perry, when he was the Republican governor of Texas running for re-election, said his primary opponent, Senator Kay Hutchison, was spending tax dollars too freely in Washington. He meant that she was too Washington. He claimed that she didn't get what he called, “Texas values.” Then, he added something really telling—something that went beyond his electoral contest: “Washington’s one-size-fits-all approaches simply don’t work. They want more control of your dollars and your life, and they want it now. We surrender that to them with peril.” His statement is worthy of our reflection even long after Perry's re-election campaign.

The full essay is at "On Divided Government at the Empire Level."

On European and American federalism compared, see Essays on Two Federal Empires, available at Amazon. See also, "American and European Federalism, a short critique of Perry's book on federalism, Fed Up!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Russian Orthodox Church as a Political-Moral Force: A Case of Religion Overextended?

While visiting the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery in northwestern Russia in 2000, Vladimir Putin wrote in the guest book, “The revival of Russia and growth of its might are unthinkable without the strengthening of society’s moral foundations. The role and significance of the Russian Orthodox Church are huge. May God protect you.” This statement is revealing concerning what has perhaps fueled the Russian president’s vision, at least ideally.
 Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, head of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow    NYT
The full essay is at "The Russian Church as Politico-Moral."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Facebook Secretly Shared Users' Friend's Data with Business Partners: A Case of Betrayal

According to The New York Times at the end of 2018, internal documents generated at Facebook in 2017 showed that the company “gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, and others far greater access to people’s data” even after having raised a privacy wall than Facebook had disclosed.[1] That is, Facebook effectively exempted some of its business partners from the company’s privacy rules without notifying users. In many quarters, this would be called lying, which in turn would suggest a sordid management at Facebook. The more subtle astonishment, I submit, is that 2.2 billion users had stayed with Facebook after the hidden use of personal data for political purposes. The partnership between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica had hardly been made in heaven. Why such enduring trust in spite of external data being clear grounds for losing trust and giving up using Facebook? How many betrayals would be necessary? In literal marriages, trust can be lost “like that!” Similarly, when a child even unconsciously loses trust for her parents, the solid basis of trust in a normal parent-child relationship is lost most likely forever. Why has Facebook—a distant business punctuated by lies—get a pass?

The full essay is at "Facebook Secretly Betrayed Users."

See also the booklet, Taking the Face Off Facebook, available at Amazon.

1. Gabriel Dance, Michael LaForgia, and Nicholas Confessore, “As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants,” The New York Times, December 18, 2018.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Putin Likened Protesters to "Weak Birds"

At the conclusion of the 2012 Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Russia, the host president, Vladimir Putin, likened the birds that had not following his motorized glider south to the Russians who did not follow him. “Only the weak ones,” he quipped. “The weak ones didn’t follow me.” Elaborating, he added, “not all of the cranes flew, and the leader, the pilot, has to be blamed because he was too fast in gaining speed and altitude and they were just lagging behind; they couldn’t catch up.” In other words, the Russian protesters had been blaming him for what was in actuality their own weakness—not his. A leader must accept the inevitable misappropriation of blame because being erroneously blamed goes with being a leader.

Putin could not have been entirely objective on the protests against him.      
Source: Democracy Chronicles


David Herszenhorn and Steven Lee Myers, “For Putin, a Flight of Fancy at a Summit Meeting’s Close,” The New York Times, September 10, 2012.

On Nietzsche applied to power in business, see On the Arrogance of False Entitlement: A Nietzschean Critique of Business Ethics and Management (available at Amazon)

Religious Sources of Business Ethics: How Far Along Are We?

If Business Ethics for Dummies is any indication, the topic of religious sources for business ethics must have gained steam through the first decade of the twenty-first century. Increasing interest in such a topic in the midst of modernity is ironic, or counter-intuitive. For philosophers without any degrees in religion, the temptation might be to dilettante over to this topic in order to proffer an opinion. The result for the rest of us could well be a false sense of the extent of knowledge on the topic.

The entire essay is at "Religious Sources of Business Ethics"

For more on this topic, see God's GoldChristianized Ethical Leadershipand Spiritual Leadership in Business, all available at Amazon.

An Institutional Conflict of Interest at the New York Federal Reserve

According to The New York Times, even after taxpayers rescued Citigroup, regulators at the New York Federal Reserve failed to monitor the company adequately. The regulators, although adequately staffed and proficient in training, failed to move swiftly as the bank’s financial condition deteriorated from as early as 2005, and were overly optimistic about the bank’s prospects as late as December, 2009. From 2006 to 2007, decisions on poorly underwritten loans were changed from “turned down” to “approved.” As many as 80 percent of the loans that Citigroup sold to Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae and other investors were defective. “Although the dedicated supervisory team is well-qualified and generally has sound knowledge of the organization, there have been significant weaknesses in the execution of the supervisory program,” according to one excerpt of the 2009 review. Tim Geithner, who as president of the New York Fed from 2003 to 2008 was in charge of overseeing Citigroup, went on to become the US Secretary of the Treasury.

The full essay is at Institutional Conflicts of Interest, available at Amazon.

Alan Greenspan on the Self-Regulatory Market

Two days after the LTCM bailout was agreed to in 1998, a worried Alan Greenspan, leaning toward raising rates at the time, cut the federal funds rate. It was not enough to calm the markets, and he cut it again three weeks later. . . . It was not the self-correcting powers of the markets but aggressive central bank intervention plus a new round of irrational speculation that provided a floor under the downward financial prices and the calamitous consequences of bad Wall Street decisions. It was not even the LTCM rescue alone by private banks that saved Wall Street” Madrick, p. 281). “Alan Greenspan learned no lessons from these events about the inherent instability of a completely free market in finance. He still insisted markets regulate themselves” (Madrick, p. 282).
For analysis, see the full essay at "The Self-Regulatory Market."
Jeff Madrick, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present (New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 2011).

See also Skip Worden, Essays on the Financial Crisis, available at Amazon.

Burn Baby Burn: Moral Hazard & Fairness

On a call with another of the company’s traders when a wildfire in California was putting some electric wires at risk, an energy-desk trader at Enron quipped, “Burn Baby Burn!”  The loss of the electricity wires would have decreased supply, thus jacking up the price of electricity, which Enron was only too glad to provide.  Similarly, “Burn Baby Burn!” can be put in the mouth of any one of the firefighters of the South Fulton fire department in Tennessee who watched Gene Cranick’s home burn to the ground because he had not paid the $75 annual fee that residents outside of city limits had to pay in order to receive the “service.”  When Cranick called 911 as his house was on fire, he was essentially told, “I’m sorry, sir, but you are not on the list for that service. Have a nice day.” 

The full essay is in Cases of Unethical Business: A Malignant Mentality of Mendacity, available at Amazon.com.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Elected Representatives in a Republic: Is Any Sense of Duty Remaining?

I suspect the notion of duty had by 2018 taken a rear seat, pushed out by self-centered ambition, in many if not most democracies in the world. In the ancient world, office-holding by lot stemmed the impact of people desiring office. Of the latter, the desire for personal gain would, I submit, be more likely. In contrast, finding oneself holding an office by lot was more likely to be accompanied by a sense of duty rather than personal ambition. Of course, ordinary citizens could find themselves voting in councils or legislatures—but would that necessarily be so bad?
In the American experiment, office-holding was originally thought of as a civic duty of the wealthy class. Landless citizens were cut off from even voting. George Washington did his duty as the first U.S. president, then went home to Virginia; he had done his duty (and then some). Once he decided not to run again, he did not, while still president, call it quits even if he was personally done with the office. I submit that that sense of duty had been lost by the twenty-first century.

The full essay is at "Duty in Public Service."