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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Corporate Social Responsibility: Too Often a Weapon

Typically, responsibility is something that people working in a business typically presume applies not to their business, but instead to stakeholders, whether a customer, supplier or distributor. It is not uncommon for retail stores to hang signs indicating that the store is not liable for this and that. What if such a store is nonetheless at fault? To be so and even just claim not being liable for it reeks of selfish disregard for others. The idea, or mentlity, is that the other guy should pay for even problems for with someone working for the store caused.  Responsibility in this twisted sense means “I won’t pay; you must pay even though I'm at fault”  The underlying mentality can be said to come from a point of weakness rather than strength, for healthy companies can afford to shrug off any temptation to be small-minded and inconsiderate. In writing in this way, I am drawing on Friedrich Nietzsche, from whose theory it can be claimed that the store signs are actually weapons used by the weak out of resentment for the strong (i.e., customers). In comparing stores on Nietzsche's strong/weak spectrum, companies that are strong are naturally generous whereas the weak ones relish even being rude or even cruel to the stronger out of resentment. 

For more, see Skip Worden, On the Arrogance of False Entitlement: A Nietzschean Critique of Business Ethics and Management, available at Amazon.

A Critique of the Corporate Legal Persons Doctrine: The Case of Corporate Taxation

In his commentary in The Wall Street Journal in 2010, Michael Boskin went over the disadvantages in levying an income tax on corporations. Within his argument, he observes, “Of course, the corporation is a legal entity; only people pay taxes.”[1]  In so doing, he transcended, if only for a moment, his own approach that was oriented simply to giving the pros and cons of corporate taxation.  His observation is significant, and it gives us a launching pad of sorts by which we can approach the corporate income tax as a itself as a concept, rather than simply assessing its utility. In short, corporate taxation is an oxymoron if only humans pay tax. In fact, we can conclude from Boskin's remark that the doctrine that corporations are legal persons has been incorrectly construed.

1. Michael Boskin, "Time to Junk the Corporate Tax," The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2010.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Self-Delusion Enabled by Religion: Former U.S. House Minority Leader Tom Delay and Monopolist John D. Rockefeller

It is hardly news that religion, even one based on divine love reaching down to “love thy neighbor,” can be stretched or simply ignored as needed by the desires for power and money. When these two are both engaged, religious rationales may be attempted nonetheless. I have in mind here the cases of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and the monopolist John D. Rockefeller. Just in evoking their Christian faith to justify their sordid conduct in politics and business, respectively, these two men may be seen as astounding cases of the length to which adherents can go in using religion even in spite of obvious hypocrisy.

The full essay is at "Self-Delusion Enabled by Religion."

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Climate Change: An Outsider in Democracies

The U.S. House of Representatives was created in part as an outlet for the immediacy of a people’s passions; other governmental institutions at the federal level provide a check. The term of a House representative is only 2 years, whereas that of a U.S. senator is 6 years and that of the U.S. president is four. So presumably societal  or even global  problems requiring immediate action find pressing representation in the House, whereas the perspectives of U.S. senators and presidents, being limited to six and four years respectively, are not long-term-oriented enough for problems that could blow up in decades. To register in the crowded minds of House representatives, a long-term problem yet in need of immediate attention must trigger the immediate passions of the constituents unless the representatives value principled leadership (i.e., acting in the best interests of the constituents and the country). Yet passions demanding immediate action tend, I submit, to involve anger. Climate change is thus excluded, and the long-term forecasts do little to impress upon a people how urgent rectifying action really is. Even if the scientific reports of current conditions emphasize extant dramatic changes (not to mention future forecasts with disastrous implications for humanity generally and particular regions, immediate passion is not sufficiently stirred for the U.S. House at least to prioritize addressing the problem.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

News to the Wall Street Journal: The E.U. Has a Common Market

The European Union has a common market. This would seem to be news to The Wall Street Journal, at least back in 2010. This is not to say that the E.U. is a common market, for the E.U. is much more than an economic market. For instance, the Union has governmental institutions, including a parliament, a senate (i.e., the European Council), an executive branch (i.e., the Commission), and a supreme court (i.e., the ECJ).  So it is surprising when journalists forget that the E.U. even has a common market by treating each of the States as having its own economy. To be sure, regions of the E.U. perform differently economically.  In the U.S., the States in New England, as well as New York, and California tend to have much higher GDPs than say South Carolina, Wyoming, and Iowa. Therefore, I contend that The Wall Street Journal erred in applying the concept of contagion to the E.U. financial crisis of 2010. 

The full essay is at "The E.U. Has a Common Market."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Wall Street Snuffed Out President Clinton's Goal of Homeownership for the Poor

It is one thing for the head of a government (or a government’s executive arm) to set a praiseworthy goal that is in the public interest, and quite another thing to rely on the financial sector to implement it. Finance has its own means tied to its own goals, with plenty of greed in the mix. Governmental officials may tend to minimize the potential damage from ego-laden greed to the goals of public policy. Such policy ideally strives for the good of the whole, whereas the goals of a private sector of a part. This could account, at least in part, for the financial crisis of 2008 and the continuing bear market in housing in much of the U.S.