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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Australia's Prime Minister Says It Like It Is

This is priceless. Why don't we have Republican politicians who will speak as boldly as does the Australian Prime Minister about the Democrats and al Qaeda?

John Howard Criticizes Barack Obama



Scorching.

On Business Ethics

I know a little bit about business. More than some, less than others, to be sure. And I've learned, over the years, quite a lot about the ethics that dictate the moral principles upon which business professionals operate in this our glorious system of capitalist free enterprise.

All modesty aside, I guarantee you this: I know more about the subject of business ethics than does most any professor of political science/public administration alive today. So when I read a column in the newspaper headlined "Business Unethics," written by one, he gets my attention.

And, as I suspected would be the case, the premise adopted by this particular professor of political science/public administration is completely lacking in perspective and exhibits a woeful misunderstanding of the business community, our motivations, and of the way we operate.

In today's Roanoke Times:
Business unethics
By Reginald Shareef, professor of political science/public administration at Radford University


The public should pay close attention to the frenzied debate in America's graduate business schools over the teaching -- or lack thereof -- of managerial ethics.

This topic has dominated writings in the leading administrative science journals for the past five years. Simply put, many business school professors now acknowledge that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between contemporary business school education (with its emphasis on profit maximization) and the recent spate of corporate scandals.

Proponents of the status quo argue that business schools should continue to teach the philosophy of pragmatism; that is, the belief there are no absolute ethical values and it is OK for the manager to engage in unethical behavior to maximize profit.

For instance, a recent study of graduates of the top 13 MBA programs found that students who believed that profit maximization was the manager's primary responsibility increased from 68 percent at the beginning of their graduate education to 82 percent by the end of their first year.

Conversely, reformers of the MBA curriculum advocate changes that teach students they are stewards for society's scarce resources and that more than money -- for instance, safe products, ecological sustainability, preventing human suffering -- are at risk when making administrative decisions. (link)
The author of this lecture goes on to what I think is his real point - the lack of armor on Humvees in operation in Iraq in George Bush's failed war, Katrina, etc. (I know it makes no sense. Just go and read it yourself.)

But to the points Professor Shareef makes, where to start?

Let's begin with his sources. Or lack thereof.

"Proponents of the status quo argue that business schools should continue to teach the philosophy of pragmatism; that is, the belief there are no absolute ethical values and it is OK for the manager to engage in unethical behavior to maximize profit." Really? Someone's out there teaching college students that it is okay to be unethical in your business dealings? Who?

We're not told.

Secondly, is it wise for a professor of political science to delve into subjects he knows nothing about, only to embarrass himself with this kind of jaw-dropping pronouncement?
For instance, a recent study of graduates of the top 13 MBA programs found that students who believed that profit maximization was the manager's primary responsibility increased from 68 percent at the beginning of their graduate education to 82 percent by the end of their first year.
Personally, sir, if I were a professor of a graduate level business course, and 18% of my students thought their primary responsibility as business managers was anything other than maximizing profits, I'd be alarmed. And if I found myself in the unfortunate position of supervising a numbskull - one holding an MBA for Christ's sake - who doesn't understand the primary purpose of business (preventing human suffering?!), I'd fire him. With a vengeance.

Do you honestly believe a manager's primary responsibility is not to maximize profitability (and, in turn, shareholder equity)?

Only in the cloistered halls of academia can "ecological sustainability" and "preventing human suffering" be considered more important to any businessperson. The landscape, Professor Shareef, is littered with the rotting carcasses of thousands of shattered corporations that lost sight of what should have been the primary responsibility of their managers - profit.

Those other pleasantries are fine, like "ecological sustainability," for companies that find themselves awash in cash and can afford to dabble in such things, at least temporarily, and those - like Ben & Jerry's - that use it skillfully as a marketing driver. Otherwise ...

Here's what I've picked up in the real world: Mitigating human suffering has its place. As does one's focus on recycling efforts. But maximizing profits must always reign supreme. Or you'll be doing your mitigation from the unemployment line.

Here's what I've learned also: Business ethics courses are generally worthless. What I learned in my one graduate level course amounted to little more than - bribery is a bad thing, and pulling shenanigans with the financial statements will bring on unfavorable and unintended consequences, and fraternizing with employees is now a no-no, and lying, cheating, falsifying, deceiving customers and stockholders is not good ...

... the same stuff one was taught in Sunday School.

There is no MBA course known to man that is going to prevent a scoundrel from being a scoundrel.

So. Stick to your academics. And write your letters admonishing us business managers for losing sight of what you perceive to be our "primary responsibility" if you must.

As for me, I have to get back to doing what the stakeholders in my company - shareholders, executives, board of directors, employees, families, even customers - require of me. I must earn them a profit.

The Bottom Line On Climate Change: We Don't Know

The Washington Post cites two climate studies this morning that prove we don't know what we think we know when it comes to global warming:
Research Shines Some Light On Mysteries of Antarctica
Two Studies Give Clues About Warming, Continent's Future
By Marc Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer


When researchers think about the effects of global warming, and especially about how much ocean levels will rise along with temperatures, they inevitably turn their attention to Antarctica.

Unfortunately, Antarctica's climate has proven very difficult to understand or predict, and it has given off seemingly contradictory signals.

Now, two new research efforts have tackled the subject -- producing new insights into ...

The first project revealed that a previously unknown system of seemingly connected lakes lies under the massive streams of ice that move Antarctica's frozen water from the center of the continent to its coasts. It is a system that might work to moderate climate change, the researchers said, or alternatively might speed it up if ...

The other new research found that while temperatures have remained relatively constant for much of Antarctica, westerly winds have been growing significantly more powerful around the continent. Those stronger winds, the researchers suggest, may be keeping temperatures in check but also causing the ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula to collapse. (link)
So what does all this mean? Two things: (1) There is much we don't know about climate change (not to mention man's influence on it), and (2) for that reason, we must not react, as Crazy Al Gore has, by working toward sending the planet back into the Stone Age so as to prevent what some consider to be a problem but that many honest scientists have serious questions about.

The planet is undergoing change. On that we all agree. Beyond that, though, there is no agreement in the scientific community whatsoever.

Edwards Presidential Material?

George Will looks this morning at the way presidential candidate John Edwards handled the anti-Christian blogger controversy and finds it troubling:
Political Markets In Action
By George F. Will, The Washington Post


John Edwards has learned -- surely he did not know it when they were hired -- that two women employed by his campaign have Internet trails of vitriolic anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic, rants. One of them wrote a profane screed about God impregnating Mary and said the Catholic Church opposes the morning-after birth control pill in order to "force women to bear more tithing Catholics." The other woman, who sprinkles her commentary with a vulgar term for female genitalia, referred to George W. Bush's "wingnut Christofascist base."

When the women's works became known, it was reported that they had been, or were going to be, fired. Thirty-six hours later, after left-wing bloggers rallied to their defense, Edwards's campaign said they would be retained. Edwards explained that the women had assured him that "it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word."

He really does? ... a prospective president being so pliable under pressure and so capable of smarmy insincerity -- what does he think were the women's intentions? (link)
I make mention below of milquetoast Democratic candidates. MopTop, by his actions in this relatively unimportant dust-up, certainly proves himself to fill the bill.

Smarmy insincerity is only a small fraction of it.

But Why?

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, as expected, endorsed presidential hopeful Barack Obama's candidacy yesterday. With great enthusiasm.

But, if this account is accurate, the only reason that he could come up with was the fact that their mothers grew up near one another. Say it ain't so:
Kaine endorses Obama for '08
By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times


Richmond -- Standing within eyeshot of the former Confederate capitol, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

"I am very happy to say it is a very simple decision for me in terms of what I think is important in my assessment of where the nation is to endorse Sen. Barack Obama as our nation's next president," Mr. Kaine said, standing outside the governor's mansion in Capitol Square.

Mr. Kaine, standing next to his wife, Anne, said the two men shared similar life experiences.

Both graduated from Harvard Law School, married lawyers and practiced civil rights law before entering politics.

"The thing that cemented our relationship early on is when we found out that our [mothers] grew up in the very tiny town of El Dorado, Kansas, and there are just so few people that can claim that," Mr. Kaine said. (link)
That's it? Similar backgrounds? No He's proven himself through the years to be a champion of the downtrodden? No He's got the experience and track record to lead this nation into a bright tomorrow?

Apparently not. The best Kaine could muster in the way of explanation was some mumbo jumbo about shared life experiences. Which qualifies both for the Oprah show, but the presidency?

Speaks volumes. About both men.

A Smart Move

Much can be said about Hillary Clinton. So many names she can be called. Epithets she's rightfully earned. But don't ever think she's stupid. She's a lot of things, but IQ-deficient isn't one of them.

An illustration:
Clinton Gives War Critics New Answer on ’02 Vote
By Patrick Healy, The New York Times


One of the most important decisions that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made about her bid for the presidency came late last year when she ended a debate in her camp over whether she should repudiate her 2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq.

In the end, she settled on language that was similar to Senator John Kerry’s when he was the Democratic nominee in 2004: that if she had known in 2002 what she knows now about Iraqi weaponry, she would never have voted for the Senate resolution authorizing force.

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H., ... (link)
There are those who will say: But she is going to anger the fanatically anti-war base of her party if she doesn't kowtow to them. In her case (and only in her case), they don't matter. She knows she has the primary virtually locked up. And that she doesn't need the far-left to win.

But Hillary does need a majority in the general election. So she is maneuvering to capture the independent vote out there. Middle America. Her tough-talking stance on her vote will play well with those who don't want the milquetoast John Kerry-type Democrat being forced upon them again.

She knows what's she's doing. And she's doing it well.

We Need A Draft McDonnell Movement NOW

Bob McDonnell is too much the gentleman (and team player) to oppose Senator John Warner in the upcoming election. Still, it's my hope, and the hope of many here in the commonwealth, that he give it serious consideration.

The conservative base has had enough of this from our sitting senator:
Senate Rejects Renewed Effort to Debate Iraq
By Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times


Washington, Feb. 17 — The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attempts to influence the administration’s war policy.

Seven Republicans split from their party and joined 48 Democrats and one Independent in calling for a debate — five more Republicans than during a similar showdown earlier this month. All but two of the seven face re-election next year.

The Republicans who broke ranks were Senators John W. Warner of Virginia, ... [and the usual suspects]. (
link)
It's been many years since John Warner felt the need to represent the interests of the people of Virginia. Now he even abandons our troops in the field and votes with the diabolical defeatist Democrats.

Time to go, old man. Now.