Tag Archives: business

If business leaders are serious about doing good, they can start by paying their taxes

By Lawrence H. Summers and Natasha Sarin, Washington Post, 1/30/20

Over the past year, the concept that corporations owe a responsibility to the broader society beyond their responsibility to their shareholders has flourished. The Business Roundtable renounced its earlier view that companies exist to serve stockholders and endorsed stakeholder capitalism last summer. BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink, whose firm controls $7 trillion in investable funds, expects a “fundamental reshaping of finance” and has vowed to vote against corporate directors insufficiently committed to serving interests beyond those of stockholders.

This year’s Davos meeting was centered on business’s responsibility to protect the environment. And there has been much celebration of recent corporate commitments, such as Microsoft’s promise to invest $1 billion to end or offset all of its greenhouse-gas emissions, present and past.

The most important stakeholder of U.S. corporations is the United States itself. Before any obligation to voluntarily reduce emissions, start charter schools or pay above-market wages should come an obligation to pay a reasonable share of income in taxes….

continue reading in the Washington Post

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Keep Your ‘Disruption’ Out of Our Schools

by Diane Ravitch, Huffington Post, 8/22/13

Judith Shulevitz recently wrote a brilliant essay on “disruption” as a business strategy.

As we know, mega-corporations believe they must continually reinvent themselves in order to have the latest, best thing and beat their competitors, who are about to overtake them in the market.

They believe in disruption as a fundamental rule of the marketplace.

By some sloppy logic or sleight-of-hand, the financial types and corporate leaders who think they should reform the nation’s schools have concluded that the schools should also be subject to “creative disruption” or just plain “disruption.”

And so we have the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, underwritten by billionaire Eli Broad, sending out superintendents who are determined to “disrupt” schools by closing them and handing them over to private management.

Unfortunately, Secretary Arne Duncan agrees that disruption is wonderful, so he applauds the idea of closing schools, opening new schools, inviting the for-profit sector to compete for scarce funds, and any other scheme that might disrupt schools as we know them.

He does this believing that U.S. education is a failed enterprise and needs a mighty shaking-up.

First, he is wrong to believe that U.S. public education is failing. That is untrue. I document that he is wrong in my new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and The Danger to America’s Public Schools, using graphs from the U.S. Department of Education website.

Second, “disruption” is a disaster for children, families, schools, and communities.

Think of little children. They need continuity and stability, not disruption. They need adults who are a reliable presence in their lives. But, following the logic of the corporate reformers, their teachers must be fired, their school must be closed, everything must be “turned around” and brand new or the kids won’t learn. No matter how many parents and children appear at school board meetings, no matter how much they plead for the life of their neighborhood school, the hammer falls and it is closed. This is absurd.

Think of adolescents. When they misbehave, we say they are “disruptive.” Now we are supposed that their disruptive behavior represents higher order thinking.

But no one can learn when one student in a class of thirty is disruptive.

Disruptive policies harm families because after the closing of the neighborhood school, they are expected to shop for a school. They are told they have “choice,” but the one choice denied them is their neighborhood school. Maybe one of their children is accepted at the School of High Aspirations, but the other didn’t get accepted and is enrolled instead in the School for Future Leaders, which happens to be on the other side of town. That is not good for families.

Disruption is not good for communities. In most communities, the public school is the anchor of community life. It is where parents meet, talk about common problems, work together, and learn the fundamental processes of democratic action.

Disruption destroys local democracy. It atomizes families and communities….

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Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

by Mike McIntyre, New York Times, 4/21/12

Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state.

It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

One of them, Bill Seitz, a prominent Republican state senator, wrote to a fellow senior lawmaker to relay ALEC’s concerns about “the recent upsurge” in false-claims legislation nationwide. “While this is understandable, as states are broke, the considered advice from our friends at ALEC was that such legislation is not well taken and should not be approved,” he said in a private memorandum.

The legislation was reworked to ease some of ALEC’s concerns, making it one of many bills the group has influenced by mobilizing its lawmaker members, a vast majority of them Republicans.

Despite its generally low profile, ALEC has drawn scrutiny recently for promoting gun rights policies like the Stand Your Ground law at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida, as well as bills to weaken labor unions and tighten voter identification rules. …

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The Reckoning

By John Grant
What many see today as an economic miracle of productivity-led growth may prove to be a mirage.  Our perceived prosperity may be nothing more than a grand illusion built on speculation and leverage.
—Don DeVitto,” Irrational Markets and the Illusion of Prosperity,” 2001

The particular road to hell on which Americans were embarked at the debut of the 21st century was a feature of their own unique situation.  A half-century of economic progress and a 25-year bull market had led them to believe things that were not true and to expect things that they were not likely to get.
-William Bonner
—”Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century,” 2003

America has become a divided society, in which an anxious majority is wedged between an underclass that has no hope and an overclass that denies any civic obligations.
-John Gray, “False Dawn: The Delusions of
Global Capitalism,” 1998

In 1930 John Maynard Keynes wrote: “We have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand.”  The true scarcity in his world — and ours — was therefore not of resources, or even of virtue, but of understanding.
-Paul Krugman, “The Return of Depression Economics,” 1999

I have never understood finance.  Like other right-brain people, when presented with all those numbers my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders.  Boredom sets in. Despite this handicap, in 1980 I applied for and got a reporter job with the Philadelphia Business Journal.  I became a business and finance reporter.

I quickly taught myself what a balance sheet was.  I had to understand enough, or be able to fake it, that I could ask a corporate CEO or an analyst from Merrill Lynch an intelligent enough question to get back an answer worthy of a story.  Then I had to write the story.  As it turns out, it seems many of our financial wizards have been faking it as well.

My other encounter with finance came from my father, with whom I had a long argument that spanned from my adolescence to the day he died in 2000.

After serving in the Pacific as the captain of a PT boat, my father came home, bought a small house and settled his wife and young son into the new Victory Culture.  I was born then — Number Two.

Of stoic New England stock, my father chose to live simply and cheaply.  He began to put his money into the stock market, often referring to Wall Street as “the citadel of entrenched greed.” He tried to interest me in this, and though I was a poor acolyte, some of it must have rubbed off.  He died in 2000 the night before the historic dot.com bubble burst.  Looked at on a 55-year chart, it looked like he died at the peak of Mt Everest.

In finance and American politics, my father was pure Bull.  In both these cases, as my father’s son and as a business reporter, I was a contrary force.  It took me a long time to realize that when it came to American politics and finance, I was pure Bear.
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