Saturday, February 6, 2016

Running Government Like a Corporation

Former factory site in Flint by Blueskiesfalling
In the wake of the Flint leaded water scandal, we're seeing many decrying "running government like a corporation" or "running government like a business".

It goes deeper than that. The problem isn't just that we've got people trying to run government like it's a for-profit institution with no concern that should be weighed higher than cost savings. The problem starts with that so many of our businesses run that way. It doesn't work for corporations either. At least not in the long run.

Wages account for a lot of the budget the typical businesses. What happens when an employer is consistently stingy with salaries? They have trouble attracting top talent and maintaining morale.

Another big cost is quality materials. What happens when a company skimps on the quality of materials from which to make their goods? The quality of their products suffers, and customers eventually learn to avoid their products.

Then there's research. What happens when a company puts less into research than its competitors? It falls behind and its product line eventually stops appealing to buyers.

The illustrations could go on and on. In so many ways, a business that uses cost cutting and profit maximizing as a large part of its strategy sets itself up for being a short term success that will fold in the medium to long run.

We don't just need to "stop running government like a corporation". We need to stop running government like a mismanaged corporation in which the short-term profits are being maximized to earn big compensation bonuses for the CEO at the cost of the long term strength and stability of the corporation. And maybe just as important, we need to stop running businesses that way too.

Monday, February 1, 2016

December Just The Tail Of The Fed's Iceberg?

Did the Fed make a mistake in December?

Or is it more accurately put as David Beckworth tells it, "The Fed did not make a mistake in December. It made a mistake all last year by talking up interest rate hikes and signalling a tightening of future monetary policy."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cognitive Dissidents of Cognitive Dissonance

A more recent Barry Ritholtz article spurred re-reading of his entry from Jan 6th, 2016 remarking on the Big Short, and those of us frustrated by recurring myths can at least take some enjoyment in his prose. At least for some of us, worth a second read.
"These false claims, however, delight fans of cognitive dissonance, and they provide us with a textbook case of what occurs when facts intrude on an ideology that has failed real-life tests. Indeed, some of the people who helped cause the crisis are the biggest proponents of this counternarrative: radical deregulators, free-market absolutists and others simply couldn’t accept the facts, and rather than change their belief systems, they simply refuse to reckon with reality. The psychology behind this is well-understood: The reason to ignore a mountain of facts aligned against an ideological narrative is the brain’s refusal to cope with the possibility that a deeply held belief system might be wrong."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Southern Reformation

Remember when Ani DiFranco met protest over plans to do something where slaves were once used for profit? In truth, if we were to avoid doing anything where slaves were once used for profit, we must avoid the whole South. That would be ridiculous.

It would, however, be sensible to object to sites where monuments to the Confederates still stand. That doesn't have to be the whole South.

Our focus in these times shouldn't end with pulling down the Confederate flags (whether national or battle flags). Or even pulling these symbols out of state flags that contain them. It would be a shame to stop there.

Along with the flags, all those monuments to slavers, to segregation, and those who fought for such things should be pulled out of public places and transferred to museums.

And in every one of the museums that host such things, it should be made clear that these are relics of a time when we permitted treating people in ways that should not be permitted. These are relics we keep not for any reasons of proud heritage -- because it is most definitely not proud -- but to remind us to be vigilant lest we allow ourselves to slip into such despicable errors again.

If the South would still harbor dreams of a truly proud heritage, the South must face and put away that dark past to make way for the better parts of Southern life. To allow that which actually is good in Southern culture to shine and no longer be brought down by trying to pretend there'd been no mistakes, or that those mistakes had not been wrongs.

It'd make that sweet tea even more refreshing.

Friday, May 1, 2015

ABC News Exploring Firearms Self Defense Under Stress

From ABC News working with a police department on an experiment "to test the ability of average people without crisis training to react and protect themselves with a gun under stress".

Monday, March 30, 2015

STEMing the Tide

"Critical thinking is, in the end, the only way to protect American jobs. " -- Fareed Zakaria in "Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous"

STEM simply isn't enough. STEM's nice; but if we focus on STEM alone, we're not really doing ourselves any favors. We need more anthropologists, and philosophers, and historians, and the rest of liberal arts. The reason one finds lots of liberal arts degrees among CEOs isn't for lack of having anything better to do. It's because they have the well-rounded critical thinking necessary to make good decisions and to lead.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Education And The Cost Of Doing Business

The cost of doing business goes up if those who would become skilled labor shoulder the cost of education. Public education invests in lowering the cost of doing business.