August 20, 2014
National Leaders Lag Global Crises: A Systemic Explanation

Surveying the world on August 19, 2014, the UN’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, claimed that the greatest humanitarian crises in the history of the United Nations were outstripping any solutions coming from the organization’s members. World leaders, he said, “have to sit down together with an open heart to negotiate in the interests of their people,” Ban said.[1] Yet there’s the rub, for even though the Secretary-General avoided the point (perhaps because it implies structural reform at the UN), national officials acting in the interest of their respective citizens do not necessarily have an interest in coming together with other such officials to take care of the mammoth human external costs of countries at war with themselves.

[1]Oren Dorell, “U.N. Chief: Crises at New High,” USA Today, August 20, 2014.

August 17, 2014
On the Tyranny of the Status Quo

Ever wondered why so much energy must be expended to dislodge a long-established institution, law, or cultural norm? Why does the default have so much staying power? Are we as human beings ill-equipped to bring about, not to mention see, even the “no-brainer” changes that are so much (yet apparently not so obviously) in line with our individual and collective self-interest? In this essay, I look at Ukraine, Spain, and Illinois to make some headway on this rather intractable difficulty.

August 17, 2014
Mergers and Acquisitions: What about the Stockholders?

Why do companies merge and acquire other companies? Synergy is the textbook answer. Typically, the stockholders of the target company see an appreciation in the value of their stock, while stockholders in the initiating firm see a downtick. The reason why is simple: corporations typically overpay. The value-added of the anticipated synergy must be greater than not only any overpayment, but also the intangible costs in aligning the corporate cultures. Yet another factor—an opportunity cost, really—is frequently overlooked: that of whether the extra cash on hand should be returned to the stockholders as dividends.

August 17, 2014
Business Culture Forming Higher Education

“Publish or perish” is the infamous mantra of those intrepid scholars who work at research universities and many prestigious Liberal Arts & Sciences colleges dotting the map of the world. The need to demonstrate regular output is perhaps nowhere more stressed (hence, stress) than in the United States. As if the declining number of tenure positions (amid increasing reliance on adjuncts, not coincidentally) at colleges and universities in the U.S. were not enough of a challenge for the newly-minted doctors aspiring to the intellectual freedom that goes with the protection of tenure, that the young scholars are increasingly being subjected to an “assembly-line” process wherein faculty administrators treat their junior colleagues’ published journal articles like chocolates on a conveyer belt puts scholarship at odds with itself and thus is utterly self-defeating from the standpoint of society gaining new knowledge.

August 13, 2014
Comprehension Issues in Managing a Hometown’s Library

A city’s public library stands as the font of knowledge for the citizenry. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams held that an educated and virtuous citizenry is vital for a republic to endure. Being socialized in the rarified culture of university environs, I gradually lost touch with the general public’s grasp of knowledge as well as logical reasoning. On the visits back to my hometown in which I made use of the public library, I had a sense of the patrons’ general level.  I had overlooked the librarians, however, until one summer day. What I found was yet one of several accumulating evidences of just how decadent my hometown had become. The profound ignorance—as startling as it was to me—just scratched the surface of the dysfunctional mentality pervades the city.

August 12, 2014
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.

August 12, 2014
Should Entitlement Programs Be Cut?

If human beings have survival among our inalienable rights as citizens for whom both rights and duties apply, then we as a society must grapple with how sustenance can be guaranteed to those among us who are not meeting their own needs. I put it this way to highlight the lack of conditionality in the right. That is to say, if it is inalienable, then it is irrelevant whether the person is lazy or of a bad temperament.

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August 12, 2014
Global Geopolitical Risks: Is Wall Street Hypersensitive and Reductionistic?

Are Wall Street analysts “micromanaging” the impacts of particular geopolitical risks, and zeroing in on one artificially? Moreover, can the daily changes in the Dow’s numbers really be identified so definitively with particular geopolitical changes in the business environment? The analysts and investors may be hypersensitive and overly reductionistic.

August 12, 2014
Robin Williams: Comedic Creativity and Dramatic Depth from Severe Depression?

A month or two before Robin Williams’ untimely and unfortunate suicide,  I read a piece whose author posited the possibility that much of the best writing has been penned by authors struggling with the disease known as major depression. I suppose the explanation would be that creativity is a way to break out of the dullness of the ordinary, to stimulate the mind out of its malaise. It is as if the suffering are reaching upwards, as if out of a sense of desperation known only to the unconscious. At the same time, the tendency of depression to dive deep within, to find or sink to a more meaningful, subterranean basis can easily translate into providing a narrative with depth. The combination of creativity and depth may be the hallmark of excellent story-telling, as well as the ravaging disease to which Robin Williams succumbed. In his acting, he was incredibly creative in his comedy even as he was fully capable of deep emotions in dramatic roles. In fact, behind the creative comedic façade may lie just such emotions, and in the dramatic we might catch the edges of a quick smirk that says, “Hey, don’t take all this so seriously, even though I do. I can’t help it.”

August 11, 2014
The U.S. Producing More Oil: A Panacea or Obstacle?

The International Energy Agency projected in 2012 that a shale-oil boom would catapult the United States over the state of Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, the global energy map was “being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States.”[1] Although the United States would benefit in the period from the trajectory, the drawbacks should not be ignored. In fact, the trend could be harmful in the long term if preparedness for a world without oil is put off as a consequence.