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June 2004
July 2004



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The Spin Zone: On Spinoza and Kenneth Lay

Spinoza wrote a classic work- Ethics. Centuries later we are still debating, this week you would have seen the picture of Ken Lay in handcuffs and surely you would have read about ethics in business.

"I believe in God and I believe in free markets," says the son of a Baptist minister who ended up as one of the most famous business people in America now. He is almost evangelical of free market economies. "That' s the fairest way to allocate and price resources," he says. " It does create more wealth and a higher standard of living for people than any other alternative. That ought to be the conclusive statement on markets."

He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Houston and serves on the Board of Trustees of his church. When he dies, he trusts God will consider him a good and faithful servant.

Some much needed fresh perspective- you might say, read on...

"I think if you looked at my total life as a businessman, the way I treated people, the opportunities I' ve created for people standards of living that have been impacted for the better, I certainly hope he would," says Lay.

To read the full interview with Kenneth Lay, go here.
To do a quick refresh on Spinoza, try here.

Thanks db32 for the link to an msnbc interactive module on what really happened at Enron.

Profundities ::

At July 20, 2004 at 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this one. short and significant. this interview was given in 2001, wonder why mainline media don't call him on the spin.

At July 20, 2004 at 7:45 PM, Blogger Nilu said...

Am starting a topical Blog series trying to reason with Dialectical Materialism.

Let me know your thoughts....(by the way in case you are not aware, I am an absolute capitalist!)

At July 20, 2004 at 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even before the Enron collapse was public knowledge, this man had the gall to analyze his company's conduct as similar to what Jesus would have done. That's amazing.

I can't really see Jesus being more concerned about the bottom line than about people's needs -- that doesn't sound much like the principles they were teaching when I was in Sunday school. Even if Christ did favor a free market, He most likely would not be giving Ken Lay a pat on the back for his stewardship of Enron.

It's either disingenuous or ignorant to believe that capitalism has the good Lord's blessing. The early Christian church was more community oriented than that, and they had the advantage of hearing the message first-hand.

I think that business should not be unfairly restrained, nor should it be given unfair advantages over the rights of people -- that's what a true free market would require. It's not anything close to what we currently have though.

-h2 (smedley)

At July 21, 2004 at 9:48 AM, Blogger mr said...

Anonymous, I for one have lost trust in 'mainline' media. 1. Take this week for example, all I can hear is Sandy Berger, whether it is Sean Hannity or CNN or NBC. 2. Take Enron, how many commentators explained what actually happened at Enron? They show you the scandalous pictures, KL in handcuffs, KL pleading the Fifth Amendment, but do they get time to dwell on issues during their mad rush for the next big story?

h2(smedley)'s comment is written like a true blogger, and it seems after much thought. He brings up a significant point: Is Capitalism righteous? I was thinking more along the lines of ‘ethics in business’ when I wrote the article.

Is Capitalism righteous? Well, should it be? I don’t think that a ‘string theory’ unifying economic and moral principles is possible. What we do have is a notion of moral principles which can be applied to most all aspects of human endeavor- ethics. Whether you go with Spinoza’s determinism or Sartre’s existentialism, every one of us has a notion of what is ethical given a situation. So instead of hoping for a morally correct capitalism, why don’t we let capitalism as it is, but evaluate it (additionally) from the viewpoint of ethics?

At July 21, 2004 at 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too often, executives use the standardized approach when blamed for economic downfalls. (its the "markets", or its the "economy" in general) They fail to accept personal responsibility for their actions and frankly, I am fed up with it. To top it all off, they justify their actions with their so-called religious affiliation. Imagine if people in other fields of work (ie healthcare) did the same. I would be the "economy's " fault for that failed heart operation...

At July 23, 2004 at 12:02 AM, Blogger mr said...

Valid point Anonymous. His spin on the incident is nasty. you mentioned spin on an error of judgement in the healthcare field- well, i wonder how this Romanian doc is going to explain this away. (A news article that was doing the rounds at blogosphere this week - http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,10179536%255E13762,00.html )

At February 13, 2005 at 11:48 AM, Blogger Randolph Thompson Dible II said...

Axiology (field of value) is now grounded in axioms since I configured a calculus of relativity and relevancy, abstractions concretizing the present. Called the Calculus of the Present, the two axioms are the laws of life and love, the principles of Subjectivity and Profundity. Technically poly-contextuality (the point of singualrity of any nexual set, the audient perspective) and poly-contentuality (the content of the nexus) are irrational, prior to logical grounding (domanity) since abstract, and unknowable since not defined by a perspective, but together, connected, love in life is the presently given immediacy, now concreated by a consensus of subjective forms and eternal objects.

The present organism is objectively immortal, and the subjective form of reference is total, logically closed subjectivity or self-referential feedback white-noise, unordered and formless. The noise is hidden from us (consense of subjective forms of the creature) by the latency of profundity in formation.

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