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International politics from the "decent Left".
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:: Thursday, July 11, 2002 ::

Wonderful op-ed by Khalil Shikaki on how a parlimentary system can reform Palestinian politics. A very worthwhile read, even for those who care only about how to get rid of Yasser Arafat.
:: Judah 9:17 PM [+] ::

The Bush Administration, is its new "coportate responsiblity" policy, is adhering to a "bad-apple" theory of corporate scandal. That is, no matter what, there will be people who just don't play by the rules and those people need to be punished. As the widespread nature of corporate fraud (including, apparetly, the President and Vice President's own corporations) shows, this isn't the problem of a few bad apples. Rather, something is rotten in the system and there needs to be systematic change. Not that beefing up the SEC isn't needed, it just isn't enough.
Some (not members of the administration or Congress, of course) have proposed making sure that corporate boards are truly independent of the executives, rather than just rubber stamps. That means that the board should be looking out for the interests of the shareholders and making sure the executives only behave in ways that are in the company's (rather than the executives') best interests. This all means that boards should be elected by the shareholders, rather than appointed by the CEO.As well, CEOs should not be board chairmen. In addition, changes must be made to the accounting structure so that accountants don't have conflicts of interest, being responsible both for auditing and advising.
The problem goes deeper, however. With companies having a fiduciary responsibility only to make money for shareholders (and legally liable if their business actions aren't for that sole purpose), and with much of executive pay being tied to stock performances, there are been a greatly increased focus on short-term stock prices. Much of the current money business has been an attempts to salvage quarterly stock prices.
Companies continually fire workers and move operations overseas in order to cut costs, leading to greater profit for shareholders. An entire industry of people like "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap and Mitt Romney has sprung up of corporate managers who take over a company, gut it in order to raise its stock prices, make millions of dollars, and then sell the company. The company is left with high stock prices, but no long term future. These strategies are designed to do just that: raise the quarterly stock-prices quicker, not make the company healthy in the long run. One option is to change the ficuciary responsiblity making corporations legally responsible not only to their shareholders, but to their workers, communities, and environments. This responsiblity used to assumed and understood as part of the the corporate social contract. The other suggestion was made by Senator Jeff Bingaman a number of years ago. He suggesting giving tax breaks and special benefits to companies that behaved in a responsible fashion by reinvesting profits in training workers, by protecting the environment, by doing everything neccesary to create more wealth that will be spread out to both workers and investors over time, rather than raising the wealth of a few investors quickly. Maybe its time to revisit that suggestion.
:: Judah 9:08 PM [+] ::

If anyone doubted the connections between the American civil rights movement and the issues facing the Palestinian citizens of Israel, read this profile of A'adal Ka'adan, the man whose attempted move to Katzir set of the current issues of land rights in Israel by Israeli author Tom Segev. His reason for moving isn't some sort of rabid anti-Jewish ideology; he just wanted better education for his children.
:: Judah 8:36 PM [+] ::

Ok, I'm back... I think I'm just going to skip most of the news of the past two weeks and start again where we are. So, if someone wants to offer comments about Israel's Jews-only legislation, their debates over daylight savings and a two day weekend, the poposed European Common Agricultural Policy, or the complete breakdown of "turbo-share-holder" capitalism, do it here. A prize to the best Marxian (or post-Marxian, with extra points for Herbert Marcuse references) analysis of the current corporate crime wave.
:: Judah 8:25 PM [+] ::

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