Avoiding Evil
Posted by aogWednesday, 09 June 2010 at 07:37 TrackBack Ping URL

A couple of clip on how the current Administration handles relations with its enemies.

Via NRO , Kyle Smith in the New York Post writes —

Nevertheless, to make the boss look like he’s in charge, his administration keeps threatening BP with thuggish language (“We will keep our boot on their neck”) and made public a criminal probe — something the Justice Department doesn’t normally do until it actually files charges.

“If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Tough guy. But look at his mild comments about the Times Square bomber on “Meet the Press,” where Holder never expressed even the mildest rebuke of the terrorist: “Well, you know, the evidence develops, and I think we have to always try to be careful to make sure that the statements that we make are consistent with the evidence that we have developed,” he said, adding that his people were going “to try to understand what is it that took him over the edge and that converted him from being a person who seemingly was an average American to somebody who was bound and determined to kill Americans.”

Others wonder

Why is it that the president would talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions, but he thinks that, in the middle of arguably the biggest domestic crisis of his presidency, it’s a waste of his time to have a conversation with the head of British Petroleum? So when it comes to terrorists, understanding is the main goal. With corporations, it’s punishment.

The answer is that our Administration views people who make profits as more despicable than people who execute their political opponents.

Multiple formatting errors fixed. Sorry!

Comments — Formatting by Textile
erp Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 08:21

I’m still waiting to hear from Harry what it is about profit that the left finds so evil. Without the wealth created by commerce, from whence will all the money the left needs to do their “good” deeds come?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 13:37

The answer is that our Administration views people who make profits as more despicable than people who execute their political opponents.

Rather, the answer (as usual) is that our Administration recognizes that the Gulf Oil blowout is more dangerous politically than is talking, or not, to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the latter of which, by the by, isn’t being done “without preconditions”, regardless of campaign rhetoric.

…what it is about profit that the left finds so evil.

It’s not the profit itself, it’s the manner in which the profit is gained.

BP, for instance, was responsible for over 90% of OSHA citations within the oil industry over the past decade. They were crazy profitable. Is that the kind of record that the right wishes to associate with “profit”?

Or take companies that import goods from third-world nations. Some of those goods are produced by slave and child labor. It’s extremely easy to make money hand over fist when you’re paying your laborers 10¢ an hour, or nothing at all. Is those the kind of labor relations that the right wishes to associate with “profit”?

It’s not just the fringe left that’s loopy over the concept of profit. The fringe right also has unsupportable ideas about the sanctity of profit, and the profit motive.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 13:47

AVRRA;

the answer (as usual) is that our Administration recognizes that the Gulf Oil blowout is more dangerous politically than is talking, or not, to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

So, the rational response is to do less to solve the problem by, for example, not making the effort to talk to the head of BP?

As for erp, I must disagree — for the most part, the MAL finds profit intrinsically tainted. I think that’s because they cannot envision making a profit except by something like the objectionable methods you note. Do you think it’s possible to make a profit using only morally acceptable mechanisms?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 14:09

So, the rational response is to do less to solve the problem by, for example, not making the effort to talk to the head of BP?

How, exactly, is the POTUS talking to the head of BP going to make things better?

Is BP not now doing all that they possibly can? Is there something additional that they’d do, if the proper respect was shown?

And of course, the Obama admin is working very closely with BP, just not at the top-most level, where it’s all symbolic anyhow.

Do you think it’s possible to make a profit using only morally acceptable mechanisms?

I do it six days a week, and have since I turned 16. So, obviously, yes.

However, in many fields it’s very difficult to turn a profit morally, if at least one of your competitors is using immoral methods to undercut the industry. That’s essentially why prudent, well-run banks still managed to get knackered by the housing bubble bursting - during the mania, they felt that they had to compete with bucket shops and fly-by-night money centers that were offering unsustainably-attractive home loans.

Additionally, there’s a big grey area surrounding business morals, so in many cases reasonable people can differ about whether a profit is ill-gotten.

But some things are beyond anyone’s pale.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 14:17

…for the most part, the MAL finds profit intrinsically tainted.

If true, the MAL must suffer from HUGE cognitive dissonance. Do not MAL-ists hold jobs? Isn’t it a stereotype about the MAL that they adore Hollywood, and the stars produced there?

So at least some types of profit must be seen as acceptable.

Bret Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 14:33

Wages and profit are different.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 14:42

How, exactly, is the POTUS talking to the head of BP going to make things better?

By setting the tone, by coming to a general high level agreement of responsibility in action. For exactly the same reasons that Obama talking to Ahmadinejad would make things better. That was Obama’s claim, so I think it perfectly reasonable to judge him by it.

If true, the MAL must suffer from HUGE cognitive dissonance.

It’s practically a defining characteristic.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 15:37

Wages and profit are different.

People who are ignorant of business or economic principles might think so, but both you and I know that’s not true, except in very narrow technical or semantic uses.

Bret Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 16:18

Wages are revenue, not profit. It really doesn’t make sense to think of wages as profit for most discussions.

Secondly, certainly a lot of progressives do (correctly, in my opinion) make that distinction. That’s why high PAID actors are not evil, but high profit companies are.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 16:33

Bret, AVRRA;

As further evidence of cognitive dissonance, consider that fact that highly paid CEOs are evil, but even more highly paid entertainers are not. Note the complete lack of comparisons of Oprah Winfrey’s wages vs. those of her gaffers, in contrast to the commonality of such comparisons for business CEOs. I don’t think it’s a wage vs. profit distinction.

Bret Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 17:11

I think it’s also common perception that CEOs are major owners in companies and are therefore compensated via profits (sometimes true) while entertainers just receive wages (even though sometimes not true). Also, few entertainers became entertainers to make money, while nearly every business person has profits as a fairly important reason that they do what they do.

I agree it’s not strictly a wage vs. profit distinction, yet there is a component of that in the perception.

erp Wednesday, 09 June 2010 at 18:14

aog, I think several of my comments have disappeared?

Hmmm. I don’t see them in the normal or junked comments. Comments are emailed to me and I didn’t receive any that aren’t displaying.

I’m not sure what it is I said that you are disagreeing with because I agree entirely that the left thinks monetary profit is tainted yet they must know without it, they won’t have any funds to redistribute.

Rough, if BP took short cuts and jeopardized safety that is a criminal matter whether they did it deliberately to maximize their profits or because someone was just lazy or careless.

Barry Meislin Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 03:32

Now wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier (for the media and the president) if BP were an Israeli-owned company?

That’s terrible luck. You almost feel sorry for ‘em.…

erp Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 07:39

aog, errr - maybe I didn’t hit the post button after the preview :-[ Thanks for looking.

Harry Eagar Friday, 11 June 2010 at 13:08

I cannot answer the first part of the last question, but the obvious answer to the second part is that the head of British Petroleum is a complete doofus.

I have been arguing for some time that the people who direct large corporations are no more competent than any random wino you’d find outside the Salvation Army. I rest my case.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 11 June 2010 at 13:37

And Ahmadinejad is not a complete doofus?

I can’t see your argument leading to anything other than immediate nationalization of all economic activity. Given how well that’s worked in practice, I would say your analysis is flawed.

Harry Eagar Saturday, 12 June 2010 at 14:25

I said I couldn’t explain it, didn’t I?

I don’t see any prospect of putting private property in competent hands. The government does define financial competence as ‘possession of $5 million,’ and we’ve seen how well that works.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 12 June 2010 at 15:54

I am unclear on what you mean by the “it” you couldn’t explain. You wrote you couldn’t answer a question, but I didn’t ask that question again. I was inquiring as to your policy prescriptions based on your observation. If your goal is just to complain about how poorly reality is structured, let me know and I will cease to ask for more.

Harry Eagar Sunday, 13 June 2010 at 12:43

It is the tactic of talking with Ahmadinejad. I probably could explain it, but the justification would be, in my view, unlikely to be productive.

My policy prescriptions: Restore Glass-Steagall. Understand the difference between a safe bank and a risk bvank. Prosecute thieves.

I have no suggestions for improving the quality of American business management, except to make managers study business history, and close the Harvard Graduate School of Business and the University of Chicago School of Economics. That is, no practical suggestions.

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