Recent Business Commentaries

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The fallout surrounding Countrywide Financial and Chief Executive Angelo R. Mozilo just keeps getting worse.  The last 42-days have seen an extraordinary amount of activity. On May 15, Federal District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer said that “…she found confidential witness accounts in the shareholder complaint to be credible… they suggested, ‘a widespread company culture that encouraged employees to push mortgages...
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June 27, 2008
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Do Justly
Recently, a friend made this comment about a (June 21) commentary I posted about fairness:  “Fairness,” she said, borrowing from a previous statement about torture, “is basically subject to perception.” Is fairness perceptual?  What is a practical definition of fairness? “All virtue,” Aristotle wrote, “is summed up in dealing justly.” But what is justice?  What is a just or fair...
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June 26, 2008
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The Fairness Factor
“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” This insightful piece of absurdity comes courtesy of Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strip. I thought about this while reading the results of a recent study by a pair of psychologists entitled, “Early Predictors of Job Burnout and Engagement.” Christina Maslach, a social psychologist...
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June 21, 2008
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Out of Whack
In one keystroke Countrywide Financial’s Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo lived up to the worst traits of a corporate executive. It started when homeowner Daniel Bailey wrote a letter addressed to Mr. Mozilo and sixteen other Countrywide staff: “I am writing this letter to explain my unfortunate set of circumstances that have caused me to become delinquent on my mortgage,” Bailey...
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May 27, 2008
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The Insider – 12 Years Later
There’s a moment near the end of the 1999 movie The Insider where Jeff Wigand is watching his whistle-blowing interview on 60 Minutes with his two daughters.  During the interview, one of his daughters looks over at him and slowly smiles. Between 1995 and 1996, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand lost his job, his house, his wife and for a time, his...
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May 10, 2008
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A Moment of Principle – Part 2
Former WorldCom auditor Cynthia Cooper continues a conversation about the ethical downfall of the telecom giant in her new book, “Extraordinary Circumstances.” What caused employees at WorldCom to become complicit with the fraud? “Most people don’t wake up and say – I want to become a criminal today. Instead, they venture down a slippery slope one step at a time....
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April 11, 2008
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A Moment of Principle
The day Cynthia Cooper’s life changed she was sitting in a hair salon wrapped in tin-foil when she received an angry call from her boss, WorldCom’s Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan As head of internal audit for the telecom giant, Cooper had asked the company’s external auditor, Arthur Andersen about a questionable accounting maneuver.  Sullivan was incensed that she was...
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April 9, 2008
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The Four Horsemen
When it comes to corruption, the Four Horsemen of the Ethical Apocalypse remain:  Money, Power, Influence and Arrogance. In a 2006 survey that I conducted with Zogby International and the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis, Americans have decidedly low levels of trust and confidence in its leadership.  “Most Americans,” the Center says, “have moved beyond thinking of violations of honesty...
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March 28, 2008