Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Collegiate in-breeding

May 7, 2006

Forty-six years before John Negroponte forced Porter Goss out as DCI, the two were fraternity brothers at Yale.


The Cincinnati Enquirer on Bill Bennett

October 3, 2005

The Cincinnati Enquirer succinctly states the real problem with Bill Bennett’s remarks:

The point, which Bennett refuses to understand, is that in his mind black people and crime are intrinsically linked.

The defenses of Bennett I have seen focus on the wrapper around this linkage: That Bennett had said he was talking about a hypothetical situation, and that he had explicitly said that that hypothetical was morally wrong.

What these defenses ignore is the linkage itself. It is clear to me that Bennett disavows the idea that fetuses carried by black women should be aborted in order to (as he puts it) lower the crime rate. It is not clear to me that Bennett disavows the idea that black people are intrinsically more likely than other people to be criminals. And that idea is the real scandal here.

(Thanks to Jeff Tindall for the Enquirer link.)

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

October 1, 2005

Most discussions in the United States about France and the French are more heat than light, which makes this enlightening book especially welcome.

The authors are two Canadians who moved to France for two years (1999-2001) in order to understand how the French are different from North Americans. Some of the points they made:


“Criminalizing business” and the public trust

August 7, 2005

Tom Kirkendall has posted several score times this year on the subject of how certain prosecutors, aided by the post-Enron political environment and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law, have been interpreting questionable business practices as grounds for criminal charges.

I agree with Tom that the Enron Task Force has been wrong to coerce defendants into guilty pleas and into declining to testify for other defendants. I also agree that the collapse of the Arthur Andersen firm after its conviction markedly reduces competition in the area of major corporate audits, and that this reduction in competition will have serious lasting negative effects.

I have a question for Tom about the Arthur Andersen case, though:

As accounting professionals and Certified Public Accountants, the partners comprising the firm of Arthur Andersen were supposed to serve as independent defenders of the public interest, ensuring that the accounting practices of their clients were within the bounds of generally accepted standards.

As the auditors for Enron, the firm of Arthur Andersen appears to have become dependent on income from the consulting work it did on the side for Enron; and, as a result of that dependence, its managing partners were signing off on unacceptable accounting practices.

Faced with a situation in which an accounting firm has been corrupted into ignoring its responsibility to the public, leading to the loss to stakeholders and pensioners of several billion dollars, what course of action (if any) would you have recommended that the federal government take?