We have returned recently from a trip to South Africa. It is all somewhat discombobulating to return from there to the USA. One drives to the airport in Cape Town past some truly dreadful slums with tense of thousands of people living in tin shacks. One drives home from the airport in Dallas past some of the greatest mansions in the country. The contrast is stunning. Continue reading
I noticed that it is some 6 months since I last contributed a thought to these pages. One good reason is that I am the only one who reads them. The other, not so good reason, is sheer laziness. Regardless of who else reads this stuff, writing it out is a good exercise for my brain. My personal task remains the same: How to apply my faith to the issues of the day? And its corollary, how the issues of the day affect my faith.So let me see what I can do in 2013.
I don’t know how your day passed but mine passed with several stories on the radio about sons and fathers. I suppose the theme common to all the stories ran something like I hated my father when I was a kid but when I grew up all I saw was this sorry old man and I couldn’t hate him anymore. Continue reading
A fascinating article in the New York Times by a retired trader, now neuroscientist at Cambridge John Coates entitled “The Biology of Bubble and Crash.” In it, he notes that when someone enters a trade, the body feeds testosterone into the system of the trader, creating a sense of invincibility and generating a very high tolerance for risk. Bad news, however, feeds cortisol into the system generating an irrational level of risk aversion. Continue reading
Interesting piece in AccountancyLive, noting that the Supreme Court in the UK has ruled in favor of mandatory retirement at 65 and, in the case at hand, allowing a law firm to retire one of its partners. Continue reading
I rant to my students about the stupidity of government accounting, which fails to distinguish spending on today versus spending on tomorrow. We call the latter investing and it is what we do to make tomorrow possible. Sound investments pay for themselves by making a better future. So now comes another example of silly decision making. Continue reading
The NY Times Book Review today talked about a book called Beautiful Souls by Eyal Press and, in particular, about a Swiss policeman who broke the Swiss law by allowing Jewish refugees to cross the border. It struck me as I read the review that we have a tendency to focus on the people who did bad and to not pay enough attention to those who did good. The book, so the review says, talks about a number of people who decided to stand against the tide — and about the price they paid (in this world — my addition). Where do we fit the gospel into a tragedy like the Holocaust? And what was it that was different about the heroes — in Germany, in Poland, in modern-day Israel where slaughtering Palestinians seems to be OK, in Africa, and on and on. When asked, the Swiss policemen Paul Grunninger apparently said, “I could not do anything else.” I wonder at times like these whether “Christ in us” can perhaps apply to people who may not have said the right words that we seem to think necessary to be a Christian. Maybe we should recognize Christians by their deeds rather than their professions? Maybe we should acknowledge that God can choose to work through many different people? Maybe we in the church are just a tiny, little, bit arrogant when we think that WE are the only hands doing God’s work. Maybe?!
An excellent economic article written by a psychologist in this morning’s New York Times in which Professor Schwartz argues a perfectly efficient world is one that is friction free. Becoming more efficient is a primary goal of business. On the other hand, it is those little frictions that cause us to pause, to think, and perhaps to behave more appropriately. Continue reading
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has a fascinating analysis this morning showing that the vast, vast bulk of so-called welfare goes to the elderly (Social Security & Medicare primarily) and the disabled (Medicaid etc). Very, very little falls into the hands of the able-bodied. The whole article is well-worth a read. Paul Krugman adds another astonishing statistic: Apparently 40% plus of people on Social Security and/or Medicare claim that “they have not used a government program!” Amazing.
I teach not-for-profit accounting and each semester my students and I work through the annual reports of selected organizations. This year, given the financial difficulties that have been reported, I decided to do the Dallas Symphony. A visit to GuideStar reveals that it has their “gold star” for transparency BUT . . . Continue reading