Banks Are, Generally, Well, Trouble

We are still cleaning up bank messes from 7 years ago as we find ourselves in yet another.  It was 2016 when the news hit that all the new accounts Wells Fargo was boasting about were not real.  By the time the dust settled, regulators found 3.5 million fake accounts.  The Barometer would have gone into business if she had understood you can just make stuff up.

And the Wells scandal broke just 8 years after we lost Lehman and Wachovia and a host of other financial institutions in 2008.

Now, as banks were folding right and left over the past 10 days, Wells Fargo’s former head of community banking, Carrie Tolstedt, agreed to enter a guilty plea to obstructing regulators. The allegations were that Ms. Tolstedt knew of the Wells “fakery” as early as 2004, but kept it quiet. The regulators, ever slow on the uptake, were trying to figure out the fake account scandal.

Wells paid $3 billion to settle the charges of faking accounts.  Ms. Tolstedt could serve up to 16 months in prison.

Now we are facing Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, First Republic Bank, and Credit Suisse, the banks on the brink. Despite clean audit opinions these banks somehow ran out of money.  Go figure.  No worries — we will sort through it all over the next seven years — about the time the next scandal breaks wide open.

Dave Michaels, “Ex-Wells Executive to Enter Guilty Plea,” Wall Street Journal, March 16 2023, p. B10.

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Rating Service: Gaming the System

The Barometer has noted the presence of a nearly instantaneous quality-of-service survey in her inbox seconds after Clear has “cleared” her through TSA airport security.  Except in Atlanta.  The Atlanta airport is a mess.  The Clear lines there serpentine in a Disney World manner and length.  You pay extra fees to Clear to avoid lines. In the case of Atlanta, however, Clear has managed to make its lines longer than the lines for those who just show upsand get in the short lines. Clear has high ratings if you can skew the data.

When the Barometer has her car serviced, there will be e-mails and calls of warning, “If you are not satisfied with your service experience, let me know so that I can fix it before you fill out a survey that is coming from the auto manufacturer.”  How will the manufacturer know what dealerships really do a good job if the dealership is hiding problems and cooking the customer surveys?

The survey madness was the focus of a book called “The Ultimate Question.”  That question (s) is “Are you likely to return to ________?” or “How likely are you to recommend ________?” Supposedly, good numbers on those questions translate to successful businesses. But not if you are fooling around with strategies pre-survey.

Airbnb owners are posting “Vacation Rental Rating Guides” to persuade guests to use the appropriate number of stars. Grade inflation in rental property evaluations.! Fours star actually means average as renters follow their instruction sheets.

The average score on Airbnb evaluations is 4.5.  So, you get an average rating that is recorded as excellent.   Then there are the guests who refuse to give a bad score, fearful of hurting the owner.  Hello renters! Airbnbers and other property rental firms just charged you $600 a night for a house that was cleaned by a 13-year-old neighbor.  A little negativity could help their business if they were willing to listen.

No one listens. No one speaks, at least truthfully  So, this odd world of surveys has brought us feedback of excellence without the disclosure of the baggage of gaming the system. Without Atlanta, Clear looks great. A car dealership gets fabulous service ratings, until you get there and experience the reality of manipulated data. With a ratings sheet posted on the refrigerator that tells customers what to put, all Airbnb properties are a slice of heaven. Owners achieve the highest ratings possible even when the floors are filthy.

The ultimate question has, ironically, fooled the customers.  Everyone is too busy gaming the system to be bothered by details about improving service and eliminating glitches.

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Samuel Bankman-Fried vs. Dr. Jerry Robinson

When the story of the multibillion dollar collapse of FTX broke, the Barometer thought Dr. Jerry Robinson (Peter Bonerz), orthodontist office mate of Dr. Bob Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show had succumbed to financial temptations. You decide:Icon: The Untold Story Of Crypto Billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried

The Bob Newhart Show: Season 2, Episode 16 - Rotten Tomatoes

Dr. Jerry Robinson played a loyal friend in the series and went on to direct successful television shows (Murphy Brown).

Samuel Bankman-Fried has been thrown under the bus baby his friends and awaits trial on securities fraud charges in home confinement.  So far, he’s the only one involved in gigantic FTX fraud who has not entered a guilty plea.

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Madison Square Garden Banishes Plaintiff Lawyers

MSG Entertainment, which owns and operates Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, other venues, and restaurants, took a bold step.  It sent a letter to 90 law firms that are in litigation with MSG stating, “Neither you, nor any other attorney employed at your firm, may enter the Company’s venues until final resolution of the litigation.”  The purpose of the ban was to prevent said lawyers from collecting evidence “outside proper litigation discovery channels.”

MSG then used facial recognition technology to turn the lawyers away. Lawyers then did what they are trained to do, they sued MSQ. Lawyers are not a protected class, yet.  So, anti-discrimination laws do not apply. The NBA does not prohibit the use of facial recognition.

So, the lawyers relied on a 1941 New York law that prohibits entertainment venues from denying admission unless the patron has become abusive. The law was drafted by an ACLU attorney for a theater critic who had been banished from 30 theaters.  Tough to pan a play when you haven’t seen it.

A court has granted a temporary injunction against MSG’s ban until things can be sorted out, well, in litigation over litigation. MSG has appealed. The lawyers are making the litigation about the dangers of using facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition is the tool for implementing the ban.  The issue is whether business owners can decide who gets to enter their establishments.  As the attorney for MSG pointed out to the judge in one of the cases, “Lawyers sometimes alienate people.”  He added that when he was a prosecutor cracking down on the mafia, “There are some Italian restaurants I couldn’t get a reservation at.  I didn’t sue them.”

It seems lawyers have hit an occupational hazard that affects their social lives. Hell hath no fury like a slip-and-fall lawyer banished from Knicks games and Phish concerts.

Kashmir Hill, “Arena Ban on Lawyers Fails to Stick,” New York Times, January 17, 2023, p. B1.



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When the Justice Department Jumped the Shark

In October 2021 there was the memo that Attorney General Merrick Garland sent out to all offices about the need to crack down on those violent parents at school-board meetings. He could offer no examples or prior investigations before Congress when asked what prompted the memo.  Later we learned that it was at the urging of the National School Board Association and its contacts at the White House that brought AG Garland to his senses.  So, he offered a stern memo for all hands on deck to crack down on those rascally scalawag parents. It took our Caspar-Milquetoast-meets-Barnet-Fife AG only five days after that memo arrived in the White House to get out his memo. The Mr. Limpet of lawyering said it was time to call a “domestic terrorist” a “domestic terrorist.”  Let the tackling of the soccer moms and wresting of their minivans headed for school-board meetings begin.

The terrorists showed him.  They sued him (case dismissed) and then began ousting school board members right and left, although mostly left, from Miami to San Francisco.  Congress is still investigating, and the mild-mannered Merrick is still resisting answers and investigators.  He has referred questions to Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House.  Ms. Jean-Pierre has responded that she is referring all questions to the Justice Department except those about Southwest Airlines, the Supply Chain, FAA ground-stops, and stalled infrastructure to Secretary of Transportation, Mayor “Pete” Buttigieg.  Mr. Buttigieg is currently on permanent leave owing to being a parent of twins.  He does report for work for press appearances to explain his latest harshly worded letter to someone else responsible for all road, shipping, strike, and transportation debacles under his watch.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed the abortion issue back to the states, Mr. Garland’s Justice Department has been busy suing those states for doing what the highest court in the land said they can and should be doing.

When desperate Doug Duce, then-governor of Arizona. erected a wall on the Arizona-Mexico border made up of shipping containers, the Justice Department filed suit for an order requiring their removal.  The containers were on federal land and were creating an environmental hazard.

You can find Merrick Garland and his merry band of Justice Department lawyers with their noses in just about anything that does or does not concern them.  After all, its name is self-descriptive.  All this has been done in the name of Justice, literally and figuratively.

However, with President Biden’s document debacle, the ongoing drama of the Justice Department is running short on strategies for remaining opaque even as it litigates, intimidates, and obfuscates.

The bottom line on the document debacle is as follows:

  1. November 2, 2022 Mr. Biden’s lawyers report finding classified materials at the Biden Center for Some Kind of Mubo Jumbo Globalism for the Study of Pumping Funds to Some Biden from Somewhere Else.  No word on how Biden lawyers happened to be snooping around the Center or why they were engaged as clerical two-men-and-a-truck flunkies. The University of Pennsylvania, the home of the Biden Center issued a statement, “Who knew?” and adamantly denied that any funds from China went to the Center (more on that issue coming).
  2. November 4, 2022 The classified materials from the Pumping Center somehow landed at the National Archives.  The National Archives Inspector General then contacted the Justice Department about the unauthorized possession, storage, transport, reading, or use of classified documents.
  3. November 8, 2022 Federal elections are held.  Nary a word was heard on the Biden possession of classified documents. No discouraging word was uttered on the topics covered in those documents:  Ukraine and Iran.
  4. November 10, 2022  The FBI commences an “assessment” to determine whether the documents had been mishandled in violation of federal law.  No word yet on why the FBI in no longer the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has become the FBA, Federal Bureau of Assessment.  Also, no word on why the FBI opted for no search warrants, raids, or searches of Dr. Jill’s underwear draws for nuclear secrets.
  5. November 10, 2022  The FBA notifies Biden attorneys that it had begun its scary assessment  process but that it would keep in regular contact.  No word yet on why Biden attorneys were not left standing outside the National Archives, FBA headquarters, Biden homes in Delaware, or the Biden Corvette garage. “Let’s keep in touch,” is the new motto for the new FBA.
  6. November 14, 2022 U.S. Attorney John Lausch is asked by Milquetoast Limpet to look into maybe whether or possibly a special counsel should be appointed by said Limpet. Mr. Lausch was at that time a U.S. Attorney in Illinois but is  headed out the door and  into private practice in February.
  7. November 18, 2022 Caspar Fife appoints a special counsel to “investigate”  Mr. Trump’s possession of “sensitive documents” as well as his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Jack Smith, said special counsel, is currently wrapping up a stint at the Hague prosecuting war criminals.  He pledged to handle the investigations in “the best traditions of the Justice Department.”  Uh-oh, that means trouble for Trump and a temporary reprieve for war criminals everywhere. He also added that he conducts “investigations” and not “assessments.”
  8. December 20, 2022  Those happy-go-lucky Biden sortin’ and movin’ lawyers find more documents at the Biden home in Wilmington, Delaware.  This time the FBA swings into action and heads out to secure the documents. That Inspector General at the National Archives cannot be trusted to handle issues such as this.
  9. December 21, 2022 The FBA takes possession of the classified  documents. The Wilmington home is not searched by the FBA. The FBA does not spread the documents on the carpet or issue any photos of the documents obtained.
  10. January 5, 2023 John Lausch reports to Mr. Toast, “You gotta appoint a special counsel here, Caspar.” Mr. Lausch also resurrects that nasty term, “investigate.”
  11. January 8, 2023 Representative James Comer announces on the Mark Levin program that he will be looking into the activities of the National Archives and possible politicization of that agency.
  12. January 9, 2023 CBS breaks the news about the Biden Center documents.  Karine Jean-Pierre responds, “Who knew?” and refers all questions to Mayor Pete or the Justice Deaprtment.
  13. January 10, 2023 Ironically, in a 60 Minutes prerecorded interview, President Joseph Robinette Biden addresses Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, noting, “How that could possibly happen, how one anyone [sic] could be that irresponsible?”
  14. January 10, 2023 President Joseph Robinette Byden issues a statement on the documents of, “Who knew?”  He pledged cooperation and refers all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre.
  15. January 11, 2023  Those movin’ and sortin’ Biden lawyers report finding more classified documents  at the Wilmington Biden home in the Biden garage. The lawyers stop their search and notify the FBA.  The FBA searches the Wilmington home as well as the Biden Rehobeth Beach home.  No additional documents were located.  No photos were issued by the FBA of the garage document, the Biden Corvette in that garage, or the bike lock on the Biden garage door.  Such a lock apparently qualified the Biden garage as a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility).
  16. January 12, 2023  Apparently the promise that no further documents were found by the FBA at the Wilmington Biden home were not quite accurate. Mr. Limpet held a press conference and disclosed that more documents had been found in the home.
  17. January 12, 2023 Those Biden lawyers (Keystone Kop-esque) head to the Wilmington to search the house again and found more documents in that SCIF garage (five more).  No word from the FBA on how they missed the documents in their assessment the day before.
  18. January 12, 2023  Caspar Fife announces the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “the handling of classified documents.” No word on whether the FBA will return to investigative work or continue to rely on special counsel and simply stick to its knitting of “assessments.” Mr. Garland referred all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre and she referred reporters back to him.
  19. January 17, 2023 The Wall Street Journal reports that FBA said that it considered monitoring Biden lawyer searches for additional documents but concluded it would not do so to avoid complicating “later stages of the investigation.” After all, when one is simply assessing, one cannot get involved in watching third-parties scoop up evidence. The FBA referred all questions to the Justice Department, to which one reported responded, “Aren’t you part of the Justice Department?”
  20. January 21, 2023 — The White House Chief of Staff is leaving after the State of the Union address. He has referred all questions to Mayor Pete or Karine Jean-Pierre.
  21. January 22, 2023 The FBA finds more documents in the Biden Wilmington home following a 13-hour search. No word on Dr. Jill’s drawers. Ms. Jean-Pierre reiterates that the White House continues to cooperate and will now begin a policy of distributing schedules for upcoming further document searches..

Regardless of how one feels politically, a simple timeline and a review of the Justice Department’s actions, inactions, and responses has brought it to that same point flailing sit-coms face and then attempt to regain former glory.  They resort to the unbelievable.

UPDATED January 23 2023.

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Wells Fargo VP Terminated for Urinating on a 72-year-old Woman (Allegedly)

Shankar Mishra, 34, until recently a VP at Wells Fargo, was on a flight from New York to Delhi, India. Mr. Mishra had been drinking on the flight and for some reason began urinating on a fellow passenger.  According to witnesses, Mr. Mishra did not stop his bathroom behavior until another passenger tapped him and told him to return to his seat.

When the flight landed, Mr. Mishra was charged with an “obscene act in a public place, assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman, and misconduct in public by a drunken person.”  Quite the statute India has.

The crew is under investigation by Air India for its actions and inactions:

  1. The pilot vetoed a request by the crew to have the female passenger moved to first class.
  2. The crew forced Mr. Mishra to apologize.
  3. The crew’s delay and in efficiencies in addressing the situation.

According to the female passenger, Mr. Mishra began crying and begging not to be taken into custody when the flight landed. Mr. Mishra’s father, Shyam, explained that the allegations in an interview on India Today TV are “totally false.”  He added that his son had not slept for 72 hours, had a drink, and is unable to recall anything that happened after that. Shyam Mishra added, “I don’t think he would have done this. The woman is 72 years old, she is like a mother to him.”  Ah, so age is the inborn restraint on abuse of fellow passengers.

Authorities from India called Wells Fargo about Mr. Mishra.  Wells Fargo then terminated Mr. Mishra immediately, noting in a Tweet, “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behavior and we find these allegations deeply disturbing,” it said, per ANI. “This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them.”

Wells decided not to wait for the wheels of justice to turn in India.  Perhaps the bigger issue for Wells is: “How on earth did this man get to be a vice president?” Followed by, “Is tweeting the best way to address HR questions?”

For airlines, a follow-up issue is the return to serving spirits on flights. Perhaps a drink maximum?

For us, drunk or not, is anything left to civility?

Charmaine Patterson,  “Wells Fargo Fires Top Exec After He Allegedly Urinated on Elderly Woman During Flight to India,” People, January 7, 2023.

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The Conversations That Have No Point

The New York Times runs a regular feature called, “The Conversation.”  Columnists Gail Collins and Bret Stephens shoot the breeze in a stream-of-consciousness format.  The Conversation is lengthy, too lengthy once you catch on to its content.  You will find no new facts, a void in logic, and a great deal of snark.  In fact, it’s a fest to see which can be snarkiest.  Look no more for the source of division and contention.  The root cause is the terms, phraseology, and vitriole in our discourse.  We’re not thinking, analyzing, and grasping consequences.  We just keep harping on the same topics without the merciful realization that we already said that.  Herewith a few classic quotes from our hero and heroine, Bret Stephens and Gail Collins:

Bret:  Oh, and speaking of dealing with gangsters– your thoughts on the current crop of legal cases against the former guy?

Gail:  I’ve never thought — and still don’t– that a former president is going to go to jail, even for stealing federal documents or rousing violent crowds to march on the Capitol.

Bret:  Agree. Alas.

Gail:  But I’ve always had a yearning that he might wind up bankrupt and, say, living in a Motel 6.  Knew that was impossible — told myself to remember all the money he can make just on speaking tours or hosting parties at Mar-a-Logo.

Move over Archimedes!  There’s reasoning at its best.  Aristotle must defer because his definition of virtue has been shut down,  Where did they cross the line? Maybe in wishing for federal indictment and offering bankruptcy as  an alternative, a final resting spot that could achieve contentment.

Wishing prison and bankruptcy on anyone reveals a void in religious thought. Perhaps we could reach out to “love our enemies.”

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“Aiming for an Ivy and Try to Seem Less ‘Asian'”

Title of a story in the New York Times about applicants of Asian descent tailoring their application materials to maximize their chances for getting into an Ivy League school.  Some Asian applicants check “prefer not to say” when the demographic questions such as the one on race pop up .  Another hid her competitive chess success. Harvard doesn’t want winning chess-playing Asians on its campus.  As one young women noted — it is tough to hide who are unless you change your last name.

It is hard to believe we now live in a country in which disclosing your race means that you stand less of a chance in getting into a top college.  The best way to stop this problem of discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision coming next year on Harvard’s negative scoring of Asian applicants, well, we may experience a halt to discriminating on the basis of race. We did fight a Civil War and the battles of the civil rights era to stop this.  Apparently, it just changed the directions of the cannons.  Still discriminating after all these years

Amy Qin, “Aiming for an Ivy and Trying to Seem Less Asian,” New York Times, December 3, 2022, p. A1.

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Disney Hires McKinsey

Now there’s a combo — the consulting firm that turbo-charged pharmas to millions in liability with its advice on increasing opioid sales and their inventories.  Even McKinsey settled up for its part in that fatal national crisis. Now McKinsey meets the Magic Kingdom, a fiefdom that somehow has managed to produce movie bomb after bomb even whilst alienating its own employees with political hot potatoes. Bad judgment meets worse judgment.

Robbie Whelan, Joe Flint, and Jessica Roonkel, “Disney Hired McKinsey for Revamp, Spurring Dissent,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2022, p. B1.

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FTX– Some Safety Tips for Avoiding Ponzi schemes

The Barometer has said it before, but bears repeating:  How many times of we have to go through these genius scams before we recognize them for the frauds that they are? To no one’s surprise, except perhaps FTX  investors and its employees, that crypto currency darling turned out to be a scam run by a nerd that was propped up by the online braggadocio of Caroline Ellison who ran Alameda, another company founded by Mr. Bankman-Fried.  Ms. Ellison has a string resemblance to Pippi Longstocking,

The nerd and his gal-pal did very well, for a time. They were darlings of the field of philanthropy and Democrats in Congress.  John Jay Ray III, one of the biggest names in sorting through bankrupt companies, including Enron,  concluded that this one is the biggest mess he has ever seen. Alameda now owes FTX $10 billion for loans it received.  FTX owes $8 billion to creditors. We are into territory doubling and tripling previous scandals. David-Yaffe Bellamy, “Chief Tapped to Clean Up FTX Calls Mess the Worst He’s Ever Seen,” New York Times November 18, 2022, p. B1

So, some safety tips for proactive recognition of fraud in place of the post-mortem outrage coupled with, “Who knew?”

  1.  If you are investing in a company run by a guy who looks like Jerry Robinson from The Bob Newhart Show, but with worse clothes, you may be taking some risks.
  2. If the founder of the firm you are investing in says that he will be using his money to “prevent nuclear war” and “future pandemics,” you might have a trickster on your hands. If “altruism” is their buzzword, it means they are doing good with your money.
  3. Watch for posts by executives, such as Ms. Ellison.  Her are a few of her musings.  Following a phone call with CEOs of other companies, she posted, “Oh, thank god [sic], I think I fooled them into thinking I’m a real adult.”  (Tumblr) And revealing the habits of trades at Alameda and FTX, she wrote, “Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, nondedicated human experience is.” (Twitter).
  4. If the founder of the firm you are investing in is cozying up to lawmakers with donations and regulators with advice to keep both at bay, you may be investing in another Enron.
  5. If the founder of the firm that has your cash is running away (on camera) from Tom Brady, another investor, as Mr. Brady did an endorsement, you may be taking a leap into a bankrupt firm.
  6. If the firm you are investing in is loaded with Hollywood and entertainment world A-listers, well, study history.  In particular, see all the folks who were duped by Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny at Theranos, and CDOs at banks pre-2008.
  7. If Maxine Waters heads the committee that would regulate the firm you are investing in, run away.  Her oversight is so well done that she has missed the collapse of Fannie Mae as well as the dramatic blow-up of mortgage and real estate markets in 2008. In the case of FTX, she was filmed blowing kisses to Sam Backman-Fried following his appearance at a hearing.
  8. If the firm you are investing in is an ESG darling, sprint away.  The criterion for being a “good” company in that endeavor does not calculate fraud into its definitions for environmental and social responsibility or corporate governance.  If they did, the girlfriend might not have been running FTX.
  9. If the firm you are investing in is hopping into a new field with only a little proven track record, stand back and let others get it all straightened around.
  10. If the board members are the same at the trading firm working with your firm, you have some conflicts issues that should have been raised and addressed.
  11. Hindsight is indeed 20/20, and it is readily available through the study of history?  How many Professor Harold Hills does it take to make innocent and gullible  fall for 76 trombones every time?  Repent, all ye sheep who find the next-great richer-than-ever dreams. Become wary of the too-good-to-be-true hucksters, especially those who look like Peter Bonerz.

David Yaffe-Bellany, Lora Kelley, and Cade Metz, “Collapse of FTX Puts Focus on Obscure Crypto Trader,” New York Times, November 24, 2022, p. B1.

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When Success Comes Too Soon and Too Easily

John R. Tyson, the great grandson of Tyson Foods founder, graduated from Stanford business school with an MBA in 2019.  He was then hired at Tyson foods as Vice President of strategy and chief sustainability officer.  In September 2022, he was promoted to CFO, a position he began, at age 32,  in October 2022.

On November 6, 2022, a female resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas woke up to find said John Tyson asleep in one of her bedrooms.  The homeowner, who does not know Mr. Tyson,  called the police who came scurrying.  The police persuaded Mr. Tyson to wake up.  Mr. Tyson tried, but the spirit was willing and the flesh was weak.

Reeking of alcohol, the lad was escorted out of the house to Washington County Detention Center, presumably to sleep it off. He was released on Sunday evening and  issued an apology:

“I am embarrassed  for personal conduct that is inconsistent with my personal values, the company’s values, and the high expectations we hold for each other here at Tyson Foods.”

Patricia Thomas, “Tyson CFO Held on Charge of Home Trespass,” Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2022, p. B1

Mr. Tyson is getting counseling on alcohol usage.  Yes, choosing the wrong house for one’s homecoming may be rock bottom.  The youngest CFO serving at an S & P or Fortune 500 firm has some drying out and growing up to do. The family may want to reconsider its promoting-from-within-policy and look without.  Preferably for someone whose frat days are behind him.

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Lessons from a Cab Ride

The Barometer needed a cab to get from the hotel to the airport.  There were no cabs in sight but there was a long line of guests waiting. The desk valet said, “I can get you a cab.”  He made a call and three minutes later a cab arrived.  The Barometer gave the desk valet a tip as he loaded her suitcase into the cabin.

Once in the cab, the driver told the Barometer, “There was no need to tip him.  I take care of him.”  The Barometer was confused and said so.  The cabbie said, “I pay him for getting me customers.”  The industrious, albeit graftifying cabbie, explained that he paid the desk valets at all of the hotels in that area because then he did not have to go to the airport and sit in the queue.  He added, “I pay him.  He gets me customers.  You pay me and tip me.  God sees this and I get more desk valets and more customers.  God helps us when we work hard.”

The Barometer too is convinced that God helps us when he work hard, but is not sure about the graft thing.  In fact, I should have had the cabbie take a look at Exodus 23: 8: “And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.”  Or Deuteronomy 16:19″ Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.”

During the 30-minute drive to the airport, the Barometer listened to the cabbie’s reasoning as to why God loves a bribe.  The Barometer witnessed an impenetrable  monologue.  No one could break through such a barrier of words and rationalizations on how blessed we are in a world of bribes.

AS we drove by the cab queue at the airport, with hundreds of cabbies waiting their turn for the next passenger, he pointed and said, “Fools!  I’ll have three fares by the time they get one.”

At the end of the lecture/ride, the Barometer asked the cabbie for a receipt, and he said, “I’ll give you two receipts.  One is for this ride.  The other is blank for you to submit as an extra expense to your employer for, just make something up — like  a cab ride to dinner.”

The Barometer stood and watched in wonder as the cabbie drove away — back to his circle of hotels and his agents who work their front doors for him.  The Barometer never got the chance to ask the cabbie, “Do you have any idea what I do for a living?”

The Barometer has  the blank cab receipt — it is now immortalized.

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NYC Hires McKinsey to Research Its Garbage Problem, i.e., Too Much Garbage

Fresh off its opioids settlement, maybe McKinsey can find a way to tackle garbage. However, a consulting firm needs to manage garbage?  Why not hire Waste Management? Those folks might just know a thing or two about waste and its management.

Gina Bellafante, “Will McKinsey Put a Lid on Our Garbage?” New York Times, October 9, 2022, p. A37.

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“Am I Obligated to Look After My Insufferable Mother?”

Question to “The Ethicist,” New York Times Magazine, October 9, 2022, p. 16.

Yes, you are.  Because your mother looked after the insufferable you for many years.

Caring for our aging parents is no easy feat.  But this daughter is missing a tremendously rewarding opportunity for growth — selflessness found during the last precious time in her mother’s life.

However, the daughter was willing to adopt the mom’s cats but mom objected.  Cats are easier to care for than mothers. And cats seem to hang tough with mom when no one else will.

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