Friday, January 30, 2015

WILL PENN STATE RECOVER FROM THE MESS IT'S IN?

By Charles Snow


I received my PhD in Business Administration from the University of California. In early 1974, I received an offer for a faculty position in the business school at Penn State University. Because my wife and I would not be moving to State College, Pennsylvania until August of that year, the Chairman of the Management Department offered to send us a two-week subscription to the local newspaper so that we could start getting a feel for the State College community and perhaps find an apartment to lease. When the first copy of the paper arrived, the headline article, accompanied by a large picture, was about a mirror that had been recently installed at a semi-blind intersection on a country road. I began to wonder what I was getting myself into by accepting this job.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

ANOTHER INSULT: WALL STREET FINES ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE

 
By Ronald Fox
 
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It a number of previous posts I bemoaned the failure of Federal prosecutors to subject big Wall Street banks to criminal prosecution for their assortment of misdeeds. (One notable exception was the criminal prosecution of Credit Suisse. See Credit Suisse Pleads Guilty To A Felony, But Gets Off Easy). Without criminal prosecution, I concluded that the heavy fines imposed on JPMorgan Chase and other Wall Street behemoths would not deter the various criminal wrongdoings that got them in legal hot water.  At the same time, I welcomed the seemingly huge fines, which federal prosecutors assured us were extremely stiff, the highest ever paid by banks.  They did seem impressive.  I said "seem," because now we know the big banks will pay nowhere near the full cost of the settlements.  A big chunk of the billions of dollars in fines they have to pay to various federal agencies and regulators is tax deductible.  
 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HEAD INJURIES IN FOOTBALL: THE NFL FINALLY RESPONDS

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(This is Part II of my series on head injuries in football)  


After more than a decade of denials and evasions of the problem, the NFL was finally forced to admit that concussions could have long-term effects. It didn’t concede easily. It took increased scientific confirmation of the presence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), wider public awareness, and political pressure brought to Capitol Hill by Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (Jane Leavy has authored a book about her titled The Woman Who Saved Football) and an organization of wives and widows of former players to get the NFL to respond. Commissioner Roger Goodell was hauled before a congressional hearing where he was asked point blank if concussions caused long-term damage. This time his familiar “don’t-ask-me-I’m-not-a-scientist-ask-them” refrain satisfied no one. One committee member equated his evasion to Big Tobacco.
 
Two new discoveries by Dr. McKee’s research team posed an even more ominous threat to the NFL and the game of football in general.  CTE deposits were found in the brains of a 21-year old college football player, Owen Thomas, who had committed suicide, and an 18-year old high school player who died after a fourth concussion. Finding the presence of CTE in players so young raised several questions that cut to the very heart of the game of football. Could asymptomatic, sub-concussive hits have long-term effects? Is playing the game too dangerous? How safe is it for children to play? At what age? What precautions can be taken to protect players from head injuries? Questions like these substantially raised the stakes for the NFL.
 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I WAS WRONG: DICK CHENEY IS A SOCIOPATH


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By Ronald Fox 


Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.  
 
 
Prompted by former Vice-President Dick Chaney’s ludicrous claim that President Obama was responsible for the rise of ISIS and the general chaos in the Middle East, among other things, I previously posted an essay on the Veep in which I attempted to set the record straight. In trying to understand Cheney’s unfounded claims, I considered whether he had amnesia, was a hypocrite, ideological delusionalist, or just a shameless liar. After much thought, I concluded he was a dangerous delusional ideologue. (See Dick Cheney is a Dangerous Delusional Ideologue). Cheney’s response to the multitude of horrors spelled out in the Senate Report on Torture leads me to amend my conclusion: Dick Cheney is a sociopath. 
 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS POLITICAL CHEER: FOND MEMORIES OF OLD-STYLE POLITICS

By Ronald T. Fox  

(NOTE:  An earlier version of this essay was sent in error, so I'm re-submitting)


Ok, I admit it. I’ve become a political cynic. It’s easy to get jaded when your governing system is completely dysfunctional and the political party you’ve believed in has strayed from its core principles. The partisan divide has become obscenely wide and rigid. Partisanship has always characterized American politics, but perhaps never so much as in our present era. Political opponents rarely talk to each other, let alone collaborate to move legislation. I didn’t think I’d ever say it, but I long for a return to that old style politics when politicians fought it out on principle in the day, but got together after hours to make political deals. This is how law-making got done. It required mutual respect, trust and willingness to compromise. Above all, it required a commitment to the general good.  Sadly,  these days are long gone.