Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Long View: Why “Maximizing Shareholder Value” Is On Its Way Out

Thanks to my friend Allen ( for sharing this great article from TIME Business & Money.

"First, there are graduate students, many of whom are passionate about changing the world—and not just getting rich. The trouble is that all too many business and law schools undermine this spirit by teaching traditional classes that reinforce a short-term mindset. As Cornell law professor Lynn Stout, one of those at the Claremont gathering, has made abundantly clear, by the time these students hit the job market, they’ve come to falsely believe that the primary purpose of the corporation is to “maximize shareholder value.”

Read more:

Monday, September 23, 2013

The god of money

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” - Luke 16:12-14


Pope attacks global economics for worshipping 'god of money'

CAGLIARI, Sardinia (Reuters) - Pope Francis made one of his strongest attacks on the global economic system on Sunday, saying it could no longer be based on a "god called money" and urged the unemployed to fight for work.

Francis, at the start of a day-long trip to the Sardinian capital, Cagliari, put aside his prepared text at a meeting with unemployed workers, including miners in hard hats who told him of their situation, and improvised for nearly 20 minutes.

"I find suffering here ... It weakens you and robs you of hope," he said. "Excuse me if I use strong words, but where there is no work there is no dignity."

He discarded his prepared speech after listening to Francesco Mattana, a 45-year-old married father of three who lost his job with an alternative energy company four years ago.

Mattana, his voice trembling, told the pope that unemployment "oppresses you and wears you out to the depths of your soul".

The crowd of about 20,000 people in a square near the city port chanted what Francis called a prayer for "work, work, work". They cheered each time he spoke of the rights of workers and the personal devastation caused by joblessness.

The pope, who later celebrated Mass for some 300,000 people outside the city's cathedral, told them: "We don't want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre (of an economic system) as God wants, not money."

"The world has become an idolator of this god called money," he said.
Sardinia's coast is famous for its idyllic beaches, exclusive resorts and seaside palatial residences of some of the world's richest people, including former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and a host of Hollywood actors.

But much of the island, particularly its large cities and the vast agricultural and industrial interior, has been blighted by the economic crisis, with factories closed and mines operating at low capacity.


Cagliari has a youth unemployment rate of about 51 percent. The Sulcis area in the southwest of the island is threatened with more unemployment from the looming closures of the Carbosulcis coal mine and an aluminum smelter.

The pope made clear that his assessment was not limited to the local situation.

"It is not a problem of Italy and Europe ... It is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that brings about this tragedy, an economic system that has at its centre an idol which is called money," he said to the cheers of the crowd.

While Francis's predecessor Benedict also called for changes to economic systems, he was more likely to use dense intellectual language.

Francis, who as bishop of Buenos Aires sided with unemployed workers in their conflict with government austerity plans, ended his improvised speech with a prayer asking God to "give us work and teach us to fight for work".

Francis said he did not want the crowd to see him as a smiling "cordial manager of the Church who comes here and says to you 'have courage'".

He added: "I don't want this. I want this courage to come from inside me and push me to do everything I can as a pastor and a man."

Francis brought tears to the eyes of some in the crowd when he told his own family's story of emigration from Italy to Argentina and how they lost everything in the Great Depression.

"I was not born yet, but as a child I remember hearing talk of this suffering," he said.
Francis said globalization had brought with it a culture where the weakest in society suffered the most and often, those on the fringes "fall away", including the elderly, who he said were victims of a "hidden euthanasia" caused by neglect of those no longer considered productive.

"To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed. We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to his throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone," he said.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Stress Overload

Left untreated, chronic stress may lead to serious health problems. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress.

Your typical day might go something like this: get up, check your email quickly, eat something and head to work. You work hard all day, get home, cook dinner. Ready to do it all over again tomorrow?

You may be, but you may not be ready for much else. Any change to your daily routine may cause you to feel stress. These changes might include getting stuck in traffic or having problems with your boss. Or you might hear bad news about a family member.

Stress is your body’s response to something that makes you feel threatened. It may be real or imagined. When this happens, your nervous system releases stress hormones. These hormones prepare your body for “fight-or-flight” or emergency action.

A little stress isn’t bad for you. It can even help you perform well under pressure. The dangerous effects of stress come when stress is constant or chronic. Under chronic stress, your body remains in high gear — off and on — for days or weeks on end.

Continuous and long-term stress may lead to serious health problems. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and learning how to manage it may help you stay one step ahead of an overload.

What are the signs of stress?

Because of the many demands of life today, too much stress may feel normal to you. It may seem familiar and almost comfortable. You might not be able to recognize it.

Can you remember what being relaxed feels like? If you don’t feel calm, alert, focused and productive most of the time, you may be dealing with too much stress. People perceive stress and its effects differently, so be sure not to compare yourself with others.

It may be difficult to spot the outward signs of stress. Watch for one of these responses: You may zone out and withdraw, you may become more easily angry and agitated or you may freeze up. These are the three typical ways that people respond to stress.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Everyone experiences stress differently. And some people may not experience any symptoms at all. Still, there are many common symptoms to be aware of.

Symptoms of stress may include:
  • Emotional: Feeling out of control, overwhelmed, lonely, isolated, unhappy, depressed, helpless, irritable, short-tempered, moody, impatient, unable to relax or agitated.
  • Physical: Aches and pains, tight muscles, a clenched jaw, nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, diarrhea or constipation, headaches, back problems/pain, frequent colds or loss of sex drive.
  • Behavioral: Sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, speaking and eating quickly, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, isolating yourself or using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax.
  • Cognitive: Poor judgment, constant worrying, anxious or racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, memory problems or seeing only the negative.
Keep in mind that the more symptoms you notice, the closer you may be to stress overload. Some of these symptoms may be caused by other medical or psychological problems. See your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Your doctor can determine if they are stress-related or not.

The dangers of stress overload

Untreated chronic stress has the potential to harm nearly system in your body. It has been associated with a variety of health problems including: pain, sleep problems and digestive problems. Chronic stress may contribute to infertility and menstrual problems. It may also aggravate acne and other skin conditions like eczema.

Chronic stress alone does not cause heart disease. But scientists agree that chronic stress may worsen risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and hypertension. Chronic stress may even speed up the aging process. It is also linked with osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis and frailty. It is also associated with type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Additionally, chronic stress may rewire the brain. This may make you more susceptible to depression and anxiety. Stress may also make emotional problems from your past worse. This may increase thoughts of suicide.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call your health care professional, 911 or a suicide hotline such as 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or have someone drive you to your nearest emergency department.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress is one of the first steps to overcoming stress overload. Once these are recognized, the next step is learning how to deal with your stress by seeking help. You can try a variety of self-help techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, journaling and positive thinking.

Depending on the severity of the stress, you may want to seek counseling. Ask your doctor for referrals. If you have the benefits, you may find a mental health professional through your health insurer, your employee assistance program or the mental health division of your local health department. The American Psychological Association or National Association of Social Workers may have information about getting help. If you find names of local therapists online, be sure to run them by your doctor, spiritual leaders and friends first.

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