Monday, March 1, 2010

Friedman in the News: Oklahoma's CompSource

An article published last Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune talked about the possible "up for sale" sign Oklahoma's nonprofit CompSource could be using soon if the privatization of the state's workers compensation agency is approved through the state's House and Senate. Currently CompSource has about 26,000 policyholders, and as said in the article, writes 35 percent of the workers' compensation policies in the state of Oklahoma. The price tag on CompSource, based on last years study, could be up to $350 million.
Those opposing the pending legislation, including Attorney General Edmondson (D), say that privatizing the agency is bad for small startup businesses and businesses that have dangerous jobs. Many private owned insurance companies already tend to give these types of businesses the boot due to the high risk of possible claims. Rates for workers' comp would raise and become too expensive for businesses to pay for. Created in 1933, this agency's purpose is "to keep workers' compensation prices competitive and to serve as a last resort for employers who could not afford private insurance." If this plan is passed, CompSource's rates would be regulated by the state Insurance Department to prevent employers from being outpriced.
Friedman, on the other hand, would be all for this legislation to pass. This would follow his idea that government should have little to do in the economy and anything that can be privatized should be privatized. While many are worried that prices for workers comp insurance will sky rocket, he would argue that the market would put it at its reasonable price.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Marx in Opel Headline

An article published last Tuesday in the New York Times ( discussed the recent game plan for Opel, the European unit of the well known General Motors. They vowed "to become profitable in 2012 by cutting capacity by 20 percent and reducing its work force by 8,300, while introducing new models." They will be closing the doors to its plant in Belgium which will leave 2,600 workers without jobs equaling about 5 percent of the work force in Europe and will be cutting jobs in the other plants. They are also planning on introducing eight new models and upgrades by 2011. After the announcement, around 27,000 workers and union representatives protested in the streets against the upcoming job cuts.
Now, along with cutting costs and raising production of new models comes the issue of the increased labor that will be required from those who were "fortunate" to keep their jobs. Bad news is, it is safe to say that the chances of a pay increase is not very likely. As Marx would put it, Opel is out for its self interest at the cost of the disadvantage of the working force self interest. Looking at the big picture, Opel's decision will be leaving many unemployed workers desperately scrambling for jobs to sustain their household; and with times being tough they become more vulnerable to becoming cheated of deserving wages at other perspective jobs that all of those people will be competing for.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Locke in the News: "No-Otter Zone"

I read an interesting article from the Chicago Tribune published on Jan. 30th, 2010 that talked about a current "man vs. nature" conflict. It involved the fishing industry in California and the endangered species of sea otters.
While the population of living sea otters were being diminished by fur trade, the supply of shellfish, mussels, and snails grew and helped fishing companies evolve into $10 million industries that supplied seafood to many restaurants and fish markets. After the protection sea otters received by being declared an endangered species in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act, their population has grown and a group of sea otters have made their way to the waters of California to call home. Because of the otters' diet, the supply that the fishing companies rely on has declined and has brought down companies' profits. There have been attempts made to relocate the sea otters to an artificial habitat on a distant island, but the otters seem to dislike their forced home and return to what has been called the "no-otter zone" where fishermen call dibs on the sea creatures that otters feast on. Companies are complaining that "giving the critters free rein will jeopardize their industry." (
So the question is, who's side would Locke take in this case: the fishing companies or the sea otters?! Who should rightfully get first dibs on the supply? I think this debate can go either way. The sea otters have a legal advantage in which the fishermen cannot touch the otters because they are endangered and because of the fact that they are endangered, the sea otters shouldn't be denied access to the food that they need to survive. However, according to Locke, sea creatures would be considered a part of nature, that which is common. Therefore, fishing companies have the right to take the shellfish, mussels, and any other sea creatures and "prepare" them to be sold to restaurants and to people. We have discussed Locke's theories in the terms of people vs. people, but does that apply to cases where it's people vs. animals with legal rights?

Oprah Show: Monday's show

I saw a commercial for Oprah that Monday's show is titled Undercover Boss. Two CEOs of major companies are stepping out of their classy suits and great offices and going undercover to work a day in the shoes of the company's working people. I thought this is a great episode for us to watch. I know that while the show airs we'll all be on our way to class, but I do believe that the show airs again at night or you could possibly find it on her website later in the day to watch it(

Monday, January 18, 2010

Aristotle in the News

Although there is much going on in the business world, it is difficult to ignore the recent tragedy in Haiti which has the world's immediate attention. All week there has been nonstop coverage and talk about the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti's capital last Tuesday that has left the people in chaos. It is estimated that around 3 million people are in need of emergency help and around 65,000 have lost their lives. ( Many, dead and alive, are yet to be unburied from the rubble of buildings and homes. Survivors are desperately walking around the streets lost, lonely, without food or basic necessities. Before the earthquake, Haiti was known for its poverty. Much of the homes and buildings were not properly built and caused them to collapse that much quicker during the earthquake.

If Aristotle were alive today, he would be pleased with the worldwide response that has immediately put their promises of help in action. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stated, "Haiti has moved to the center of the world's thoughts and the world's compassion." Many countries worldwide have made significant efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake sending military, experts, supplies, food, water, and medical assistance. Aristotle most certainly would not agree with the income and the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous however in the wake of this tragedy many of those celebrities are donating their money and using their fame for the good of getting the message out there that much help from everyone is needed. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Alyssa Milano, Sandra Bullock, Gisele Bundchen, Modonna, George Clooney, Oprah, fomer Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, Wyclef Jean and many more have all made substantial donations and are personally getting involved in the relief. During the current U.S. recession, many Americans have lost their jobs or have had to cut down on luxuries but yet have contributed the little that they can to help others in much more need. For anyone that would like to join in the great efforts to help the people of Haiti, is a foundation created by Haiti native Wyclef Jean. The website gives information on how people can help.