How Can Joe Roman Sleep at Night?

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Wed, 02/03/2010 - 23:46.

image jeff buster 2.3.10 opportunity lie corridor joe roman terri brown

I went to a Greater Cleveland Partnership funded "community" meeting tonight...and the hypocrisy and lies were so thick I felt like I had to ethically/intellectually PUKE.

The unsettling impact this University Circle access freeway "opportunity" ruse is causing on the  community is  really, really cruel – The lady in the image spoke from her heart - while the totally phony "proponents" spoke from their GCP funded wallets.    A social crime and a very sick GCP dynamic.

 Joe, you need to go to a meeting or two yourself.   Don’t force Bob Brown and Terri Hamilton to do the dirty work for you.   They are too accustomed to (and dependent on) the GPC routine to notice their lack of ethics – but with your Harvard background you will feel your gorge rising too if you attend a  meeting.

Bring a brown bag - you may PUKE ....

 image jeff buster opportunity lie corridor church meeting 2.3.10

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should I replace my roof?

Should I replace my roof or are ya'll gonna be asking for my house next year?

The stories the folks told said no to the opportunity corridor. They've been told and told for years it is coming.

Some told me they thought the funds, any funds could be better spent to assist them - those who live there - with their own economic development - give us credit and grants and consultants to help us start our own businesses.

"I live on Kinsman - if that road comes through, all those small businesses will be bypassed and they'll close."

"This may not look like much to you, but it is my land and I have lived here all my life."

The ghost of the University Circle Access road is hard to wear down even with Terry Egger as co-head honcho with his PD propaganda machine. These folks remember that debacle, and they could care less about a road to University Circle. The Cleveland Clinic is not their savior either.

The winding road we took down the hill is beautiful if neglected. Holton Avenue tumbles down from Woodhill under bridges and along the curvy wooded and industrial escarpment. Few homes or buildings had light in their windows.

In the presentation, is this slide

Tecora Gray

Plain Dealer 2007 Marvin Fong

Gray's adult children plead with her to move. They say the neighborhood will never come back. The retired secretary hasn't given up hope. She has seen new houses several blocks away.

Presenters would have us believe that she is a prisoner - her words do not accompany that slide. She is a nameless mascot of a handful of residents who should be happy to "get along" to make way for the opportunity corridor. I think she has a pretty swell gig judging by this green pastoral scene. Maybe her grown children should move nearby and make a garden.

But no. Build it and they will come - or at least they'll drive through.

What was it Howard Zinn said? "You can't be neutral on a moving train." These folks didn't seem to be neutral. Ranging in age from their mid 20s to their mid 70s, one after another, they spoke out against the corridor with passion for the place they call home. And they didn't have much time to say their pieces... the presenters talked without interruption for an hour and 45 minutes leaving only 15 minutes for comments and questions.

At one point, when HNTB presenter Matt Wahl, answering a question about relocation, said, "if we take your house..." He was promptly interrupted by Terri Hamilton Brown who said, "we say acquire - if we acquire your property." There was a groan shared by many in attendance. They're old hands with this process of dog and pony. And they're tired of it.

ODOT recently allocated $20 million in federal stimulus money for planning and right-of-way acquisition for the project.

Brown will be paid through two-year grants of $100,000 each given to the Partnership's Economic Growth Foundation by the Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation.

Ms. Brown (who's spouse, Darnell Brown is Cleveland's COO - not related to Robert Brown City Planning Director of the same name) is especially well suited for this appointment. She has been the top dog at CMHA, UCI, Diversity Director at National City Bank and sits on the Cleveland Foundation Board. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago - the Milton Freidman school of disaster capitalism.

A 1970s economics lesson for Joe Roman and oldNEO

I was going to quote Milton Friedman earlier today...and I shall now...

But the doctrine of "social responsibility" taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a "fundamentally subversive doctrine" in a free society, and have said that in such a society, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Like with religion, people may argue about capitalism and points of Friedman's theories about economic reality, but few would argue with his last point... that business must stay "within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud." That is the equivalent of the golden rule of economics, being to pursue efficiency. Closed, encumbered, deceitful, fraudulent business is inefficient, and stupid, and so far from optimal.

That is where planning and development in unreal NEO is far from optimal - it is closed, encumbered, deceitful, fraudulent and in every way inefficient.

The Friedman quote above is from the conclusion of a 1970 New York Times Sunday Magazine article below - "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits" - which I encourage you to read to the end. Friedman has been a dominant economist of our era and all time, and his theories are the fundamentals of our modern American economy... blame him for all that Reagan supply-side voodoo, for example...

I assure you my parents read this article and lived their lives believing these words, as did millions of Americans, and that has led to the sorry state of our nation today.

I certainly studied Friedman, as an economist, and developed better understandings and theories from living through more modern times... in a world still heavily influenced by Friedman, of course.

Milton was quite right about capitalism, in modern American society still today - almost 40 years after he published these words - which is why the very concept of "sustainability" is patently absurd, under current American business practice and fundamental capitalist philosophy. To Friedman and his followers, "Social Responsibility" is a "fundamentally subversive doctrine", like Communism.

And he is right, under current American business practice and fundamental capitalist philosophy.

Friedman is why so many old and young people think it makes sense to build the opportunity corridor as envisioned and being done today.

There are other economists... perhaps we should revisit Galbraith, for tomorrow...

For today, read the words that still underpin Joe Roman, our parents and other old farts' understandings about modern economics, and have defined our American culture, environment and society ever since the ME-ME-ME 1970s.

As poorly as the last 40 years have turned out for our American society and the world, this is the only reasoning I see behind the current planning around the Opportunity Corridor.

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

by Milton Friedman

The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970. Copyright @ 1970 by The New York Times Company.

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the "social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system," I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned "merely" with profit but also with promoting desirable "social" ends; that business has a "social conscience" and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

The discussions of the "social responsibili­ties of business" are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that "business" has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but "business" as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.

Presumably, the individuals who are to be responsible are businessmen, which means in­dividual proprietors or corporate executives. Most of the discussion of social responsibility is directed at corporations, so in what follows I shall mostly neglect the individual proprietors and speak of corporate executives.

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. Of course, in some cases his employers may have a different objective. A group of persons might establish a corporation for an eleemosynary purpose–for exam­ple, a hospital or a school. The manager of such a corporation will not have money profit as his objective but the rendering of certain services.

In either case, the key point is that, in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Needless to say, this does not mean that it is easy to judge how well he is performing his task. But at least the criterion of performance is straightforward, and the persons among whom a voluntary contractual arrangement exists are clearly defined.

Of course, the corporate executive is also a person in his own right. As a person, he may have many other responsibilities that he rec­ognizes or assumes voluntarily–to his family, his conscience, his feelings of charity, his church, his clubs, his city, his country. He ma}. feel impelled by these responsibilities to de­vote part of his income to causes he regards as worthy, to refuse to work for particular corpo­rations, even to leave his job, for example, to join his country's armed forces. Ifwe wish, we may refer to some of these responsibilities as "social responsibilities." But in these respects he is acting as a principal, not an agent; he is spending his own money or time or energy, not the money of his employers or the time or energy he has contracted to devote to their purposes. If these are "social responsibili­ties," they are the social responsibilities of in­dividuals, not of business.

What does it mean to say that the corpo­rate executive has a "social responsibility" in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation, even though a price in crease would be in the best interests of the corporation. Or that he is to make expendi­tures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the cor­poration or that is required by law in order to contribute to the social objective of improving the environment. Or that, at the expense of corporate profits, he is to hire "hardcore" un­employed instead of better qualified available workmen to contribute to the social objective of reducing poverty.

In each of these cases, the corporate exec­utive would be spending someone else's money for a general social interest. Insofar as his actions in accord with his "social responsi­bility" reduce returns to stockholders, he is spending their money. Insofar as his actions raise the price to customers, he is spending the customers' money. Insofar as his actions lower the wages of some employees, he is spending their money.

The stockholders or the customers or the employees could separately spend their own money on the particular action if they wished to do so. The executive is exercising a distinct "social responsibility," rather than serving as an agent of the stockholders or the customers or the employees, only if he spends the money in a different way than they would have spent it.

But if he does this, he is in effect imposing taxes, on the one hand, and deciding how the tax proceeds shall be spent, on the other.

This process raises political questions on two levels: principle and consequences. On the level of political principle, the imposition of taxes and the expenditure of tax proceeds are gov­ernmental functions. We have established elab­orate constitutional, parliamentary and judicial provisions to control these functions, to assure that taxes are imposed so far as possible in ac­cordance with the preferences and desires of the public–after all, "taxation without repre­sentation" was one of the battle cries of the American Revolution. We have a system of checks and balances to separate the legisla­tive function of imposing taxes and enacting expenditures from the executive function of collecting taxes and administering expendi­ture programs and from the judicial function of mediating disputes and interpreting the law.

Here the businessman–self-selected or appointed directly or indirectly by stockhold­ers–is to be simultaneously legislator, execu­tive and, jurist. He is to decide whom to tax by how much and for what purpose, and he is to spend the proceeds–all this guided only by general exhortations from on high to restrain inflation, improve the environment, fight poverty and so on and on.

The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal. This jus­tification disappears when the corporate ex­ecutive imposes taxes and spends the pro­ceeds for "social" purposes. He becomes in effect a public employee, a civil servant, even though he remains in name an employee of a private enterprise. On grounds of political principle, it is intolerable that such civil ser­vants–insofar as their actions in the name of social responsibility are real and not just win­dow-dressing–should be selected as they are now. If they are to be civil servants, then they must be elected through a political process. If they are to impose taxes and make expendi­tures to foster "social" objectives, then politi­cal machinery must be set up to make the as­sessment of taxes and to determine through a political process the objectives to be served.

This is the basic reason why the doctrine of "social responsibility" involves the acceptance of the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce re­sources to alternative uses.

On the grounds of consequences, can the corporate executive in fact discharge his al­leged "social responsibilities?" On the other hand, suppose he could get away with spending the stockholders' or customers' or employees' money. How is he to know how to spend it? He is told that he must contribute to fighting inflation. How is he to know what ac­tion of his will contribute to that end? He is presumably an expert in running his company–in producing a product or selling it or financing it. But nothing about his selection makes him an expert on inflation. Will his hold­ ing down the price of his product reduce infla­tionary pressure? Or, by leaving more spending power in the hands of his customers, simply divert it elsewhere? Or, by forcing him to produce less because of the lower price, will it simply contribute to shortages? Even if he could an­swer these questions, how much cost is he justi­fied in imposing on his stockholders, customers and employees for this social purpose? What is his appropriate share and what is the appropri­ate share of others?

And, whether he wants to or not, can he get away with spending his stockholders', cus­tomers' or employees' money? Will not the stockholders fire him? (Either the present ones or those who take over when his actions in the name of social responsibility have re­duced the corporation's profits and the price of its stock.) His customers and his employees can desert him for other producers and em­ployers less scrupulous in exercising their so­cial responsibilities.

This facet of "social responsibility" doc­ trine is brought into sharp relief when the doctrine is used to justify wage restraint by trade unions. The conflict of interest is naked and clear when union officials are asked to subordinate the interest of their members to some more general purpose. If the union offi­cials try to enforce wage restraint, the consequence is likely to be wildcat strikes, rank­-and-file revolts and the emergence of strong competitors for their jobs. We thus have the ironic phenomenon that union leaders–at least in the U.S.–have objected to Govern­ment interference with the market far more consistently and courageously than have business leaders.

The difficulty of exercising "social responsibility" illustrates, of course, the great virtue of private competitive enterprise–it forces people to be responsible for their own actions and makes it difficult for them to "exploit" other people for either selfish or unselfish purposes. They can do good–but only at their own expense.

Many a reader who has followed the argu­ment this far may be tempted to remonstrate that it is all well and good to speak of Government's having the responsibility to im­pose taxes and determine expenditures for such "social" purposes as controlling pollu­tion or training the hard-core unemployed, but that the problems are too urgent to wait on the slow course of political processes, that the exercise of social responsibility by busi­nessmen is a quicker and surer way to solve pressing current problems.

Aside from the question of fact–I share Adam Smith's skepticism about the benefits that can be expected from "those who affected to trade for the public good"–this argument must be rejected on grounds of principle. What it amounts to is an assertion that those who favor the taxes and expenditures in question have failed to persuade a majority of their fellow citizens to be of like mind and that they are seeking to attain by undemocratic procedures what they cannot attain by democratic proce­dures. In a free society, it is hard for "evil" people to do "evil," especially since one man's good is another's evil.

I have, for simplicity, concentrated on the special case of the corporate executive, ex­cept only for the brief digression on trade unions. But precisely the same argument ap­plies to the newer phenomenon of calling upon stockholders to require corporations to exercise social responsibility (the recent G.M crusade for example). In most of these cases, what is in effect involved is some stockholders trying to get other stockholders (or customers or employees) to contribute against their will to "social" causes favored by the activists. In­sofar as they succeed, they are again imposing taxes and spending the proceeds.

The situation of the individual proprietor is somewhat different. If he acts to reduce the returns of his enterprise in order to exercise his "social responsibility," he is spending his own money, not someone else's. If he wishes to spend his money on such purposes, that is his right, and I cannot see that there is any ob­jection to his doing so. In the process, he, too, may impose costs on employees and cus­tomers. However, because he is far less likely than a large corporation or union to have mo­nopolistic power, any such side effects will tend to be minor.

Of course, in practice the doctrine of social responsibility is frequently a cloak for actions that are justified on other grounds rather than a reason for those actions.

To illustrate, it may well be in the long run interest of a corporation that is a major employer in a small community to devote resources to providing amenities to that community or to improving its government. That may make it easier to attract desirable employees, it may reduce the wage bill or lessen losses from pilferage and sabotage or have other worthwhile effects. Or it may be that, given the laws about the deductibility of corporate charitable contributions, the stockholders can contribute more to chari­ties they favor by having the corporation make the gift than by doing it themselves, since they can in that way contribute an amount that would otherwise have been paid as corporate taxes.

In each of these–and many similar–cases, there is a strong temptation to rationalize these actions as an exercise of "social responsibility." In the present climate of opinion, with its wide spread aversion to "capitalism," "profits," the "soulless corporation" and so on, this is one way for a corporation to generate goodwill as a by-product of expenditures that are entirely justified in its own self-interest.

It would be inconsistent of me to call on corporate executives to refrain from this hyp­ocritical window-dressing because it harms the foundations of a free society. That would be to call on them to exercise a "social re­sponsibility"! If our institutions, and the atti­tudes of the public make it in their self-inter­est to cloak their actions in this way, I cannot summon much indignation to denounce them. At the same time, I can express admiration for those individual proprietors or owners of closely held corporations or stockholders of more broadly held corporations who disdain such tactics as approaching fraud.

Whether blameworthy or not, the use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and presti­gious businessmen, does clearly harm the foun­dations of a free society. I have been impressed time and again by the schizophrenic character of many businessmen. They are capable of being extremely farsighted and clearheaded in matters that are internal to their businesses. They are incredibly shortsighted and muddle­headed in matters that are outside their businesses but affect the possible survival of busi­ness in general. This shortsightedness is strikingly exemplified in the calls from many businessmen for wage and price guidelines or controls or income policies. There is nothing that could do more in a brief period to destroy a market system and replace it by a centrally con­trolled system than effective governmental con­trol of prices and wages.

The shortsightedness is also exemplified in speeches by businessmen on social respon­sibility. This may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces. Once this view is adopted, the external forces that curb the market will not be the social consciences, however highly developed, of the pontificating executives; it will be the iron fist of Government bureaucrats. Here, as with price and wage controls, businessmen seem to me to reveal a suicidal impulse.

The political principle that underlies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all coopera­tion is voluntary, all parties to such coopera­tion benefit or they need not participate. There are no values, no "social" responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.

The political principle that underlies the political mechanism is conformity. The indi­vidual must serve a more general social inter­est–whether that be determined by a church or a dictator or a majority. The individual may have a vote and say in what is to be done, but if he is overruled, he must conform. It is appropriate for some to require others to contribute to a general social purpose whether they wish to or not.

Unfortunately, unanimity is not always feasi­ble. There are some respects in which conformity appears unavoidable, so I do not see how one can avoid the use of the political mecha­nism altogether.

But the doctrine of "social responsibility" taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a "fundamentally subversive doctrine" in a free society, and have said that in such a society, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Disrupt IT


Thank you Susan and Jeff for enduring this mockery--I can barely take it any more.  The GCP puppets you mention are fascists destroying the lives of people who have worked hard their whole life.

I endured the same mockery tonight at the school board meeting at Garrett Morgan.  Our representatives MAKE no efforts to improve the lives of people who pay taxes in the City of Cleveland and ALLOW vultures to profit off of the poverty they impose.  I am sick.

Guevara endured it too

The first commenter noted that they chose to live in Westlake instead of Univerisity Circle, but that the corridor would have changed her/his mind. Really? I can't think of two more disparate communities. So, smp1977, if you're working in University Circle, enjoy that half hour commute and know that a new road will not hasten your arrival, nor make it healthier. Sorry no complete public transit option between Westlake and University Circle.

Ah... me, me, me... the era of the flabby individualist - my car, it's an extension of my limbs and my persona.

A friend emailed this morning: "opportunity" for clinic/UH to gain more patients

Holton Avenue

Here's a photo essay I did of Holton Ave.:

  To Susan Miller: I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who  appreciates - and I borrow the phrase from - Pauline Kael here - the "ornery splendor" of Holton Ave.



thanks urbane

Thanks for the delightful photo tour. I enjoyed the late summer fall images of Holton Avenue. I bet it's lovely on a snowy day, too.

The Gorilla

he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in ord

"He is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation, even though a price in crease would be in the best interests of the corporation." And about all will raise their prices, which reduces the ability of customers to buy their goods. Just as if a person stands up at a ball game, he/she can see better, but if they all stand up none can see better.

When I got my MBA many years ago, I was taught that the officers of a corporation worked for the shareholder-owners.  In theory, yes, in practice, only for extremely large shareholdings. It is very difficult for shareholders to remove a CEO. And the gap between what the highest and lowest paid individual working for a corporation has widened greatly, with CEO's earning huge salaries, while keeping lower level workers at low levels of pay and now will be cutting their hours so that they will not be full time and so the company won't pay to pay for their high priced Obama care. The high salaries reduce the amount of profit available to pay dividends to those same shareholders.

The owners of the businesses in my hometown died. Their children inherited. They sold off parts of the businesses and moved the rest offshore. Having moved out of the little town, they didn't have to face those whose jobs they destroyed. The small town now lacks any business of good size. People living there must travel an hour to work elsewhere.

No economist is perfect, it is not a science although the economists may like to think so. They generalize but cannot be precise in applying generalities to the moment. In the late 1970's, I disagreed with a professor who taught that OPEC was going to crumble, implying that the collapse was already underway, because all cartels do, in the long run. But how long is the long run? It is still in business.

Friedman is being ignored today in favor of Keynesian money printing which lowers the value of the dollar, making it easier to repay our debt, an impossible task since we have to borrow to pay interest. It harms individuals, whose dollar purchases less and less.

Latin America's "Chicago Boys" applied his lesson in the 1970's and their economies improved. Unfortunately, Ben Bernanke is not following Friedman.

"Social responsibiility?" I like Laura's definition: Can you sleep at night? Can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning? Unfortunately sociopaths have no trouble doing so. And others have no problem because they were never given a moral foundation.

And because wages have not kept up with inflation, even in a household with husband and wife, the wife often must work, leaving the care, training and education of the children to still lower paid workers. Working long and longer hours, unable to be home for all to have dinner together, many lessons, the imparting of moral values among them, are not taught to the children.