The Common Good

Searching Souls in the Corporate World

Sojomail - April 17, 2002

               

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+++++++++++++++++++++++ 17-April-2002 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++ Searching Souls in the Corporate World ++++++++++++++++++++

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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Rock the vote

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Soul-searching in the corporate world

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Rabbi Hillel: Movements of the spirit

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *David Hartsough: Following in Gandhi's footsteps

 T e c h   E t h i x
     *Will Bush's ban on cloning be irrelevant?

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *French intellectuals to be deployed against Taliban

 D e b a t e
     *Israel: Equal opportunity bulldozing?

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Taxes: Who pays what?

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Families off welfare - not out of poverty

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Pentecost 2002 registration extended

 R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
     *Pope gives blessing to a patron saint of Harry Potters

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead
of rocking the cradle, rocked the system."

        --Mary Robinson, president of Ireland (1990-97)

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B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Soul-searching in the corporate world

by David Batstone

I'm just beginning a book on "saving the corporate soul."
I've heard encouraging remarks from many of you to my
periodic laments on the power of the corporation
and its lack of public accountability. Others of you, on
the contrary, tell me to give up my notion that the
corporation has a soul at all. It's a beast, a machine,
beyond redemption. Maybe you critics have goaded me on
to write this book even more than the positive nudges.

Now underway, I'm finding no easy answers. Early in
the week I interviewed Arthur Brief, a professor of
organizational behavior at Tulane University's business
school. He's been studying ethics and leadership among
corporate workers for nearly three decades. What does he
think about the personal values in the corporate
environment? "They don't make a damned bit of
difference," says Brief succinctly (sorry for the big
word...couldn't use "briefly").

In one study, he found that 47% of nearly 400 executives
surveyed were willing to commit fraud by understating
write-offs that would cut into their companies' profits.
Those numbers should not come as a surprise to anyone
who has been following the business pages recently:
Xerox, GlobalCrossing, Computer Associates (do I even have
to note Enron and Arthur Andersen?). Even more disturbing
is a trend Professor Brief found about the choices
employees make in an effort to please their bosses:
"People in subordinate roles will comply with their
superiors even when that includes wrongdoing that
goes against their individual moral code."

On the other side of the coin, I'm meeting some
remarkable people who are putting their consciences ahead
of profits. One executive I interviewed resigned his post
as president of one of Enron's affiliates in 1995 for all
the same reasons that finally undid the company in 2001.
He exposed these corrupt conflicts of interest to top
Enron executives, including then-chairman Kenneth Lay.
Once the executive determined that Enron officers had no
desire to change their policies, he quit. Over the next
four years he teamed up with a colleague to build one
of the most successful energy companies in the U.S.,
and he built the company on the very principles that he
found absent at Enron: transparency and honesty to
employees, investors, and customers.

This week I also interviewed a founder of the Odwalla
juice company. He told me with great lament how the
founders and employees lost majority control of the
company after a crisis forced Odwalla into raising
money from outside investors. The investors then forced
him out as chairman and sold the company to Coca-Cola.
Learning from his painful lesson, this creative
entrepreneur is now pioneering new cooperative equity
structures with a $50 million annual revenue organic
food company that will enable suppliers and customers
to keep ownership control.

Yes, many corporate workers feel dispirited, crushed by
company behavior marked by greed, selfishness, and the
quest for profit at any cost. They are looking for a new
vision, a path to save the corporate soul. And just maybe
their own. 

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S o u l   W o r k s
++++++++++++++++++++
Movements of the spirit

I get up. 
I walk. 
I fall down. 
Meanwhile, I keep dancing!

        - Rabbi Hillel

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P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
David Hartsough: Following in Gandhi's footsteps

by Kate Rope

George W. Bush is dividing the world and waging war. Osama
bin Laden is skillfully eluding capture and giving hope to the
thousands he has trained to kill. Betwixt the two, hot spots
in Israel and the occupied territories are descending into
ever more gruesome violence, other countries are being
forced to choose which side of the war they support, and
nobody is talking about peace.
 
Except, perhaps, David Hartsough, who is quietly building an
army in the midst of the fury. A veteran of the civil rights
struggle in the U.S. and a peace activist who's been on the
front lines of some of the most destructive clashes of the
last half century, Hartsough is traveling the globe to rally
a force that will march into the danger zones of the world
armed with only a commitment to peace. Born from the work
left unfinished by Mahatma Gandhi some 70 years ago, it's
a hard sell in times like these, but Hartsough is an
experienced and persuasive salesman.

To read the entire feature, link to:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/en/230302_Outlook/23Mar2002_out01.html

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T e c h   E t h i x
++++++++++++++++++++
Will Bush's ban on cloning be irrelevant?

by Kristen Philipkoski

President Bush is pressuring the Senate to pass a bill
that would completely prohibit human cloning. But experts
say a ban in the U.S. will not prevent scientists from
moving forward with human cloning in other countries.
To link to the full feature article, go to:

http://go.hotwired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,51713,00.html/wn_ascii

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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
French intellectuals to be deployed against Taliban

by Michael Kelly

Paris, France: The ground war in Afghanistan heated up
yesterday when the Western alliance revealed plans to
airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist
philosophers into the country to damage the morale of
Taliban zealots by proving the non-existence of God.

Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or
Black Berets, will be parachuted into the combat zones
to spread doubt, despondency, and existential anomie
among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual
battles fought during their long occupation of Paris's
Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a
number of pavement cafes at strategic points near the
front lines. There they will drink coffee and talk
animatedly about the absurd nature of life.

Their leader, Colonel Marc-Ange Belmondo, spoke
yesterday of his confidence in the success of their
mission. Sorbonne graduate Belmondo, a very intense and
unshaven young man in a black pullover, plans to deliver
an impassioned thesis on man's nauseating freedom of
action with special reference to the work of Foucault
and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Humanitarian agencies
have been quick to condemn the operation as inhumane,
pointing out that the effects of passive smoking from
the Frenchmens' endless Gitanes could wreak a terrible
toll on civilians in the area.

Source: Michael Kelly's Page of Misery
http://www.michaelkelly.fsnet.co.uk/exis.htm

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D e b a t e
+++++++++++
Israel: Equal opportunity bulldozing?

Rev. Roger Talbott writes from North Olmsted, Ohio:

In response to an article in SojoMail, I sent a
letter to the mayor of East Jerusalem protesting
the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in East
Jerusalem. I just received a letter from Mori Glaser,
advisor to the mayor of Jerusalem, in which he states
that "illegal building is a widespread political action
based on refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the
Municipality of Jerusalem in Eastern Jerusalem." However,
he points out that the Municipality of Jerusalem
granted 87% of the applications for building permits in Arab
East Jerusalem vs. 72% in the Jewish sector. He also says
that they demolish illegal buildings in the Jewish sector.
He claims that they do follow due process and invite the
owner of an illegal building to apply for a permit. They
have a policy against demolishing inhabited buildings and
most buildings are demolished in the early stages of
construction. They only demolish buildings that stand in
the way of a highway or school or other public work. In
many cases the buildings are not erected by the actual
owners of the land and the city is responding to Arab
owners who are protesting others building on their site.

This letter, on its surface, could have been written by
my own city's building department. I am concerned that
the information in SojoMail may not have been accurate
or may have been overstated and unbalanced. I am not there
"on the ground", as they say these days. Could anyone
respond to my concern?

--------------

Duane Shank from Sojourners responds:

Dear Rev. Talbott:

Thanks for your letter. I'm not an expert on the home
demolition issue, but just did some quick checks on
various Israeli human rights organizations' Web pages,
particularly Gush-Shalom, which has an entire section on
demolitions you might want to check out. See:
http://www.gush-shalom.org/demolition/index.html

It appears to me that the response you received is
partly true, but it is what's omitted that's the problem.
For instance, he says they also demolish buildings in
the Jewish sector. A background piece on the Gush-Shalom
site says that the Government Press Office (GPO) often
makes these claims. The G-S response is: "Despite the
GPO's claims that there are more demolition orders and
more actual demolitions in West Jerusalem than in East
Jerusalem, in fact the opposite is true. In the years
referred to (1993-1997), the Jerusalem Municipality and
the Interior Ministry issued 147 demolition orders and
carried out 56 demolitions in West Jerusalem. In those
same years, the Municipality and the Interior Ministry
issued 322 demolition orders and carried out 128 in East
Jerusalem. The fact that there were over twice as
many demolitions in the Palestinian sector is all the
more astounding when we consider that Palestinians
comprise only 30% of Jerusalem's population, whereas
Jews comprise 70%. 

Both Palestinians and Jews have built illegally in
Jerusalem. The circumstances differ vastly, however.
Jews generally build illegally because they do not
bother to apply for the necessary permits. Palestinians
build because they are not able to obtain the necessary
permits. The Municipality has not completed development
plans for most Palestinian areas, and will not approve
building permits in areas where there is no approved plan.
Most Palestinians in Jerusalem are therefore unable to
obtain permits to enlarge their homes or build new homes."

So the letter you received sounds to me like somewhat
misleading information. The Web page above has sections
on background information, facts and figures if you
choose to look into this further.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Taxes in the U.S.A.: Who pays what?

Sources of $1 of tax revenue:

Individual income taxes:   53¢
Social-insurance taxes:    35¢
Corporate income taxes:     8¢
Gift, estate, excise:       4¢

Percentage of total tax bill paid by annual income level:

Under $25,000   3.5%
$25-50,000     11.5%
$50-75,000     13.0%
$75-100,000    10.5%
$100-200,000   18.5%
$200-500,000   14.7%
$500K-1m        7.6%
$1m +          20.7%

Final stats:

Of households earning less than $50,000, only 37% itemize.
Among those earning over $100,000, more than 90% itemize.

*Source: Newsweek

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------

H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Families off welfare - not out of poverty

by Meredith May

Most mothers who were on welfare four years ago have
found jobs but still live in poverty with their young
children, according to a study on families affected
by former President Bill Clinton's decree to "end
welfare as we know it."

The four-year look at 700 single-mother families in
San Jose, San Francisco, Florida, and Connecticut
laid out a grim reality: One in six families still
relies on food banks, one in five lives in roach-
infested apartments and rations meals, and two in
five mothers suffer from disabling bouts of depression.

The majority of the 700 women found work, but their
paychecks provide little more than what they got from
welfare alone - an average of about $12,000 a year,
the study found. About half of those with jobs have no
health-care benefits and supplement their income with
welfare.... 

To read the entire feature, link to:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/04/16/MN8997.DTL

****************************************************************************

B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Speaking the truth about poverty

PENTECOST 2002
Early registration extended to April 19! 

You can still register for Call to Renewal's "Pentecost 
2002: Speaking the Truth About Poverty" event at the early 
registration rate if you hurry!  The deadline has been 
extended to Friday, April 19, to accommodate more people.
This will be an important event to bring new attention to the
issues of poverty, economic security, equal opportunity,
and more. The Senate will be debating TANF reauthorization
and we can make a difference in the lives of millions of 
people working to overcome poverty. 

In preparation for Pentecost, Call to Renewal staff 
continue to meet with top Senate Republican and Democratic
staff.  We believe that Call to Renewal can help to create
some genuine bipartisan common ground on policy that can
benefit low-income families and children. 

Please plan to join us, and advertise the event through 
your own networks, Web sites, listservs, and postal 
mailings. For more information, see:
http://www.calltorenewal.com/pentecost2002.html

To download a brochure and registration form, see:
http://www.calltorenewal.com/pentecost2002_text.pdf


****************************************************************************

R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Pope gives blessing to a patron saint of Harry Potters

Thanks to Pope John Paul II, Harry will soon have
a patron saint to turn to when spells threaten to
go horribly wrong.

The Pope is planning to name Saint Don Bosco, a 19th-
century Italian priest with a passion for magic, as
the patron saint of conjurers, magicians, and wizards.

The idea is the brainchild of Father Silvio Mantelli,
a bespectacled priest and magician who boasts the stage
name Mago Sales and has devoured all of J. K. Rowling's
Harry Potter books. He likes to celebrate mass wearing
a clown's plastic red nose.

Don Bosco was born near Turin in 1815. As a child he
watched visiting performers in his village piazza and
developed an interest in magic from them. His repertoire
included making rabbits disappear and finding coins in
a loaf of bread.

Not all Catholic officials are convinced of the benefits
of magic. Last December Father Gabriele Amorth, the
church's best-known exorcist, said Harry Potter was
inspired by the devil.

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B o o m e r a n g
+++++++++++++++++

Chris Marshall writes from Malvern, Pennsylvania:

I was recommended to subscribe to SojoMail in January
2002. Since then I have read every bit it has had to
offer. I like how the information is presented, but
most of all I enjoy the honesty that is found in
every issue.

--------------

Daniel Schweissing, an American Baptist missionary,
writes from Nassau, Bahamas:

I appreciate Jim Wallis' assessment of the current
situation in Israel/Palestine [SojoMail 04-10-02],
including his call upon the U.S. government to take a more
active role in trying to de-escalate the situation and
negotiate peace. Ultimately, the U.S. may be the only major
player on the international scene that has enough clout
to get the peace process rolling. However, there is one
small problem: I rather doubt that the U.S. has any
credibility to broker peace while simultaneously insisting
on promoting its own unjust war on terrorism. "Why do you
look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay
no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Luke 6:41).
Consequently, we cannot possibly call on the U.S. to take a
more active role in brokering peace in Israel/Palestine
without simultaneously calling upon the U.S. to bring an end
to its own war on terrorism.

---------------

Frank Hawkes writes from Curacao, Netherlands Antilles:

I am a Christian who has spent many years living and
working in the Middle East and am intimately familiar
with the "Palestinian problem."
 
What is the difference between terrorists of
Palestinian origin and those associated with bin
Laden? Not much from an objective viewpoint in my
opinion. Both factions prey upon innocent civilians
and soft targets. Do you remember The Munich Massacre?

Let's look at the situation from a biblical as well as
political perspective and provide Israel total support
in eliminating terrorists - the Children of Israel
have suffered enough already down through the
centuries. The Nazi death camps are still there in
many cases (visit Dachau!!) as well as some of the
people who ran them during the Holocaust.

We cannot have one rule for the continental United
States and another for Israel. Would one think
differently if the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was in the
same position? I believe so, because unlike Israel,
they still have a major supply of oil under their
control. Do we detect a hint of political double
standards at work here?

-----------------

Paul Tarro writes from Kansas City, Missouri:

The first two links to external articles in the last
SojoMail pose a hidden challenge. The conflict in
Palestine/Israel has been popularly understood to be
between Jew and Muslim. The persons quoted in these two
articles, Hanan Ashrawi and Jonathan Kuttab (with Mubarak
Awad) are Palestinian Christians. What does this mean?

First, the Palestinian people must be seen as an historic
people, not specifically a religious people. They include
people of both the Muslim and Christian faiths, as well
as others. Second, while there has been no indication
that suicide bombings are representative of anything other
than the fringe of Muslim activism, the response of the
Israeli government has affected the entirety of the
Palestinian population, including those of the Christian
"household of faith." Third, though a small and dwindling
minority, Christians hold positions of great responsibility
within the Palestinian community. Beyond Ashrawi and
Kuttab are dozens of other Palestinian Christians (including
Jonathan's brother, Daoud, a noted journalist) leading
their community. What does it mean to us that Yassir
Arafat's wife, Soha, is a practicing Christian?

Finally, strident support of Israel from the pulpits of
churches and silent acquiescence to Israel's recent actions
by those in the pews have done nothing less than place us
in the role of enabling the oppressor. Not only should the
Church in America take seriously the challenge that has
come in the wake of Sept. 11 to learn more about our
Muslim neighbors, we need to learn more about the presence
of our Christian sisters and brothers living and suffering in
Palestine/Israel.  

----------------

Jeff McCloud writes from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania:

On Sept. 23, 2000, my first son was born. Within
a week or two, the violence in the Middle East
began to rise up once again. Now, every time I
read about suicide bombers and Israeli military
offensives and the "18-month conflict," I am
soberly reminded that I am raising my son in the
midst of a terribly violent world. Sept. 11 only
underscored that to a greater degree.

----------------

Nancy DeStefano writes from Dallas, Texas:

In response to the Boomerang from Richard
Weinhagen [04-10-02], I think he misses the point.
It is probably safe to assert that it is not in bin
Laden's interest to help the poor or to make life better
for his people through peaceful means. This is clearly
not his agenda and I don't believe Bishop Tutu or anyone
else would suggest that. It is rather evident that he,
and other leaders who choose these deadly means to
achieve their ends, are more interested in power,
control, and revenge. However, many of the people who
listen to bin Laden and others like him and who strap
bombs to themselves are responding to their hateful
rhetoric because of the poverty and injustice that they
have experienced as "have-nots" by the world's "haves."

People like bin Laden use despair and fear to achieve
their ends. I doubt that we can kill all the followers
who have been infected. Continuing to try may only
succeed in spreading the epidemic to new areas and
younger generations. Overcoming these disparities,
working for peace and justice, building God's kingdom on
earth might do more to take the wind out of the terrorists'
sails than will current efforts to create a tornado big
enough to blow them off the face of the earth.

------------------

Tim Streett writes from Indianapolis, Indiana:

Thank you SojoMail. I look forward to being stretched
and challenged and confirmed each week through your efforts.

I believe David Batstone was one step short in outlining
the pathway laid before us when we act poorly [SojoMail
04-03-02]. Facing our misconduct, apologizing and humbly
asking for forgiveness are great steps to take. However,
many people today believe that when they say "sorry" that
should be the end of it. The appropriate final step is
to accept the punishment and restitution deemed necessary
by those in authority over us.

When Paul wrote to Philemon asking him to forgive the
runaway slave Onesimus he knew that Philemon had the
right to exact restitution and even punishment. That is
why he said, "If he has done you any wrong or owes you
anything, charge it to me."

------------------

Nicholas Jackson writes from Denver, Colorado:

Mtumiki Njira's reflection on poverty vs. destitution
[SojoMail 04-03-02] makes two well-considered and
persuasive arguments: first, that poverty should be
sought, while destitution should be eradicated; secondly,
that the problem is not poverty as such but gross wealth
side-by-side with poverty. I would add, however, that
living the ideal of poverty as desirable (e.g. less
violence, more cooperation, less grasping after material
things) is difficult both for those in the materially rich
countries and those in materially poor. The materially
poor say, "If poverty is so great, then why aren't more
people (like you) in the rich countries adopting it?"
The materially rich (like me) generally have a hard time
responding.

Another aspect implied by Njira's article that we should
guard against is the tendency to argue that poor people
are better off not knowing how good life can be materially.
This does not help us to deal effectively with material
wealth and poverty, either in rich or in poor countries.
We should rather be honest in addressing the allure and
contradictions of material wealth.

--------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

"boomerang@sojo.net"

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