Notes from class: February 21, 2013

Paper 2

Ethical Analysis + 1 Case

  • Nike – post 1998
  • Bear Stearns
  • Case study of country X
  • A. Anderson
  • Case of implementing “C Termism”
  • Apple
  • Foxconn
  • Windmill manufactures
  • Tesla
  • Interface


White Paper


  • Should there be derivative policy
  • Alternatives to social security
  • Does Sox work
  • International IP
  • Subsidies direct and indirect for energy sources which undermine any claims to an absolute “free market” price

Interesting People (Blog Prompt 4)

For this week, I am crowd-sourcing to you all the fun work of finding some possibly interesting people to target to bring to campus.  There is no guarantee that the stars align for any of these, but it should be fun to explore.

To help, for your post, I want you to find ideally video or audio of the person speaking or presenting on their area. Continue reading

Aren’t We Awesome?

I am a college student at an ivory towered, northeast, prestigious, and somewhat cloistered university. What really matters to me? Do I care that my expensive gadgets come from below standard, non-living wage factories? Does it matter to me what the national or international general economic standing is so long as I can learn about Aristotle and Socrates or other works which talk about and discuss the human condition and how I can eventually control it? Does it matter to me that while I stuff my face in the cafeteria there are plenty who go without for weeks at a time? While these scenarios seem so grim and are also so real the real answer to all of those questions is somewhat scary. You would think that all of these would truly bother me but in reality they don’t. Continue reading

Exploring small effects on the brink of mistrust.

1)      Is the Sociological Imagination a tool that can help understand the butterfly effect?

Sociological Imagination is defined by C. Wright Mills as a tool by which its possessor can understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and external career of a variety of individuals. Simply, this is a way whereby individuals can come to understand what is around them by taking all actions by themselves and others into account. Understanding the concept of Sociological Imagination would also help an individual understand that, not matter minutely, they have an effect on their surroundings. This is the concept that no matter how big or small of an action, everything has an effect on its surroundings. Furthermore, this is the concept that even a small action can have extremely large effects on the world surrounding them or in other words, the butterfly effect. Continue reading

Business Ethics and Sociological Imagination

1.) If we consider Adam Smith’s viewpoints, is it appropriate to label capitalism an ethical system?

            It is common knowledge that Adam Smith was a large supporter of free market capitalism.  Smith is best known for two books that he wrote entitled Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.  The Theory of Moral Sentiments rests on the belief that people are empathetic and essentially care about each other.  He believed that it would be impossible for a human being to go through life following his own interest and have none of those interests benefit the fortune of others. 

            Smith believed that a good life is achieved from the expression of “beneficence” rather than material wealth.  He also touched on the point that self love can inspire the individual to better his own condition by besting competitors.  However, he did recognize that that this must be done in a just manner and in the spirit of fair play that needed to be judged by an ethical spectator. 

            In essence, this means that we care about what others think of us first and foremost because we are social beings.  At the same time, we all want to be moral because it is embedded in us that it is the right thing to do.  Therefore, Smith was extremely confident that society would progress to a positive ethics standpoint naturally.  All in all, a parallel can be drawn to capitalism in business and how it is ethically sound.   

2.) In the Social Imagination what is meant by the feeling of being trapped and how can one overcome this dilemma?

            The article opens up describing how men feel that their private lives are just a series of traps.  An individual’s level of awareness is completely bounded by the private orbit that they live in.  What I mean by this is they can only retain the close up scenes of things like work, family, and school.  This leaves them with a very vague and ambitious look on society which makes them feel trapped.  It is no surprise that this has become the case over the years as everything has advanced so rapidly. 

            A lot of men feel as if they don’t understand how important of a connection there is between the patterns of their own lives and world history.  In layman’s terms, the shaping of history now outpaces the ability of men to orient themselves with values that they cherish.  Therefore, men often feel that the older ways of thinking and feeling have collapsed and that the newer ones are morally ambiguous. 

            With this being said, in order to overcome this feeling you must delve into social imagination.  Social imagination allows us to understand history and biography and the relations between these two things in society.  In essence, the social imagination enables an individual to understand the larger historical scene in the terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a lot of people.  

3.) How has the behavior of ethics changed over time and how has this behavior affected the economy?

            It seemed not so long that most publicly held corporations embrace their mission statements and code of conducts.  They took on the responsibility to serve their stockholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and the community in which they worked in.  However, it seems that more recently companies have only been serving their stakeholders focusing solely on profitability. 

            This type of behavior in the business world has resulted in corporate downsizing along with the outsourcing of jobs.  Even worse this behavior has contributed to restructuring pension plans along with termination as a whole.  Domestic suppliers are now being replaced by cheaper foreign services and customers seeking service are often confronted with automated answering machines and foreign call centers.  It even seems to be the case that environmental concerns are viewed as obstacles to profitability.

            Unfortunately what most of these major corporations fail to realize is that their obsession with the bottom line is actually shrinking their markets, both domestic and foreign.  There are a large number of people who are unemployed or even just fearing losing their job.  This leaves them to spend less money at the fear that they won’t even be able to pay their bills.  Perhaps, this is what contributed to the current economic crisis.

Lessons Learned

1. How did the rising cost of real estate affect the Financial Crisis?

Trevino and Nelson contend that the financial crisis of 2008 was caused in part by an unprecedented flow of financial capital into commercial and housing markets. People at the time were under the impression that investing in real estate would be a safe and conservative option. According to Trevino and Nelson, “there had been relatively few instances of real estate value declining” so naturally, people put their money into what had always been considered a safe investment. However, what many did not expect was real estate becoming an overwhelmingly popular way to invest. 


Aided by historically low interest rates, by the early 2000s, demand had overtaken supply and the value of homes soared. People bought houses with no down payments in anticipation that their homes would be worth more in a few years than what they had paid for it. Homeowners mistakenly believed the value of their real estate could only increase. As a result, homeowners spent money on things under the premise that they could afford them based on the value of their homes. This would come back to bite them when housing values fell off a cliff in 2008 and 2009. Many homeowners were left with no choice but to declare bankruptcy and walk away from their house. Ultimately, the rising cost of real estate led people to spend more, leaving them with little when the housing bubble burst. 


2. Would Mills argue that having sociological imagination is beneficial to society?

Mills argues that having sociological imagination is critical for both people and societies to grasp. It would make society better in the sense that people would be more open-minded, and they would be able to answer questions by relating their personal lives and situations to societal issues. A person using sociological imagination is more able to think and act critically in accordance with evidence both relevant and irrelevant to himself/herself. For Mills, the key to understanding the value in such a perspective is in appreciating that one can only understand the motives, behavior, and actions of others by locating them within a wider and more meaningful context. So, yes, Mills would maintain that having sociological imagination is beneficial to society as a whole. 



What is the current real estate situation? How can we prevent the housing bubble from bursting again?

Real estate value is rebounding in full swing. Prices are on the rise. According to a recent report by Corelogic, “House prices are up 6.3% year-over-year in October, the largest increase since 2006 and eighth consecutive increase in home prices nationally on a year-over-year basis.” The future looks bright as well: J.P. Morgan thinks prices could gain another 10 percent in the next 12 months. Of course, there are reasons too be skeptical as this is the second time that prices rallied since the bottom fell out in 2006. Will this growth continue? Or is it the real deal this time? Something else to consider is just how much do we want real estate value to grow? It was surging prices that initiated the collapse in the first place. 


There’s already talk of the next housing bubble. As the market improves, we need to protect ourselves by shifting away from the incentives that helped create the real estate bubble that trapped us. We’d like to think that hard lessons were learned. However, we must stop relying on credit and bad mortgages. As the housing market recovers, we need to make some decisions that allow the housing market to rise on a strong, sustainable foundation.