Governing Board of the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF). 2009-06. “An Ethical Perspective on Today’s Economic Crisis: A statement from the European Baha’i Business Forum.”

“The world is passing through an economic and financial crisis unprecedented in modern times. Its global scope transcends the cyclical adjustments of national economies and the corrective instruments usually used by business and national governments. The general malaise and loss of confidence point to deeper issues and more fundamental flaws in the economic system, extending to a crisis of leadership and values. This unprecedented crisis, together with its accompanying social breakdown, reflects a profound error of conception about human nature itself. We are being shown that, unless the development of society finds a purpose beyond the mere amelioration of material conditions, it will fail to attain even this goal. That purpose must be sought in spiritual dimensions of life and motivation that transcend a constantly changing economic landscape and an artificially imposed division of human societies into “developed” and “developing”. The European Baha’i Business Forum recognizes in this situation an opportunity to reshape the fundamental concepts and structures that will not only lift us from this crisis but set us on a road towards a new set of institutions and behaviours which will enable humankind to prosper. As the present crisis is fundamentally one of trust and integrity, and therefore ethical in its foundation, its solution cannot be a mere institutional reorganization or some additional regulatory measures. It needs an ethical response at all levels: the individual, the corporation and the government and regulatory entities. There is no quick fix to this situation. Several principles must be considered while reshaping our thinking on institutions and the individuals that compose them. We need to replace the concept of self-centred materialism with that of service to humanity, competition with cooperation, corruption with ethical behaviour, sexism with gender balance, more authoritarian legislation with personal ethics, national regulation with international supervision, protectionism with world unity, and injustice with justice. EBBF promotes and welcomes engagement with the widest possible community to develop together the new framework. Given the importance of the business community in the world, we should draw on its special capabilities and resources, in collaboration with governments, international organizations and NGOs, to design the institutional framework and the guiding principles of the new economic system. We call on peoples from all businesses, countries, and walks of life to work together to build a new economic system based upon equity and justice (EBBF 2009-06).”

Who’s Who

“EBBF is a network of over 400 women and men, a community of people passionate about bringing ethical values, personal virtues and moral leadership into their workplaces. Its membership is diverse and crosses generations, borders, sectors and beliefs. It began in 1990 and is now present in over 60 countries. EBBF’s vision is to enhance the well-being and prosperity of humankind. It believes that positively influencing the world of business, starting from the inspiration of action by each of its members, is an important step in this direction (EBBF 2009-06).”

Notes

“EBBF promotes seven core values that it feels are of strategic importance in enhancing business performance: Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainable Development, Partnership of Women and Men, A New Paradigm of Work, Consultation in Decision-Making, Values-Based Leadership (EBBF 2009-06).”

Webliography

Governing Board of the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF). 2009-06. “An Ethical Perspective on Today’s Economic Crisis: A statement from the European Baha’i Business Forum.” Chambery, France.

US Circumlocution Offices [1]: Federal Reserve approved General Motors (GMAC) Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company which will let them benefit from government bailout dollars. New York University sued Merkin GMAC chairman for feeding money to Madoff and concealing involvement from investors like NYU.

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Notes

1. Charles Dickens invented the term Circumlocution Offices to describe governmental and bureaucratic indolence and incompetence. By passing work through many hands of the Circumlocution Offices, it is easy to avoid doing anything. Dickens’ character in Little Dorrit, Mr. Merdle, who embarked on a fraudulent scheme is now being compared to Madoff and institutions such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), etc are being compared to Circumlocution Offices.

“The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved GMAC Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company, a status that would give the auto-financing arm of General Motors Corp. access to government bailout dollars and the Fed’s discount window. The move complements a $17.4 billion emergency loan package the government extended to GM and (Wall Street Journal 2008-12-24)…

“Merkin, who is chairman of GMAC LLC, is named in the lawsuit brought by NYU, along with his Gabriel Capital LP fund and Ariel Fund Ltd. GMAC is the finance business owned by General Motors Corp and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. The Funds ‘feeding’ money to Madoff, including Ariel, made a conscious effort to conceal Madoff’s involvement from their own investors,” the NYU lawsuit said. “This concealment was a requirement dictated by Madoff, which was agreed to by Merkin and other ‘feeder’ funds (McCool Reuters 2008-12-24).”

Senator Tom Kent was a guest on the popular weekly television show Front Page Challenge with host Fred Davis and panellists: Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Gordon Sinclair on Dec. 6, 1981. He managed to stump the panellists.
“Senator Tom Kent was the head the 1981 Royal Commission on Newspapers called the Tom Kent Commission. Kent described the state of media concentration such as newspaper monopolies in Canada as “monstrous.”    The Kent Commission made some tough recommendations. These included making Thomson sell its recently acquired flagship paper, the Globe and Mail, putting a stop to Southam’s expansion, and breaking up regional monopolies like the Irving empire in New Brunswick (CBC 1981).”.

The commission want[ed] to forbid companies from owning newspapers and television or radio stations in the same market. Both publishers and reporters attack[ed] the Kent report saying it [was] too harsh. They sa[id] the commission want[ed] to put the government in the newsrooms of the nation, which would infringe upon their freedom (CBC 1981).”

“The Kent Commission wasn’t exclusively about concentration of media ownership but also looked at press councils, quality of print journalism in Canada and new technologies such as the introduction of computers in newsrooms. Kent proposed a Canada Newspaper Act aimed at controlling media concentration, particularly cross-ownership of newspapers and other media. But the government largely ignored Kent’s recommendations as it did a decade earlier with the Davey report (CBC 1981).”

CBC placed this story under Politics and Economy > Concentration to Convergence: Media Ownership in Canada > Tom Kent stumps Front Page Challenge panel