21 thoughts on “How do we improve corporate governance?

  1. The latest crisis in financial markets underscores that there is something not working right with the corporate governance of major investment houses and banks. How could organizations like Lehman Brothers and AIG have avoided this catastrophe? Followed by the seizure of Washington Mutual and the fire-sale of Wachovia. Talk to me about your views on what’s happening. How is this affecting your life and your business?

  2. I’m amazed at the lack of accountability on all sides – the banks, our Congress, Senate, etc. Is the bail out the right thing to do? Does the CEO of Lehman Bros. get to keep his $90 million package? If I let my business go under because of mismanagement, I would be held accountable; the government would not bail me out. Why not all businesses?

  3. I am also totally amazed at the lack of accountability anywhere from the White House to Congress, to Wall street. The lenders that continued to give mortgages to people that could not truly afford them are responsible for the start of the issue. However, everyone else turned their back, I guess hoping that the market would turn the right direction. Someone once told me that “Hope” is a religous experience and does not belong in leadership. Leadership requires making the hard decisions that may not be popular, but are right.

  4. I heard of this idea today. Reading it I said to myself, that’s a crazy idea… and yet?

    I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG. Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a
    We Deserve It Dividend.

    To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bona-fide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.Divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

    The plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend. Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

    But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00. What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

    Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
    Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads AND the banks.
    Put away money for college – it’ll be there, safe in a bank – creating money to loan to entrepreneurs.
    Buy a new car – pump up the flagging automotive industry.
    Invest in the market – capital drives growth.
    Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – the health care system is crashing.

    Remember this is for every adult US citizen 18+ , including those who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and all the other companies that went down the tubes. And last but not least, it’s for all those serving in our Armed Forces.

    If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of re-distributing it to those who squandered it.

    If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

    As for AIG – liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

    Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

    Sure it’s a crazy idea that can ‘never work.’ But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do you spell Economic Boom?

    I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion better than all the bankers and politicians and Wall Street high-flyers did. We Deserve It more than do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .

    And remember, The plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

    Ahhh…I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

  5. I share the concerns of most of those who have posted.

    How can this “bailout” be reasonable? How can we not hold all parties responsible for mistakes? These are highly educated executives and professionals, how can they think we the taxpayer should be held accountable for their errors? I say NO to golden parachutes of any kind. I say hand them their walking papers and help them clean out their office. If they are effective leaders, they will find another job. If not, we are better off.

    We are the middle class (or at least I am). I can not afford any more tax increases and while I appreciate the gesture of giving me a piece of the action, I am thinking a piece of the action will be given to everyone or perhaps on a dispportionate level using some unreasonable equation. I was taught that zero percent of zero is zero.

    I believe errors were made on so many levels. We must look at reasonable housing for people but I can barely afford my own morgage payment much less picking up the tab for those who failed to understand the definition of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Individual responsbility and corporate responsibility is at an all time low.

    I was pleased to see that someone felt better having written in, I am still fired up.

  6. Too bad Michael is not in Washington! It is a brilliant idea! However, there should be provisions as well to make sure that everyone pays off their debts before assuming new ones. Pumping money into corporate Wall Street would be like giving money to a gambler before making sure the person has successfully gone through rehab. And, who knows, maybe Wall Street needs to go through the “dark night of the soul” before it comes back to life like the Phoenix (yes, I realize that they will drag all of us along). I am far from understanding the economics in all this; however, coming from a Latin country, I can with no doubt say that when a government assumes private debt from the big corps, they keep on entering into private agreements among themselves, for their own benefit, and totally forget the people. The bail out is not the way. We Deserve It Dividend!

  7. The economic crisis happened because of greed, both on the part of the borrowers and the lenders. It is ironic that a plan that will probably not cost taxpayers anything (and may even make money in the long run) cannot pass due to greed of the American public who perceive this is a “bailout of Wall Street”, and will not pass due to the greed of politicians who fear not getting re-elected if they vote for the plan. Due to all of this greed, there may be no way to stop the global economy from going over the cliff. If we can’t control greed, we need to go over the cliff to learn our lesson.

    Our lawmakers cannot be leaders for the people as long as they have to chase earmarks and special interests to keep their jobs. It costs so much to have a successful campaign that by the time a lawmaker reaches office, they are beholden to their donors, not the people who elected them.

    To change things, we need to do 2 things: 1) have the government fund campaigns so the candidates have no favors to return to donors. Make it public money only, same amount to each candidate. Take fundraising out of the picture. 2) Do away with earmarks. Distribute money from the federal government to the states proportionally and let the states manage the money. Earmarks = power = corruption. Without breaking this cycle, government will be flawed.

    It will take leadership from outside the system to fix the system. I see signs that the American people will demand change soon.

  8. I think part of our problem is that the idea of “Inlightened Self Interest” as a guiding principle for governance does not work if there are no consequences for failure. The destruction of old ideas, institutions, over grown forests, etc. is part of the natural cycle. When it is not allowed to happen then the deadwood builds up and you have a cataclysm. In forests its called a wildfire, in the financial world its called a meltdown. All it really is, is nature restoring the natural balance to a system that has gotten out of whack.

    Out artificial support of weak systems only invites a larger problem down the road, the weak must be allowed to fail. There has to be consequences for poor performance. Accountability is a must both in your personal life and in government. As messy as what we are watching is, it must happen. Out of the ruins will come a more efficient system, one that will limit the excesses of the previous generation, lest they repeat their mistakes.

    None of this is new, 2,500 years ago the Hindu’s named one of their most powerful gods Shiva, the god of destruction, because destruction is absolutely essential if new life is to begin.

  9. I think we must first define who we are bailing out. It is not just Wall Street, bu the people who took on the debt who cannot repay it. The golden parachutes for the few executives is a very small percentage of the total dollars about to be spent. I am madder at the homeowners who cannot do math then the wall street bankers. Please go back and look into the policies of the Clinton admin who pressured and encouraged Fannie and Freddie to loosen the purse strings. Finally, greed is a way over used word. Read Adam Smith the economist from the 1700’s. Greed is what makes the economy work. It is your desire to have something that motivates you to do something, with out that motivation we would not have an economy. Too much stuff for you, may seem like too little for another, so defining greed becomes at best one opinion vs. another. How much money do you have? More than I need, and less than I want.

  10. First of all — Politics was NEVER meant to be a career and we have so many career politicians who have lost site of what it means or should mean to be a PUBLIC SERVANT. It is about time that businesses as well as public servants are held accountable for their actions.

    Now — Michael is really thinking ‘outside the box’ — and he is focused on what is best for America! (Whether his idea would really work or not I really applaud his ingenuity!)

  11. more ethics more even distribution of the profits less excess and greed at the top. with a no matter how they perform they get big profits In sales there is risk and reward balance ,but in most usa corporations, if you’ve powered your way to the top ,you can do lots of harm and make lots of money anyway. How can that do anything but fail the many, the country, the other workers, and the stockholder.

    huge retirement guarantees after a couple years ? no company can sustain doing that over and over .

    we ve created a whole system of boom and bust where AMERICA PAYS harshly so THE few can continue to reap what others have sown.







    America needs change and
    Americans need to change

  13. Corporate governance will not improve unless the leader leads from deeply held morals and values and has sufficient accountability so as not to become corrupted from finacial greed.

  14. Sadly we reached this point because of a lack of leadership. Everyone has missed the boat on leadership. Too many leadership books, too many rewards for bad leadership, and too many people praised for success that really were not leaders has confused our country about what real leadership looks like. Unchecked ego, greed, self-interest, image chasing, politically centered behaviors are not found in my definition of leadership. And…it definitely isn’t measured in dollars. The character of my grandfather spoke lessons of leadership much stronger than the suits and politicians on TV.

  15. When we place ourselves above the principles of the Kingdom, we will fail. Government is about serving the people and not self serving. Scripture is clear that righteousness exalts a Nation. It is time that we all search our hearts. We need to move forward with a clean heart and hands. Every leader need ask the question, “What is my motivation to lead”? Power is not the source of authority; authority is birthed out of humility. Every leader is accountable to God for his or her actions. The question is, “Do leaders fear God”? If they did, their actions would be different!

  16. I have tried to come up with the same math numbers that Michial did however, I get 425 for each adult. I believe it would have to be 85 trillion. However, I give Michael an A+ for trying to think of alternatives, which some in congress and the oval office have a hard time doing. The deteriorating ethics in Washington and on Wall Street seem to be almost non-existent. It is not simply a legality issue it also pertains to being balanced in how we behave. I believe deeply in the basic goodness of people, and I believe we can encourage good ethical leadership, if we will lift people through our example.

  17. The sad thing is these bailouts don’t even come close to solving all the problems in the economy…dropping home values, foreclosures, bankruptcies, unemployment, CEO compensation, out of control Congressional spending, national debt, WAR buget, etc.

  18. I think that a lot of good ideas have been generated so far, so I am not sure what I could add to the conversation, except to give my thoughts on why we are where we are.

    First, the whole idea of greed has been thrown around by some as the root cause of this issue. Many that point it out as the root cause point to the compensation packages that many of the executives of the financial firms receive. While the compensation packages are very large, should we blame the CEO for taking it, or the shareholders of the firms for granting it in the first place? What about the greed of the people who, either knowingly or out of ignorance, took out mortgages and other debt they couldn’t repay?

    I think the real blame here, from a purely philosophical perspective, is that we have allowed ourselves to confuse equality of opportunity with equality of outcome. Are we (meaning the United States) perfect when it comes to equality of opportunity? No, but it is folly to think that we can make up for that inequality by ensuring equality of outcome.

  19. Colleagues,

    How ironic it is for the external forces to make the reality possible. It was a matter of time for the full effects of the phenomenon of chnage to be felt.

    I agree with the comments made as it reflects the lack of leardership in those we trust. Leaders must be held accountabile for their actions and should not depend on the public or government for a bailout. The truth however is that if we collectively do not intervene we can all be affected.

  20. First, I reject the premise that our Senators and Congressmen who opposed the financial bailout were all acting out of self interest or partisanship. This “crisis” was artificially escalated into a panic situation by self serving financial “experts” and politicians who had too much to lose if something wasn’t done to save their bacon. Those who stood against this and tried to offer alternative solutions were not fooled by the artifice. Neither was a large part of the general public, (witnessed by the percentage of messages sent the capitol that were against this particular bailout package). Many of those in congress who stood agains this did so on principal or because they were following the will of the people they represented. Now there’s a novel concept!
    I completely agree with Carol’s comment. “Politics was NEVER meant to be a career.” We as a people need to rise above the demagoguery that is our daily diet from politicians and media and stop returning elitist lifelong politicians and their family members (who get elected to office on the basis of the fact that someone in their family was an elected official: Elizabeth Dole, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, etc. As long as we keep electing people out of selfishness and partisanship we will continue to face these kind of disasters because there is no accountability when those are the criteria that we use to elect them.

  21. True effectiveness of Corporate Governance: I strongly believe it comes down to determination and willingness to keep integrity by everyone in his/her thinking and actions, particularly leaders, whether at workplace, home or public arena. Many corporations state ‘integrity’ as one of most important corporate values, yet many fail, because people do not respect and practice it. It is indeed not easy to maintain ‘integrity’ all the time for whatever the reason may be, but it is a daily process and never ending process. Yet, I believe it is extemely important that we talk about it so often, every day at home, workplace or elsewhere, so that more and more people realize that it is the key to a true success. It is very important that leaders realize this and show good examples themselves. It takes educating, training, at all levels repeatedly. And I would add that it is the same everywhere in the world, as I currently live and work in Japan.

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