A recent editorial in the Chronicle calls for Servant Leadership. The editorial quotes Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism:
The greatest leader forgets himself and attends to the development of others.
In a certain sense, the second part of this quote is true. A good leader must help the development of those he is leading. But he cannot do this if he "forgets himself". He can't do this if he is a selfless servant to others and places their values above his own. Indeed, the job of a leader is to identify the goals and values of the organization that he is leading, and if he does not share those values he is going to be an abyssmal leader.
This is nothing more than a call for more of the cause that has created the created the credibility problem. Having rejected an objective moral code, businessmen, politicians, and journalists must choose between dog-eat-dog hedonism and selfless servitude. These are false alternatives. What is needed is a rejection of altruism. More importantly, what is needed is the discovery of a new morality--the morality of self-interest.
American business has a serious and largely self-created credibility problem. The public's alienation from and mistrust of business leaders is deep. Left unaddressed, it could eventually turn into a broad rejection of the free market system.
A sincere return to servant leadership by those in both business and politics may be helpful in turning that precarious situation around.
Hey Fatso, Give Me Your Money
This week New York Governor David Paterson proposed a tax on sugared beverages as a means to combat childhood obesity.
If we are to succeed in reducing childhood obesity, we must reduce consumption of sugared beverages. That is the purpose of our proposed tax. We estimate that an 18 percent tax will reduce consumption by five percent.As is typical, this proposal is nothing but a money-grab. If childhood obesity is such a travesty, why aim for a palty five percent reduction? Why not go the gusto and increase the tax to 180%? If the effect is linear, this would cut childhood obesity in half.
The government should not be concerned about childhood obesity. Government's sole purpose is the protection of individual rights. Government interference with personal decisions, even when they are harmful, amounts to imposing the values of some upon everyone. And that is always unhealthy.
A "Bailout" I Can Support
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert has called for a two month federal tax holiday. In a press release, the Congressman says:
According to American Solutions, a conservative think tank founded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Americans pay $101.6 billion per month in personal income tax and $65.6 billion per month in FICA tax. Under Gohmert's proposed plan, all of these taxes would not be paid during January and February of 2009, and the money would stay in the hands of American taxpayers - the ones who best know where economic stimulus should be targeted. Gohmert's two month tax holiday would stimulate the economy while costing less than the remainder of the Paulson-Pelosi bailout plan.
This is certainly a welcome idea. But if a two month tax holiday is good, then a permanent holiday would be great. Congress has been spending your money as if you have an endless supply. They want to bailout everyone but the taxpayer, that is, individual Americans. You can sign a petition supporting Gohmert's proposal here.
Eat Local, Save a Cuban
Apparently Cubans are becoming the darlings of the environmentalist movement. That alone should tell you something about environmentalism. According to Reuters (HT: Freedom is the Solution) Cuba is leading the "eat local" movement.
In Cuba, urban gardens have bloomed in vacant lots, alongside parking lots, in the suburbs and even on city rooftops.
They sprang from a military plan for Cuba to be self-sufficient in case of war. They were broadened to the general public in response to a food crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's biggest benefactor at the time.
These urban gardens are also turning Cuba's poverty-stricken workers into poverty-stricken workers with a few more pesos. The workers at one co-op earn $42.75 per month, which is twice the national average.
The gardens are organic because they cannot afford pesticides or fertilizers, which surely makes environmentalists proud. Not to mention the fact that most Cubans barely make enough to survive, so they won't be polluting the landscape with discarded fast food containers, CDs, and other items that make life enjoyable. Other than the walking corpses, I am sure that the environment in Cuba is just delightful.