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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

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» Ward Churchill from Kevin's blatherings
I feel lame just writing about this silly subject, but I have some crud to eject, so here goes. I have read a bunch of stuff about this assclown on various 'left' blogs over the las week or so, and [Read More]

Comments

GMRoper

Marc, it's even more fun than you think. Here's an "Indybay.org" link that both debunks Churchill's claims and some fairly radical thinkers that support his claim. BOTH sound rational, but I tend to believe that Churchill may really believe what he says about being indian. http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/02/1719903.php

Read down also to the comment by the student that says they wrote a paper about his supposed native American status and he changed her grade from an A to a C... I do not remark on the credibility of that post.

richard

I know this is off topic (love the Churchill debunkings by the way, Marc) but could someone point this southerner to a resource on the indybay/san fransicso imc split?

GMR

And of course, many of the comments fully support both churchill's claims and his writings. It's fun to read the whole thing.

(I ask for devine mercy oh grand poo-bah of the blogosphere, for this is a ghastly mistake having accdentally hit the send button rather than the preview button before I was finished writing. So, therefor, I ask for a bonus posting so that I may fulfill thy grand design of posting three full posts. ~ Amen)

Marc Cooper

granted -- my child.

reg

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN SCHOOL TODAY ????

February 8, 2005/New York Times
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
How Wall Street Learns to Look the Other Way
By ROBERT J. SHILLER

New Haven

THE New York Stock Exchange's report on the pay package given to its former chairman, Dick Grasso, made clear the excessiveness of the compensation and the ineffectiveness of the safety controls that failed to stop it. What the report didn't provide, however, was an answer to an obvious question: Why did nobody on the exchange's board look at that astronomical sum and feel some personal responsibility to find out what was happening?

I can't read minds, but I think it's fair to say that to some extent the players in this drama - as well as those in the ones now being played out in courtrooms and starring former executives of Tyco, WorldCom and HealthSouth - have been shaped by the broader business culture they have worked in for so long. And, as with any situation in which we are puzzled by how a group of people can think in a seemingly odd way, it helps to look back to how they were educated. Education molds not just individuals but also common assumptions and conventional wisdom. And when it comes to the business world, our universities - and especially their graduate business schools - are powerful shapers of the culture.

That said, the view of the world that one gets in a modern business curriculum can lead to an ethical disconnect. The courses often encourage a view of human nature that does not inspire high-mindedness.

Consider financial theory, the cornerstone of modern business education. The mathematical theory that has developed over the decades has proved extremely valuable in general. But when it comes to individuals, the theory runs into some problems. In effect, it portrays people as nothing more than "maximizers" of their own "expected utility." This means that people are expected to be totally selfish, constantly calculating their own advantage, with no thought of others. If the premise is that everyone would steal the silverware if he knew he could get away with it, and if we spend the entire semester developing the implications of this assumption, then it is hard to know where to begin to talk about ethics.

At the notorious Aug. 7, 2003, board meeting in which Mr. Grasso was given the right to pocket $139.5 million, questions of whether the compensation was too high were aired but got nowhere. Maybe it is not too surprising that they were ignored: executive compensation has been soaring in recent years, and to people today, it may well seem that these increases must be entirely the result of respectable "market forces."

Modern business education often encourages excessive respect for anything that can be considered a result of the free market. For example, the leading corporate finance textbook, "Principles of Corporate Finance" by Richard A. Brealey and Stewart C. Myers, lists the efficient markets theory ("security prices accurately reflect available information and respond rapidly to new information as soon as it becomes available") as one of the seven most important ideas in finance. The other six are even less personal, models of perfect markets that only mathematicians can fully appreciate. It should not be surprising that those who were trained by books like these would not consider the possibility that there could be a bubble in executive compensation.

The book does not have anything kind to say about regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the regulatory agency that strives to make sure that we can trust the securities we buy. The commission is rarely mentioned, and then only as a source of a few bothersome rules that must be followed, without giving any clue as to the reasons for the rules. (It is worth noting that it was the commission that asked the stock exchange's board to disclose Mr. Grasso's pay package; otherwise, the controversy might never have come to light.)

Yes, some business school curriculums have been improving over the years. Many schools now offer a course in business ethics, and some even try to integrate business ethics into their other courses. But nowhere is ethics seen as a centerpiece or even integral part of the curriculum. And even when business students do take an ethics course, the theoretical framework of the core courses tends to be so devoid of moral content that the discussions of ethics must seem like a side order of some overcooked vegetable.

I like to assign my finance students "Take On the Street," an account by Arthur Levitt of his efforts, as chairman of the S.E.C. in the 1990's, to clean up the sleazy side of Wall Street. I wish more professors assigned it. But most of my colleagues tell me they do not have time for it; too many formulas to cover.

Ultimately, the problem at the university level is a tendency toward overspecialization. Each professor gains expertise in a certain kind of research skill; that is how subject matter is defined. The specialty of financial theory has largely come to be defined by skills manipulating a narrow class of mathematical models of purely selfish behavior. Business ethics is just another academic specialty, and can seem as remote as microbiology to those studying financial theory.

Whatever happens with Mr. Grasso - and with Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and the other avatars of corporate misconduct in the headlines these days - we should be reminded that ethical behavior for many business people must involve overcoming their learned biases. Perhaps these scandals would be a little less likely, and the rationalizations for them a little less tenable, if more of us professors integrated business education into a broader historical and psychological context. Would our students really fail to understand the economic models if we treated the subject matter not as an arcane specialty, but as part of a larger liberal arts education?

Robert J. Shiller, the author of "Irrational Exuberance," has taught Economics 252, Financial Markets, at Yale College since 1985.

Brian Siano

All I can say is, this just gets funnier and funnier.

MD

reg

Yes, poor teaching is a detriment to society as a whole, be it in business school or ethnic studies.

*and what kind of person needs a business prof to tell them that steeling from their shareholders is bad? I don't think better teaching in business school is going to stop this nonsense, but stiffer penalties for white collar crime sure will put a damper on said shenanigans.

MD

and more English classes might teach me to spell 'steeling...'

gan nima

"but stiffer penalties for white collar crime sure will put a damper on said shenanigans."

you get the idealist utopian award.

reg

MD - It's not called stealing...it's called "compensation". And these business school curricula that avoid such issues aren't considered controversial in the least, except by a handful of moderate "insider" critics like Schiller. Also how many CEO's of Ethnic Studies are there out there running huge chunks of the economy ?

Ethnic studies isn't squat in the larger scheme of things. It's intellectual basket weaving for liberal arts majors. An elective or an academic ghetto for a handful of true believers. Business schools and related programs have a huge impact on what ultimately is considered legitimate in society at large and how the movers and shakers will move and shake.

Ahmed

Marc, may i be the first one to ask that you give this topic a rest, please. Your last post again went over old ground and added nothing new to the debate. As for Horowitz, i fully agree that universities should be a free marketplace of ideas, and nothing less then that. This is made even more important by the fact that society and by and large our media doesn't really broadly reflect this mandate, especially in the age of super conglomorates. I do wonder though if you were kicking and screaming as hard when your pal Horowitz-- funded by deep walleted and nutso donors--was circulating materials and placing ads in universites claiming that slavery was universally benificial to blacks, thus they owe America reperations. As for who is and isn't truly Indian, i find the whole discussion to be stupid. No doubt much of these allegations comes out of the fiery splitering and internal politics of AIM. I have no idea how any of us can sit here and claim to "out" anyone as not being Indian enough. Absolutely asinine. I also cann't claim to know enough about the competing claims between this Campos fellow and Churchill to make a judgement, nor, am i guessing, do many on this board, so im left wondering what on earth is the relevance. And Marc this may seem insulting to you, but Churchill isn't a Marxist, so what? About Marxism he sayed the following in an interview, and like i said who cares if you or i disagree with him philisophically?

WC: It's the whole notion of historical materialism. That as you progress, as you evolve as a culture, you have material signifiers of that progression, and Europe, of course, in terms of its productive capacity, was the most evolved on the planet at the time Marx wrote. Consequently, you could make that translation that he's saying that Europe is the superior culture. From that, you could then adduce the reasoning - well, he's fairly clear, you don't have to adduce it, either, he spells it out - of why "backward" countries must be colonized in order to provide them the base of productive relations that will allow for a socialist transformation of social order to occur. You've got to have that material basis. You've got to have that set of productive relations. The relations of production will determine what's possible in terms of social transformation.
Well, given that, we know that the attitudes that are manifested vis a vis "others" by Marxists has to be simply a variation of the theme of the attitude manifested to "others" by European capitalists. The formulation was, capitalism ushers in the set of material preconditions necessary to allow for socialist transformation. Consequently, if you have not arrived, in our nice little linear evolutionary scheme, at the level of capitalism, you are to that extent, necessarily, retrograde. We have to be made capitalist, before we can become what we're supposed to become, by virtue of the iron law of history.

too many steves

The circles I travel in may have become too small but is anyone really defending Churchill anymore? I haven't seen any recently.

Even Horowitz narrows his defense to "I am opposed to any attempt to fire Ward Churchill for the essay (now part of a book) that has become notorious in which he denounces his own country as a genocidal empire". This leaves wide open the possibility of firing him for lying about his genetic makeup and for fabricating facts in his other writings. Doesn't it?

But if Churchill does continue to have defenders I suspect they are either misinformed about the facts or are suffering from the same "-itis" that I commented about on the "Iraqis Political Football" post from the other day: they can't admit that their man is wrong/bad/whatever because that would, presumably, give ammo to their usual opponents.

It seems to escape their notice that the continued denial of Churchill's transgressions, and irrational defense of his remaining on at Colorado, not only keeps the examiner's light on him but also is providing additional ammunition to their enemy.

David Holiday

I guess I'm just surprised that anyone can pass themselves off as being Native American, with only 1/16th lineage. I'm that, and I've never once thought of myself as Native American. I also think that U.S. government scholarships for Native Americans require that you be at least one-quarter.

Ahmed

And i agree with Michael Berube about the engaging in the following exercise in double standards. Perhaps it wouldn't be too much to ask those righteous rightwingers all riled up by what Churchill said, to speak out on musuing of Rick Lowry the editor of the National Review. I know the dude doesn't have tenure, but the NR is far more influecial then someone a liberal arts prof on a small campus. Here's Lowry's proposition for how the US should respond to 9/11

You can’t turn on the TV without hearing some expert say that our enemies in the current conflict are elusive, that finding targets to punish and bomb and raze will be difficult or impossible. Nonsense.

We know the states that harbor our enemies. If only Osama bin Laden and his 50 closest advisers and followers die in the next couple of weeks, President Bush will have failed in a great military and moral challenge of his presidency.

The American response should be closer to something along these lines: identifying the one or two nations most closely associated with our enemies, giving them 24-hours notice to evacuate their capitals (in keeping with our desire to wage war as morally as possible), then systematically destroying every significant piece of military, financial, and political infrastructure in those cities.

Right. Waging war morrally and elusive enemies, sure. But then again the mad dogs of the right apparrently have to be held to a different standard. How else can you explain Daniel Pipes; a man now on record, enthusiastically defending the mass internment of Japanese Americans, actually leading a campaign targetting selected profs who don't acscribe to his asinine definition of patriotism. Gio figure

joseph

Marc, sorry, I disagree. For me, this is a straight First Amendment issue, because of the threats of dismissal, and I say why here at http://martinirepublic.com/item/1170. I don't care how kooky the Prof sounds or acts (well, I do, actually, but...), he should have been vetted way before this if the University wanted to be rid of him. True free speech means no reprisal, no retaliation for opinions held or uttered.

MD

actually, reg, I agree with you there. In general, I don't like business regulation because it hampers growth and often hurts the people it claims to be protecting, but in the case of corruption, I am quite the non-libertarian, or non-big business conservative, or whatever you want to call it.

And what is an idealist utopian?

Ahmed

Marc, i said earlier, and maitain, that posting tid bid pieces of academic sniping is not only distracting to the debate, but also irrelevant. But if you're going to do it, you might as well follow through in all dizzying directions. You cited brown, here he's being dissed by historian Noah Schahbacker

"This “essay” by Prof. Brown is flat out false. Which is to say, Mr.
Brown falsifies or deliberately misreads at least two notes in Ward
Churchill’s work in order to accuse Churchill of academic dishonesty.
Specifically, Brown accuses Churchill of misrepresenting sources in A
Little Matter of Genocide (among other places). However, by simply
looking
at Churchill’s footnotes, one finds that the sources Brown attributes to
Churchill and the sources Churchill actually cites are not the same at
all.
Churchill describes the incident on page 155 of A Little Matter…; Brown
asserts that Churchill’s source is Russell Thornton’s American Indian
Holocaust and Survival. Churchill’s description is tied to endnote #136;
note #136, on page 261, reads thusly: “Stearn and Stearn, The Effects of
Smallpox, op cit., pp. 89-94; Francis A. Chardon, Journal at Fort Clark,
1834-39 (Pierre: State Historical Society of South Dakota, 1932).”
Nowhere
is Thornton cited as the authority for the Mandans and the smallpox
blankets. As a nod to “peer review” (if such a thing exists on the
internet), I invite (indeed, request) other readers to look at the
sources
I’ve referenced here."

GMRoper

I'm one of those wretched right wingers (say that three times quickly) and I UTTERLY reject any calls for Churchill to be fired over what is essentially a free speech Issue.

Specifically: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What part of "make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..." doesn't anybody understand? If I don't give this idiot (churchill) the same rights I have, how long will it be before I lose those same rights. Or, to make it a bit more personal, how long before YOU lose that right?

If UC want's to fire him for falsifying application, or other fraud, fine, but they damn sure better have their ducks all in a row or I'll be one of the first to jump on that crap.

richard

ahmed,

where did you find that?

reg

I have one friend who's a tenured prof at UC and constantly complains about what looks to me like the cushiest job in the world, and I spent a total of about three months in college 40 years ago, so I don't know much about academia and, frankly, don't hold it in very high regard. So I'm speaking from a large reservoir of ignorance here. BUT...

I agree with GM, et. al. about the issue of free speech and tenure. I also find, the more I glean bits of his philosophy and personal history from these postings, that Ward Churchill is a repugnant, half-baked loon who I know for a fact my own kids (who are lefties) wouldn't find credible as an instructor...of anything. So, while there's general agreement that he shouldn't be fired by folks who are familiar with the niceties of academia, what if students quit taking his classes ? I'm thinking there might be a parallel situation of a tenured prof who, for whatever reason, has lost it and is a lousy teacher with the result that the word spreads and kids avoid the person like the plague. If the number of students who sign up for a professor's classes dwindles, can they be let go ? It seems to me that this might not be a bad idea to balance the security of tenure with a de facto performance evaluation measured by whether a pool of student's, in fact, want the person as an instructor.

I'm sure that the realities of kids needing certain electives to cover their asses plays into this and means that any clown can fill a classroom with bored kids who could care less about anything except chalking up a grade. But it's a thought.

(Also...I think there's way too much attention focused on this guy, mainly to support a flawed argument to push affirmative action for conservatives in certain liberal arts disciplines like sociology and history. Frankly, if one looks at the spectrum of "higher" education in the U.S. and the paucity of critical thinking of any sort it produces, this obsession with measuring the liberal arts and social "science" faculty's voting patterns, etc. at a handful of elite schools becomes an obvious strawman in the service of ritual liberal bashing.)

Ahmed

Again, i hover near my limit, but, to answer richard, it was sent to me by a colleague. And as for defending academic freedom, talk is fine, but what's more useful is people actually contacting the following address and articulating your oppossition firing based on free speech

Contact: Interim Chancellor DiStefano Send email:
chanchat@spot.colorado.edu Phone: 303-492-8908 Snail mail: 17 UCB, Regent
301, Boulder, CO, 80309 http://www.colorado.edu/chancellor/

I'm also linking Tim Wise's useful perspective on how race has functioned and been employed in this entire thing http://www.counterpunch.org/wise02092005.html

Mavis Beacon

GM, I'll say "wretched right wingers" as many times as you like. Wonderful ring to it.

I'm pretty sold on the failures of Ward. But I've got to go with Joseph, GM and Reg on the free speech front. These other charges feel like convenient finds, technical improprieties used against a man with unpopular ideas. Perhaps under other circumstances those transgressions might merit a firing, but under the circumstances they feel convenient.

richard lo cicero

This subject is a perfect example of the total irrelevance of the left! An obscure prof who nay or may not have the proper credentials gets tarred by right-wing bigot radio and we go nuts! So let me try to set you straight. Academic tenure decisions are always political in the worst sense and departments like ethnic studies the worms outnumber the cans! Think he is the only nut out there? How about Rudy Acuna at our alma mater CSUN Mark? I used to listen to him on KPFK and I don't think he was much better. Besides, most ethnic studies departments are essentially places where grievences against the majority culture (or men) can be given academic repectability. I mean, who takes those courses? White males who want to learn of other cultures? I don't think so. So do you want to get rid of such departments Mark?
If not you've got to accept the Churchills. By the way, Russel Means "vouched" for his Indian credentials according to a story in today's LA Times. So he must be OK by AIM and that means OK by CU's tenure board as far as ethnic studies goes. Now can we all go back to imortant stuff like the piratization of Social Security?

Andrew

"Piratization" of Social Security--I quite like that euphemism, intended or not. Pirating guaranteed Social Security away from the public. Quite apt.

richard lo cicero

Sorry, but one more thing. The right-wing media machine cares not if Churchill has the right credentials or what his views are. They just want to make us jump, remember Lani Guinere the "quota queen?"


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