Rhetoric 001

Smoke and Mirrors: Protecting Yourself from Time-Honored Fallacies.

A rhetoric primer.

The Internet has brought a resurgence of instant and universal public dialog. No longer is it necessary (or even possible) to walk down to the town square or commons. No longer do families huddle around the household radio to hear the great scheduled debates. Today, one can walk from the dinner table to the PC keyboard and plunge instantly into crude or sophisticated debates over most any topic in the world.
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The Invisible Hand: The Workplace

Note to a friend:

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1969 with a BS in Business Administration, so I am more than casually familiar with the loose cannon mindset being cranked out of the Haas School of Business Administration 1. And, I might add, it is my distinct pleasure, no, strike that; it is my extraordinary gift from the merciful beneficent providence, that I have never, ever been charged with working shoulder-to-shoulder with one of those creatures since emerging from the UCB nest into the grown-up workaday world.

As the young man entering the work-place, of course I had only read of some of the deplorable business practices of earlier generations. And so, of course, I was prone to want to see the business climate of the late sixties and early seventies as the crowning culmination of centuries of practice of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” … I was but the young apprentice Galan in “Prince Valiant”, while Market Forces were my White Knight.

Twenty years later, it seemed that the First Principle had become to rise up above the business and into the world of theoretical manipulation as quickly as possible, and “good and evil” were no longer questions of whether one invoked the right principles, but whether the right folks got screwed in the execution.

The First Corollary was that, if you were really, really good in women’s fashions, or in hardware, or in paint, you should go into food service to perfect your mass merchandising skills and never mind what’s in the burger;

If you were really, really good in food service, once again you should go into some other endeavor where what we put into the product doesn’t count, like software …

And, as for “Market Forces”? I give you Enron, Chevron, Texaco, United Airlines, and that fiercest of junkyard watchdogs, Arthur Anderson.

Accountability: when the corporate accountants and attorneys join the CEO on the honor roll of named defendants, as a matter of law, in every corporate wrongdoing lawsuit.

Alex Forbes
© August 24, 2003


1 It wasn’t my intention to single out Haas grads as being any better or worse than their counterparts at other leading business schools, only my wish to register my discontent with the entire process.

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