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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paedophile Crisis

A deeply dysfunctional organization is one that does not learn from its mistakes.
In 1993, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, breaking the 7th commandment, called down the wrath of God on the Boston media for outing a paedophile priest in Fall River, MA.
Today, the Vatican excoriates the New York Imes for its coverage of stories that bring the shame of near involvement in a new coverup to the Pope.
The Vatican is simply and sadly repeating a losing course of action.

Sent to New York Times

Not a race for the top

It is unconscionable that the Department of Education is rating states' 'race to the top' plans on whether or not states encourage schools to pay teachers on the basis of student performance (Not a race to the top for Massachusetts, Boston Globe April 6, 2010).
As an organizational psychologist I am well aware that the nature of the effect of extrinsic motivation (pay on the basis of childrens' performance) on intrinsic motivation (the joy of teaching) is controversial. In some studies there is an undermining effect, in others there is not. As far as I know the large scale study of the effectiveness of pay for performance in the New York City School System has not yet reported any long term results.
For an administration dedicated to using the best science available, the decision favoring pay for performance for teachers seems premature.

Sent to Boston Globe


Where was Senator Tom Coburn when we used (and are using) deficits to pay for the Iraq war (9200 in Bay State lose access to jobless benefits, Boston Globe, April 6, 2010: A2).
Surely, deficits for the reducing the trauma of unemployment is as justifiable as deficits to pay for war.
\perhaps if we drafted the unemployed, Senator Coburn would approve of those payments -- but then of course there would be no work for the contractors who make such generous contributions to political campaign funding.

Sent to Boston Globe

Who Needs Wall Street?

Your correspondent, Roger Lowenstein, speaks favorably about the imposition of a Tobin Tax on financial transactions (New York Times Magazine, March 21st., 2010: 15-16).

This has two advantages. Government should tax where the money is. There is lots of it sloshing around.

Second, a first call on the funds raised should be to pay the rating agencies for their work. Right now, the rating agencies are paid by the very firms/issuers they rate. This is a major conflict of interest as the rating agencies are pressured by their paymasters to give high ratings.

In such a system, part of the fee could be tied to achievement: that is the medium and long term accuracy of their ratings. This would encourage the agencies to give accurate ratings.

It is a great shame that Congress has not yet moved to impose such a tax which would help reduce the deficit and help keep markets honest.

Sent to New York Times Magazine

Rating Agencies

We need action, not studies (As Lawmakers Grapple With Financial Oversight, They Call For More Studies, New York Times, March 17, 2010: B3).

It is clear that we must remove the conflicts of interest currently existing in the way that Rating Agencies are compensated.

Let the agencies' paymasters be the investors. Each financial transaction would have a small fee attached to it, like a Tobin tax. These fees would be used to pay the rating agencies; to keep them honest, a portion of the pay would be tied to achievement, that is the medium and long term accuracy of their ratings.

Such a system would eliminate the current conflict of interest faced by the rating agencies who are paid by the very firms/issuers they rate.

It is a great shame that Congress has not yet moved to correct this situation.

Sent to New York Times

Friday, April 23, 2010

Federal Positions Unfilled

Article in Transforming Management. Manchester Business School, April 19th., 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Article in Transforming Management. Manchester Business School. March 9, 2010