I am a social liberal. I support gay marriage, am an advocate of a more sensible drug policy, and, as a general rule, believe that abortion should be remain safe and legal for those who seek to obtain them. I hold these views because I am driven by a conviction that human beings are entitled to seek out and define their own conception of “the good” within the reasonable constraints of a functioning body politic.
Unfortunately, some of my fellow social liberals have turned the pursuit of social justice and equality into a form of fascism which seeks, for lack of a better word, to force society in a particular direction. Take for example, the case of Catholic charities in Massachusetts. Up until 2006, these charities had provided adoption services for over 100 years. Yet, when told by the state that they would be required to allow gay couples to adopt using their services, the charitable group decided to abandon its core mission rather than be compelled to compromise their religious conviction.
Paradoxically, such liberal activism has actually proven to be a hindrance, rather than a help to the cause of social justice. The case of Catholic charities in Boston has been held up as an example of what can/will happen if gay marriage is legalized. I don’t blame my more conservative friends for being concerned.
Liberalism is about freedom. This includes the freedom to believe that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexual relations are wrong. Certainly, I don’t agree with this position and, through constructive dialogue, would work to convince others of my particular point of view. However, seeking to compel others to believe or act in a particular way — and thus violate their freedom to believe and act as they prefer — is fascism. Fascism and liberal thought should not, and do not mix.
Consider also the actions of some activists in California who posted the home addresses of Prop 8 supporters in a punitive effort to intimidate these citizens after-the-fact. These actions may be perfectly legal but they are unquestionably immoral. They are also incredibly counter-productive as they (inaccurately, in my view) paint supporters of gay marriage as vicious fascists, willing to intimidate our opponents by frightening them to either support our cause, or shut up.
Freedom is a two-way street. As liberals, we should seek to maximize freedom for all — including those with whom we disagree. To do anything less makes us more akin to Mussolini than to MLK.
NOTE:It has been brought to my attention that Catholic Charities is still operating in Mass. I need to make it very clear that the State withdrew funding from Catholic Charities based on their anti-homosexual adoption position. By accepting state funding, Catholic Charities became a pseudo-agent of the state and as such, became subject to anti-discrimination laws in Mass. LDS Social Services, for example, has never accepted state funding and is, therefore, completely private. As such, they are free to to deny adoption services to anyone they wish.
Managers, by the very nature of their roles, have a fiduciary responsibility to owners and shareholders. That is, they are obligated to protect the financial interests of those who have invested capital in the firm. As such, they are tasked with maximizing shareholder value – a responsibility for which they are compensated through a variety of means.
A fiduciary responsibility to customers is an entirely different matter. Unlike the responsibility that managers have to maximize the investment of owners – a responsibility that exists universally amongst all firms; fiduciary responsibility to firm clients is one which may exist, be transient, or completely unnecessary. What do we mean when we discuss a fiduciary responsibility to customers or clients? Broadly speaking, we mean the existence of management responsibility for the interests – financial or otherwise — of their customers in addition to the owners of the firm.
As I mentioned above, such responsibilities are not universally present amongst all firms and all client bases. The existence of this responsibility is very much a function of the type of services or products being offered to clients, the nature of the client’s interests in the firm, and the dependence of the client on the provider firm’s products or services. For example, very little responsibility exists between Proctor & Gamble and consumers who purchase Tide laundry detergent. In this case, consumers purchase Tide for a given price and expect it to perform a specific function. P & G is being compensated for providing the product, Tide, and is not being compensated for having any further concern for the customers’ interests.
Conversely, customers of Microsoft or Oracle may have very different needs. For example, they may be building out large data centers to enable their business functions. Thus, the services and products offered by Oracle and Microsoft are the means through which the client runs his or her business. In this case, the client needs Oracle and Microsoft to be concerned about the client’s interests; to possess a fiduciary responsibility. If Microsoft or Oracle were to go out of business, or suddenly and without warning, cease support and maintenance for their products, the client would face significant financial hardship. Thus, within this commercial relationship it is essential that fiduciary responsibilities are made explicit and become part of the complete transaction. Managers must be given due consideration in order for them to assume a fiduciary responsibility for their clients. This consideration may be built-in to the pricing of products or services, or it may be part of an agreement which exists separate from the product or service itself. When such agreements exist, managers have an obligation to look after the interests of their client which interests have previously been made explicit.
Obviously this management responsibility differs greatly from that responsibility mangers have for the interests of owners. Unlike in the case of clients, it is not necessary to made explicit the interests of ownerships. Such interests are implicit in the relationship between managers and owners. However, it should be pointed out that in both cases, management is receiving consideration, or compensation, for their assumption of both types of responsibility..
This is a great post regarding all of the noise China is making about switching reserve assets.
The Yuan is pegged to the dollar and has not changed one cent this year. Because the dollar has weakened this means that the yuan has weakened against the Euro and Yen, but the change is not out of line with other swings over the past decade. This means that Chinese exports have become more competitive in Japan and Europe, a highly desirable result from the perspective of the Peoples Bank of China.
Actually, given the rally in the US bond market so far this year the Peoples Bank of China has actually experienced a very significant increase in the value of its holdings of US financial assets so far this year.
Makes one wonder about the value of so much of the information provided by the press, CNBC and economic blogs.