We Leave with Nothing but Love


One Morning with Ron Blue
May 3, 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Business, Economy, God

On Wednesday morning I am scheduled for an interview with a financial advising firm called Ron Blue & Co. This firm is an incredibly unique place where Christian ethics meets the man-eating business environment. Ron Blue & Co. is the ethical opportunity to explore the meaning of wealth. While most of the clients of Ron Blue are extraordinarily wealth individuals, the company also has resources for mentorship and advising on everyday stewardship for people of all monetary situations. http://www.ronblue.com/thefounder.phpRon Blue shares my passion for financing missions. He believes in leading responsibly, caring for the people in an organization- as the body of Christ, and using financial resources responsibly to fund worldwide missions. This thirty year-old organization is founded by a man of integrity:

Ron retired from the financial planning firm in 2003 in order to lead an international effort to equip and motivate Christian financial professionals to serve the body of Christ by implementing biblical wisdom in their lives and practices, resulting in financial freedom and increased giving by thousands of dollars by thousands of Christians around the world. He is currently President of Kingdom Advisors.

So here I go, practicing my answers to the interview questions. I recently interviewed several Biola students to be my own assistant for when I am hired as the Student Missionary Union Controller. I know that there are a few pithy phrases I got tired of hearing. I won’t tell the employer that I struggle with perfectionism. I will, however, share my ambition to succeed, and I will give passionate examples.

I have a heart for missions, and the Lord has confirmed that passion since I was in the second grade. Granted, I have had several fade-outs throughout the years, but several times over, God has led me to pray for and support missions and missionary friends. Matthew 5:16 is the song that guides me home: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.” Ronald Blue & Co. is an amazing environment that stimulates the Aristotelian virtue of magnanimity. Those who are better stewards of their finances can give more to those in need. With every investment, the motive is to provide for those efforts which seek a heavenly purpose. I am excited to learn more about the Christ-centered environment, and to meet some of these intelligent Christian accountants.

Ronald Blue & Co.

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Desperation. Grasping for the real figures of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love.
October 25, 2009, 5:50 am
Filed under: Books, Economy, Poetry

Whether reading Billy Collins, Dana Gioia, or William Blake, there is no clear understanding of the human forms: Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love. This has been a semester of spirituality and poetry for me. Becoming a huge fan of Collins and Blake has left me pensive- but wordless. Much help that is, having to write a 14 page paper for this term in the Torrey program. Weeks of thought and research and hurried discussion has left me still with merely the topic, and hardly a thesis: “Pity and Taxation.”

Blake offers intriguing contrasts to his four virtues. He examines their worth from two perspectives: From Inncence first, then from Experience. Check this out:

(From Songs of Innocence):

“The Divine Image”

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

(My thoughts are brought to a peaceful place, examining the worth of the many emanations of goodness. I want this goodness. I want to be good and to know good people. Isn’t this place we reside a place of mutual affections, helpfulness, and virtue?)

(From Songs of Experience)

“A Divine Image”

Cruelty has a human heart

And Jealousy a Human face

Terror the Human form divine,

And Secrecy the human dress.

(So now, Mr. Blake, the ideals of Mercy, Pity, Love and Peace are replaced with the bitter masks of Cruelty, Jealousy, Terror and Secrecy!)

If Blake were to organize a system of economics for his government, he would get too discouraged by the disgusting faces of human Bitterness which come out at night. Pity is great, and yes, in taxation, people ought to receive tax deductions and fewer charges if they experience poverty. But even Pity is distorted when those who are taxing are only acting upon pity and mercy because of their inner corruption! They don’t have the rights of individuals in mind, only their self-serving prejudices.

Pity is a necessary goodness in a world of beauty. CS Lewis restores the views of pity. He takes Blake’s guttural distortions of goodness back to the divine understanding (yes, life’s pain remains, but every pain etches another image of God’s divine Providence!) in The Great Divorce. Again, I am left with so many great words of Lewis, I can’t decide which are the best to represent the beauty of reconciliation. This is the method Lewis provides when virtues are corrupted by humanity:

I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, ‘with backward mutters of dissevering power’- or else not. It is still ‘either-or’. If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.

Therefore, Lewis recognizes mankind’s gross imperfections also. However, by his words I conclude that there must be a way to show pity in an ‘evil undone’ way. I must discover what is the dissevering power of showing pity through the government’s ways of taxation.

Can heaven be restored in the motives of the IRS? What is the role of Pity in the government’s budget?



Apparently I am a true fan of blogging.
March 24, 2009, 7:40 pm
Filed under: Business, College Classes., Economy, God, Living

Preface: Don’t mind the misused block quotes or even the silliness of much of this paper. But appreciate the audacity of an inexperienced blogger.

Business Blogging, the Smart Choice:

The benefits of blogging for business Entities

            In a world of cyber net cafes, online forums, and internet shopping, consumers have high expectations for producers. A quick Google search of Panera will result in blog pages for Panera customers to interact over the web. One blogger included in the web page headline: “Let’s blog the stupid/quirky/funny/mundane things people do at Panera. Please join me if you’re at Panera and bored or just need to tell someone how much you inexplicably love broccoli cheddar soup like me” (Panera Blog).  This web site is an example of a business benefiting from an internet competitive advantage. New generations, immersed in the facebook genre, comfortably find most information by browsing through a search engine and easy links. In order for consumer needs to be met thoroughly, the producer must consider the effective mediums of internal and external communication, where information senders equip their message with the information that receivers are able to receive. As a promotional trend, blogging has become an effective strategic tool to stimulate product development and improve communication between producers and consumers. Therefore, by utilizing internet blogging, businesses create sustainable relationships by improving communication among employees and customers. Blogging benefits internal and external operations by sharing ideas, controlling quality, and disseminating information.

 

Sharing Ideas

            Blogging is an effect method of sharing ideas, despite the seemingly unprofessional impression that internet discussions sometimes cause. Some businesses must filter through negative content from the bloggers’ comments to avoid any negative impressions. When a company experiences a large layoff rate, the employees quickly spread complaints and negative information to other users. However, the discouraging elements do not discredit the necessity of using Web 2.0 for communication. Anyone who is able to keep up with changing technologies may contribute to a business communication elite. Reynolds shares that “the changing technology will also create new elites. This is true because some old institutions… will not adapt quickly enough to the new way of doing things. Any institution that depends on a monopoly of information is doomed” (Reynolds 37). Some business entities are unable to properly cater to their blogging consumers when their web sites are not up to par, causing distrust and disrespect form their new media-junkie-customers.

            Even the businesses whose customers are older, less technologically advanced groups must solidify their future by integrating new media into their communication methods for the benefit of future audiences. For internal purposes, businesses ought to have efficient methods of communication to hear employees’ feedback. If a corporation headquarters is making significant changes that will impact employees, blogs and live internet feeds are helpful to update the employees on such changes. Business Communication Quarterly quotes an Australian interviewee who shares, “I benefited tremendously from creating and contributing to my company blogs. I went to Malaysia for my Technology Consulting Training. I decided to share my learning with colleagues in my organization posting a summary of the knowledge in particular in the area of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) which I learnt. My information has been well-shared in the organization and has also solicited new information such as industry examples of… technological solutions” (qtd. in Zhang, Zhu, and Hildebrandt 117). Thus, blogging can be informative for large numbers of people, while simultaneously allowing them to interact and respond to updates.

            Although companies find problems with the information spreading to the wrong people, the internet is beneficial for quick clarification. Furthermore, the blog may provide quicker statistics for corporation elites to hear the needs of employees. Another benefit to constant, updated information through blogs is the ability for consumers to witness all the thoughts and interactions within the entity. Such widespread thought increases the company’s brand name and image, and they are allowed a personal, accessible source of information.

Controlling the Quality of Products and Services

            Corporations who wish to measure the success of temporary initiatives find it difficult to gage consumer opinions. Xiaoli Nan and Kwangjun Heo explore the results of marketing strategies, disclosing the difficulties of corporate initiatives. Without any direct communication from consumers, the entities find it “hard to draw any conclusions with regard to the effects of [cause-related marketing] on consumer responses without a standard of comparison. For instance, it is not readily clear whether an ad with a [cause-related marketing] component could elicit significantly more positive consumer reactions relative to a similar ad without the [cause-related marketing] message” (64). If the corporation breeds blogging communities of their consumers, the corporation has the potential to find their customers’ input directly, responding to one another and to questions which the corporation may propose via blog.

            Simplified internet communication is used as a means for controlling the quality of the business’s products and services. Online surveys have become a major source of feedback from customers who want to see any sort of change in the company. Other recent projects have improved the success of blogging to improve customer input and reviews to give customers opportunity to test products and services vicariously through the blogger. When companies send out messages, they must strategize to give users and customers the confidence to trust their product. Companies want to sustain their competitive advantage by supporting their own products by gaining positive reviews. By offering incentives such as internet access, companies should aim to achieve the greatest benefits of communication. If done well, they have the potential to collaborate a masterpiece of products and services. The most influential customers require that the company speak their internet language. Consumers who are familiar with competitive web aesthetics expect much from entities.

            Often consumers look at blogs for consumer opinions on special products or services offered by companies. Josh Bernoff mentions Kmart, Sears, Panasonic and Ford in an article about blogging for believable reviews on products. When an active mother decided to blog about her experiences using a Ford vehicle, the readers’ responses showed that “transparency and disclosure are crucial- and that her posts are only believable because Ford doesn’t dictate or review editorial content” (qtd. in Bernoff 1). Ford used a customer’s blog to create trust among Ford’s customers.

Effective Internet Communication

            In order for any communication medium to be effective, it must contain all the elements a mind can recognize and cognitively process. The thousands of classes of communication medium is altered when people begin to rely solely on impersonal internet contact. Without the physical presence of the person, or the vibrations of noise in the air, the communicator must be sure to support his/her ideas thoroughly. Thus, the first rule for an effective transaction of information, as Rudy Bretz states in the Taxonomy of Communication Media, “The system must be capable of conveying a complete message; it must be self-contained and self-supporting” (64). Therefore if a web site is going to feature a blog, they must provide all basic information about the company in order to avoid confusion from external users.

            Bretz’s other rules describe the necessity for the communication media to be capable of reproducing the message in the same of another form simultaneously in a different place. It must provide information in a unique fashion and using technology that users know how to experience. One may infer from his advice that internet and web 2.0 add value to the cyber world as blog users navigate through widgets, blogreels, credit card payments, shopping bags, intricate commenting, and tags. Blogging is therefore a beneficial communication medium, and new generations of information sharers are becoming more familiar with the internet than any other medium.

            In his evaluation of the use of computers for instructional communication, Bretz notes an interesting concern. He limit’s the function of computers by saying that they “never will be able to perform as well as a human. One of these [ways] is the evaluation of unanticipated learner responses, and another is personal attention. Here, humanists believe that the machine can have little effectiveness.” Good internet blogging, however, has mitigated most of this problem, since words can be transmitted almost as quickly as instant messages, and information sharers may discuss issues through comments and responses.

Theological Implications of Web Communication

            Christian bloggers face many barriers when attempting to maintain ethical standards and meet customer needs through web site communication. Companies who share information with users, consumers, and investors through internet blogging must be aware of the potential misinformation that could ethically disturb the company’s integrity. As live performances may be altered by the performer to protect clarity of the message, blogging provides a balance between live performance and published text. Internet expert John Mark Reynolds describes with this illustration: “A teacher can leave out key material in a lecture if she suspects that it might be misused by a student in the class. Meanwhile, the manual sits waiting for the terrorists to find information on weapons of mass destruction, and inappropriate entertainment waits for children to find it. There is no way for a book to monitor who picks it up” (Reynolds 29). Conversely, a blog is monitored and updated to dialogue with readers’ and relieve their misunderstandings.

            The company must maintain the qualities of face-to-face, or other personal interaction. Much of the power of spoken word is lost when the words are transmitted through a web page. Through overwhelming amounts of advertisements and spam, many people have come to misunderstand the meaning behind words on a web page. When bloggers have the potential to read and respond to company posts, whether they are employees of the company or merely consumers, the blogging controller must act as a intermediary, protecting readers from misinterpretation. While maintaining integrity of goodwill in the market, companies have the advantage of increased accountability with so m any people aware of the issues they are discussing.

            Internet users who are ethically aware face boundaries of immorally impersonal implications. They must attempt to understand these methods of new media within the broader perspective of the human good. The future of useful business blogging is maintained by the honest businessmen who are capable of bringing consumers the information they need. Communication ought not to lose the power of words through a façade of falsity when transmitted through web sites, and it is the responsibility of blog controllers to maintain the astuteness of the company site by holding the standards of words. When the prophet Jeremiah is called by God to speak to the people of Israel, God tells him not to be afraid of their faces (King James Version, Jer. 1:8). The speaker dominates attention when he/she is physically present while speaking to the audience.

            Internet users must also be aware of the communication boundaries between people and with God. Often through blogs or unprofessional internet environments, Christians find that those boundaries lack attention, and must be redefined. People easily lose depth or philosophical-theological priorities when dissuaded by the simplicity of internet communication. In Communication, Media, and Identity Robert Fortner explains the power of communication as a symbol, or a “vehicle for creating and sustaining intimacy. It is the means by which people care for one another, share one another’s sorrows, pains, joys, and accomplishments, the method for pointing one another to the creator and his care for the world…” (Fortner 65). However individuals choose to speak, whether business-like, in-person or through blogging, every word presents an opportunity to share experience with others.

Conclusion

            When business entities attempt to maintain and restore communication standards with their customers and employees, they ought to follow elitist technological advancements.  Producers and consumers interpret well-presented messages. The aesthetics of a web page will effectively communicate to users that the company understands their needs. When a company uses popular internet trends to communicate, people comfortably learn and respond to the presented information. When the ethical standards of the company are maintained, with no false advertisements or misdirection, the company has increased potential for effectively communicating the company’s moral standards. Whether business-oriented or theological, blogs offer immediate interaction among like-minded people and disseminate useful information to users.

Works Cited

Bernoff, Josh. “Be More Than An Ad, Get In The Conversation.” Marketing News 43.4 (15 Mar. 2009): 18-18. Business Source Elite. EBSCO. Biola University, La Mirada, CA, 17 Mar. 2009

Bretz, Rudy. A Taxonomy of Communication Media. Englewood Cliffs: Educational Technology Publications, 1971.

Fortner, Robert S. Communication, Media, and Identity : A Christian Theory of Communication. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, Incorporated, 2007.

King James Version. Bible.

Nan, Xiaoli, and Kwangjun Heo. “Consumer Responses to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives.” Journal of Advertising Summer 2007 36 (2007): 63-74.

Panera Blog. April 30, 2005. Google Blogspot. February 24, 2009.

Reynolds, John Mark, and Roger Overton. The New Media Frontier : Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ. New York: Crossway Books, 2008.

Zhang, Allee M; Yanxia Zhu; and Herbert Hildebrandt. “Enterprise Networking Web Sites and Organizational Communication in Australia.” Business Communication Quaterly March (2009): 114-119.



Lehman Brothers went down. Boethius explains.
January 27, 2009, 7:35 am
Filed under: Books, College Classes., Economy, Living

Introduction

A business’s bankruptcy destroys the opportunity for employees and investors to continue their pursuit of happiness, as there is no longer any hope for gains or investments in that entity. The stocks tumble, the employees scramble, and the executives are left with a giant mess of debt and discouragement. Unfortunately for the global finances industry, the business Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. Lehman had no resources to rescue them from overwhelming debt, so Chief Executive Richard Fuld filed for Chapter 11, that is, permission for reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Under the assumption that a bankruptcy ends despondently, one concludes that the employees, executives, and investors of Lehman Brothers have lost happiness. Their hard work in the company ended in shambles, leaving them to wallow in the vanity of their years, and begin to search for a well-paying job to recompense for the years of waste.

On the contrary, if the Roman and Aristotelian Philosopher Anicius Boethius were an employee of Lehman Brothers, his happiness would be intact when the company filed bankruptcy. In his Consolation of Philosophy, he teaches about the unpredictable outcomes of fortune and the proper pursuit of happiness, ideas which may be applied to anyone involved in a bankrupt business. Although being laid-off is not pleasurable, Boethius’ happiness would not decrease as a laid-off employee of Lehman Brothers because he acts well and makes decisions with an eternal perspective. According to Boethius, the happy person considers the purpose of all things, the self-subsistence of happiness, and the practical measures in the pursuit of happiness. Applying these concepts to the story of Lehman Brothers, one may see that Boethius accurately differentiates between the businessman who pursues temporal pleasure, and a truly happy businessman. Boethius further observes that an individual who desires temporal gain rather than the eternal good will begin to take wicked measures to achieve the goal. Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Richard Fuld took imprudent risks in pursuit of temporal gain instead of considering long-term implications and holistic repercussions. Therefore, Boethius would call Fuld an unhappy man in pursuit of the wrong thing, and he would say that his rash actions led to the downfall of the company.

The Story of Lehman Brothers

Henry, Emanuel, and Mayer Lehman founded the global finances entity Lehman Brothers in 1850. A business such as Lehman Brothers is responsible for money management in various forms. Lehman’s various responsibilities include investment banking and management, private equity and banking, research, and stock securities. The mission statement of the company reads: “Our mission is to build unrivaled partnerships with and value for our clients, through the knowledge, creativity, and dedication of our people, leading to superior returns for our shareholders.”[1] Established with high expectations and a promising niche, Lehman Brothers started a journey that would give them a key role in supporting the backbone of the investment economy.

After thirty-four years of being a private company, Lehman Brothers united with American Express in 1984. Richard Fuld became chief executive in 1993, and in 1994 the company separated from American Express to become a public company by selling shares of stock to investors. Over the years, Fuld attempted to gain on investments for the company through several risky short-term investments in mortgages[2], but the industry was unsuccessful, and his company lost a significant amount of money. Lehman Brothers and Tishman Speyer bought Archstone with $22.2 billion, but this investment proved unprofitable. By June, 2008, Lehman Brothers continued a dangerous downhill slide in finances; they had lost $2.8 billion. They were unable to gain enough support from the government’s Federal Reserve, and no other companies were willing to buy them out to survive their name. Therefore, on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11. The congressional system has established “chapters” or codes for the rights of legal business entities. Chapter 11 is the code which allows reorganization proceedings in which the debtor maintains control of the business, unless the Court appoints a trustee.[3]

Some business analysts are beginning to speculate that before the company’s most drastic drops in profit, Fuld was guilty of making fraudulent recordings of the value of his assets. The FBI is currently investigating the company to bring closure to all the internal events of the company.[4] In the end, Fuld comes out of the company as an unhappy failure to his company and to the investment economy.

The Purpose of All Things

In Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states through the voice of Wisdom, “The desire for true good is… in the minds of men, only error leads them astray toward false good.”[5] He assumes that “the supreme good is happiness;”[6] the motive of all actions, therefore, is to achieve happiness. Individuals often

measure the possession of the good by the amount of enjoyment and delight it brings, convinced that being abandoned to pleasure is the highest form of happiness. Others again confuse ends and means with regard to these things, such as people who desire riches for the sake of money or fame.[7]

However, Boethius rightly enlightens his readers that these goods are transitory in nature. Gains in wealth are temporal events that may achieve pleasure, but not happiness.

Boethius borrows the Aristotelian view of the eternal end. Aristotle discusses happiness as the eternal good unimpeded by temporal events,[8] which allows no excuse for rash decisions. When an individual makes a decision because of their desire for instantaneous gain, he pursues instant gratification rather than a long-term goal. Aristotle labels those who “seem to conceive happiness as pleasure, and hence they also like the life of gratification” as “vulgar.”[9] Momentary pleasures only gratify short-term desires.

In the context of a business situation, Aristotle explains that “the moneymaker’s life is in a way forced on him [not chosen for itself]; and clearly wealth is not the good we are seeking, since it is [merely] useful, [choiceworthy only] for some other end.”[10] Boethius agrees that if a goal is only a mean to gratify a greater desire, it is not the best good.  Oftentimes a businessman solely pursues monetary gain. His motive is driven by the desire for the instantaneous gain of money or success. The gains that come from a successful business are a mean to support their lifestyle and obtain goods.

Furthermore, since wealth is subject to the ambiguity of fortune, it is not happiness. If temporal events do not impede happiness, and fortune holds control over temporal events, then happiness cannot be anything under the control of fortune. Wealth is a temporal good and a mean to greater goods, so a wise pursuer of happiness in the business world ought not make rash decisions in pursuit of wealth, without considering the eternal end of all events.

In the case of Lehman Brothers, Chief Executive Fuld made several rash decisions because of his desire for instantaneous gain for his company. He chose to invest in mortgaging through the company Monument Realty, which profits from people’s failure to continue making payments on their homes. As a global finance industry, they understand that in order to profit from investing in a mortgaging company, they are relying on people to take loans in order to purchase realty. If they are investing in mortgaging, they are hoping that people who take out loans to buy realty are unable to continue to make their payments, and therefore must mortgage the home. This way of doing business is a way to pursue wealth for the company, but it is a risky investment of time and money. Lehman has been accused of looking for “a quick turn on their buck.”[11] Taking advantage of financially unstable individuals leads to a greater risk in the whole economy. As the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Lehman, Fuld sought monetary gain for the company. He places his and the entire company’s success in the hands of risky investments when the company is already in need of more stable income. Boethius would reprove Fuld for his imprudent pursuit of goods that were not self-subsistent.

Self-Subsisting Happiness

Boethius argues that true happiness is not subject to circumstance, but that it directly corresponds to a person’s good behavior and eternal perspective. Individuals cannot pursue happiness through temporal events; thus the haphazard nature of wealth proves that monetary gain does not make an individual happy. Boethius explains that money, success, power, and respect are temporal in nature because they are not self-subsisting.[12] The occurrence of each of these is contingent upon other circumstances. The true nature of happiness, on the other hand, is self-subsistent.

Boethius argues:

Goodness itself is set as a kind of common reward of human activity. But goodness cannot be removed from those who are good; therefore, goodness never fails to receive its appropriate reward… The wise man’s laurels will never fall away from him or wither away.[13]

Happiness, to Boethius, is equated with the reward for right human behavior. A happy person pursues goodness in all things, and the result of such excellent behavior is self-subsistent happiness.

The events that are changeable through the ambiguity of fortune are not self-subsistent. Although power and wealth are pleasurable events, they are only controllable to a certain extent. In the business economy, one of the most common methods of obtaining wealth is stock or bond investments and real estate. Depending upon the consistency of profits of public companies, people determine whether the investment will be long-term or short-term. A long-term investment may include bonds, real estate, or a stock in a consistently profit-raising company. Short-term investments include stocks in inconsistent companies, or investments in any mortgaging industry. Whatever kind of wealth is being pursued, the pursuer is using investments to obtain wealth to obtain some other greater goods. Investments are high-risk methods of achieving wealth; consequently the investor’s wealth is not a self-subsistent good.

Fuld’s method of attaining wealth for Lehman Brothers consisted of partnerships with mortgaging companies like Archstone-Smith and Monument Realty. Upon acquisition of these organizations, they were not fortunate enough to pay off shareholders. Furthermore, Lehman had contributed approximately $620 million to Monument Realty since 2001, and because of their bankruptcy, they were unable to continue funding Monument’s portfolio of realty projects. [14] Boethian ideas echo what Aristotle says about happiness: “We regard something as self-sufficient when all by itself it makes a life choiceworthy and lacking nothing; and that is what we think happiness does,” implying that Fuld was not pursuing happiness. [15]

As investments began to decline sharply in March, 2008, Lehman’s shares in stock rose significantly. This appeared to begin a turnaround to the overall declining economy, but skeptical strategists claimed that the company was using inaccurate recordings to increase the value of their shares.[16] By June, only three months later, the company lost $2.8 billion dollars. Analysts discovered that Lehman Brothers traded assets for far less than the value that had been recording. Moreover, Fuld had cashed-in on close to $500 million of his investments in his company over the past eight years, even during the teetering times of financial distress for the company. [17] Although an investor is entitled to collect gains on investments, Fuld placed himself in a precarious position because of the high risk of his mortgage-related and other securities. If the CEO of the company decides to put big investments in high-risk companies, then cashes in for half a billion dollars in personal gain, one may infer that the good which the company solicited came from the earnings of short-term gains. The company is therefore not pursuing true happiness, since the ends which they desire are not self-subsistent.

True happiness is not impacted by the changes in fortunate events. While Fuld pursued happiness through the fortune of his mortgage investments and the company’s share prices, the hypothetical employee Boethius would pursue happiness through virtuous action. The goods which Boethius pursues are not measured by wealth, power, or status. Boethius maintains an eternal perspective for the end which he pursues. Although he would be willing to have position in a company and do well in his career, vocational success and wealth would not be the ends for him. He would not do everything merely for monetary return, and he would not take any imprudent risks to obtain such temporal goods. In Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius remembers that fortune events are haphazard, and that they ought not deter the pursuit of happiness. The consistency of Boethius’ search is not composed of monetary means; he learns through Wisdom that “happiness is a state made perfect by the presence of everything that is good, a state, which… all mortal men are striving to reach though by different paths.”[18] Rather than utilizing temporal resources such as investments and partnerships to gain access to happiness, Boethius views all events as a means to the eternal end, thus he maintains his eternitarian view of the purpose of all things.

Practical Measures in the Pursuit of Happiness

The Boethian pursuit of happiness requires consistently reasonable and virtuous actions. In a business environment, investors must diagnose situations logically and take risks prudently. The virtue of the individual pursuing happiness must remain intact, which necessitates prudent decision-making that investigates the long-term repercussions of each decision. If the individual makes rash decisions purely for short-term gain, meanwhile ruining opportunity to recover from future struggles, he is proved to be an irrational pleasure-seeker.

Fortunate success cannot predict the success of the future. Additionally, fortune cannot enlighten an investor to the eternal form of happiness. The truly happy man seeks after the intangible goods of eternity rather than the changeable successes that are subject to fortune. Boethius as the hypothetical employee of Lehman Brothers would need to weigh the benefits of remaining under an imprudent executive with the benefits of working somewhere else. After seeing Fuld’s greedy cashing-in, he would catch the scent of the mad rush for riches that would leave the company gasping for breath. Fuld did not try to hide the profit he gained from his investment in the company, but he cashed-out hundreds of millions of dollars during years that the entity was financially struggling and share prices were decreasing. By the end of 2007, Lehman earned more than the predicted amount, but as the mortgage market struggled, everyone could see that the company would be suffering in 2008. The gains made in 2007 would not predict continued fortune for the mortgage-investing, and no temporal end can be completely predicted by fortunate signs.

Boethius teaches that there is a transcendent providential plan that guides fortunate events and purposeful actions to one goal.[19] What hope have mortal men, subject to change and fortune, to find the eternal happiness? If one denies the necessity of eternal providence, there are no immediate repercussions. Boethius comments about the fickle mental abilities of humans who attempt to consider the eternal providence of God. Boethius reminds the reader that humans are free to make plans, as he explains at the end of his book:

You can alter your plan, but that since this is possible, and since whether you do so or in what way you change it is visible to Providence that ever present and true, you cannot escape divine foreknowledge, just as you cannot escape the sight of an eye that is present to watch, though of your own free will you may turn to a variety of actions.”[20]

Every human decision thus ought to be made with the presupposition that providence knows the best end. One may choose to resist the future, but the future is inevitable, and it will repay the individual according to the type of investment placed. When only short-term monetary investments are made, the benefits will be short-term, and the remainder of time would be left to fortune. Such recompense is the natural justice paid to all actions. Fuld, in all his short-term risk decision-making, should expect to crumble under the weight of justice. Boethius would see it coming. Boethius, the wise, eternally-minded employee, would do his job, and probably have started job-searching years earlier.

Conclusion

Fuld could have learned from Boethius’ saying, “A wise direction spares the man whom adversity might affect for the worse.”[21] This fact does not excuse unrighteous acts, but encourages all people of every personality and background to pursue the eternal good in a righteous manner. One may assume that the hypothetical employee Boethius would act virtuously in the workplace, and he would pursue happiness by maintaining his eternal perspective. Boethius’ happiness would remain intact, despite the nature of Fuld’s pursuit for temporal gain leading to the bankruptcy of the firm.

For Boethius, it is evident that one who pursues happiness ought to consider the intangible purpose of all things, the self-preserved nature of true happiness, and virtuous decision-making. If the businessman does not utilize these thoughts to act prudently, the long-term effects will be terminal to the quest for a happy life. The temptation of moneymakers overtook Richard Fuld’s mindset as he made imprudent decisions to achieve financial gain.


1. Lehman.com, http://www.lehman.com/who/mission/ (Accessed October 26, 2008).

2. Alejandro Lazo, “D.C. Deals Relied On Lehman Funding,” Washington Post, September 22, 2008.

3. BankruptcyData.Com, http://www.bankruptcydata.com/Glossary.htm (accessed October 26, 2008).

4. Annys Shin, “Capitol Grilling for Lehman CEO; Fuld Says Crisis ‘Overwhelmed’ Him,” Washington Post, October 7, 2008.

5. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 3:2.48.

6. Ibid. 3:2.49.

7. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 3:2.49.

8. Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, 2nd ed. 7.13.1153b1-14.

9. Ibid. 1.5.1095b15-25.

10. Ibid. 1.5.1096a5-10.

11. Alejandro Lazo, “D.C. Deals Relied On Lehman Funding,” Washington Post, September 22, 2008.

12. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 3:9.63.

13. Ibid. 4:3.93.

14. Alejandro Lazo, “D.C. Deals Relied On Lehman Funding,” Washington Post, September 22, 2008.

15. Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, 2nd ed. 1.7.1097b15.

16. Alejandro Lazo and David Cho, “Financial Stocks Lead Wall Street Turnabout; Lehman, Goldman Sachs Earnings Top Expectations,” The Washington Post, March 19, 2008.

17. NYTimes.com, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/business/economy/07lehman.html?bl&ex=1223524800&en=6b2 e328b1376df03&ei=5087%0A (Accessed October 26, 2008).

18. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 3:2.48.

19. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 4:6.103.

20. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 5:6.136.

21. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy 4:6.107.