Archive for the ‘Greed’ Category

Service of Appearances Matter But Pick Your Battles Carefully When Contesting Questionable Choices

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Photo: glasgowprestwick.com

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings picked an example that, at first blush, looked like the Trump organization was yet again driving–and profiting from–government business at one of its properties while the head of the family ran the country. Digging deeper, while the situation doesn’t look right, the severity of the malfeasance is feeble at best.

Brigadier General Edward Thomas spoke with Lalita Clozel and Joshua Jamerson for their Wall Street Journal article “Air Force Reviews Travel Policies Amid Scrutiny Over Trump Resort –Aircrew’s March stay at Scotland resort followed guidelines, Air Force says; House Democrats probe the expenditures.”

Brigadier General Edward Thomas. Photo: af.mil

The general didn’t address the issue of the property’s owner. He said “U.S. Service members lodging at resort accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”

The general added: “We are not only stewards of American tax dollars but we represent our nation as we travel abroad.”

The fact is that the crew spent $30 less than the maximum hotel per diem allowed at the Trump Turnberry golf resort which is some 40 minutes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. In addition, the reporters wrote that it was the cheapest option.

According to Clozel and Jamerson the president tweeted: “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

The reporters continued: “The C-17 plane and its crew were on a multi-leg journey that took them from Anchorage, Alaska, to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to Portsmouth, N.H., Glasgow and Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and then back.”

Prestwick was selected as a refueling location in August 2016, months before Trump was elected, because it has better weather than Shannon, Ireland, is open 24 hours and doesn’t attract a lot of air traffic.

“Since October 2017, the U.S. military has paid the airport hundreds of times for fuel purchases totaling $11 million Cummings said. The U.S. government has also made tens of thousands of dollars in purchases at the Turnberry resort in 2018 and 2019, according to procurement records.

“Both the Scottish government-owned airport and the Turnberry resort have lost money in recent years, Mr. Cummings said in his letter.”

Since no laws or regulations have been broken and the crew spent well under the per diem hotel ceiling, should Representative Cummings look for a better example of the enrichment of the Trump empire while the company’s namesake is in office? Should the Air Force forbid crews from staying at any resort for appearance’s sake? Should there be a regulation prohibiting any government employee from staying at a property owned by a president, cabinet member, senator or congress man or woman?

Boeing C-17 Photo: af.mil

Service of Paying for the Company You Keep: Are Your Clients Worth It?

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Perry Mason, left. Photo: perrymasontvseries.com

Life is expensive and most student debt sinfully high so it’s important to select a career that if not lucrative, will pay the bills. That said, setting yourself up for a miserable existence because of the client company you keep seems an awfully high price to pay.

“If I was mentoring a young lawyer, I’d direct him to the trust and estate litigation practice.” Reporter Paul Sullivan was quoting Jeffrey P. Geida in his New York Times article “The Wealthy Family Squabble.” Geida heads the tax and estate planning department at LA law firm Weinstock Mansion.

Sullivan’s article describes law suits between multi millionaire relatives slamming one another over money. In one example, Belinda Neumann-Donnelly blamed her father for causing a picture to sell at auction for only $30.7 million when she thought it should have brought much more. She sued dad.

Can you imagine spending your life around these people and having to feign sympathy for their complaints?

I knew a family in which a son sued his once well-to-do father–who had lost all his money and could barely pay the rent–because he felt his father owed him the tuition for graduate school. What happened to the son trying to help his father?

Do you think who your customers and clients are will impact the quality of your work life? Are there industries you would avoid for that reason? Is any amount of compensation worth dealing with people you consider, in general, unsavory?

Photo: careermatch.com

 

Service of a Newspaper’s Reporter Hemorrhage

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Photo: keithedwards.com

I’ve nibbled around the edges of this topic—the impact of the loss of local news delivered by newspapers—and the obvious major reasons for it: decreasing readership and advertising as well as advertising dollars moving elsewhere. A segment of “CBS This Morning” on Saturday covered the daring move by the Denver Post’s editorial page editor, Chuck Plunkett.

“In the defiant and desperate editorial, Plunkett and a host of other writers criticized the paper’s hedge fund owners, Alden Global Capital, for slashing staff, and they warned Denver it may lose its century-and-a-half-old newspaper,” according to CBS’ Barry Peterson.

Barry Peterson. Photo: cbsnews.com

Said Plunkett: “We call out other people who we feel like [sic] aren’t doing their job or living up to their obligations. We should be able to call out our own owners, and that’s why I did it.” The impetus: another giant layoff at the paper, this time of 30 reporters. Photojournalist John Leyba was one: He’d worked at the paper for 30 years, since his first job in the photo lab at 19.

Aside: I’ve written here before that I’m alarmed by the few if any people to approach at major regional papers with news pitches. Syndicated stories are often the norm and the fact it’s harder for PR people to get out a client’s information is unimportant—we find ways. The resulting paucity of oversight of local businesses, government or organizations and the people who work for them is critical. Plunkett called it a paper’s watchdog role. Plus, it’s nice to know what’s going on where you live.

Photo: uft.org

Back to Peterson: “The striking editorial includes a photo filled with silhouettes of the journalists who were laid off or have left since the paper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013. The various articles said the paper’s ranks have shriveled to around 60, placing blame squarely on what one writer called the ‘vulture capitalists’ at the hedge fund.”

Plunkett is looking to the Denver community and its civic leaders to “step in to save the flagship local newspaper.”

The CBS report continued: “Alden Global Capital is the primary equity holder in Digital First Media, which owns 97 newspapers. According to the NewsGuild union, some papers have lost more than 70 percent their workforce. A recent lawsuit alleges Alden mismanaged hundreds of millions of dollars from the news chain.”

The dynamic at this paper does not seem to match what’s happening at many others where the wolf is at the door. “Media experts nationally and locally have reported that Alden is making a profit of around 20 percent.”

Do you feel that newspapers are so “last year” that they serve little purpose in today’s world? What, if anything, has taken their place—is drive time radio making a comeback or are online news resources and websites filling the gap? Where do you get local news? Do you think communities will suffer without the fourth estate’s role as a watchdog?

 

Photo: pinterest.com

 

Service of Greed: Will it Get You One or Another Way?

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Photo: linkedin.com

Martin Shkreli is on trial for federal securities fraud, but regardless of how the judge instructs the jury to forget his arrogance in another high profile example of greed, it may nevertheless impact his destiny. Well over 100 potential jurors were already excused because they had nasty things to say about the man.

Photo: drugs.com

I previously wrote about Shkreli in “Service of Side Effects of Drug Prices.” He earned the rights to a life-saving drug, Daraprim, that for decades saved lives of those with a potentially fatal parasitic infection, when he bought a drug company, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG. He raised the price of a pill to $750 from $13.50 because, as Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Davis O’Brien quoted him, “he had an obligation to ‘maximize our profit.’”

Let the jury decide his fate.

Speaking of drugs and greed, the EpiPen price-gouging saga comes close, but there’s hope. Read on.

Photo: capitalwired.com

Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, led the charge on the price of the emergency allergy medicine from $94 for a pair when her company purchased the product, to $700, for those without insurance, or $630 with. Further, the pens need to be replaced every year. Under pressure, the company subsequently introduced a generic version that cost $225-$425 wrote Linda A. Johnson, ABC News.

“Analysts and others have estimated that it costs less than $20 to produce a pair of EpiPens,” she reported.

This was background to the real focus of Johnson’s news: The FDA “approved Adamis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s product, which should go on sale later this year. Symjepi is a syringe prefilled with the hormone epinephrine, which helps stop life-threatening allergic reactions from insect stings and bites, foods such as nuts and eggs, or certain medications.”

She continued: “Adamis spokesman Mark Flather said Symjepi is intended to be a “low-cost alternative” to EpiPen and similar products, and the company is aiming to sell it for less than generic EpiPens.” Claims about Symjepi range from being easier to use than EpiPen and because the syringe is smaller, it fits more easily in pockets and handbags.

Here’s hoping Symjepi [what a name] will represent healthy competition to EpiPen, serving to adjust the prices of all antidotes to severe allergies. “Adamis said it is still lining up a distributor so it hasn’t set the exact price for its product, which will be sold in pairs like EpiPen,” wrote Johnson.

I believe in profits but really.

  • How can a manufacturer of life-saving medicines gouge to such an extent and sleep at night?
  • How can investors stand silent?
  • Is this approach standard practice with pharmaceuticals?
  • Are there any benevolent CEOs?
  • Are these manufacturers encouraged by the climate in which 217 House members and at least 43 Senators don’t blink at tossing 22 million off health insurance while lowering taxes for the wealthy?
  • And last, public pressure has put an end to careers of corporate and religious sexual abusers and loudmouth public figures who use inappropriate language. Will it impact flagrant examples of corporate greed?

Photo: addictedtocostco.com

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