Philosophy for Business

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Launched on 2 November 2003, Philosophy for Business is an e-journal published by the International Society for Philosophers, looking at philosophical and ethical aspects of business practice.

We are aiming for a wide circulation to companies and corporations around the world, as well as academic philosophers.

In order to gain the widest possible readership, articles should be written in simple, non-technical language. The target length is 2500 words.

Some themes that we will be looking at:

   Globalization and monopoly
   Is business ethics possible?
   Philosophy of economics
   Practical ethics
   Idea of a code of conduct
   Freedom of speech
   Industrial democracy
   Whistle blowing
   Ecology and sustainability
   Education and health
   Business and the law
   Tax avoidance and evasion



Please send articles for Philosophy for Business to one of the Editors (see below) or to the List Manager Geoffrey Klempner at klempner@fastmail.net.

If you would like to receive Philosophy for Business, or unsubscribe, please go to https://lists.shef.ac.uk/sympa/
info/businesspathways
.

Philosophy for Business is published by the International Society for Philosophers.

The journal is distributed by email via the University of Sheffield list server.

The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect those of the Editors or List Manager. If you have any suggestions, comments or criticisms, or if you would like to be an Editor, please write to the List Manager at klempner@fastmail.net.

Philosophy for Business is an open access journal, as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

In accordance with UK Law (April 2013) all content is archived by the British Library and is available within the reading rooms of all Legal Deposit Libraries.



LIST MANAGER

Geoffrey Klempner

klempner@fastmail.net




EDITORS

Tom C. Veblen
SuperBizRT@aol.com

Marco Senatore
marco.senatore@tesoro.it

Peter S Borkowski
p.borkowski@aui.ma

Dena Hurst
dena.hurst@appa.edu

Sean Jasso
sean.jasso@pepperdine.edu





International Society for Philosophers
[back to archive]

P H I L O S O P H Y   F O R   B U S I N E S S           ISSN 2043-0736
http://www.isfp.co.uk/businesspathways/

Issue number 78
5th May 2015

CONTENTS

I. 'Seeing Philosophy in Business Writing: a Response' by Julio
Graham, MBA

II. 'Media Today' by Pencka Gancheva

III. 'A Dynamic Re-Conception of an Integrative Teaching-Learning
Process' by Renato Dela Pena, Jr

IV. 'Wisdom -- In Reach... But Hard to Grasp' by Michael Levy

V. 'Short Story' by Geoffrey Klempner

-=-

EDITOR'S NOTE

Julio Graham responds to some of the questions put to readers in
'Seeing philosophy in teaching business writing' (P4B, 76). His
responses also relate to certain points in Dr Geoffrey Klempner's
article 'Truth in the business arena' (P4B, 77). Pencka Gancheva
observes the changing assumptions occurring in mainstream media
concerning their purpose as a social institution. She proposes
Plato's three ideals as the proper end of media: the Good, the True,
and the Beautiful. This is an excellent prompt for our readers to
develop for the next issue. Would such standards require enforcement?
Or could it be instituted socially in the manner that the Hippocratic
oath has worked in the field of medicine? The True, yes. The Good,
perhaps. The Beautiful? Plato did put forward a prescriptive
aesthetics; how could we? Renato Dela Pena provides a preliminary
sketch of a pedagogical model or rubric that could be applied in
various professional contexts as well as educational. Its application
is also a good basis for submissions to upcoming issues of P4B.
Michael Levy offers a speculative piece on the distinction between
cleverness and wisdom. As he notes, there is no consensus on any
definition of 'wisdom' in the scientific literature (a difficulty
perhaps similar to defining terms like 'light'), but an
acknowledgement of wisdom's place in social policy and education
should provoke us to take the word more seriously. Geoffrey Klempner
has allowed P4B to reprint one of his previous stories -- and I ask
those of you in the world of commerce and consumption, 'What is money
really?'

(c) Peter Borkowski 2015

Email: P.Borkowski@aui.ma

-=-

I. 'SEEING PHILOSOPHY IN BUSINESS WRITING': A RESPONSE BY JULIO
GRAHAM, MBA

I am responding to the article 'Seeing philosophy in business
writing' (Issue 76) from a practitioner's perspective. I have a
Masters in Business Administration and have considered pursuing a PhD
that explores some of the very topics touched on here. I find that
often the philosophy practised is very different from the
philosophical 'place' or 'paradigm' that the practitioner claims to
be rooted in. I personally have problems with paradigms and often
find myself having to deal with the paradox of conflicting
philosophical underpinnings. So it is with this context that I
consider the questions put to readers.

'Does this amount to a an imposition of a proper and improper way of
doing and speaking commerce, and as a corollary a way of seeing
others through prescribed forms and media of communication?'

I am a firm believer in Wittgenstein's view that the world we live in
are the words we speak. As such, all communication frames and creates
the world that we experience. I think your point about the text books
conveying a particular cultural bias is very valid. The issue with
this bias is not so much the cultural affliction but rather the fact
that it can be in direct contradiction with the student's own ethics,
values, and philosophy. This is the conundrum that faces all of us who
wish to learn. Do we modify or own worldview to include this new bit
of information? Does this information dilute our own culture and view
of ethics? Can we adopt this change and still be true to our original
values? My answer to all the above would be 'YES -- if you want to
learn something new, this is the price you pay'. So, 'speaking
commerce' may then be in direct conflict to our own paradigm (I use
these words glibly) and it may cause some state of tension for the
individual or group experiencing this.

The answer, it appears, has always been to separate these sets of
values, ethics, morals, etc from our own reality and call it
'business'. Do we need to change this? Perhaps not. I believe the
concept of 'mindfulness' would be appropriate here. When we do
multi-cultural business transactions, we need to be aware that our
way or their way are both valid ways. How strongly we disagree with
these 'ways' will determine if we do commerce with 'them'. What I
don't think is possible is the removal of our own worldview from
business. Diversity in the business world leads to variety -- so in
Asbey's world (as often quoted by Stafford Beer), the more variety a
system has, the more states of change it can deal with in its
environment. It would seem that the survival of business as we know
it would be dependent on the differences much more than it would on
producing a 'bland' communications base.

'Can fundamental points of philosophical rationalism accommodate the
cultural diversity involved in global commerce? How can they compete
against a corporatocracy?'

I think you might be trying to solve the wrong problem here. The
problem is not 'Can we (or our philosophical standpoint) accommodate
diversity?' but rather 'How do we ensure we nurture and cherish this
diversity to make us stronger, more agile, more understanding, and
ultimately easier to trade with?' I would also want to clarify the
motives of the participants in commerce. Are they unitary, pluralist,
or coercive? This would give you some idea of what approach to take. I
think corporatocracy, as you put it, is our collective attempt at NOT
addressing our motives and diversity.

'Is it possible that a strictly rational humanism that derives
all-inclusive codes for communications and dealing with others must
rationally attempt to remove the cultural effects in which we have
distinct ethnicities and thus identities?'

I would argue that, based on your observation of corporate culture,
that it is impossible to attempt to remove cultural effects from any
form of communications or business. The sole purpose of corporate
culture is to unify disparate cultures. I still believe that the more
diverse your organisation or trade base is, the more agile and
responsive you will be as an organisation to an ever changing
environment.

'In adjusting how a person speaks, and remarking what is a good and
weak appearance, what other things am I also adjusting?'

Adjusting language is like adjusting a reality, worldview, or
cultural characteristic. This is the most powerful thing one can do.
If you manage to co-create the new language (or any mode of
representation), then you have effectively created a new culture. I
am guessing that by now I am starting to make a point for common
business language as being the basis for a business culture. It does
not need to replace the individual's own culture, it can compliment
or even contradict it. Living with paradox might be a skill we need
to acquire as multi-cultural business people.

'But will it be that they find themselves compelled to compromise
their local context to this all-yet-none global one (especially as
banks become the main negotiators of what may and may not transpire
in the open-air bazaars)?'

I think the adage 'Think global, act local', as adopted by Motorola
in the 1990s dealt with this dilemma in various ways. My last thought
is that a strong local culture will go a great deal to supporting a
corporate culture that celebrates diversity and embraces difference.
Once again, paradox management is key.

Thank you for your great magazine -- I like reading it and it's great
to see that there are still people trying to figure it all out for us.
More than ever before, the business people in the world need guidance
-- if for no other reason but to rediscover themselves.

Kind regards,

(c) Julio Graham 2015

Email: juliograham@oliveps.net

-=-

II. 'MEDIA TODAY' BY PENCKA GANCHEVA, CMGR MCMI MIMA

Educational Advisor, Arthemis Consulting Ltd

Every year in the first week of May, the world journalistic guild
reports to society about what is happening in the media; if, where,
and how many journalists are actually free to share their views;
whether they have access to information; what the most dangerous
sites for reporters are; how many journalists become victims whilst
performing their jobs. This is the time when media professionals put
the issues related to their jobs at the centre of public interest. In
fact, one source recently estimated that only about 14% of world's
population believe that there is any such thing as 'independent'
media.

Getting the creative writing in full flow, journalism consists of
everything from hard-edged investigations in war zones to basic
features writing. It might seem that the journalist has a varied life
with no two days the same: interviewing people in different
circumstances, reaching the breaking news, researching accurate
stories, and so on.

Many television media sources are interested in showing only one side
of a problem, particularly when it is about politics. Does that mean
that there might be political media used as a political propaganda?
There is great polarization on this matter. On the one hand is the
private-life sensationalism, on the other hand are reports and
interviews scripted in advance and aimed at manipulating public
choices. Here comes the older issue: the inability to be ethical and
loyal as a journalist or a reporter.

Nancy McEldowney (a director of the Foreign Service Institute of the
USA) once claimed that the media are paid to either sanitize some
people or clear out the negativity from others. Media variety must be
guaranteed, but journalists reveal that they are rarely offered
support for promoting different points of view. There is no variety
without freedom, and no freedom of speech without independence. The
unclear ownership of media sources, their concentration in oligarchic
structures related to business and politics, and the general
disobedience to basic ethical professionalism are the main reasons
for their inadequate performance. Italy is a familiar example of
media and politics bonded as an organic unity.

Corruption and political allegiance are what we witness instead of
clear and independent positions. Economic pressures, self-censorship,
threats, manipulations, fear over not losing your job, as well as the
lack of mission, professional capacity, and ethics among most
so-called mainstream journalists... More and more television and
Internet outlets are lowering their standards, demonstrating an
attitude that does not care about culture. They flirt with and pander
to the silliest sectors of society, constantly producing
pseudo-celebrities instead of accurate reporting and analysis. But
our first societal priority should be to resist this, because the
media was created and initiated to be the exact opposite of what it
has now become.

As a social institution it must be independent, working for the high
cultural and educational standards of viewers; media must be
re-oriented to promote Plato's three goals: goodness, truth, and
beauty. Goodness, or morality, exists in media to some degree, of
course, but only if we discount the corruption at the levels higher
than the reporters. When it comes to beauty, culture, and high
aesthetic levels of programming, the majority of global media do not
satisfy this requirement for obvious reasons. Television and
electronic media are far away from the noble ideal of supporting and
educating the public -- or at least creating opportunities for wider
public participation. Moreover, they compete for gratifying the lower
instincts of the public, seeking sensations, leaking private photos,
etc. All the television game shows measuring knowledge against cash
prizes, the shows producing and advertising pseudo-celebrities and
fake VIPs: all these are oriented towards the vulgar in their mission
to be presenters, and it is extremely sad to see our media decaying
and sinking in such a way.

(c) Pencka Gancheva 2015

Email: peppie@abv.bg

-=-

III. ;A DYNAMIC RE-CONCEPTION OF AN INTEGRATIVE TEACHING-LEARNING
PROCESS' BY RENATO DELA PENA, JR

In this paper, I am going to present a re-conception, or in a far
simpler manner, a re-framing of concepts concerning two prominent
issues in the science education, or of any education for that matter:
namely, teaching and learning. I will, however, start with learning
and then continue with teaching, in reverse order, because the
re-conceptualization of learning is determinative upon that of
teaching, and not the other way around.

Learning is the centre of the educative process, with the other
elements ideally complementing one another in order to achieve the
ends of education. 'The centre of any educative process in a school
is the learner. Without the learner, there would be no need for
teaching.' (Bustos and Espiritu, p. 1) Consequently, in this
humanistic conception of education, learners occupy the highest
consideration in the whole educational enterprise.

Consistent with this view, learning is, psychologically, defined as
'a relatively permanent change in the behaviour-potential that occurs
due to experience and reinforced practice' (ibid., p. 28). Learning
here is gauged in terms of the behavioural change exhibited by the
learner. Furthermore, such change must be more or less permanent to
be considered 'learning', which means that the modification in
behaviour has to be more or less of a lasting effect or impact. There
are other definitions of learning but this one is the classic
understanding.

On closer look, this definition of learning lacks 'inner dynamism';
it is conceptually limited because its focus is behaviour
modification to effect learning. Since this definition addresses the
external aspect of learning, it does not really offer much practical
guidance to teachers as they orchestrate all the necessary elements
to achieve the goals of education. How exactly would they cause this
permanent change of behaviour so that learning would be said to have
taken place? It is argued that for a conceptualization of learning to
be useful, the same should also be able to direct teaching; that is,
how to teach learners, hence this proposed dynamic
re-conceptualization of learning and teaching.

Learning here is reconceptualised as three separate states: (1)
learning as 'nouveau' learning; (2) learning as 'relearning'; and (3)
learning as 'unlearning'. Graphically, this view of learning appears
like this:

                           LEARNING

                    /          |         \

               Nouveau   Relearning  Unlearning

Learning as 'Nouveau' Learning Conceiving learning as 'nouveau'
learning simply means that the learner is in the state of learning a
totally new thing, that is, a new intellectual concept, a new
psychomotor skill, or a new value. The term nouveau also indicates
'recent' for 'having recently appeared or become fashionable'. This
second sense can also be adapted since a lot of 'new things' do
become 'fashionable' and therefore necessary to be learned.

Learning as 'Relearning' Learning as 'relearning' simply means that
one is learning again something he has learned before but has
forgotten almost completely as a result of non-use and the passage of
time. The laws of forgetting operate here.

Learning as 'Unlearning' Learning as 'unlearning' means that one is
engaged in the process of 'abandoning' something already learned
because it is an error, a misconception, obsolete or no longer
relevant. Hypothetically, this is a difficult experience because the
learner must make a decision to abandon long held beliefs or views in
favour of a new one. It is also challenging since some errors have
already fossilized.

The above reframing of the concept of learning must be met by an
equal reframing of the concept of teaching. Teaching thus maybe
conceived as (1) 'nouveau' teaching, (2) re-teaching, and (3)
'unteaching.' In graphic form, this reframed concept of teaching
looks similar to the one on learning above:

                            TEACHING

                    /          |         \

               Nouveau   Reteaching  Unteaching

A re-conception of learning would not be useful without a correlative
re-conception of teaching.

'Nouveau' Teaching When we are engaged in teaching something new,
this is 'nouveau' teaching. But this is largely our personal view. In
reality, however, if what we are teaching is something that the
learner already knows or has already learned previously, then, we are
not in nouveau teaching.

'Reteaching' In reteaching, we are teaching something that the
learners have already acquired previously. When we reteach, we
consciously plan for reteaching. However, if it is something
completely new to students, then we are not reteaching but engaged in
nouveau teaching. The concept of reteaching is not simply reviewing or
redoing, it is responsive to the phenomenon of forgetting.

Teaching as 'Unteaching' As used in this paper, 'unteaching' is a
term akin to 'undelete' in computer technology. It is also used in
the same sense that a philosopher uses the term 'ungender' as in
'ungendering philosophy' (L.D. Garcia). So in unteaching, we are
teaching with the conscious objective of undoing students' learning
since it is erroneous, obsolete, or unacceptable. Just like
unlearning, this is hypothetically a challenging attempt because the
learners have to make a decision to unlearn that which we aim to
'unteach' to them.

Now since teaching and learning are the twin processes of education,
then these re-conceptions would be incomplete without presenting
their interface. This interface is graphically shown below:

       http://www.isfp.co.uk/images/renato-dela-pena.jpg

  The Interface of the Three States of Learning and Teaching

The desired interface between learning and teaching is marked with
solid arrows, and the undesirable with dashed arrows. In these
desired interfaces, the learning process is met by the appropriate
teaching process in terms of approach, methodology, or technique. It
is theorized that this learning and teaching rubric would result in
effective instruction or educational process. If nouveau learning is
met by reteaching or unteaching, there is a misfit; if relearning is
met by nouveau teaching or unteaching, there is also a misfit, etc.
These misfits results in, or are the causes of, ineffective and
inefficient teaching and learning.

How would this dynamic re-conception of learning and teaching serve
as an applicable framework?

---

When students are in the state of nouveau learning, nouveau teaching
would be appropriate. This involves the teacher's creation of a
constructivist learning environment that is rich in terms of varied
activities to enable the students to construct their knowledge.
Students in this state of learning must be motivated and provided
with the appropriate learning-scaffold as they are learning something
new. Opportunities to practice and exercise the new learning should be
provided them by the teacher to ensure the movement of information
from the short term memory to the long term memory or to internalize
the learning process.

In the state of relearning, the teacher should conduct reteaching in
a manner that would enable the learners to recall, remember, or
recover what they have forgotten as a consequence of non-use or
passage of time. The teacher has to reactivate the learners' 'remote'
prior knowledge and in a sense resurface them for maximum relearning.

In the state of unlearning, the teacher should guide the students to
realize that they have held onto a misconception (misunderstanding,
partial understanding, or a mixture of correct with incorrect
notions). Considering that some errors have fossilized in the minds
of the students, some creativity on the part of the teacher is called
for. Unlearning and the correlative unteaching are challenging
processes.

The 'misfits' between learning and teaching can be considered as the
causes of some of the problems of instruction. For example, if the
students are in nouveau learning but the teacher is in reteaching,
students might not be able to understand the lesson since the teacher
might be assuming that the students know more than they in fact do
know. A surface approach to learning results in a failure to develop
true and meaningful understanding of the subject of the lesson.

If with respect to a particular lesson the students need to unlearn
their misconceptions, but the teacher is not sensitive to it, then no
meaningful correction of student misunderstanding could take place.
The new lesson might sink in along with the preconceived, wrong
notions of the students.

These re-conceptions of the three states of learning and teaching
need further thinking and refinement. However, it has been thought of
as a humble effort at educational theorizing.

References

Bustos, A. S. and S. C. Espiritu. Psychological, anthropological, and
sociological foundations of education. Foundations of education 1st
Rev. ed. Quezon City: Katha Publishing Co., Inc. 1996.

(c) Renato Dela Pena

Email: natzscience@yahoo.com

-=-

III. 'WISDOM -- IN REACH... BUT HARD TO GRASP' BY MICHAEL LEVY

Science has yet to define the meaning of wisdom in scientific
terminology. Perhaps researchers require some type of clever or
mathematical proof that wisdom exists? Perhaps clever humans might
not at this time be able to use their sophisticated minds to
determine the meaning of wisdom; however, we can explore the
difference between a clever mind and a mind that can embody wisdom.

A clever mind possesses the ability to learn knowledge, skills, and
logic to perform brilliantly in both good and evil. Two examples of
devilish cleverness are the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the
crimes of the Enron Corporation. Both were led by very clever minds.
Many other lesser known detrimental deeds are performed daily all
around the world by cunning and conniving cleverness that lacks any
trace of wisdom.

On the other side of the coin, two examples of cleverness are: a
conjurer who can perform amazing tricks and a person who can invent a
computer or software that can change everyday life for most people on
earth. Both clever deeds are initially performed for the benefit of
humanity; however, a conjurer only entertains, whereas the
application and use of computers can be used for evil deeds by a
clever-minded person lacking wisdom.

Wisdom holds the capacity to distinguish between authentic meaning
and erroneous meaning, which translates into the adaptability to live
joyfully in a constantly changing world, the world of flux. Wisdom
feeds purity of thought and cannot ever be used for evil intent, for
if it is attempted to be used with a person's cleverness for evil or
unsound deeds, it ceases to be wisdom. Our systems of education teach
students reading, writing, and arithmetic. It does not teach them how
to apply wisdom within their education because clever people cannot
teach wisdom... Wise people will admit they cannot teach it; however,
they can by example teach others a more meaningful way to live. In
management, as in others facets of life, a person needs to possess
certain qualities to function in a significant manner. Credibility,
dependability, gratitude, and honesty are trademarks of sound
management fed by wisdom.

Human thought-processes are complex and to be able to find the way
through the erroneous maze of conflicting opinions we need to become
aware of the thinker of the thought and who or what is programming
it...

Ten wisdom in-dicators for the thinker

 In-ception to begin in a state of blissfulness

 In-sulation to place in a protected condition shielded from the
devil/ego

 In-stallation to put in place for service, for the good of humanity

 In-itiation admission into a knowledge-zone of intelligence that
feeds authentic wisdom

 In-dwell  to live within the soul of universal insights

 In-vestment placing time in a safe appointment of love and joy

 In-definable definable only by spirit

 In-deed   to enact kindly deeds

 In-stillation to put silence slowly into the psyche of the mind

 In-sure  to live with truth rather than opinion.

Wisdom's characteristics can contain balance, insights, intuition,
experience, spirituality, logic, reason, knowledge, skills, science,
religion, prudence, judgments, ethics, morals, virtues, feelings,
sensibility. However, it is not governed, restricted, or limited by
any of them individually. It thrives on truth in intelligent minds
and many times is thwarted and isolated in oblivion by intellectually
programmed 'clever minds'.

It is said that a wise tongue knows when to speak and when to stay
silent. Unfortunately, for many clever people, their wisdom has a
silent communication overwrought by a loud knowingness of
sophisticated thought.

In essence, wisdom has no academic or literal meaning; for like
faith, people know it if they have it; and if it is genuine wisdom,
it will steer them on a path of contented, absolute bliss every
second spent on earth. People who receive wisdom in their thoughts
can guide only by the examples that they set and the credibility of
the lives they lead. By example, people with wisdom stand the test of
time. Every baby on earth is born with wisdom dancing in every cell
and molecule of its being. It can be hidden only by a clever mature
mind (ego) that has forgotten the keys to wisdom's treasures.

'Wisdom is surrounded by everyone's point of view.'

(c) Michael Levy 2015

E-mail: MIKMIKL@aol.com

Web site: http://www.pointoflife.com

-=-

V. 'SHORT STORY' BY GEOFFREY KLEMPNER

From: 'Glass house philosopher' notebook 2

http://sophist.co.uk/glasshouse/notebook2/page96.html

The young reporter from Time magazine fidgeted uncomfortably on a
large bean bag. 'Don't worry, she won't be too long now,' said the
bearded man at the reception desk with a wink. 'Would you like some
guava juice? They say it's a great aphrodisiac!'

The reporter felt his face flush. On the wall above the reception
desk was the company logo, 'IRENIC CORPORATION' in gold letters
underneath a silhouette of Rodin's Thinker.

He'd looked up the word 'Irenic' on the internet: 'Inclined or
disposed to peace; not quarrelsome or belligerent.' Well that was
reassuring.

For a moment, his thoughts dwelled on what 'she' might be like. He'd
heard the stories, of ten minute interviews which stretched to five
hours, employees suffering nervous breakdowns, the 'Recreation
Suite'. No-one knew for sure what went on there. Then there was his
predecessor, a respected staff reporter with twenty years experience
who disappeared into the blue.

'This is your lucky break!' the editor joked when he handed him the
unfinished assignment.

On the wall opposite the reception desk was a huge black and white
photograph showing a scene of industrial devastation. Under a gloomy
sky, what had once been a factory crumbled to rubble and ruin. Office
buildings with windows smashed stood roofless open to the sky. Here
and there piles of rubbish were burning, sending up plumes of thick
white smoke. In the foreground, a group of men played cards using an
oil drum as a table.

'Welcome to the desert of capitalism!'

The reporter hastily scrambled to his feet. The redoubtable Bea
Bradway stood in the doorway of her office. She looked at him
intently.

'Tell me, what do you see in that picture?'

'It looks like a bomb site.'

'The men playing cards are construction workers. When they have
finished their break they will climb back into their bulldozers and
tractors.'

'Ah!'

The penny had dropped.

'The old has to make way for the new. It's one of the laws of
business economics. There's no room for sentimentality. The business
man's only interest is in means and ends, input and output. The
factory had only been built ten years ago, but the market was
declining and the company was no longer able to make a profit. Their
most valuable asset was the land.'

The reporter started to say something, then stopped. Bea was testing
him.

'Let's not stand around here, come in.'

Bea Bradway looked better than her photographs. She was broad, square
faced, with short black hair and slate blue eyes. She smiled
mischievously.

'Mr McLellan your predecessor now works for me. Did you know?'

'I had no idea.'

'We made him an offer. Quite a talented man, as it turned out. 8th
Dan Shotokan Karate, 6th Dan Batto-Jutsu. That's samurai sword in
case you didn't know. Mac is now my personal trainer.'

Bea responded to the question forming on his lips.

'Yes, I could kill you with one blow, but don't worry I won't. Would
you care for a demonstration?'

'That would be interesting.'

Bea handed him a thick piece of board from a neat pile near her desk.
This wasn't what he'd had in mind.

'Hold it like this, no, higher. Keep your arms flexed. It won't hurt.
You must trust me, OK?'

He nodded. Before he knew what was happening, Bea let out a piercing
cry and her right fist snapped the board in two. Dumbly, he handed
her the two jagged pieces. His palms were stinging.

'All right, I lied. But it didn't hurt too much, did it?'

Bea threw her head back and laughed.

'Come on, sit down on the couch, let's not be too formal. I'm yours
for as long as it takes. Here, have a drink.'

Bea poured out two glasses of thick pink liquid.

'It's guava juice. You'll like it. Now, what do you want to know?'

The reporter fumbled with his notes.

'My first question was about the name, 'Irenic Corporation'. Rather a
strange choice for a mergers and acquisitions company.'

Bea looked at him approvingly. The lad had actually done some
research.

'Everyone knows that mergers and acquisitions is the most cut-throat
of all the areas of business activity. Hostile takeovers, asset
stripping, you name it we've done it. Hardly a peaceful activity.'

'I guess not.'

'Our mission is to get rid of all the dead wood that lies in the way
of economically productive activity. We are prepared to be as
ruthless as the next company. But we are selective about who we
target. We can afford to be, because let's face it there are so many
potential targets out there.'

'Why be selective, if profit is the only motive? Are you trying to
tell me that your motive in promoting economic activity is
altruistic?'

'We're out to make a profit, otherwise we wouldn't be here. That's
all money is for, to make more money, right? We do it because we
enjoy it. Playing the game well isn't just about winning.'

'You make money for the sake of making money. So how are you
different from any other corporation?'

'Money is a tool. Money in itself is neither good nor bad, it all
depends on what you use it for. I heard an Israeli army chaplain say
the same thing about an Uzi. 'The purity of the gun.' We give our
profits away to good causes. The difference from the old style
philanthropists like Ford and Guggenheim is that no-one here keeps
anything for themselves, not even me. Apart from our salaries of
course.'

'How exactly does that work?'

'Executives who come to work for us take up to a seventy-five per
cent drop in pay. There are no salary scales, everyone gets the same.'

'I heard something about this, but I just couldn't believe it. You
must get some other form of compensation.'

'I'll tell you a story. There was a financial controller who was
offered a lucrative contract by a UK drug company. He worked for them
for a few months before coming to us. Do you know the reason he gave?
The coffee. He told us afterwards that there were days when he would
have paid thousands for a decent double expresso. Are you getting all
this down?'

'I still don't see.'

'Just wait, I'm coming to the point. What is the value of a good cup
of coffee, if you need it? What is money, we agreed it's just a tool,
right? He absolutely needed his coffee hit. He couldn't work without
it. That's why we have someone on our staff whose sole responsibility
is keeping up the standard of the coffee. It's worth it in terms of
staff morale.'

'So you take a seventy-five per cent drop in salary, but the coffee
is great.'

'I was just giving one example. We take care of our people. I mean
really take care. The ones who come to us are those who realize the
real value of money. They are no longer fooled into equating money or
the material things that money can buy with social status. They prize
self-development above material possessions. And there's no status
higher than knowing that you occupy the moral high ground. But they
still demand to be valued for what they are and what they can do. And
loved. That's the most important of all. It's all you need. John
Lennon said that.'

'Has this by any chance got anything to do with the Recreation Suite?'

'Our offices occupy thirty of the thirty-five floors of the Irenic
Corporation building. The other five floors are devoted to making the
time our staff and executives spend here as pleasant and emotionally
satisfying as possible. We have indoor sports facilities to rival the
best private clubs, our restaurants offer cordon bleu cuisine, and
then there are the therapy rooms.'

'There was a rumour about sex therapists.'

'Yes, we have plenty of those. Nothing to be ashamed about.'

The reporter looked down. He was blushing deep red.

'Would you like to be taken on a tour? I'm sure that can be arranged.'

There was a long pause. He could hear the clock ticking. Then
somewhere far in the distance he thought he heard a muffled shriek,
followed by laughter.

'Did Mr McLellan take the tour?'

'Yes.'

The light was beginning to dawn.

'No-one ever leaves here, do they?'

'No. Of course they are free to go if they want, but no-one wants to
go. Why would they?'

Bea Bradway smiled contentedly as she said this. The cat that got the
cream. The reporter sat in stunned silence. His legs felt very heavy.
What was in that drink?'

'I really ought to get back to my office.'

With great effort he got up from the couch and began to walk
unsteadily towards the door, clutching his notes. He suddenly had a
very urgent reason to leave.

''Something is happening here but you don't know what it is. Do-oo
you Mr Jones'.'

Bea gave a fair imitation of the famous nasal twang.

'It's a Bob Dylan song. 'Ballad of a Thin Man.' Would you like me to
sing to you?'

The reporter didn't hear the question. He was running towards the
lift.

(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2006

Email: klempner@fastmail.co.uk

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