Kilroy Was Here
April 24, 2003
Gemstar CEO - My screw ups are worth at least $30 million
You might not know the company Gemstar, but, if you have cable TV, you know what they do. Gemstar owns TV Guide and runs all of the interactive guides on most cable boxes. So when you want to find out what on Fox next Tuesday, the program you use was written by Gemstar.
In line with my continuing chronicle on the audacious greed of CEO's, here's an excerpt from Phillip Swan's newsletter on the Cable TV Technlogy industry.
- Nearly destroyed Gemstar's relationship with the cable TV industry by trying to bully everyone in sight. (The company now has to struggle to get cable operators to use its Interactive Programming Guide.)
- Put Gemstar in financial chaos, causing the company to re-state its earnings twice in two months.
- Refused to testify about Gemstar's finances before the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has filed a contempt charge against him.
Henry Yuen, who was officially fired from Gemstar last week, stands to collect nearly $30 million in dismissal benefits. $30 million! This for a guy who:
Gemstar has frozen the $30 million severance package, pending the SEC probe. But Yuen is so shameless that he went to court to try to get the funds released. (He lost this week.)
Though I read more and more about cases like this, I am continually drop-jaw amazed.
The Ignorance of CEOs
American Airlines CEO Donald Carty seems so surprised at the response of unions to hearing that executives at AA were to receive "retention bonuses".
Just another tale of the unabashed greed among today's corporate executives. On the right hand, American Airlines has been clubbing the working men and women of AA with the threat of bankrupcy unless they make wage concessions, cut benefits, and work more for their money.
On the left hand, American funds the pensions of its top executives and offers them bonuses of twice their salary if they stay until 2005. That would mean a bonus of $1.6 million dollars for CEO Donald Carty himself. This at a time when American Airlines has lost $5.2 billion over the last two years and expects to lose another $800 million this year.
How can executives be surprised at the unions response? Well, they could only be surprised if this type of avarice were so commonplace as to become an industry standard. But that couldn't be the case, could it?
"This is a fairly standard retention package, and I think the market understands that," said Stuart Klaskin, an airline consultant with Klaskin, Kushner & Co. in Coral Gables, Fla. "The real problem was the terribly bad timing in disclosing it."
The Immorality of Incest
William Saletan asks yesterday in his Slate column, "What is wrong with incest?"
I enjoy Saletan's columns immensely for exactly this type of question. In the end, it is important to critically examine our seemingly commonsense moral assumptions. Luckily, in this case, I feel I can come up with a compelling argument against incest beyond the old chestnut of three-eyed children.
Saletan, in his article, is really only considering "brother-sister" incest. It seems that even in Saletan's openminded examinations "parent-child" incest is right out. Why would that be?
Well, the state obviously has a reason to outlaw "parent-child" incest. The legalization of "parent-child" incest could provide cover to parental abuse.
We intuitively realize that a father or mother has tremendous influence over their children, even into adulthood. Furthermore, one of the fundamental tenets of the parent-child relaitonship is the protection and nurturing of the child.
To use that influence for sexual gratification of the parent would be immoral. Also, the influence that parents have over children would make it difficult to impossible for the state to determine true consenus from coercion.
Therefore, in order to protect children from a selfish parents who would ignore or social mores, we should ban the practice of 'parent-child' incest.
Now, let us turn our attention to 'brother-sister' incest. One of the things to realize is that, much like the relationship between parent and child (or boss and subordinate), the brother-sister relationship is, in many if not most cases, a hierachical one.
Older siblings, like parents, tend to have huge influence over their younger siblings. Also, like parents (in kind if not in degree), older siblings tend to be charged with the protection and nurturing of their younger siblings.
Ergo, the older sibling-younger sibling can be taken advantage of in the same way as the parent-child relationship. In her recently published book, Brothers & Sisters (St. Martins Press, 1991), Jane Mersky Leder estimates that some "23,000 [women] per million in this country may have been victimized by a sibling" before the age of 18.
Thus, the difficulties surrounding the judgement of consensual sex among parents and children exist in the case of brother-sister relations. To prevent the abuse of the special protective relationship between an older sibling and a younger sibling, it is in the state's interest to outlaw all such acts.
To drive this point home, which would you find more immoral, case A or case B.
In case A, an adopted brother aged 21 and an adopted sister age 17, who were raised together since infants, have sex one day.
In case B, two strangers meet, have a long courtship, and have sex, and then find out later that they were actually biological siblings who were given up for adoption.
I think we'd have more of a moral problem with case A than B.
Back from Hawaii
Sorry all. I recently had a career change and was off to Hawaii for awhile. I'm back now and blogging some more.