Thursday, August 5, 2010

Officers and Men

Beach front property is a scarce commodity anywhere but in Crimea it is gold.  When the girls were here in June we went to Yalta and the beaches were not good at all along the most famous beachfront of Crimea.  We heard on the news about a one mile stretch of good beach front that belonged to a village  near Evpatoria on the west side of Crimea.  A group of businessmen wanted to build a string of resort hotels along the mile and wanted the beach front declared private property belonging to their resorts.

The head of the village council refused to sign it away, saying the beach belonged to the village and he could not take it from them and force them to pay to use it.  They threatened him, beat him up and put him in hospital and finally in June, they shot him dead.  Makes you wonder what kind of businessmen will commit murder in the name of profit.

The answer is not at all reassuring.  Possibly a great many of the very rich, the very very rich and the filthy rich? Or of the wannabe's.  They may not hire hit men but they are responsible for the deaths of many.

Is Don Blankenship of Massey Coal whose Upper Big Branch WV coal mine disaster killed so many men any less guilty than if he had pulled the trigger or hired it pulled?  With a history of safety violations and instructions to ignore them and move coal?

Is Tony Hayward of BP any less guilty of the deaths of the men on the Gulf of Mexico oil rig that exploded and created the giant spill?  Of of those who died in the Texas refinery explosion?  All because safety regulations were ignored in the name of profit?

And yet. . .

Gwynne Dyer in his book WAR examines the very strict military hierarchical divisions, especially between OFFICERS and MEN.  The duty of an officer is to use up his men to achieve a stated goal.  Not to waste them, not to conserve them but to achieve the goal.

Bad officers are either too timid and achieve less than expected or throw away men's lives needlessly in pursuit of personal glory.  I'm not sure that closing a coal mine for a year and sparking an FBI investigation is a shareholder value adding sort of activity one would expect from a good officer, at the cost of 25 lives.  Nor dropping 30 billion dollars for lack of a $500 thousand investment in safety equipment and at the cost of 11 men's lives.  One thing the military are partial to is following regulations.  Regulations don't cost money, they make money.

Maybe there is a reason that Sun Tzu and Clausewitz are usually found in the business section.


  1. You nailed it here. A company I worked for some time back realized that it was cheaper to have a safety committee and change it's practices rather than pay for injured workers.

  2. Profit is its own determinant. Profit is the only reason for a corporation to exist. And in a world where legal is (literally) what you can get away with, who should be surprised by the actions of profiteers?

    So very, very sad.

  3. Do you remember when, during the Great Depression, men jumped to their deaths after the "crash"? no pun intended. Then there's the ruffians who extort "insurance" money from business owners for "protection".

    I imagine that ORD probably killed MORG because his dinosaur was larger.

    But I have noticed that we seem to be heading backwards to the caveman mentality.

    And nothing is more frightening than a "mob" mentality.

    Of course your blog is LOVED! Why do you think I come here?


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