Is Social Security in shambles? Saturday, Apr 10 2010 

The answer to this question requires some careful examination that goes beyond the platitudes that we are supposed to take as self-evident. What we’re constantly told is that Social Security is in shambles. It’s bankrupt. The elderly on Social Security are outpacing workers who contribute to it, and we’re headed for a crisis very soon. Even King Banaian, the chairman and a professor of the economics department at SCSU, says we suffer from “cognitive dissonance”; it’s “part of the angst that grips” us, though none of us “want to hear of big changes.” Ed Morrissey from the Hot Air blog says it was foolhardy to listen to those who “assured us that Social Security was safe for decades without reform.”

The reason for this maelstrom is because, as The New York Times reports, “the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes” this year. The recession has claimed millions of jobs and, as a result, tax receipts are down. At the same time, the Baby Boomer generation is beginning to retire en masse and will be collecting their Social Security benefits. By 2016, “indefinite deficits” are expected. Naturally, we should be frightened.

Indeed, Social Security looks like it is in shambles. Save some major reforms, which may very well including privatizing the system, the entire program appears to be heading for collapse. In fact, we’re probably better off getting rid of it entirely.

That much seems like common sense. If you collect less than you handout, you’re eventually going to go broke and the system cannot continue as is. This common sense is what drives the usual iterations about how Social Security is doomed. But, as with everything claimed to be common sense and self-evident, we should force ourselves to ask if it’s true. The assumption, of course, is that you don’t question it. It’s easy to parrot what the demagogues and pundits are saying on television and blogs; it requires some effort to look a bit beyond the rhetoric and platitudes.

Is it true that a fiscal disaster is on its way? As it happens, it’s not. In fact, if we bother to compare our Social Security system to the pension systems of other highly developed nations, just as the OECD has done, we find that the United States has one of the least generous pension systems for the elderly. Yet the fiscal hawks keep pushing on us “the great deficit scare,” though prominent economist such as Robert Eisner have been telling us for a long time now how absurd their claims are. Eisner’s book is over a decade old now, but we can learn some valuable lessons from it. Moreover, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research warns that the policies deficit hawks want to push through, which are are not based on sound economics, would be much more devastating than any projected deficit.

It’s certainly true the American population is aging, and faster than the workforce is growing (or will be soon). In economics, the technical literature refers to this as the dependency ratio. It tells us the number of dependent people (children under the age of 15 and adults over the age of 65) for every 100 productive people (people aged 16 to 64). The United States does not have the largest dependency ratio—far from it, in fact. And when we actually bother to look, the dependency ratio is not currently at the highest it’s ever been (nor will it be for a long time). That was around 1965. There was a problem in the 1960s, a more significant problem than we face today, back when real GDP was almost a quarter of what it is today (i.e. when we were much poorer).

What did they do about it? Did they say the rights to a decent life in a highly developed nation simply “are not natural rights of the people,” and therefore we should just stop helping the young and the elderly find a more decent life? Actually, that’s not what they did. They increased expenditures. That’s how they dealt with the unprecedented dependency ratio, one we won’t come close to experiencing for a long time. The solution to the current “crisis” is the same. You increase expenditures to ensure disadvantaged people can still live a life that isn’t marred by poverty, sickness, and starvation—so that people’s basic needs are met. There’s a consensus in every rich and developed nation that safety nets are a society’s moral obligation. In fact, the world came together and agreed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms these rights, calling them “indispensable for [a person’s] dignity and the free development of his personality.”

When we actually look at the published literature, there is an almost unanimous agreement that there is no “crisis,” that the dangers of an aging society are being way overblown (it is argued, in fact, that an aging society is beneficial), and that the problems that do lie ahead are quite manageable (in the same way the bigger problems of the 1960s were managed). What’s pointed out is that any fiscal problem that might possibly arise is easily addressed. For example, the Social Security board of trustees report that future problems (because there isn’t one currently) could be remedied with a simple increase on the payroll tax. The estimated 75-year actuarial deficit for OASDI is just 2% of taxable payroll (so you increase it from something like 14% to 16%). The OECD also came out with a major report on easy solutions for any possible future problem that might occur with the pension system, none of which included abandoning the pension system. One reason is because it’s recognized that there is a moral obligation on our part and that there is in fact something that separates us from primitive animals that might simply “let nature take its course” (one of the more repugnant euphemisms I’ve heard).

So the solution, then, is quite simple. We don’t need to get rid of Social Security. Nor is there a need for “big changes” or major reform.

A comment on the recent Supreme Court decision Saturday, Jan 23 2010 

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations (and labor unions) can spend unlimited amounts of their money on elections. Essentially, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can run campaigns. Many have lauded the decision as a great defense of First Amendment rights.

Is it? “Freedom is awaking from its coma today,” declares conservative Rush Limbaugh. Dr. Spagnoli, writing on his blog, states, “there’s no reason to deny corporations [free speech].” This is because “free speech [is a human right],” he says. I agree with Dr. Spagnoli, free speech is a human right. But are corporations humans?

As it happens, corporations are not people. They are social constructs, entities created to carry out specific functions. However, as I discussed in a earlier blog post, Are corporations individuals?, corporations slowly became considered “persons” through a series of judicial rulings. There is no law that says corporations are humans. It’s not anywhere in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed after the Civil War to give rights to people, specifically the newly freed slaves. It declared, “No State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It affirmed the rights of people. It was there to protect blacks from the evils they had endured under the brutal regime of slavery that had oppressed them for centuries.

Well, corporate lawyers were very savvy, and they began to say, “look, corporations are persons.” Corporations deserve the protection that was meant for freed slaves. In fact, when you look at the history of it, it’s very perverse. According to work done by Doug Hammerstrom, of the 150 cases involving the Fourteenth Amendment heard by the Supreme Court up to Plessy v. Ferguson, only 15 involved blacks. The other 135 were brought by corporations. This is the exact opposite of what we would expect to happen. However, through a series of activist decisions by judges, which has no basis in law, corporations gained personhood. Richard Grossman proclaims, “600,000 people were killed to get rights for people, and then with strokes of the pen over the next 30 years, judges applied those rights to capital and property, while stripping them from people.”

So now they can say corporations deserve the rights of flesh-and-blood persons, like the right to free speech; the ability to sue others; the right to “life, liberty, or property”; the right to own other businesses; the right to run campaigns; and so on. But there’s nothing inherent to a corporation that says its a person and deserves the rights of flesh-and-blood people. That’s only come about through very perverse judicial activism (e.g. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad). Moreover, there’s nothing in economic theory that says corporations ought to be treated as persons. That corporations should run campaigns has got nothing to do with capitalism. There’s nothing about efficiency that says corporations should be allowed to do this. In a free and competitive market, it wouldn’t happen.

Anyone who argues that corporations should be treated as persons and have the same rights would also have to accept that corporations should also then be allowed to run for office, hold office, to vote in elections, and so on. But no one agrees with that and for obvious reasons. Moreover, Dr. Spagnoli does not say that only corporations should have the rights of persons. He also says, “corporations, trade unions etc.” should not be denied the right to free speech. Well, what does “etc.” constitute? If a corporation is a person, why not a sports team? Can a townhome association be considered a person under the Fourteenth Amendment? Why not?

What happened before corporations were granted the rights of persons? They were chartered by the state to carry out some function that was meant to serve the public good. They had a specific charter, their shareholders were accountable, they had limited rights, they were regulated, and so on. That they should be running campaigns was completely unfathomable, particularly to the Founding Fathers, who were vary wary of corporate power. Within this framework, corporations had moral obligations to the communities they served. With judges granting corporations personhood, however, the moral obligations we ascribe to flesh-and-blood persons was not ascribed to corporations. The moral obligations and social responsibility that corporations have, according to people like Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, is to serve their own interests. The only obligation corporations are to have is to maximize profits. These are not the same type of moral obligations we think flesh-and-blood people have. Most decent people, ignoring extreme ethical egoists, believe we ought to consider what happens to other people, that we have an obligation not to harm others, that we should not rape the environment, that we should not ignore grave injustices, that we should treat flesh-and-blood people as ends rather than means, and so on. Even those who support corporate personhood do not ascribe these moral obligations to corporations. These are very special types of “persons” indeed.

Should people have the right to free speech in a democracy? Yes. Are corporations people? No.

A crime against that which does not exist Saturday, Dec 19 2009 

Global warming is a crime against that which not exist, namely future people. Of course, it is still a crime against people who do exist in the present, e.g. the poor in Bolivia whose glacial water sources are quickly disappearing.

This is a point I just thought about in a discussion about global warming on some other forum. It’s worth mentioning that global warming (read anthropogenic climate change) is a classic example of externalities. Neoclassical economics tells us that when people (which includes corporations) don’t have to pay the price for the consequences of their actions, there is market failure. Resources are not being allocated efficiently—one reason why any claim about markets being efficient should be taken with a grain of salt. For examples, producers of pollution do not take into consideration the harmful effects of pollution—i.e. the true cost of pollution is ignored—and so pollution is overproduced (because the price does not reflect the cost). However, not only is global warming a classic example of market failure, it is the “greatest market failure” ever, in the words of Nicholas Stern:

The science tells us that GHG emissions are an externality; in other words, our emissions affect the lives of others. When people do not pay for the consequences of their actions we have market failure. This is the greatest market failure the world has seen. It is an externality that goes beyond those of ordinary congestion or pollution, although many of the same economic principles apply for its analysis.

This externality is different in 4 key ways that shape the whole policy story of a rational response. It is: global; long term; involves risks and uncertainties; and potentially involves major and irreversible change.

As it happens, there is a solution to fix the problem of when prices do not reflect true costs. The solution is to make the price reflect cost. In this case, you increase the price. That’s what some people have called the carbon tax (i.e. a Pigouvian tax). The externality goes away and resources are being allocated more efficiently. Now, we know the cost of our pollution and activity on this planet is enormous. It is several magnitudes larger than any cost associated with mitigating it, in fact. The rational human being should therefore be opting to mitigate it. The real question becomes whether or not we’re rational.

But let us think about the four key ways that Stern says global warming is distinct from other typical externalities. It’s global, long-term, risky and involves uncertainties, and is irreversible (within reasonable amounts of time, that is). What this means is that we’re condemning future populations of humans to live with the adverse effects of our actions. When we think about it for just a moment or two, we quickly realize that this is fundamentally wrong. It is morally wrong. Yet, many of these people do not even exist yet. They haven’t been born. At the same time, when they do come into existence, they will have to live in a much worse environment because of the actions we are committing in the present. It is in this sense that we are committing a crime against that which does not yet exist (namely future generations).

This is very peculiar indeed. The non-harm and non-aggression principles of libertarianism tells us not to harm other people. But it says nothing of people who do not exist (in that they have yet to exist). In a sense, I think many people in the present feel undisturbed about the effects of human activity on future generations because it’s a rather intangible idea, somewhat abstract. It’s hard to connect. If we are able to so brazenly ignore the plight of suffering Africans in the present, surely it is almost impossible for us to feel anything for generations of humans who are yet to exist. The effects of what goes on in our neighborhood, our cities, our states, or even our nation are much more immediate than that which goes on halfway around the world. So I think there is a problem of immediacy here. What happens to future generations is not immediate to us. This allows us to do what we do without even so much as batting an eyelid. Again, though, this is because we aren’t having to pay for the costs. Future generations will have to pay for it, and they will pay greatly. This is an externality. We can fix it by making the price of our actions reflect the true cost, and in this way we will also make the problems associated with our actions more immediate to us.

The profit motive Friday, Nov 20 2009 

In my global marketing strategy class the other day, instructor David Thomsen showed two pretty shocking videos in discussing public relations. One was on the Bhopal disaster of 1984. The Bhopal gas tragedy is the worst industrial disaster in human history, leaving 8,000 dead within hours of the gas leak in the Indian city, 25,000 dead since the disaster, hundreds of thousands adversely affected by the chemicals, continuing side effects on humans and other animals, and environmental damage that persists today. The “compensation” the video talks about was less than $900 per injured person. Union Carbide, the corporation responsible for the leak, denied any culpability. The Dow Chemical Company later bought them in 2001. The CEO of the company at the time, Warren Anderson, was charged with homicide and manslaughter. He left the country and fled to the United States, where he currently resides, and refuses to appear before Indian courts.

The second video was a report by Australia’s Channel 7 revealing that Nike, a corporation marred by its human rights violations and despicable working conditions in Third World countries, continued to engage in forced labor practices in sweatshops in Malaysia as late as 2008. Note this is after they claimed to have cleaned up their act.

There is a simple reason these types of actions, and others like them, occur, which is what’s called the profit motive. When profit-maximization is the creed, what happens to people is only incidental. There is a whole generation of businesspeople who have been influenced by the work of people like Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, whose principle message is that the only socially responsible (and indeed morally right) action is to maximize self-interest by way of profits. These ideas are justified by ethical egoism, a morally bankrupt and vacuous theory that says the only morally right actions are actions that maximize the acting agent’s self-interest. That’s what’s called “the moral economy.” The right, in their usual perversion of Smithian theory, always tries to defend this on economic grounds, appealing to what they refer to as “the invisible hand,” a term meant to describe the unintentional benefit to society that corporations bring about through acting in their self-interest. Adam Smith, of course, only used the term once in his The Wealth Nations and only as a “casual metaphor” for risk-adverse merchants wary of foreign exchange who inadvertently help their own countries. Smith, like many of the other great anti- and pre-capitalist Enlightenment thinkers, denounced greed and selfishness. As most serious scholars of Smith recognize, Smith never saw the “invisible hand” as a reality or “law” of markets. As Joseph Stiglitz puts it, “the reason that the invisible hand often seems invisible is that it is often not there.”

As ethical egoism posits to us, there is a certain calculus all moral agents are supposed to undertake in their actions. Namely, they are to ascertain which actions will ultimately lead to profit maximization and undertake those actions. For Union Carbide, that meant denying responsibility for the worst industrial disaster in human history and paying its victims an inconsequential and truly unjust fraction of its coffers. For Nike, that meant finding the cheapest source of labor and exploiting them in the worst kinds of ways—that is, until they’re caught. And while these might indeed be the profit-maximizing choices, surely nobody agrees they have improved the lot of all. When we ignore the rights of people and the laws that regulate acceptable behavior (as, indeed, ethical egoism asks us to do when it is profitable), the necessary result is an abject and deplorable world. The fact that the far-right advocates the abolition of regulations intended to safeguard against such massive injustices from ever happening is justified, they say, by a certain euphemism they call “market democracy” (the idea that ordinary market participants, like you or me, can shape business behavior—but you more than me, because I’m poor). The sobering reality: Dow’s revenues in 2008 totaled more than $57.5 billion, and over $16.6 billion for Nike.

So long as corporations continue to operate within the framework of this “moral economy,” justified by Friedman, Rand and others, we will continue to witness the tragedies and corruption that we hear about on an everyday basis. What is needed instead, at the most minimal level, is a better consideration for those other than the self, as advocated in theories like stakeholder theory, and better regulations and stiffer penalties to ensure “profit over people” (what Smith described to as “the vile maxim of the masters of mankind”) does not become the norm.

Does Bill Maher have a point? Saturday, Aug 1 2009 

Recently, Bill Maher has written an article for The Huffington Post decrying some aspects of capitalism. Bill Maher is a comedian, movie maker (Religulous), writer, host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher (though he’s probably better known for hosting Politically Incorrect), and a social commentator. Though he describes himself as a libertarian, some people have doubted this and have called him a liberal. I wouldn’t say I agree with everything Maher says, but there are some pertinent things I do agree with him on.

In this recent article, Maher argues, “Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn’t do for money.” He criticizes war profiteers, the prison-industrial complex, corporate media (which I’ve discussed here), and for-profit health care. Maher asks, “When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism?”

I think Maher may be more or less correct: the only obligation a corporation is supposed to have is to maximize self-interest (i.e. maximize profits). This is the argument that is made by free marketers such as Milton Friedman and is based on the moral theory of ethical egoism. They call this the moral economy, which I’ve criticized a bit on this blog. If the only obligation, moral or otherwise, that a corporation has is it to itself (i.e. shareholder profits), then we’re likely to end up with decidedly immoral business practices (which we hear about on the news on a daily basis). Now, there is nothing that says corporations must operate within this egoist context since they are socially constructed, but absent any change in this model then there is reason to worry about the corporatization of things like war, news, or medicine.

Should some things simply not be done for profit? Should corporations have some obligations to other stakeholders in addition to their shareholders? Are there some moral obligations that individuals and corporations have that take precedence over maximizing profits? These are questions that should be answered if we are to take seriously the issue of corporatism and the corporatization of particular social functions and institutions.

Republican leadership on gay marriage Saturday, May 16 2009 

Recently, Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee Chairman, stated gay marriage is bad because it might hurt small businesses. “Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.” (Note to the AP writer: that’s called a libertarian.) If this is what he calls retooling and thinks it will actually appeal to young voters, then the GOP is in for a long ride down.

His argument is that if gays can marry, then this will cost businesses through financial responsibility: “You just cost me money.” News flash for the Chairman: the business would incur the same cost for a heterosexual marriage. If incurring costs is wrong, then we should outlaw heterosexual marriages as well. Alas, Chairman Steele has still not been able to say why incurring costs for heterosexual marriages is any more morally, legally, or logically acceptable than incurring them for homosexual marriages (nor will he ever be able to). So, in fact, Steele has said nothing new and has proved nothing.

Furthermore, yes, there is a cost to allow gay marriages, just as there is a cost to allow blacks to vote. The question is not whether there are costs. The question is whether the costs are justified—if the benefits outweigh the costs. If all we ask is whether there is a cost associated with a particular action, then we are merely acting as ethical egoist, which we know is a morally bankrupt moral theory (cf. The Moral Economy). We might say a business incurs a cost when it has to update its facilities to ensure it provides for a safe work environment for it workers. The real question is, to what end are these costs being incurred?

Keep trying, Michael Steele. Keep trying.

The Moral Economy Tuesday, Apr 21 2009 

We often here the phrase, “that’s the nature of business.” What a quaint phrase. It’s almost pejorative, as it suggests there is something inherently bad and distinct going on. (I.e., it’s behavior distinct from that of human’s, and it’s also a necessary evil that we must live with.) But if we think about it for a moment, we should realize business and corporations do not have a nature. These are not natural entities. They’re social constructs. They are a product of man and his laws. If we really think something is wrong with “business as usual,” we should realize that this formulation of the corporation is just as easily changed as it was created. There should be no reason that how we think corporations ought to behave should be any different than how they actually do.

Knowing this, we should ask what moral principles and theories the corporation and the market are based on. This is not really a question we often ask ourselves, but it’s relevant if we are to understand business behavior and markets, and why they exist as they do. My hypothesis is that the classically liberal free market economy is based largely on the moral theory of ethical egoism, a morally bankrupt and vacuous theory. (Note that I do not say free markets are bad, but merely the moral principle upon which it is formulated is.) This argument assumes moral realism, which I say is open for debate. From there, we should try to figure out what the implications of this are.

The free market is a form of economic liberalism, whose principle champion throughout the 20th century was Milton Friedman, one of the most famous American economists and a Nobel laureate. An important essay written by Friedman in 1970 that outlines his beliefs in the free market is “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” (PDF), which will be the basis for this post. In it, he makes many nuanced arguments in favor of the unregulated market, wherein the corporation’s sole responsibility, moral or otherwise, is to maximize shareholder profits.

So, to understand this economic principle, it’s helpful to understand the moral principle upon which it is based, ethical egoism. This moral theory says that individuals (including corporations—see my post “Are corporations individuals?“) should act only so as to maximize self-interests. For corporations, this means act so as to maximize profits. This is in direct conflict with theories based on altruism, which suggest we should act so as to consider and help others. Many egoists—people that include the likes of Ayn Rand or Friedman—would argue that altruism is immoral. Note that this theory does not say that agents should act based on what they prefer, but only what actually maximizes self-interest, therefore it’s a consequentialist theory. In all, the ethical egoistic principle of value states that only the acting agent has intrinsic moral value; others merely have extrinsic moral value, which simply means that other people besides the acting agent are means or tools to help the agent. It’s saying the only person who counts is the agent, while other people are just tools or fodder for that agent.

Automatically we are beginning to sense some weaknesses in this moral theory, but it’s largely the basis for the classically free market economic model. There are all sorts of arguments in defense of ethical egoism (e.g. psychological egoism), which are usually very easily shot down. However, these arguments are still used to justify Friedman’s free market model. The central idea is that if corporations act so that their only obligation is to their shareholders, they’re satisfying ethical egoism and their self-interests (i.e. shareholder profits) are maximized. As one commenter named Roark noted on this blog, a corporation’s obligation should be to the shareholders within the bounds of the law. Friedman makes this argument too, but it’s not quite true. The reason is because following the law doesn’t necessarily maximize profits. So, instead, corporations are supposed to follow the law only when it maximizes profits; there’s supposed to be a cost-benefit analysis of following the law. And this is indeed what we see happen (see, in particular, the documentary called The Corporation, which I referenced and linked to in my previous post on corporate personhood). If a corporation thinks they can successfully break a law without getting caught or where the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs, they will do so. In most cases, though, staying within the law does help maximize their profits, lest they end up bankrupt like Enron. In the end, when we inspect Friedman’s arguments and those of ethical egoism, the principle is that we maximize our own profits and we use others as a means to do that, which means we do not and should not have any obligation to others except ourselves (or shareholders, in the case of corporations). One argument to support this view is that it ultimately helps everyone. This capitalist structure, it is argued, benefits society, helps poor people, grows economies, is fair to others, etc. This argument, even if true, however, is incongruent with ethical egoism, because in ethical egoism the only person with intrinsic moral value is the agent him or herself—what happens to others is irrelevant, so long as it maximizes the agent’s profits. That’s what they call the moral economy.

However, as we can easily see, ethical egoism is a completely vacuous and bankrupt moral theory. Yet, this is the theory that has been used to justify and defend the classically liberal free market economy that Friedman argues for. We find the theory is morally inconsistent (some acts can be both wrong and right, depending on whose perspective it’s from), has poor applicability (like all consequentialist theories), has poor external support (psychological egoism, for example, is very unlikely true), and has very little internal support (i.e. ethical egoism is not aligned with our intrinsic or core moral beliefs).

There’s actually a pretty good example of how little internal support there is for this theory. Let’s take a blog post by Dave Switzer, an economics professor at SCSU, as an example. He argues that price discrimination is economically justifiable when it does not hurt other groups (“Economically … I would argue that the practice would be good”), but he makes a distinction that this practice may not be morally justifiable (“When I concluded the initial post by saying that if giving group A a lower price is not causing you to give group B a higher price, then price discrimination is not a bad thing, I was talking about this in an economic context. When I said gender-based preferences are wrong in my comment, I was talking about it in a moral context.”) What may actually help maximize profits may not actually be aligned with our moral beliefs of what’s right and wrong.

Does this all mean the free market model is necessarily unjustifiable? Does it mean it’s necessarily immoral to have a free market? My answer is “no.” It means we have to come up with a better moral justification than ethical egoism. Indeed, there are plenty of moral arguments to support free markets by utilitarians or deontologists (like supporters of Kantian ethics). However, it may mean we need to slightly modify Friedman’s view of the corporation. It may not be sufficient to say the only obligation a corporation has is to its shareholders. From this idea comes stakeholder theory. This theory states that every stakeholder’s interests should be considered, including the society’s and environment’s, employee’s, shareholder’s, customer’s, etc. Indeed, we generally agree that corporations should follow laws, even if doing so doesn’t maximize their profits, because they have this obligation to society (which writes these laws). We also generally agree corporations have a duty to treat employees so as to satisfy their interests, we want product safety, don’t want corporations to dump in rivers, etc. In this case, I think we ultimately can conclude a corporation’s obligations are much broader than we generally see in the free market argument. There is a new and younger generation of businesspeople who are beginning to take into account these considerations, like stakeholder theory, where it is no longer implied that shareholder profits are the only obligation corporations have, and I think this will be reflected in future corporate decisions.