With its appointment of Mary Barra to succeed Daniel Akerson as chief executive officer, General Motors Co. brings to a half dozen the number of major U.S. corporations headed by women. Barra, who started at the company in 1980 while a student at the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), represents both continuity and change. Thirty years ago, few would have imagined that a woman would so quickly rise to head such a historically macho company, but several important factors worked in Barra’s favor.
1) The Daddy Factor: Commenting earlier this year on how attitudes had changed during her three decades at GM, Barra said, “You started to see an enlightening. And with some people, they’d even say, ‘My daughter just graduated from college and I want her to have these opportunities.’ ” My own father, who spent his career as an engineer in large industrial companies in the South, has often observed that breaking down corporate barriers was easier for women than for blacks because white male executives could see their daughters in female employees. That daddy factor seems to have helped Barra, the daughter of a GM die-maker. In fact, Akerson described announcing her promotion to CEO as “almost like watching your daughter graduate from college.”Read more »
The budget deal that Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray are almost certain to reach today or tomorrow will be a tough sell in the House of Representatives.
The leaders of the two congressional budget committees are on the verge of a handshake-agreement to set discretionary spending just above $1 trillion for the 2014 fiscal year, replacing close to half the across-the-board sequester cuts with less controversial spending reductions and revenue increases.Read more »
Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray are near a deal that makes the federal government's sequestration budget cuts a bit more bearable by tweaking spending and raising a bit more revenue. Yet they aren't planning tax hikes. Or tax reform that rolls back the code's various deductions and exemptions.
No, they're doing it with fees -- to be specific, the $2.50 you pay the federal government every time you fly. Ryan and Murray want to double that. It's a good idea, except for one thing: We shouldn't double the fee. We should increase it tenfold.Read more »
From all appearances, Singapore seems to have dealt with the nation’s first riot since 1969 with its usual efficiency. The streets of Little India -- where an Indian migrant worker was killed by a bus on Sunday night, sparking two hours of mayhem -- have been cleared of debris. The government has called for a commission to investigate the incident, and has charged 24 Indian nationals with rioting. Officials have banned the sale of alcohol in the area this weekend. Citizens have been instructed to remain calm.
Up to this point, official have resisted linking the outbreak of violence to the alienation and poor working conditions of the migrant workers who gather in Little India on Sundays — their one day off, if they're lucky. There’s nothing wrong with this logic: the several dozen rioters who attacked police and first responders on Sunday night work for different employers, all of whom may be perfectly upstanding businessmen. The rush to find deeper sociological explanations for acts of disorder -- think of the London riots in 2011 -- is often misguided.Read more »
Propaganda cannot be subtle or timid. It should be blunt and hard-hitting. And it shouldn't cost too much.
That was the message Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered yesterday by ordering the liquidation of RIA Novosti, until now Russia's premier government-owned news agency. Putin's decree stunned RIA's managers, who had not been told in advance. He also added insult to injury by appointing television presenter Dmitri Kiselyov, whose loyalty to the Kremlin notoriously eclipses his interest in facts, as head of the successor organization, called Russia Today.Read more »
Four years after Obamacare passed the House of Representatives, House Republicans are once again casting about for a "positive alternative" to a law so vile that the majority leader called it an "atrocity." Just imagine how many years it would take them to grapple with a law they merely disliked.
"You can't beat something with nothing," Republican Representative Tom Price told the Wall Street Journal. "More and more members are discussing the imperative for us to have a positive alternative."Read more »
Among the many things Fox News has to answer for is the proof it has provided that news relentlessly slanted to match an agenda works: It can bring audience, financial success and influence, the three things any media owner craves.
This is called propaganda when used by state-run organizations, and for a long time it fell out of fashion. Most serious news media, state-owned or private, figured that the attempt at objectivity and independence would more reliably create those rewards. (Before anyone snorts, yes, editorial objectivity is unattainable, but the effort to achieve it makes a big difference.)Read more »
As climate-change activists wait for the State Department's environmental analysis on the Keystone XL pipeline, it's worth considering what the movement has gained from this debate -- and what it risks losing.
For environmentalists, Keystone has been a godsend: a cause to rally the troops, a poster child for corporate indifference to the planet and a warning that environmentalists still have the political strength to delay, and maybe scuttle, the most cherished plans of the energy industry.Read more »
A certain amount of fatalism always seems to creep in whenever the government promises a new fix for something perceived to be ailing the financial system and capital markets. Back in 2002, when Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the big problem was the auditing profession, which had been exposed as an oxymoron by Enron Corp. and other corporate frauds. Today the hot topic is the banking industry and the matter of proprietary trading, the definition of which is evolving.
After Sarbanes-Oxley was adopted, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a new regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, passed a bunch of rules on everything from new audit reports on companies' internal accounting controls to new restrictions on the types of nonaudit services that firms could sell to audit clients. It would be hard to make the case today that audit quality has improved.Read more »