Dear Ethix – Issue 65

In your column “Blackouts in the Economy?” you mentioned the work of Dr. Anjan Bose of WSU on modeling of electrical power systems. Another WSU professor, Dr. Andrew Ford of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has collaborated with Bose on power-grid modeling and also teaches classes in system dynamics targeted at modeling the environment. I second your suggestion that we should be exploring ways of applying an interdisciplinary approach of using existing modeling expertise in diverse fields to better understand the biggest problem our country and the entire world faces — how to make the best adjustments to our economic structures to create a sustainable global economy.

Bob Catherman
Woodinville, Wash.

I liked your discussion relating power grids to the economy. I wonder if you were aware that others have drawn this analogy? Paul Erdman is a trained economist who wrote financial novels, and in 1986 he wrote The Panic of ‘89. In his novel, he described how major blackouts occurred accidentally and raised the question of what could happen if someone attacked our banking system through the computers that handle trillions of dollars of transactions leading to deliberate, catastrophic banking “blackouts.” Just a novel from more than 20 years ago, but he raised a similar question to yours.

Rick Lindstrom
Dana Point, Calif.

Editor’s Note: I was unfamiliar with the novel, but it shows once again that many ideas are rooted in something others have raised. Thanks for the pointer.

Best Business Ethics Blogs

We just posted an article, “50 Best Business Ethics Blogs”. I thought I’d bring it to your attention in case you think your readers would find it interesting.

I am happy to let you know that your site has been included in this list.

Suzane Smith
The Online MBA Guide

Editor’s Note: The list includes six ethics magazines, and Ethix is one of the six.

Dealing With Tough Economic Times

You recently raised the question of self-centered leadership behavior. I would like to add a note that human nature tends to lead us in the direction of our own interests, though we may vehemently deny the possibility. On closer examination, we often find our deeply held beliefs and core values are being brought into question. We realize that we are living contradictions.

I recently found myself moving down the same path asking myself the hard questions about our company and personal survival. Like so many others in my position, I felt pressured into making uncomfortable choices. Reality dictated the necessity of the choices, and yet deep within something told me that following the trend wouldn’t necessarily yield fruitful outcomes. That’s when the thought hit me: “Don’t retreat, advance.”

I heard the inner voice say, “You have been investing in the marginalized (we are a nonprofit) for over a decade, now is the time to invest in unemployed professionals and small businesses.” Well, that was a change of paradigm!

Investing at a time like this didn’t seem possible. But we are now developing seminars titled “New Thinking, New Actions for a New Economy.” This will benefit small-business owners experiencing declining revenues and unemployed professionals to help them design new jobs, contracts, revenue streams, etc. It will also help with branding/marketing and connecting for success.

In times like these, leadership needs to lead. Let’s encourage one another to join hands in partnership so that we can continue to turn even the toughest challenges into life-defining moments by continuing to invest in others.

Gabriella Van Breda
World Impact Network
Bellevue, Wash.