Category Archives: Amens

Some obvious and potentially not obvious questions about Volkswagen

The obvious:

1) If VW “did this,” how many other companies are responsible for similar or more egregiously harmful deceits?

2) I look forward to reading more about how the discrepancy was discovered. Was there a whistleblower or whistleblowers?

3) How many people must have been aware of such a deception? The number must be substantively higher than two (programmer and supervisor).

4) How can one calculate the benefit to VW’s bottom line of these lies? What is the market value of being able to claim low emissions while still maintaining 43 mpg in a diesel automobile?

Maybe less obvious:

5) Why the sharp decline in share value in the stock market? Would investors be likely to reward a company that is willing to deceive the public for the bottom line (see 4 above)?

6) Does the tumbling stock price reveal, then, a striking irrationality in the market valuation?

7) Could VW engage in discounted selling that would earn back some of the share decline on volume alone?

8) If buyers were to flock to VW would that reveal a fundamental rationality in the purchasers’ decisions in seeking deals?

Thoughts About Ira Anes: The Union Buster Who Wasn’t. Part I

Dad was born in the Bronx in June, 1931. Here’s what he and my mom looked like at the jumping off point for their later lives – they’d worked hard, achieved success working for other people and clearly wanted more. The passport photographs were taken for their first overseas trip. My Dad was considering starting his own corrugated box business and he’d do so eighteen months later.


Dad & Mom (Louise) in early 1972. He was 40 and she was 38.

They were about to risk everything to be on their own.

A long version of the post title might have been something like My Dad Was a Former Union Buster Whose Own Employees Dissolved Their Union. The specific details of that event (and others) I’ll leave to Part II. For now though, here’s a bit of a natural history of some of my Dad’s personal attributes.

Dad was Senior Class Vice-President at Taft High School in the Bronx and voted most popular student.

2015-05-18 09.52.16

One yearbook commenter said he should “become an honest politician.” In a recent late night conversation (we were up till 11 pm!) he told Heather and me that he would never have been a politician though, and didn’t seriously consider it. The words swell and swellest were used liberally in describing him (I’m not kidding, snapping these only a few pages from each other in a yearbook with 500+ photographs with 15 per page and nothing like an exhaustive search).

20150518_094117 20150518_094107-1 20150518_094041-1 20150518_094219<a
One “new” story he recounted recently; Dad (and other friends) were thrown out of a Greenwich Village club in 1949 because he attempted to find out “who was who” among the performers in a gender-ambiguous show. Apparently Jerry Pearlberg was there and inexplicably chose to immortalize the encounter in Dad’s yearbook.

The 2nd photo from left is Jerry.

The 2nd photo from left is Jerry.

And so vanishes any gender cred I might’ve claimed by inheritance.

Dad went to City College of New York, like so many of his peers. He was a Bachelor of Business Administration student with a slow-starting career. In his 5th college term he took his first departmental class (Principles of Business Administration, Spring ’51) and earned a B. In Summer term ’51 he took his second, Personnel Management, earning a C. (se left side of transcript below).

Dad's early and middle terms  at CCNY

And of all the things Dad’s done, personnel management would be the first way he’d describe himself; not business owner, industrial engineer or union buster although those were roles in which he found himself. He reached a clear groove in personnel management, with quite good grades in related courses later in his career. The more applied the coursework the better he performed. Dad didn’t just like working with people, he liked people.

  • A –  Labor Management Relations
  • B –  Labor Problems
  • B –  Business and Industrial Psychology
  • B –  Time and Motion Study
  • A –  Personnel Training
  • A –  Management and Field Work I
  • B –  Job Analyses
  • A –  US Trade Unions
  • B –  Labor Relations
  • B –  Public Relations
  • B –  Job Evaluation
  • A –  Management Field Work II
  • A –  Personnel Management Problems

The end of Dad's college career

CCNY taught him well.