Ford Hall Forum opens fall season

By Steve Babcock

The Ford Hall Forum kicked off the fall lecture series with its first lecture titled “Ethically Challenged: Can Capitalism Survive its Own Excesses.” The lecture was held at the Old South Meeting House in downtown Boston on Thursday, Sept. 26.

Emmy award winner and PBS Newshour economics correspondent, Paul Solman, was the forum’s guest speaker .

Solman discussed how serious offenses, such as the recent corporate business scandals, can often be taken lightly in the right context.

Solman introduced the topic by showing one of his clips on the Enron scandal.

The idea of taking the business world a little lighter than it seemingly takes itself prevailed throughout the rest of the evening. Solman described the exploits of TYCO CEO Dennis Kozlowski, who used company funds for his wife’s birthday party. The audience of forty-five exploded with laughter at the comical details of the story. Amid all the laughter there remained a point.

“Can you believe these guys?” asked Solman, “All I’m going to argue is that simple economics is all you need to explain the recent scandals.”

Solman used quotes from Karl Marx and the Gospel of Matthew to further explain the economic and ethical issues that have faced the institution of capitalism since the rash of scandals have broken.

“The higher the bar is raised, the more money there is to be made, the more unethical practices will take place,” Solman said.

“How many think the current situation will improve in the long run?” he asked.

As for Solman, he stands by his prediction, but is skeptical of how much of a crackdown there will be by the government.

“I just don’t know,” he said.

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