Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Inspector Calls Essay

An Inspector Calls Essay

"An Inspector Calls" is a play created by one of the most popular English dramatists J. B. Priestley. It is set in 1912, Edwardian England, just before the war. The time was rather difficult for England; definitely, that was the reason for the author to depict that very epoch because the time Pristley lived in himself had some resemblance with 1912. While reading the book, one can see a period when there were many strikes, food shortages and great political tension.

Taking into account the fact that the play was written and published in 1945, just after the World War II, we can mention that the country was also in disarray. Priestley tries to show the difference between these two epochs very effectively. Depicting people on their way to socialism, the author shows attempt to rebuild the society.

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Priestley reveals it in a very bright way using two types of characters, vivid conflict of generations and desperate efforts of the Birlings to keep image of kind, prosperous and responsible people. Pristley observes the classical unities of time, place and actions in his structure. The place – the Birlings’ dining-room – is constant throughout; and the action and dialogue all contribute to the central theme of the play, with nothing extraneous to distract the audience’s attention. The style of the play seems at first glance to be that of the straightforward detective thriller but Pristley is a master of different stylistic devices which keep reader’s attention up to the end of the story.

All the characters in the play are rather typical, which shows that the author tried not to depict a personality but to show the problems in society of the whole epoch using one of the upper class families and its inner and outer relations. All the characters are different but the most interesting person in the play, to my mind, is Mrs. Birling. The first outstanding thing about her is her leadership in the family. The author describes her as quite tyrannical person: “…about fifty, a rather cold woman and her husband’s social superior”. Evidently, she is more hard-faced than Mr. Burling, very snobbish, conscious of and uses social position for her private purpose.

Mrs. Birling is a chairlady of the Brumiley women’s charity organization. Taking into consideration her features of character it sounds rather ironically. So, let’s find out the reasons why it is so, why Sybil can’t hold such post. First of all, charity organization is created for poor or destitute people who need help, material as well as moral. So there should work people who sympathize with such people, who like them and are ready to help them whenever they need it. For sure, it’s not about lady Birling. She disrespects and even hates poor people, fearlessly expressing her prejudices against working class women like Eva. Sybil accuses the girl of being immoral, dishonest and greedy. Moreover, she can be seen as a heartless person in some respects, especially in the way she receives the news about Eva Smith's suicide. She dismisses the news, not able to see how the death of a lower class person could be of any interest to, or connected to the Birlings. Sybil seems to think that such people have different feelings to her own, that they are less human than she is. She sees Eva's pleas as being evidence of 'giving herself ridiculous airs' and of 'claiming elaborate fine feelings' that are restricted to people of Sybil's own social standing.

One more reason is that Mrs. Birling seems to be completely detached from the problems of her own family. She thinks that her son is still a little child though he had already become an alcoholic, she’s ignorant at her daughter’s troubles. So how can a woman so selfish, that doesn’t care about her own family, think about lower-class people?

Sybil is rather sly woman. When inspector stars asking her questions she hides behind words such as 'truth', 'duty' and 'deserving’, she finds every his word ‘offensive’ and obviously doesn’t feel responsible for Eva’s death though actually she refused to help the girl when she had asked to. If to suppose that the chair lady would have been a kind woman there wouldn’t be any suicide. The matter is that the girl felt too miserable, she appeared in a world of cruelty and lack of understanding. Eva came to charity organization because it was her last way out. But Mrs. Birling humiliated her and it was the last straw for the girl. The woman told her that it’s the father of the child who is responsible. The reader is aware of the fact that Eric is the father of the child, but Eva couldn’t stand that she was used by a rich alcoholic.

The ending of the play makes everything clear: all the members of the family are guilty in Eva’s death. But most of the blame is on Sybil who using her influence persuaded the other members of her charitable group not to help Eva in order to avoid problems in her own family. Nonetheless Sybil Birling refuses to accept any part of the blame for Eva's death, despite her actions, which contributed to its occurrence and is so sure of her beliefs that she states she is not at all ashamed. So we can see that even in the end Sybil didn’t learn to behave in a compassionate or caring way, her attitude towards lower class became even worse. That is why we can make a conclusion that Sybil Birling couldn’t be a chair lady of Brumiley women’s charity organization and should be removed from her position.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Free Political Science Essay

Free Essay on Political Science

Interest groups get their abilities to influence the political process because in some major ways, their opinions are even greater than the process itself. One such group, the National Committee for an Effective Congress, puts it this way: “For all intents and purposes, the Democratic and Republican parties don’t exist. There are only individuals and professionals”. In many ways this is very true in the eyes of the public.

Candidacy for President, for example, used to be all about running on a stable political platform. While to a certain extent it still is about that, these days it has become a lot more about personal image and name recognition. This is exactly why interest groups have become so powerful in the political sphere.

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The public’s eyes have been averted from the politics of the candidate himself in order to focus on campaign contributions and donations to different organizations. These organizations then, with their enormous power of public relations, reciprocate by openly supporting that candidate.

Businessmen are another case. David Vogel and Leonard Silk, a political scientist and New York Times business columnist conducted research on a meeting of American businessmen in the mid 70’s. Their documentation suggested that businessmen believe that the government has completely stopped paying any attention to them and in some cases directly harassing them, resulting in a lack of motivation to invest their capital. Much of this animosity stems from the New Deal and the social programs of the 1960's. Their only outlet to make meaningful changes in politics, then, is to appeal to interest groups.

Over the years, interest groups have become something of a political substitute, as the different groups break down political issues into a more easily understood fragmentation. By paying attention to interest groups, people have a better understanding of the specific issues that those groups represent. Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of interest groups and paying attention to the information they provide, one could greatly decrease the amount of confusion notoriously generated by political debate. This is because one simply get the facts about certain political issues and are free to make up his/her own opinions regarding them.
This observation carries with it implications that certainly influences the political process. Voting, for example, is greatly affected by this because voting in an intellectually honest way, requires making an informed decision. What better way of being informed than by listening to organizations whose purpose it is to collect, analyze and interpret the data, information and statistics of their interest? Collectively speaking, society as a whole will change its political behavior based on the source of information that it gets.
The reason some interest groups today are more influential than others is because they may get the most support from its subscribers, members, contributions/external support, or sometimes even the government such as in the case of the New Deal program, which caused the government to strengthen certain interest groups.
It can be deduced then, that the US has become a beacon for interest groups. It has gotten to the point that certain countries now have interest groups influencing the US government. It is a dangerous road that America has been on for a while, one which, if it continues to traverse, might leave it in the dust. (Domhoff, 1983)
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Essay on Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary Duty: Duty of Care and Duty of Loyalty

The recent financial crisis and the economic turmoil it has brought about unveiled more than a few weaknesses of the current financial services industry. Is has shown, for instance, that some of the latter’s economic predictions and financial investments proven to be utterly wrong. But equally (and sometimes even more) severe were the accumulating evidence that the financial sector’s seemingly strict codes of conduct – which allow them to be as powerful as they are – have been breached too often and for too long.

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The backbone of the whole financial sector is trust. Individuals, institutions and countries allow the financial sector to hold, manage and invest their liquid equity because they neither a plausible alternative to the current structure of the banking system, nor they have a reason to doubt financial firm’s commitment to its clients. This commitment, known as fiduciary duty, is the subject matter of this paper, which calls for a rigorous rethinking about the concept in light of the recent financial crisis.

A discussion about fiduciary duty usually revolves around two kinds of duties, namely duty of loyalty and duty of care. The specific characteristics of each duty (in terms of the behaviors they prescribes) may vary among contexts (e.g. corporate vs. financial affairs) and/or fiduciaries (e.g. directors vs. investment bankers), but the general meanings of these two duties define fiduciaries’ responsibilities to principals in terms of:
  • Duty of loyalty: an obligation on behalf of the fiduciaries to put the principles’ interests ahead of their own and to avoid conflict of interests
  • Duty of care: the fiduciaries’ to serve principles’ best interests and to avoid acts and/or omissions that may lead to inferior results.  

Taking the case of Enron as an example, the company’s executives and clearly violated their duty of loyalty to their shareholders. In contrast, Enron’s auditors Arthur Andersen seem to have failed to meet their requirements under duty of care, as they could discover Enron executives’ fraudulent deeds but did not do so. However, the assumption regarding Arthur Andersen’s failures in the field of duty of care indicates a serious flaw in the definition of this duty.

The problem with duty of care is that except extreme cases in which fiduciaries act in an utterly irrational fashion, there is no legal way to link the disastrous effects of their actions to a breach of duty of care (Black, 2001). This is because of the fact that, simply put, “there is no general principal that will determine the existence and scope of a duty of care in all cases” (Brooks & Dunn, 2010, p. 458). By the same token, it seems that the current definition of fiduciary duties is too weak to prevent the aggressive and irresponsible behavior, which led to the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers (“Oh, brother”, 2010).

But even if the duty of care is relatively weaker than the duty of loyalty (Black, 2001), one should not be too confident about the latter duty’s premise to secure invertors’ interests. Even when firms maintain strict policies to prevent conflict of interests there is always a considerable risk of insider trading in the financial firm’s own stock and/or in assets it controls. All it takes to get there is one employee with a big mouth and a poor sense of ethics. This is especially true for workers of struggling firm, and even considering by hardcore capitalists as a natural mechanism to ensure and predict fair market prices (Bandow, 2010). In fact, the digital era allows any employee to post information with devastating implications on an anonymous blog, thereby violating his or her duties without ever being caught (Lee, 2006).

Needless to say that even a stricter set of enforcement for issues of fiduciary duty and corresponding obligations would not able to prevent opportunists from using their clean and decent image to deceive investors. The perfect example for this case is Bernard Madoff, who could not carry out his mega ponsi scheme without his (apparent) high fiduciary duty standards, as demonstrated in his career in Wall Street (Creswell & Thomas, 2009).

The evidences discussed in this paper and others leave a very little room to doubt that fiduciary duty is based too much gentlemen’s codes to be considered as strong grounds for investors. However, it is not so certain that strengthening the legal holdings of fiduciary duties can contribute to solving current weaknesses in financial markets; instead, there are good grounds to the argument that increasing the scope of fiduciary duty will result in greater complexity of management and control without reaching material improvement in stakeholders’ rights (Harman, 2010). Possible remedies should therefore stem from other components of the legal framework that surrounds our bulky financial system.  
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