Category Archives: Fairness

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A Car Dealership Dealing With Coronavirus

Businesses have to worry about attracting customers during a lengthy period during which they will be competing with Coronavirus for their attention. But you’d think a car dealership would have fewer concerns than other businesses, given the essential nature of personal transportation.

That’s not so, however, with our car dealership and service center, Keller Brothers Ford outside Lebanon, Pa. We received an unexpected email from Dan Keller addressed to “Dear Customers and Friends”. They’re clearly not counting on the essential nature of their customers’ automobiles to maintain business relationships with them.

“Like so many of you,” the email begins, “we have spent the last several days and week learning about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it is impacting us. For Keller Bros. Auto, that means understanding how it affects our employees, customers, and community and then making the necessary adjustments to our store and daily operations.”

Those adjustments include, the email enumerates, “ramping up cleaning services at our stores” and adding hand sanitizer throughout the dealership, “disinfecting all hard surfaces, and all vehicles (whether they are on our lot, or customer vehicles in for service). Our employees have been instructed to stay home if they have presented any symptoms or been in contact with anybody who has been sick.  They have also been prompted to report if either of these has occurred… We will do all that we can to make your visit a safe and clean experience.

“A wonderful passage from which to draw comfort is Psalm 91, where the psalmist specifically discusses how to get through times of fear and illness and hos to navigate these times without worry. “My wife Suzy and I have been reading that passage every night before we go to sleep. These are unsettling times, but we WILL get through it together…”

This from a car dealership that faces business pressures, yes, but is clearly concerned about its customers’ health and welfare. Bless ’em.

Spreading Fairness on the Web

 

Somebody, two guys, actually, has taken the trouble to explore the fairness terrain in a way it can be explained to young people so that it will stay with them as they mature.

David Elkind and Freddy Sweet, of Live Wire Media/Elkind+Sweet Communications, Inc., created a  website, GoodCharacter.com, that includes “lesson plans, activities, programs and resources” on the nature of fairness so it can be grasped by K-12 youngsters in a most engaging way. The site is intended for  “teachers, administrators, custodians, or school bus drivers” – all those “helping to shape the character of the kids you come in contact with”. They might, of course, add parents.

A little more intense attention to the nature and necessity of fairness in daily living – fairness and the awareness thereof – would be a very good thing. Maybe in a generation or so we wouldn’t have so much insulting going on in public life, chiefly in politics.

Practicing fairness builds character and, as GoodCharacter.com notes, “The payoff for having good character is that it makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.”

How often do you hear a salutary message like that these days? David Elkind and Freddy Sweet are to be congratulated for spreading it web-wide!

Who’s Upholding Fair U.S. Elections?

Well, it appears to be happening. After the Super Tuesday balloting, and now Mike Bloomberg’s withdrawal from the race,  Joe Biden has reached a standoff with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential competition. And President Trump’s forces have been anticipating Biden’s electoral strength all along – hence the Ukraine controversy over Biden’s son, Hunter.

Also, thanks to the Russians, the integrity of the  U.S. electoral process, in general, has been under cyber assault.  Has an elemental American procedure  – free and fair voting – ever been under such stress? Not likely.

It would be heartening, indeed, to see a more forthright defense of the U.S. presidential election process occurring. But it hasn’t emerged as yet.

“Prior to resigning as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security,” advises material on Wikipedia, “Kirstjen Nielsen attempted to organize a meeting of the U.S. Cabinet to discuss how to address potential foreign interference in the 2020 elections. Mike Mulvaney, the White House Chief of Staff, reportedly warned her to keep the subject away from Trump, who views the discussion as questioning the legitimacy of his victory in 2016.”

And, “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has blocked various bills intended to improve election security from being considered, including some measures that have had bipartisan support.”

So the status of American electoral integrity is uneasy indeed. Leaders of the country, regardless of their party membership, need to ensure that a fundamentally fair vote occurs. So far, we don’t hear enough such concerns being expressed.

Downplaying the Corona Virus

The presumptive President of the United States, Donald Trump, says the Democrats are “politicizing” the coronavirus, that it’s “their new hoax” – that’s what he was saying at a rally yesterday in South Carolina. Of course, Trump isn’t our “presumptive” president at all, he’s for real in the role – and that could mean woe is us.

The President, of course, has placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating the federal response to the virus threat. From Trump’s tone yesterday, Pence shouldn’t have much to do, and we know that’s not the case at all.  The first death from the virus has just been reported in Washington State, And the virus appears to be spreading up and down the West Coast and heading inland.

Scoffing can be taken too far. Defenders of the President say he didn’t call the virus itself a hoax.  But if there were ever a time for choosing one’s words carefully, this is it and Trump spoke rather spitefully.

There are times when Trump’s handling of his nation-leading job seems as much prompted by whimsy as reality, and this is one of them.  We should be expecting more of the President – caution in the face of a health hazard that threatens us all. Yet the corona virus is “the Democrats’ new hoax”. We couldn’t let that one pass by. That wouldn’t be fair to a nation whose apprehension is growing  over the prospect of the virus spreading from coast to coast.

Let’s hope it doesn’t, but let’s not downplay the possibility either.

One Company’s Stalwart Ministry

Nehemiah has a Biblical ring to it, yet the Nehemiah Manufacturing Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, doesn’t produce Bibles but a variety of household products, along with second chances for many of its workers.  The Wall Street Journal introduced many of us to Nehemiah recently under the headline “The Company of Second Chances”.

Another way of putting it is that, along with Downy and Febreze, Nehemiah deals in fairness. Workers with criminal records “make up around 80% of the company’s 180 employees,” the Journal reported. The staff includes a social-service worker “to helo employes with anything from finding housing to staying clean.”

How many companies have employees who have issues that may bear on their job performance but keep them to themselves? Probably a lot, but do they minister to them? Not very likely.

“Nehemiah’s hiring process typically includes q session with a member of the social service team who scrutinizes applicants’ histories and current support systems,” The Journal reports. “Applicants also sign a release that allows the team to contact the agencies that provide them with housing, drug treatment or other support.”

If this sounds like meddling in a job applicant’s life, it’s intended to bolster their prospects for holding a job and staying straight along the way. This caring approach my be catching on The Journal notes in a sidebar story on Nehemiam that “has tried to help other Cincinnati companies open their workforces to those with criminal pasts,” a role it had until this fall “when Nehemia handed the job to Cincinnati Works, a nonprofit.”

A relational approach to hiring and supervising employees isn’t only fair but is in everyone’s interest and should be standard among enlightened managements. It increases everyone’s chances of succeeding in trying times.

At a previous job, one employee “was escorted off the premises by armed guards after the company determined he had lied about his past.” On his first day at Nehemia, the company’s chief executive shook his hand.

If It’s In The New Yorker, It Must Be So (Or At Least Well-Written)

 

I’ve been a subscriber to The New Yorker magazine for 20 years or more. Earlier, my dad used to tell me about New Yorker writers he met as a bank manager on Times Square  (when The New Yorker was located there) and who sent their best wishes to me when I left home for college.

The New Yorker features simply great writing on a host of interesting subjects. In the current issue, the two pieces I’ve read so far are about the reenactment of Underground Railroad trips from the era of slavery and a discussion of whether Jeanne Calment really was the oldest person who ever lived when she died in France, at 122, in 1997.

The New Yorker is approaching its own centennial, having been founded by Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, a New York Times reporter, on February 21, 1925. “Ross,” advises Wikipedia, “famously declared in a 1925 prospectus for the magazine: ‘It has announced that it is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.'” It is, however, edited meticulously.

“Shortly after the end of World War II, John Hersey‘s essay Hiroshima filled an entire issue.” There was this editors’ note: ” “TO OUR READERS. The New Yorker this week devotes its entire editorial space to an article on the almost complete obliteration of a city by one atomic bomb, and what happened to the people of that city. It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible destructive power of this weapon, and that everyone might well take time to consider the terrible implications of its use. The Editors.”

Yes, for scrupulous, occasionally historically conscious writing and editing, there’s no better place to turn than The New Yorker. It’s “host” is Eustace Tilley, the name given to the “19th century boulevardier languidly inspecting a passing butterfly through his monocle” who graced the cover of the first issue.