Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Joe the Plumber goes down in flames, psychopathic CEOs, more Obama ramblings, and the end of life as we know it.

with 8 comments


I came across this picture of Joe the plumber at his recent book singing in Washington. The picture says it all, I think we can safely say his fifteen minutes of fame are over. He sold five books, and the two hour event was cancelled after 55 minutes. I didn’t really know much about him, so I did a bit of research after seeing this picture. His political message is simple, and a little dated, politically he is a strong Sarah Palin fan. At this juncture, I think even the mainstream Republicans have realized that we’re a little beyond flag waving and reviving the 1950s American-dream-that-never-was as a solution to our nation’s problems. I’m not putting Joe down though, I mean he was a blue collar schmo who had a lucky shot at fame and ran with it. And he appears to be sincere, so hey, more power to him. I don’t think I’ll be buying his book though.

Speaking of doing research for the post I promised when I wrote about psychopaths, I looked into the whole psychopath as CEO thing. Oops. Turns out there is no there there. Well, there is, but not enough for an entire blog post. Basically a few years back the good Dr. Hare gave a speech where he said if he couldn’t study psychopaths in  prison, he’d study them in the boardroom. Then he went on to describe a handful of nasty CEOs, and even went to far as to say corporations were by their very nature psychopathic.  And some people in some quarters took his ideas and ran with them. Astute readers at this point are asking, where’s the beef? I.E. are we talking studies, papers, and real science here? Um, no, we are talking Dr. Hare’s opinions. And no matter how brilliant a scientist is, their opinions are just that, opinions.

So while no doubt there are some psychopaths in the boardroom, we can safely say we don’t know how much of an issue or a problem this is. For one thing psychopaths are not team players, so it’s hard to imagine them rising through the ranks. There’s also the problem of diagnosing psychopathy from afar, and the little problem of the numerous corporations and CEOs who do not exhibit anything even resembling psychopathic behaviour. In fact I suspect the general behaviour of corporations is tied more to other things, like local society and law, than on the psychological profile of their CEO. So while it might be comforting to some to think that psychopathic CEOs are the bane of our existence, as is so often the case, it’s not that simple.

I was amazed the mount of debate my last post got. Obama is going to be a controversial president, no doubt. Partly the times, partly the man. I’m already appalled by some of the stuff coming out of the republican wing. I don’t need to mention a certain drug addled hate-mongering radio entertainer by name for one. I’ve even heard people say “The economy was fine under Bush, it’s Obama that screwed it up.” Fortunately due to my great age and wisdom I had my keyboard jaw-drop protector deployed, so when I heard that my jaw bounced harmlessly off it onto the floor.

Hate to say it, but I warned people that if Obama was elected, the right was going to be able to conveniently blame the failings of the Bush administration on him. Many Americans have the attention span of a gerbil, and if you repeat “It’s all Obama’s fault” enough times, it will become true. I mean, the world is going to the dogs, he’s in the White House, who else’s fault could it be? I wouldn’t want to be in President Obama’s shoes right now. I’d love to meet him though, I’m a pretty good judge of character when it comes to men, I’d be curious to see what I thought of him.

Moving right along, yes, the world is going to the dogs. I know, I keep repeating it, but it’s important. The world’s stock markets today plunged yet once again, the US markets dropping to levels not seen since the late nineties. How low can it go? Who knows. It’s the end of the world as we know it here in America. And unfortunately in every other economy we drag down with us. I mean, the bottom line is that a huge number of the world’s problems, not just the world’s economic problems, have to do with the USA strong-arming people into doing things our way.

That however is a topic for another post. Coming soon,  scientists carefully weighing tiny things to prove God exists. (And why the LHC will never be successfully turned on.)

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s hard to imagine a better image being available to illustrate the topic, and it’s use here in no way conceivably interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit, who knows, but I got it off this sometimes misnavigated liberal but otherwise fine site: Alternet. I’m starting to announce when I post on twitter. I’m unitedcats. More on twitter later, I’m not sure why anyone would care when a celebrity was going to the bathroom, but maybe I’m missing something.)


Written by unitedcats

March 3, 2009 at 12:03 am

Posted in Business, Politics, Science

8 Responses

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  1. The stock market is not the best economic indicator. In fact, it’s one of the least reliable, unless you are tracking averages and trends. Unfortunately, people see a drop in the NASDAQ, freak out, and based on their emotions and not their brains, PULL out, and next thing you know, it’s a self-perpetuating downward spiral. What people need to be thinking right now is, “Buy low.” See, the biggest lie in economics is “this time it’s different.” It’s not. This is a huge correction to the folly that began with the Keating 5–but it is still a correction nonetheless. We’ll get through it, and before you and I kick the bucket, we’ll probably see at least two more recessions. See, we’ll get through it, but we won’t learn from it. Humans are inherently greedy creatures and this will keep happening every 20 years or so until people realize that unrestricted capitalism is not such a great thing after all.


    March 3, 2009 at 9:58 am

  2. Corporations themselves are psychopathic, they are pure profit-seeking enterprises without human emotion. Those individuals who conform themselves best to this model, who are most focused on profit über alles, are most likely to rise in the corporate world and run corporations. If you think this is all just one guy’s theory, you’re seriously not doing your homework.

    Mahakal / מהכאל

    March 3, 2009 at 10:29 am

  3. some characteristics of psychopaths fit a possible “evil” CEO/corporate profile … lack of empathy or remorse, cunning, charm, lying. However in order to be successful said psychopaths would have to overcome all the counterproductive traits associated with the disorder…irresponsibility, impulsiveness, aggression, failure to learn from past mistakes, lack of insight and direction. These traits would make it tough for a psychopath to live in a social environment day to day, let alone climb the corporate ladder, although I suppose it is possible.

    Seeking profit at any cost regardless of morals does not make one a psychopath in and of itself. More likely they are type A personalities that justify their actions as a means to an ends. Greed is a powefull emotion, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Of course their are some generally “good” CEO’s and corporations that try to be successful and responsible. I hate to make blanket statements on groups of people, that’s a great way to obtain a shortsighted, simplistic and probably inaccurate view of the world in which we live.

    Josh V.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  4. Josh, you wrote: “Seeking profit at any cost regardless of morals does not make one a psychopath in and of itself.”

    Yes, it does. It is not psychotic, which seems to be your confusion.

    Mahakal / מהכאל

    March 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm

  5. As Josh said, there are “good” CEOs who put other things above profit. To the extent they forgo profit making opportunities in the short term which would be immoral, they may not be as successful in an organization which is driven by a quarterly profits focus.

    Mahakal / מהכאל

    March 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm

  6. Mahakal

    I don’t think its mutually exclusive either way, Socratic Method(ish)…

    might an “evil” CEO psychopath seek profit at any cost regardless of morals, yes (do to the “disorder” morals wouldn’t enter into the equation, lack of empathy).
    might an “evil” CEO (non-psychopath) seek profit at any cost regardless of morals, yes (Greed and self interest may cause an individual to overlook their morals, they still feel empathy, but are comforted by their private jets and elite status).

    Therefore while an “evil” CEO who seeks profit at any cost regardless of morals may be a psychopath without empathy, or may be a non-psychopath whose empathy is outweighed by selfish factors (greed).

    you bring up an interesting point about corporations who are blinded by quarterly profits and short term gain and those that make decisions for the long term health of their company. You can have a poor quarter now and then and still be a long term successful corporation (Virgin for example).

    Josh V.

    March 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm

  7. Josh, it is pointless to argue whether someone has empathy if they disregard it for the sake of profit. The behavior is still psychopathic.

    Mahakal / מהכאל

    March 4, 2009 at 11:57 am

  8. […] a follow up to my CEOs as psychopaths post, I came across this little article: Is your favorite politician a sociopath? I wouldn’t […]

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