Random Political Thoughts

Only shoes.

Thomas J Bata was The Boss when I was there. He ran the Bata Shoe Organization from the late 1930s until his death. He was one of the most interesting industrialists of the 20th century and an early proponent of social capitalism.

Some folks may find his obit of interest.

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/03/business/worldbusiness/03bata.html?unlocked_article_code=1.3U0.Vv2y.F3_qw-X6lTCK&smid=url-share

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What was the “business interest” in Colombia? Buying leather or what?

Cuz, after the danger is clear and present, there had better be a good fucking reason to send employees there on business.

Actual picture of Cooke:

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Mr Bata viewed political risk as just one more cost of doing business in many countries.

The Bata Shoe empire was largely created in the 1930’s and countries that were stable then did not always stay that way. Mr Bata’s business philosophy (social capitalism) was to go into a country, create local employment and stay there through good times and bad times. The only times he pulled out of a country was when there was no choice: for example, the local company was nationalized (eg former Soviet Bloc countries) or the local war got too intense (eg Vietnam). That happened fairly often but he would return to the country once conditions made that possible. These interruptions were just a cost of doing business in the country. It was his money and he had a long term perspective. Actually the money probably was not the primary driving factor as he was easily a billionaire by the 1950’s and did not seem to be obsessed by his personal wealth. He was driven more by his father’s goal to be the “Shoemaker to the World”.

I personally heeded the cautions that our risk assessment firm provided us with respect to the dangers in the countries that I might visit. I never went to the “red” countries (where there was an active war going on) and all our executives had access to that intelligence. However it was a bit of a macho company and some executives voluntarily took what I thought were unnecessary risks. But we had K&R insurance, etc.!

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Glad you got out. Your life might have been simply a cost of doing business.

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Thanks. But you know I would not have traded those 9 years at Bata for any other job. I learned so much that I was subsequently able to use as an international consultant. Bata continued as a client after I left there so I continued to have some interaction with the Bata family for many years and did some subsequent fun travel on their dime.

One of the things that Mr Bata used to ask me for fun once a year, since he knew I was an actuary, was how many years did I think he had to live? I was smart enough to use conservative pension mortality tables and factored in that he was rich and robust to provide his life expectancy. I advised the usual caveats about how life expectancies were estimated. He always loved the number as it showed him living into his 90s! However my successor was not as politically savvy and started providing shorter relative life expectancies to Mr Bata after I left. After this successor left, I briefly filled in on my old job at the Bata HO until a new person was hired. Mr Bata wandered into my office one morning and asked me to update his life expectancy for old times’ sake. I looked into the notes on the subject by the former job holder and saw he had not been using a very optimistic estimate. I came up with a number several years longer than his last estimate. I advised Mr Bata and he beamed and said “I always thought you did a better job than that other guy”!

My estimate turned out to be shockingly accurate as he lived to be 93, which is what I last estimated when he was about 80.

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Encouraging election results in Iran although there is only so much their President can do.

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Is Newsmax hurting? They’re running ads on the local sports radio station encouraging people to buy Newsmax stock.

That’s like when you see adverts about buying gold. What do they know that I don’t…

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It’s time to revive the mugwumps.