"Put balls and chains on good people, and bad things happen."
-- John Allison, chairman, BB&T bank
In yesterday’s Business Herald Fran O’Sullivan profiles Ralph Norris, who makes the point that “strong banks are absolutely critical to the strength of the economy” and there are few stronger anywhere than the the Australian-owned banks which NZ and Australia share. Allowing them to go about their business unimpeded by politicians’ inquiries and their blundering micro-management will help grow both economies, says Norris.
He points out however that the “big four” Australian banks are effectively subsidising shaky financial companies through the government’s financial sector guarantee scheme. Faced with this and other threatened meddling, “some of the Australian banks have seriously considered whether they should continue in this market - there are opportunities elsewhere," he says.
Bravo. That’s almost a call to shrug right there.
There a few enough bankers in the world standing up for honest banking. Another such is the chairman and former CEO of North Carolina’s still-thriving BB&T bank, John Allison, profiled in the New York Times this week, a man who is not just a banker but also an Objectivist as well – and not just an Objectivist, but an Objectivist businessman who insists that following Objectivist philosophy, a philosophy based unflinchingly on reason, gives businesses that do so a competitive advantage. In other words, it’s good for your bottom line:
BB&T, he says, has a proven formula for success that centers on “an uncompromising commitment to reason.”
Under Mr. Allison, new executives were handed a copy of “Atlas Shrugged.” All employees get a 30-page pamphlet describing BB&T’s philosophy and values: reason, independent thinking and decisions based on facts.
“Wishing something is so does not make it so,” Mr. Allison says. “I guarantee that long before the rest of us knew, those geniuses at Lehman Brothers knew that something was wrong, but they evaded it.”
It’s worth reading this New York Times profile in full, because his lessons go far beyond banking. Read “Give BB&T Liberty, but Not a Bailout.”
And note, as you’re reading, the snarling hostility of the subjectivist philosophy professors quoted in the article to the idea that good philosophy might lead to success in the real world. “The reason why Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is not for [the subjectivist philosophy professors],” points out Objectivist philosopher Craig Biddle, “is that it is for those who are willing to think for themselves rather than follow the herd, and who are not embarrassed by clear, straightforward arguments.”
You can see the problem with such a philosophy for the soft-shelled shysters of academia, can’t you - and also its hard-edged appeal for honest entrepreneurs.RELATED: Read the title essay of Why Businessman Need Philoslophy.