Talk:Werner Erhard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Tax Matters[edit]

I am concerned about the accuracy of the claim that Erhard's tax fraud accusations were a sham. This seems to be based on glib statements that confuse the issues. While this article does state that Erhard successfully settled a defamation suit with the IRS: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/LEADER+OF+EST%20+MOVEMENT+WINS+$200,000+FROM+IRS.-a083966944

It does not follow that he never owed money to the IRS. For the relevant court case, see: Erhard v. C.I.R., 46 F.3d 1470 (9th Cir. 1995). The final paragraph of the case concludes:

"We are not persuaded by Erhard's argument. The amounts Erhard remitted to the IRS were withheld from payments to ICF and thus were in payment of ICF's tax, not Erhard's tax. Section 1464 provides that a refund or credit of an overpayment of tax which has actually been withheld at the source shall be made to the taxpayer from whose income the amount of such tax was in fact withheld. I.R.C. § 1464; Treas.Reg. § 1.1464-1(a); Bank of America v. Anglim, 138 F.2d 7, 8 (9th Cir.1943). Thus, the IRS may refund any overpaid amount only to ICF, the taxpayer from whose income the tax was withheld. That the IRS deemed the loans shams does not transform payments made on behalf of ICF into payments made on behalf of Erhard. Erhard withheld that money on ICF's behalf regardless of the underlying purpose of the payments"

I'm happy to open it up to comment before I modify the article to accurately reflect the fact that Erhard did evade taxes and did have to subsequently pay the money to the IRS. E-Parrhesia (talk) 21:15, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

I just noticed this comment that editor E-Parrhesia added to the talk page. I'm going to do some research into the court documents and write up a response.--Patermann18 (talk) 00:44, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
In response to editor E-Parrhesia statements, here is the result of the research done.
1. I am unaware that anyone ever claimed that Erhard “never owed any money to the IRS”. Erhard and his businesses owed and paid taxes every year.
2. Erhard did have one dispute with the IRS over taxes. The facts about that dispute are as follows:
a. Ernst & Young, a big 8 accounting firm at the time, prepared Mr. Erhard’s tax return. Mr. Erhard paid the tax that Ernst & Young said was due. The IRS disputed some of the business deductions on the tax return and said as a consequence additional tax would be due. Mr. Erhard sued the IRS in Tax Court over the IRS disputed business deductions taken by Erhard’s sole proprietorship, Werner Erhard & Associates. The Tax Court decided more than half of the disputed tax in favor of Werner Erhard & Associates, but decided some of the disputed tax in favor of the IRS. Even though the Tax Court decision substantially reduced the amount of tax the IRS had claimed as due, Mr. Erhard’s tax attorneys were convinced that Ernst & Young was correct in its preparation of the tax return and therefore appealed the Tax Court’s decision on that part of the matters the Tax Court had found in favor of the IRS. That appeal was to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
b. Mr. Erhard lost the appeal. The matter of tax withheld and paid by Erhard to the IRS quoted by the editor E-Parrhesia was the 9th Circuit Court’s rejection of Erhard’s lawyer’s argument to the 9th Circuit Court that some portion of the tax that the Tax Court found to be due had already been paid via withholding tax payments made by Werner Erhard & Associates to the IRS on interest Werner Erhard & Associates paid to its lender. The 9th Circuit Court said that those payments were not a payment of Werner Erhard & Associates’ tax liability but rather a payment of its lender’s tax liability.
c. After the Circuit Court issued its final decision Mr. Erhard paid the amount of tax that had now been finally adjudicated to be due. No tax was due until the Circuit Court’s decision was final. That is the law. Tax is not necessarily due because the IRS says that it is due. If a taxpayer has a legitimate dispute with the IRS’ interpretation of the law then the taxpayer may sue in Tax Court and all IRS collection action is stayed because the matter of the law has been given to the Court to decide. Given that a big 8 accounting firm and a prominent tax law firm, Michael I Saltzman, thought they had gotten the law right on the tax return as filed, the tax court accepted the case. Until the final Court’s decision (in this case the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) is issued, there is in fact no tax due. After the final Court’s decision is issued, then, and only then, the tax is due.
d. The whole story here is: Erhard’s sole proprietor business took business deductions on his tax return; the IRS disputed some of the business deductions; the Tax Court found most of the disputed deductions valid and some invalid; the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Tax Court’s decision; upon the final decision of the Appeals Court some additional tax was due; Erhard paid the tax.
3. There was never any tax evasion, and the IRS never claimed that there was any tax evasion. There was never any tax fraud, and the IRS never claimed that there was tax fraud. The statement in the quotation “the IRS deemed the loans shams” was the IRS’s defense during the tax court trial; it is a term of art used in the Internal Revenue Code. In fact, the Tax Court itself rejected the IRS claim for punitive tax penalties; stating that Erhard had used competent professionals to structure the transactions and those professionals testified that the structure of the transactions was their invention. Of course, there is nothing in the paragraph editor E-Parrhesia quotes that mentions “tax fraud” or “evade taxes”, or suggests that such crimes were ever committed. Tax fraud and tax evasion are a criminal matter. If this were a criminal matter the case would have been titled “U.S. v Erhard” – in other words the U.S. would have charged Mr. Erhard and taken him to criminal court. But the case is titled “Erhard v C.I.R.” (where C.I.R. stands for the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service) because Erhard took the IRS to court. There were no criminal matters involved, just disputes over business deductions.
4. Given there was no tax fraud I have changed the topic name of this discussion since it is unfair to the living person to even use that topic designation, even for discussion.
5. To inaccurately state that someone has committed a crime is defamation, and in fact “defamation per se”.
6. During the Appeal process, the IRS made false statements about Erhard and his tax matter to the media. Erhard sued the IRS for “wrongful disclosure”, this time in Federal Court. The outcome of the case was reported in the Daily News (and reprinted in The Free Library), two relevant quotations from the article follow:
a. “Between April 9 and April 15, 1991, several IRS spokesmen were widely reported as saying that Erhard owed millions of dollars in back taxes, that he was transferring assets out of the country, and that the agency was suing Erhard. The implication was that Erhard was a tax cheat who refused to pay his taxes that were lawfully due.”
b. “IRS spokesmen subsequently admitted that statements attributed to them about Erhard's supposed tax liability were false, but that they did not ask the media to correct the statements.”
c. The IRS paid Erhard $200,000, as far as I can tell, the largest settlement of a wrongful disclosure case that the IRS had ever paid to that date. By the way, one of the false statements made by the IRS was that “the agency was suing Erhard”. The IRS never sued Erhard
7. Given that the IRS made such false statements about Erhard and never asked the media to correct the false statements, it is perhaps understandable that editor E-Parrhesia was misled. --Patermann18 (talk) 22:38, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

Thank you for posting this detailed explanation of the issue of the tax dispute. Patermann18 makes it abundantly clear that the reference E-Parrhesia quotes from (Erhard v. C.I.R) is not related to a case involving tax fraud, so it would obviously not support adding anything regarding tax fraud to the article. The policy on Biographies of Living Persons WP:BLP states, “Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be explicitly attributed to a reliable, published source. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable – should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion.” In keeping with this policy, any additions to the article regarding tax fraud that are not supported by relevant high quality sources would need to be removed. MLKLewis (talk) 02:20, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Moreno clarification[edit]

The book, "Impromptu Man, J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network," was written by Jonathan D. Moreno, the son of J.L. Moreno. They are not the same person. J.L. is deceased but Jonathan D. Moreno is alive, well and is a current writer and professor. For his book, Jonathan D. interviewed Erhard and wrote a section about the est training, on page 246 Jonathan D. writes, "Over the next couple of decades the vilification of Erhard only intensified. Allegations of all sorts of personal and financial wrongdoing were hurled at him, none of which were born out and some were even publicly retracted by major media organizations." This supports my edit, stating there were "ad hominem attacks" on Erhard, therefore it is an appropriate edit. --RecoveringAddict (talk) 20:21, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

Nationality in lead sentence[edit]

Is there some reason NOT to include? --Malerooster (talk) 22:47, 25 October 2016 (UTC)

About the appropriate content of the "Critics and disputes" section:[edit]

A. Webster's Dictionary defines dispute as: "1. a disputing; argument; debate, 2. a quarrel".  As is clear in the dictionary's definition of dispute, a dispute by its very nature has two sides.  Without the other side - that is, with only one side of a dispute - what is said is nothing more than an accusation.  Hence, Sensei48's claim that the "Critics and disputes" section in the Erhard article is "not a place to mitigate that criticism" is unfounded. 

B. Many Wikipedia articles on people have a "Criticism" or "Critiques" or "Controversies" section; e.g., Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Tony Robbins.  Each of the so-named sections in the named people's articles includes rebuttals or equalizing comments.  Hence, given what is done in other people's articles in Wikipedia, Sensei48's clearly implied claim that the "Critics and disputes" section in Erhard's article is a place for only negative criticisms is unfounded.  There is balance in the approach in these other articles' Critics-like sections that must also exist in the "Critics and disputes" section of the Erhard article.

C. Given what is said in A and B just above, there needs to be a balanced approach to this section.

D. The statements from University of Pennsylvania's chaired professor of ethics, Jonathan D. Moreno (by Wikipedia's standards an irrefutable source), related to Erhard and Erhard's critics are not an attempt to dismiss the criticisms that happened. What they do is provide historical context for those criticisms. Yes, there were criticisms made, but as is made clear in Moreno's quote and the reportage of the outcomes of various unsuccessful attempts to attack and defame Erhard's character, those criticisms did not stand the test of time. If you are going to include allegations of wrongdoing by people who were critics of Erhard, in balance you must also include this completely legitimate reference that says those allegations were not born out. Anything less is misrepresentation and irresponsible. --RecoveringAddict (talk) 19:06, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

The criticism of Keynes, Friedman, and Galbraith is in the articles and in the real world directed at the validity of their theories, not at these men personally. As the correct first sentence of the stable edit suggests, criticism of Erhard (as with Robbins) is directed at motivations, honesty, and personal behavior as much as validity of the various programs. The added edit is yet another hagiographic attempt to bend this article even further into the area of almost complete uselessness: it might as well be from one of Erhard's own websites.
The fact is that nearly every point raised in this article from first paragraph to last is eminently challengeable and refutable using RS. There is virtually no aspect of his work that hasn't been called into question by responsible academics at one time or another. The "Critics" section was set up to offer a minor offset to the hagiography of the rest of the article. What the article needs - and will get when time permits - will be a thoroughly balanced, sourced view of WE from first to last, at which point the few points raised in this section can be integrated into the larger article, as happens in the analogous Tony Robbins article.
For now, however, rather than reverting, the opening material added will be placed where it belongs, if anywhere: at the end. Sensei48 (talk) 00:28, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
My title for this section was simply criticism. I can do without the "disputes" addition. Sensei48 (talk) 00:30, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

No Hagiography[edit]

1. For a Wikipedia article itself, there is a straightforward test for what Sensei48 labels hagiography. In the “Manual of Style/Words to watch”, Wikipedia speaks of the use of terms that “may introduce bias, for example, terms of puffery”. Within the material in the article that Sensei48 charges is hagiographic, one should be able to locate terms that “idealize or idolize” Erhard (the actual definition of hagiography – a term Wikipedia itself does not use and has no policy for). The terms of puffery that are actually listed by Wikipedia as terms that may introduce bias are: legendary, great, acclaimed, visionary, outstanding, leading, celebrated, award-winning, landmark, cutting-edge, innovative, extraordinary, brilliant, hit, famous, renowned, remarkable, prestigious, world-class, respected, notable, virtuoso, honorable, awesome, unique. I may have missed one, but I do not see any of these terms used to refer to Erhard, nor other terms that refer to Erhard that embellish or that are promotional or that are even flattering. It seems that this article uses facts from RSs to demonstrate whatever importance Erhard may have, as Wikipedia policy require.

2. Sensei48, in attempting to justify his/her charge of hagiography says, “The fact is that nearly every point raised in this article from first paragraph to last is eminently challengeable and refutable using RS.” In fact, virtually every point that could be considered positive or even neutral raised in this article from first paragraph to last is backed up by a reference to a 100% fully reliable source.

3. What Sensei48 calls “hagiography” is in fact an accurate picture of Erhard’s work and the regard with which it is held. For a claim of hagiography to be valid, one must demonstrate that the claims of competence or excellence were manufactured or at the very least embellished. The following are examples of the wide regard in which Erhard’s work is held (much of this is taken from the article itself), and is just a sampling for time’s sake. There is much more that can be located:

a. Erhard is the 22nd most downloaded author out of over 325,000 authors at the Social Science Research Network. SSRN is the top open-access repository in the world for scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities according to the Ranking Web of Repositories, an initiative of The Cybermetrics Lab.
b. Universities like Harvard, Oxford, Dartmouth, Yale and the United States Air Force Academy (just a sampling from the first four paragraphs) do not invite people to speak or instruct or write with nothing important to say.
c. According to the references in just the first paragraph of the article, Erhard’s association with some of the world’s major universities dates from 1981 to 2016 – 4 decades of references cannot be simply dismissed as a passing interest. In fact, reviewing the dates of the references demonstrates that Erhard seems to be more in demand in academia as time goes on.
d. Neither the National Bureau of Economic Research nor the European Corporate Governance Institute accept for publication material from people who only claim to have something important to say but don’t in fact have something important to say. These are credible, world-renowned organizations.
e. In addition to a few other references from Harvard’s long-term association with Erhard found in the article, Erhard (as the lead author) and his colleagues were asked to contribute a chapter to Harvard’s 2012 foundational reference book (the editor’s words) for teaching leadership, The Handbook For Teaching Leadership. The editors, the Dean of the Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, the Dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, and Harvard Senior Lecturer Scott Snook stated in the editor’s introduction “ …this eclectic group of scholars argues for adopting a decidedly ontological approach to leadership education that promises to leave students actually being leaders.” The editors go on to say, “… this chapter presents a rigorous theory of leadership education …” It is unimaginable that editors such as these are given to idealizing or idolizing anyone, it is probably quite the reverse.
f. The Financial Times does not interview people who do not have something important to offer. The Financial Times management editor Andrew Hill writes “Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen look an unlikely pairing but their leadership teaching fits into a broad stream of business education and research about ethics and integrity.”
g. The impact of Erhard’s work is widely acknowledged. Financial Times Columnist Lucy Kellaway says his influence “extends far beyond the couple of million people who have done his courses: there is hardly a self-help book or a management training program that does not borrow some of his principles.”
h. David Logan, PhD, President of CultureSync and Associate Professor of Business at the University of Southern California said, "Werner's thinking – I don't know any nice way of saying it – is just out there in the world. You can't do a Master's Degree in organizational development or human resources without picking up some of it. And it's usually not credited back to him. His stuff is just out there."
i. Professor Warren Bennis (who actually participated in the est Training), who is (as stated in his Wikipedia article) “… widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies” said about Erhard, “It’s what Werner’s contribution is, the technology that takes an abstraction and changes people’s lives.” Bennis, in an interview of Erhard in the late 1980s, introduced him by saying “Werner Erhard, founder of est, now with Werner Erhard and Associates, and arguably the man behind the most significant educational development of the 70s and 80s.”
j. Robert Leeson, visiting Professor of Economics at Stanford University included in his book about economist F. A. Hayek a chapter written by Erhard.
k. Bernie Roth, Rodney H. Adams Professor of Engineering at Stanford University, and the co-founder of the world famous Stanford design school, says about participating in one of Erhard’s programs, “This experience brought a renewed realization as to how deeply his style and content have influenced my teaching. I am very thankful for his teachings and friendship.”
l. One may be able to fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, however it is a difficult claim to make that the programs Erhard designed have fooled over two million people for over 45 years. The fact is that the programs Erhard designed continue to be available to the public worldwide, and there is no apparent evidence that this will end anytime soon. Businesses do not succeed over time if they do not provide actual results for the people who pay to get them.

4. Finally, Sensei48’s contention that this article needs harsher criticism may ironically point to the reverse. If there are many other readers who are also unaware of the high regard in which Erhard’s work is currently held, that argues for more examples of that high regard.

5. Sensei48 stated, “The added edit is yet another hagiographic attempt to bend this article even further into the area of almost complete uselessness: it might as well be from one of Erhard's own websites.” The added edit to which Sensei48 refers (and moved and altered) is a statement from a relatively recent book written by a respected source about what is covered in the Critics and disputes section. There is nothing hagiographic about it. It is simply what one unquestionably respected source had to say about the rest of what is said in the first paragraph of the section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Patermann18 (talkcontribs) 22:20, 18 May 2017 (UTC)

This article, as all articles on Wikipedia, should aim to accurately portray its subject matter based on reliable sources. I take exception to the statement that adding a well-respected social academic’s writing to this article is “hagiography” (as Paterman states above hagiography is defined by Webster’s as “idealizing or idolizing”). Professor Moreno is more than well qualified as a reliable source. He is indeed a “philosopher and historian who specializes in the intersection of bioethics, culture, science, and national security, and has published seminal works on the history, sociology and politics of biology and medicine.” Moreno’s 2014 assessment of Erhard’s work (one of the most up to date references on Erhard in the article) adds a much-needed historical perspective to this article and the impact of Erhard’s work over the last forty plus years. Moreno’s observation of how the media handled the new ideas that Erhard presented serves to give the reader a broader picture of the life and work of Erhard, which is the main objective of a good encyclopedic article. Moreno’s writing puts accusations made in the past into the perspective of seeing what has transpired over that forty-year span of work.
It is our job to capture the full picture of the subject of the article. In this case, it is of an innovative thinker. “Innovative thinker” applied to Erhard is not hagiography, it is based on the statements of quotes from the Dean of the Harvard Business School, and the Dean of Harvard College, and a Harvard Senior Lecturer. In addition the publishers of the book write, “This volume brings together leading international scholars across disciplines to chronicle the current state of leadership education and establish a solid foundation on which to grow the field.” This is unequivocal evidence that Erhard’s work, while first found only in public programs, has evolved into being taken seriously in academia.
One important part of that story is how the media covered his work in the early days. The media at the time of the est training wrote primarily untrue things about what happened in the est Training and accused him of misdeeds that history (and the courts) have shown he was not guilty of. Sensei48’s view that the article is too positive about Erhard seems to be based on these early attempts by the media to paint a negative image of Erhard. Questions about Erhard’s motivations, honesty and personal behavior that were proffered to the public by reporters who did not know how to grapple with his ideas, or how to grapple with the impact that the ideas had on people’s lives at the time, or how to grapple with people’s enthusiasm for the value they received from those ideas, do not constitute reliable sources when seen from the current vantage point of history.
In fact, legitimate news organizations have retracted attacks they made on Erhard’s character when they found that the attack lacked real substance. For example, ABC News published an article called “EST Is Back, More Popular Than Ever” which stated “… the U.S. government ultimately paid Erhard $200,000 over statements the IRS made …” And, Slate Magazine published a correction to one of their articles which correction stated “ … [Erhard] was found not to owe any additional taxes and won a $200,000 settlement from the IRS for making false statements about his taxes.”
Additionally, I find it quite an irresponsible claim to state that nearly every reference in this article is challengeable and refutable, simply because Sensei48 seems to think there should be more of those allegations from the media and others who never actually observed or experienced the programs themselves. Reporters who regurgitate the unsubstantiated allegations by others do not constitute a reliable reference. For example, attempting to “balance”, with quotes from much lesser lights, the quotes from the Dean of the Harvard Business School, and the Dean of Harvard College, and a Harvard Senior Lecturer. The legitimately referenced sources about Erhard’s work include institutions such as Harvard University and Sage Publications. They are relevant to the article for one reason and that is that he actually presented there and was published there. Regarding referenced material from responsible academics who have critiqued Erhard’s ideas: of course they should be included in the Critics and disputes section – as long as there is, as is the established tradition in academia, an opportunity to respond. They can add to the objective approach of representing his ideas. However, old criticisms based on rumor that impugn his character by repeating allegations put forth by the media that have not passed the test of time are simply not appropriate to a Biographies of Living Persons.
By the way, there was early media written by journalists who had a direct experience of the early est Training who wrote accurately about it. For example, Marcia Seligson in Cosmopolitan wrote, “est – The New Life-Changing Philosophy that Makes You the Boss”, (Cosmopolitan Magazine, June 1975)RecoveringAddict (talk) 23:15, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
The edit I made on March 2, which was then moved and altered, is, in light of the above discussion, more fitting to the first paragraph of the Critics and disputes section than it is to the ending of the section. As I said above, the Moreno quote gives an appropriate historical context to this section and offers a context for statements by reporters who did not know how to grapple with Erhard’s ideas at the time. It therefore belongs at the beginning of the section in order to provide readers with the appropriate context for the critiques that follow. As Petermann18 accurately notes, the Moreno quote is "a clear statement from a relatively recent book written by a respected source about what is covered in the Critics and disputes section," and is "simply what one unquestionably respected source had to say about the rest of what is said in the first paragraph of the section." I agree with their assessment and am making that change now.RecoveringAddict (talk) 18:17, 8 June 2017 (UTC)