About Michael E. Berumen

A Varied Life

Michael E. Berumen (born 1952) writes and lectures on philosophy and other topics, and is a semi-retired businessman. He is the author of the book, Do No Evil: Ethics with Applications to Economic Theory and Business, among other publications. Berumen retired in 2001 as senior vice president of one of the nation's largest financial institutions, Pacific Life Insurance Company, after leading its national group employee benefits operation. He founded one of the nation’s premier excess-loss underwriters, Pacific Risk Management Services, a unit of Pacific Life. He is the former chief executive officer (2003-2009) of Four Star Private Patrol, Inc, which specialized in private security.  In addition to serving as a director on boards and his own scholarly endeavors, Berumen was the former editor of  the Bulletin (2014-2017), a scholarly journal published by The Bertrand Russell Society.


Berumen's father abandoned him when he was young. He suffered from physical abuse by his step father. After a peripatetic childhood, he ran away from home as a young teen and could be variously found hopping freight trains, hanging out on the streets of Hollywood or Las Vegas, hitchhiking across the nation, and living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. It was a period punctuated by bouts of delinquency, which landed him in juvenile hall for a brief time, just enough to shake him from his youthful waywardness and moral torpor. 


He persuaded his mother to allow him to volunteer for the U.S. Army in 1969, only a few weeks after his 17th birthday. Given a facility with certain kinds of problem solving, he was trained in cryptography, and, having the benefit of an expunged juvenile record, he ended up doing highly classified work in Europe, where he lived for nearly two years.


Upon being honorably discharged from the Army in 1972, he resumed his college studies (he was originally admitted at 15 but chose to goof off) and, in 1975, after only three years, he completed his undergraduate work with highest honors. He later attended the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.


In 1993, Berumen testified before the U.S. Congress as an expert on health insurance. He also is the author of published articles on various subjects, including philosophy and business; he has appeared on television broadcasts; been interviewed a number of times by leading newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal; and he has lectured widely before community, academic, and business audiences.


Berumen's philosophical interests extend over a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, logic, science, epistemology, and ethics.  


Berumen has at various times called his philosophy rational objectivism, which roughly holds that our most useful knowledge is grounded in experience tempered by logic (reason), and, at best, that it is an approximation of truth. He is a traditional realist in terms of his epistemology and metaphysics, and he eschews both subjectivism (idealism) and the pragmatic or instrumentalist view of truth. His philosophical outlook most closely resembles Bertrand Russell's and his s ethics are roughly an admixture of the outlooks of Kant, Hume, and Hare.


His politics are pragmatic and not ideological, and informed by an underlying skepticism of power, and a healthy wariness of politicians who seek to arrange, disrupt and manage the lives of others. He believes private property is a tentative right as the default position of morality, and not an absolute right, for property-holders are not without obligations, and that free markets are generally, and not without exception, the best means of distributing finite resources to the optimal number at the optimal cost, and with the least amount of  sacrifice to individual freedom.  


Berumen’s book Do No Evil is available at major booksellers, including amazon.com.The major, independent book reviewer, Kirkus, describes Berumen's book, Do No Evil, as: “A fresh, convincing ethical examination.”


Berumen is a practitioner and instructor of the Wing Chun form of Kung Fu and a licensed private pilot with many hours of aerobatics. 


Berumen lives in Northern Colorado with his wife, Carol.