Category Archives: Business & Commercial

Musings On The Clarence Thomas Affair and Insideous, Unavoidable, Rationalization Eleven

If you are good enough and valuable enough, do you deserve one of these?

If you are good enough and valuable enough, do you deserve one of these?

A recent—and off-topic—comment caused me to begin thinking about “The King’s Pass,” #11 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization hit parade,and perhaps the most perplexing of them all. The commenter referenced the 2010 discovery that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had inexplicably neglected to mention his activist wife’s annual income on his annual financial disclosure filings, meaning that he had filed a false affidavit and violated the law. Thomas claimed that he had made a careless mistake—for five years—and the matter was allowed to drop except for the angry agitating of the Anti-Clarence Thomas Furies, who are constantly searching for any way to get a conservative black justice off the Supreme Court short of assassination.

The episode had left a bad taste in my mouth, and I was happy to be reminded of it, bad mouth tastes being essential to triggering ethics alarms. I went back to read my post on the matter, and sure enough, I had followed the principle of rejecting The King’s Pass, and asserted that Thomas should be punished appropriately and formally…but that really ducked the question. Lawyers have lost their licenses to practice for single episodes of swearing to false information when it was far more obvious that a mistake had been made than in Thomas’s case, as when a hapless Maryland lawyer carelessly signed a legal document that had misrecorded  his address. The logic of this no-tolerance ruling was that a lawyer, above all people, should never swear to a falsehood, and that doing so, even once, was a serious breach of duty calling into question his fitness to practice law. I think the penalty for this particular act was excessive—it is cited locally as a cautionary tale—but I agree with its underlying principle, which should apply with even more vigor when the lawyer in question is a judge, and not merely a judge, but a Supreme Court Justice.
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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Great, Now Magneto Wants To Wipe Out Professional Theater…

Magneto McKellen

Maybe he should run for Vice-President on a ticket with Elizabeth Warren.

Quoth revered British actor Ian McKellen, Magneto (and Gandalf ) in the flesh:

“The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theaters that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”

It sure would. It would put most small professional theaters out of business, make theater unaffordable for any but rich theater-lovers, and eliminate a huge number of acting jobs. It is an idiotic, ignorant, irresponsible, but very, very nice, liberal, compassionate, well-intentioned and Elizabeth Warrenish suggestion that willfully ignores reality and basic economics—in other words, it is consistent with progressive mythology. We owe the Magster a debt of gratitude for illustrating exactly what is wrong with blanket endorsements of minimum wage increases and “living wages.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Workplace, Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Around the World, Professions, Finance, Quotes

Ethics Quiz: Blaming the Messenger

"Hey, I just deliver the boxcar contents to someplace called "Aushwitz." It's not my business what's in them..."

“Hey, I just deliver the boxcar contents to someplace called “Aushwitz.” It’s not my business what’s in them…”

In 2013, the United Parcel Service Inc  agreed to forfeit $40 million in fees that it had received from illegal internet pharmacies shipping bootleg prescription drugs using UPS services, in exchange for a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. UPS also agreed to put policies and procedures in place to prevent illegal online pharmacies from distributing drugs through its shipping services in the future. Naturally, the faux pharmacies moved over to FedEx, and when that shipping service refused to cut a similar deal with DOJ under threat of prosecution, the government persuaded a Federal grand jury to indict the company for delivering drugs associated with internet pharmacies, and thus being a willing party to a criminal enterprise.

Now many are cheering FedEx as, in essence, an ethics hero for refusing to knuckle under to the government and accept responsibility where it has none. There are two arguments against the government’s prosecution of FedEx. One is that its natural result would be to require shipping companies to open every parcel and be certain that nothing illegal is inside. The other is that trying to eradicate crime and other misconduct by creating secondary service liability is inherently unjust. By pressuring credit card companies  to refuse payments to companies the government regards as breaking the law, for example, alleged illegal enterprises can be put out of business without the government having to meet its burden of proof to show they really are breaking the law. If the government can intimidate carrying companies into refusing the business of illegal pharmacies, then the illegal pharmacies never have to be prosecuted. There is a third argument, but it is irrelevant: that the government shouldn’t be prosecuting the crime of providing prescription drugs over the internet at all.  This is an entirely different and separate issue: The point is that the shipments are illegal now, and FedEx is facilitating them.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin what I sense will be a busy ethics week is…

Is FedEx an Ethics Hero?

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet

I Foment Defiance On My Airplane Trip In The Name Of Ethics

airplane-baggage-overhead-I know I’ve written about this at least once, but it continues to gripe my cookies.

I had settled into my seat on the US Air flight from Boston to Washington when I watched the young woman who was soon sitting in the center seat next to me be curtly informed by a flight attendant that her medium-size bag needed to go under her seat, so passengers with rollerboards and other large pieces of luggage could store them  in the bins. She sat down, stuffing the bag under the seat in front of her, and looked uncomfortable.

“I refuse to do that, you know,” I said. “I pay to check my large bag so that I can have leg room and not have to stow my briefcase in front of me. Why can’t I use the overhead bins for the one small bag I have, because other passengers won’t pay the fee–like I have— to  check their large bags?”

“Well, the attendant told me I couldn’t put my bag up there,” she said.

“Yeah, and as long as you do what they say, they’ll never change a stupid and unfair policy. Get up, put your bag overhead, and if you are challenged, say, “Look, I paid 50 bucks to check my rollerboard, and for that sum I get to take up my foot space so someone who wouldn’t pay can put a rollerboard in the overhead bins? That’s absurd and wrong, and I’m not doing it.

That’s exactly what she did. And she even made the speech I scripted, and a few people applauded! Then a late-comer with a huge rollerboard was told that she had to check her bag, because there was no room.

Heh, heh, heh…

The Lone Ethicist strikes again.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners

Ethics Quiz: Sexy Safety In The Air

This one’s simple. Watch this New Zealand Air safety video. It was recently pulled, possibly in part because of objections that it sexually objectified women. The video, shown to passengers before take-off, was even the target of a Change.org petition, which one again shows that many U.S. citizens don’t comprehend freedom of speech, and think that the U.S. is a monarchy, perhaps because the President often seems to be under that delusion himself. Now the video:

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for a slow week in ethics (so far):

Is this video disrespectful to women, in bad taste, vulgar or inappropriate?

In the succinct words of Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich: “They’re called boobs, Ed.”

And they are everywhere, and a lot more gratuitously displayed than here. Airlines have a problem getting passengers to pay attention to the safety instructions ( here’s Jerry Seinfeld making some trenchant observations on the dilemma), and having beautiful women in bikinis do the chore is as good a solution as any. Even the critics, prudes and boob-o-phobes must have been paying attention. Harm: minimal to none. Benefits: enough. The video passes utilitarian muster.

It’s also funny. I particularly like the Hawaiians in the dugout demonstrating the crash position.

________________________
Pointer: Fred

Facts: ABC

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

Euphemisms, Manipulation And Deceit On Illegal Immigration

Not that it isn't illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway...

Not that it isn’t illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway…

The U.S. needs to fix its illegal immigration policies, and deal with the millions of underground, and not so underground, illegals currently in the country, having children, getting benefits, often being abused and exploited while not integrating into U.S. society. This has been true for decades, and both parties, as well as the U.S. business community, Mexico, and the illegal immigrants themselves, share responsibility for allowing a major problem to metastasize into a crisis.

The proclivity of journalists to isolate blame to one participant in this fiasco to the exclusion of the others compounds the problem, by making a bi-partisan solution impossible and giving individuals a pass on accountability who deserve none. Even worse is the habit of the news media to adopt the misleading and dishonest terminology of open-border advocates and illegal immigrant activists. Attempting to use deceptive language, exaggerations and outright misrepresentations to make ethically dubious policies seem benign to the public has become standard practice among Democrats and progressives in the Obama era (Republicans and conservatives too, but at least at the present, less flamboyantly and with less success.) Abortion is promoted in terms that leave out any mention of the act at the center of the controversy: it’s about “choice.” Life? What life? As for the issue of how a nation maintains its security and rule of law when foreign citizens are entering the country in violation of those laws at will, the news media, like the President and others, works to make the central issue invisible. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Some Ethics Comments On The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

Hobby-Lobby1. First, read the decision, here. When you do, you will be disgusted at the blatant exaggerations and outright misrepresentations by various pundits, advocates, activists and reporters. In the case of the latter, this is incompetence and a breach of duty to the public. In the case of the rest, it is either dishonesty and willful deception, or stupidity. For example, as an exercise, count the number of misrepresentations and misstatements inherent in this tweet, from MSNBC ‘s Cenk Uygur:

 “I love that conservatives are now on the record as against contraception. Brilliant move to be against 99% of women!”

I count five, but I could be off by one or two. Is this genuine misunderstanding, or just intentional rabble-rousing? Who can tell, with shameless partisans like Cenk? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, The Internet, U.S. Society

If This Chase Survey Is Real, Here Is How Employees Are Ethically Obligated To Respond To It…

Did an intern snap???

Did an intern snap???

I was going to shut down the blog for today, but I’m alone in a hotel room in Lincoln Nebraska, and I just saw this, to which I must respond..

Over at Mirror of Justice, Robert George posts a report which he says is from a close friend: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society, Workplace

Obnoxious, Offensive, And Unethical: Facebook “Research” Turning Users Into Guinea Pigs

guinea-pig

Facebook apparently has been manipulating the feeds that some users get to see in order to measure how it the content affects the tone of their own posts.

You can read about the research here; I’m not publicizing it, because the Facebook’s research is an abuse of users and their trust. I don’t mind them reading my posts, for they own the service, and the service is in their name. I assume they will use my data and content to make money, but I didn’t agree to allow them to manipulate me, or what I write, feel, or think. I’m also not especially optimistic about the uses the results of such research might be applied to.

The researchers claim that the research is ethical because a computer program scanned for words that were considered either “positive” or “negative,” but the Facebook content wasn’t actually read. Facebook  terms of service state that user data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Since Facebook users agree to the terms of service, the researchers argue that this constitutes “informed consent” for their experiment.

Wrong.

Also ridiculous.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Professions, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, U.S. Society

Warped Values and Perverse Incentives: Banning Employers From Asking Whether A Job Applicant Served Time

Sorry Hedley---it's unfair to ask a potential employees if they were rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers...and don't you dare ask if they are Methodists!

Sorry Hedley—it’s unfair to ask a potential employees if they were rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers…and don’t you dare ask if they are Methodists!

I was unaware that this was a trend: states and cities making it illegal for employers to ask job applicant’s whether they had been convicted of a crime and served jail time.

It is an unethical, foolish and illogical trend, an example of misplaced compassion being used to justify placing risks on law-abiding citizens for the benefit of those who are less trustworthy.

A news article regarding the problems faced by former prisoners re-entering society quotes Zach Hoover, executive director of LA Voice, a multiracial, faith-based organization working to get such a measure passed in Los Angeles:

“Sometimes people think of someone who’s been in prison and they think only of what they did instead of what they’re doing today. They’ve done their time. They served their sentence, and they’re looking for a job.It’s like double jeopardy. You’ve done your time, and now you get a life sentence of joblessness.”

What utter claptrap: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society, Workplace