Category Archives: Business & Commercial

It’s STUPIDITY SATURDAY, Celebrating That Fascinating Nexus Between Dumb and Unethical! First Up: The IRS Picks A Contractor

Fool_Alfred

Perusing the many ethics issues that have slopped into my inbox, I realized that a fascinating theme was developing: wanton, willful, inexcusable stupidity. Being stupid is not intrinsically unethical, for in many cases it is a malady, a Nature-dictated state like being short or bald, just one that is more limiting than most. Being stupid and allowing yourself to be placed in a position where your stupidity will harm others, however, is unethical.

Incompetence is not the same thing as stupidity necessarily, but it is a kind of stupidity and it generates stupidity: stupid risks, stupid decisions, stupid statements, stupid policies, stupid results. The recent Pew study showing that the two most common descriptions of President Obama were “good” and “incompetent” was intriguing on that issue. A man can be both “good” and “incompetent,” but a leader cannot. Obama can be a good man (though after hearing his defiant, dishonest, petulant and self-destructive State of the Union address, I find that hard to believe), but he cannot be a good leader while being an incompetent one.

The President is incompetent, and the incompetence has, as it always will with those serving under incompetent leadership, metastasized throughout his administration into incontrovertible stupidity of a sort that it is unethical for a leader to tolerate or allow to continue. Yet he does.

This brings us to the IRS. Believe it or not, just even months after federal officials fired the firm CGI Federal for its botched work on the Obamacare website Healthcare.gov, the IRS awarded these same bunglers a $4.5 million IT contract for its new Obamacare tax program.

Let me say that again, slowly, so it sinks in: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership

The Personal Injury Lawyer’s Sex Doll Ad: Stupid! Funny! But Unethical?

Nah.

Here it is:

There is a dubious principle of advertising holding that as long as the name and the service come through memorably, an ad is a success. This video challenges that assumption. It tells me that the lawyer who let someone talk him into doing an apparently improvised ad with a smut-mouthed rubber sex doll is an idiot, and it is very risky to take legal advice from idiots. Nonetheless, there is nothing unethical about the ad. Does it hold the profession up to public ridicule? No, it holds this lawyer up to public ridicule.

Once upon a time, lawyer advertising was held to be unethical by all state bars, until courts found the restrictions to violate the First Amendment. This kind of ad was what the profession was worried about. A few states, notably Florida (the last I checked), still apply more stringent standards to lawyer advertising than currently apply to used cars and cheesemakers, but as long as an ad lawyer doesn’t make affirmative misrepresentations, it won’t be found to be in violation of the legal ethics rules.

Besides, ads like this one are extremely informative. They tell a potential client everything they need to know about the judgment, reputation and trustworthiness of the lawyer who stars in it. What could be more ethical than that?

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Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Facebook’s Unconstitutional News Hoax Policy

I've got your backs, you contemptible jerks...

I’ve got your backs, you contemptible jerks…

Boy, there’s a lot of pro-censorship sentiment going around these days. I wonder why?

The latest comes from Facebook, which now is going to attempt to shield us from “hoaxes.” I don’t trust the government to decide what I should read and I don’t trust Facebook to do it either. Nobody should.

Back in the sixties, Economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote papers and books asserting that large corporations were becoming the new nations and states, and that it was their power, not elected governments, that would decide how we lived. Galbraith wasn’t the best professor I aver had (he was the tallest), and his assertions in this realm were certainly exaggerated, but a lot of what he foresaw has come to pass. It is true that the First Amendment prohibition against government censorship of expressive speech doesn’t apply to private entities, but it is also true that huge corporations like Facebook weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of the Founders when that core American value was articulated. Any corporate entity that has the power to decide what millions of Americans get to post on the web is ethically obligated to embrace the same balance of rights over expediency that the Constitution demands of the state, specifically free speech over expediency, period, exclamation point, no exceptions. Embodying Clarence Darrow’s statement that in order for us to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much, the Supreme Court has even pronounced outright lies to be protected speech.

For this reason, Facebook’s well-intentioned anti-hoax policies—boy, there’s also a lot of well-intentioned lousy policies going around these days, being applauded for their goals whether they work or not. I wonder why?—add one more offense to core American ideals.

You can read Facebook’s new policy here. The key section: Continue reading

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So A Guy Goes Into A Bakery And Wants A Cake That Says “God Hates Gays.” The Baker Says, “I Won’t Do It: You’re A Bigot,” And The Guy Says, “I Want A Second Opinion: I’m Filing A Discrimination Complaint.” The Baker Says, “Here’s A Second Opinion…You’re An Idiot!”

cake2

And indeed he is.

We don’t know the name of this sad, fearful, obsessed fool that thinks he is making a grand point by harassing the Azucar Bakery in Denver. [ Update 1: His name is Bill Jack.] We do know that he understands neither law, ethics, common sense nor analogies, and that any lawyer who assists him will have some explaining to do, because if ever there was a frivolous discrimination claim, this is it.

Obviously less interested in a cake than in making a point,  the unnamed meathead demanded that the bakery provide a cake decorated with anti-gay sentiments, making the lame analogy between the baker’s refusal to do that and the various bakeries, including one last year in Colorado, held to be unlawfully discriminating when they refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex  couples.

“We never refused service. We only refused to write and draw what we felt was discriminatory against gays. In the same manner we would not … make a discriminatory cake against Christians, we will not make one that discriminates against gays,” said Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery, in a statement submitted to the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies in response to the complaint. Continue reading

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The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 4 of 4)

mamoru-samuragochi2

Outrageous Hoax Of The Year

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf!  Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.

Funniest Outrageous Hoax

Fake Panda

This.

Unethical Artist Of The Year

Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who  walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars,  was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.

Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year

Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.

Unethical Doctor Of The Year

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure,  because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.

Scam of the Year

Jonathan-Gruber-1

The Affordable Care Act.

 Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year

The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading

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Unethical Website Of The Month: ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com.

glitter bomb

This is another revenge site. Some will ship your enemies poo; ShipYourEnemiesGlitter sends glitter bombs. The site’s approach is fresh: it adopts a pugnacious, “yeah, we’re horrible, but so what?” tone that would be amusing if it wasn’t attached to an indefensible service. A sample:

“…so here’s the deal: there’s someone in your life right now who you fucking hate. Whether it be your shitty neighbour, a family member or that bitch Amy down the road who thinks it’s cool to invite you to High Tea but not provide any weed.So pay us money, provide an address anywhere in the world & we’ll send them so much glitter in an envelope that they’ll be finding that shit everywhere for weeks. We’ll also include a note telling the person exactly why they’re receiving this terrible gift. Hint: the glitter will be mixed in with the note thus increasing maximum spillage.”

Great.

The business owner’s parents must be so proud.

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Pointer: Instapundit

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Marketing and Advertising, Unethical Websites

Professional Chauvinism At “Above The Law”

Clooneys

Lawyers really need to get over themselves. This post, by Staci Zaretski at the legal gossip site “Above the Law,” was introduced in my e-mail inbox with this line:

“Amal Clooney’s lifetime achievements are far greater than those of her husband, George Clooney. Where’s her award?”

The flip answer would be: “George Clooney.” But to the point: one has to have an enhanced regard for the profession of the law and a dismissive and culturally ignorant attitude towards the arts to state that “Amal Clooney’s lifetime achievements are far greater” than those of George Clooney.” Zaretski is welcome to her biases, but by any fair measure, the lifetime achievements of an actor of Clooney’s popularity, daring and prominence far outstrips those of a lawyer like Amal Alamuddin Clooney.  “Above the Law” makes its case thusly:

“Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected to a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip.”

Hundreds of lawyers worked on the Enron case(s): you will have to prove to me that she had some special impact that another lawyer with similar skills, and there are thousands, would not have. So she was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria: is Zaretsky aware that Annan’s misguided and naive efforts to broker a Syrian peace saved not a single life, and may well have blocked more substantive and effective initiatives? Then she served on a commission “investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip.” Translation: she is a willing participant in the U.N. effort to demonize Israel for defending itself from Hamas shelling.  She also is defending Julian Assange. I don’t hold that against her: he’s a criminal, but he deserves a defense. Would he have not gotten one without Amal Clooney? Of course he would have. Continue reading

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