Robert Bowman: Aspiring Lawyer, Ethics Martyr

Robert Bowman, according to a panel of New York judges, does not have the requisite good character to be admitted to the practice of law in New York. The reason for the panel’s finding is superficially logical: he owes nearly a half-million dollars in student loans. This is, says the panel, per se proof of irresponsible and negligent financial management, making him an unacceptable risk for any client.  The panel is almost certainly wrong. Continue reading

A New and Ethical Website: The Give Blog

Ethics Alarms, like its progenitor, The Ethics Scoreboard, often identifies unethical websites, of which there are far too many. It isn’t often that an unusually ethical website appears, but the Tax Prof Blog found an excellent one. Illinois Law Professor  Suja Thomas and her husband Scott Bahr have created a site called The Give Blog: Conscious Living and GivingContinue reading

“Scroogenomics”: Clueless About Holiday Ethics

I had decided to write about the new book “Scroogenomics: Why you shouldn’t buy presents for the holidays”early yesterday. I should have assumed that our current Scrooge-in-Chief, George Will, would have the same idea. He did, and greeted his readers with typically sour tidings as he heartily endorsed this commercially clever and ethically fatuous book. The brain-child of economist Joel Waldfogel, “Scroogenomics” argues that holiday gift-giving makes no economic or social sense, and is a net drag on everyone. Will’s quote from it is as revealing as any:

Gifts that people buy for other people are usually poorly matched to the recipients’ preferences. What the recipients would willingly pay for the gifts is usually less than the givers paid. The measure of the inefficiency of allocating value by gift-giving is the difference between the yield of satisfaction per dollar spent on gifts and the yield per dollar spent on the recipients’ own purchases.

All of which means that Waldfogel (and Will) are hopelessly confused about the social and ethical value of gift-giving, which has little to do with the ratio of “the yield of satisfaction per dollar spent.”  Continue reading

Landrieu’s Pay-off: Ethical and Playing by the Rules

[Like you, I am thoroughly tired of seeing Claude Rains’ Capt. Renault quoted in these situations, but sometimes his famous “Casablanca” line is too apt to resist. This is such a time.]

Pundits are “shocked—shocked!” that Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu traded her vote to allow debate on the health care bill for $100 million dollars of earmarked funds for Medicaid subsidies in her state. Fox demagogue/clown Glenn Beck called Landrieu a prostitute and a hooker. Time Magazine columnist Mark Halperin accompanied his condemnation of Landrieu with a disgusting photoshopped picture of the Senator sporting the infamous semen-hair gel ‘do from the raunchy comedy, “What About Mary?” The deal was widely called a bribe by indignant bloggers, angry conservatives, and even some liberals. Continue reading

“The Good Wife” and Bad Ethics

Julianna Margulies’ latest attempt to find another hit series after “ER” is a lawyer drama, “The Good Wife.” It tells of the travails and trials of a former litigator who returns to law firm practice after her prosecutor husband, played by “Mr. Big” Chris Noth, is sent to the slammer in a scandal that also involved marital infidelity. As lawyer dramas go, “The Good Wife” is fairly good about not distorting the legal ethics rules. It still slips up, however, as this week’s episode showed. Continue reading

The Ethics of Dithering

At some point, delaying  an important leadership decision stops being resposnible, and begins being unethical.

The White House put out word today that President Obama’s decision regarding troop levels in Afghanistan is on the verge of being revealed. When it is, a few things are certain. If his decision is to increase troop levels to the degree requested by the Pentagon, Obama’s pacifist Left supporters will be furious. If it is to withhold more troops and prepare for U.S, withdrawal, supporters of an aggressive war policy on the Right will go on the attack. If it is anything in between, neither of these camps will be happy.

It is also certain that nobody will be able to tell if what the President has decided is the “right” decision. Continue reading