Out Of A State Lottery, A Golden Rule Moment

We're NOT going to be selfish and exclusive, even though we can and you expect us to!

“We’re NOT going to be selfish and exclusive, even though we can and you expect us to!”

It never seems to work out this way, and thus it is interesting to speculate why the office lottery pool at Keller Williams Partner Realty in Plantation, Florida treated a dilemma so differently, and so much more ethically, than the key participants here, or here.

Jennifer Maldonado had only been working as an administrative assistant at the company for two weeks, and because she hadn’t received her first pay check, she decided not to join the office Powerball pool when she was approached. The organizer even offered to loan her the money: nope, insisted Maldonado. Not this time; maybe next. Naturally, the pool not only won that week, but won big: a million dollars to be divided among the 12 person staff…except Maldonado, of course.When Maldonado showed up for work and saw everyone screaming, crying and celebrating, she thought they were playing a practical joke in her to teach her a lesson. “I knew I was the only one who hadn’t put in the money, so I thought they were pranking me and going out of their way to make me feel something,” she recalled, that “something” presumably being “rotten.”

Jennifer obviously didn’t know her co-workers yet. Not only weren’t they trying to make her feel badly, they had held a meeting and decided to give her a cut of the winnings even though she hadn’t opted in to the enterprise—not a full share, but a significant amount. Jennifer didn’t expect anything, wasn’t going to sue them or hold a grudge, and yet they made her part of the group’s good fortune anyway. This is the Golden Rule exemplified. It is also exemplary ethics: generosity, kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness. The staff”s gesture said, and eloquently, “Welcome to the family! You can trust us. We care about you. We look out for each other, and we handle each other’s mistakes.”

Perfect. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: National Journal Writer Matthew Cooper (And Boy, Am I Sick Of It!)

Matt Cooper apparently thinks Clarence represented murderers because he LIKED murderers. That's not how it works, Matt.

Matt Cooper apparently thinks Clarence represented murderers because he LIKED murderers. That’s not how it works, Matt.

Matthew Cooper, like so many before him who should know otherwise, confounds the role of an attorney with the views of the individual serving as an attorney. This is a disturbing chunk of ignorance for a prominent journalist to pass on to the public, and as I have before, I am honor bound to point it out, and also to say: Understand what you’re writing about, journalists!  That’s one of your ethical duties.

In a National Journal piece about Ted Olson, who argued against Proposition 8 and for same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court, Cooper writes,

“While most folks were surprised by his support of gay marriage, I wasn’t. Yes, he was a conservative. But he had also defended the press as the longtime lawyer for the Los Angeles Times and in other First Amendment cases. He’d agreed to represent Tim Phelps, a Newsday reporter, in the Anita Hill case even if Phelps’s work was damaging to the conservative Clarence Thomas. He was conservative, but not reflexively so.”

Why is this old, basic and simple principle so difficult to grasp: a lawyer does not adopt his or her client’s views by virtue of representing them or advocating for them in court or the public square! The lawyer’s views are presumed to be irrelevant to the position he or she takes for a client. As the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct state (and legal ethics has held for centuries),

“A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.” Continue reading

Predatory Service: A Tale


Once upon a time in Greater Washington, D.C., there was a family-owned hardware, home remodeling and garden store chain. They were big warehouse stores, and pretty much synonymous with hardware, flowers, lawns, leaky pipes, Sunday shopping excursions, and earnest, if not always rapid, service, for decades. The old chain was pretty much the only game in town too, except for a few small stores scattered around in various town squares.

Then, seemingly over-night, several new, big, warehouse hardware, home remodeling and garden stores appeared across the area. They seemed a little cheaper, but not much; what they had, however, was this fantastic service model. The place was crawling with eager young experts who not only helped you find what you needed, but who also knew how you should build it, cultivate it, paint it, or tear it down. The usual “what the hell am I doing and where is that stuff?” anxiety of a visit to the old hardware chain was replaced by a feeling of confidence and being in the hands of friendly masters of their trade. It was wonderful. Continue reading

Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck Classic Quote: “A Foolish Consistency Is The Hobgoblin of Little Minds…”


I hear Ralph was good with a knife.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who uttered the title above, would have loved the Federal government, for which consistency in logic or policy is often alien indeed. In the midst of a mass effort to disarm the American people of guns with the dubious logic and arrogant presumption that they don’t need powerful weaponry since, after all, the government will save us, the TSA, it has been revealed  to me by my observant son, has secretly adopted exactly the opposite position, using polar reasoning.

My son, who likes knives almost as much as he likes guns, showed me several potential weapons in his collection that would legally pass through the new air travel regulations. He notes that officials defending the lifting of the ban on blades that could do as much damage as the box cutters of 9/11 have pointed to the self-reliance of air passengers, who have subdued several mid-air threats. “Don’t you get it?” my son says. “They’re arming passengers! They won’t say that directly, but it’s pretty obvious. The passengers on Flight 93 had to boil water and use food carts. Now hijackers might be facing a hundred angry people with knives.”

I get it! An armed and ready populace is a good thing! When the government says so, that is. So…. it makes sense to arm untrained air passengers when they face a deadly threat without police nearby, but schools should be “gun free zones” and it’s nuts to arm untrained teachers…indeed, trained and law-abiding gun owners should be disarmed lest they shoot Harvey Milk. I hearby predict that the little knife policy will last until a child gets killed by a mad airplane coach passenger wielding one, whereupon President Obama will invoke his “save just one child” rule, Rep. Rangel will declare that millions of children are being killed by little knives, and Jim Carrey will tweet that nobody who cares about children would oppose a little knife ban. The knives will then be not only prohibited again on airplanes, but will be confiscated by edict, since there’s no Bill of Rights provision protecting little knife ownership.

The behavior of our elected officials is consistent after all.

Emerson’s quote applies perfectly.

Fire Deandre Poole

Florida Atlantic University, where bullies and incompetents mold tomorrow's leaders!

Florida Atlantic University, where bullies and incompetents mold tomorrow’s leaders!

There are a wide variety of offenses that ought to lead to a college professor’s dismissal. Incompetence, for example. Our young minds should not be shaped by fools. A university should not tolerate discrimination and bias,  either. Every occupant of a classroom should  feel that he or she is equally welcome regardless of race, color, gender…well, you know the list. Abuse of power by a teacher shows  a lack of trustworthiness; that kind of conduct, as well as its close relative, bullying, must be strictly forbidden on campus. Then there are an assortment of character traits and professional deficits that must lead to severance from a teaching position when they are in evidence, traits like laziness, ignorance, lack of respect for core American rights, and stupidity, which, neatly enough, brings us back to incompetence.

This also brings us to the case of Dr. Deandre Poole, the Florida Atlantic University professor who ordered her class to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and then to stomp on it. When one student, a devout Mormon, refused, and was clearly upset about it, he took steps to have the student punished for that old favorite, violation of the student Code of Conduct. Dr. Poole, through his participation in this ridiculous incident, has shown himself guilty of all the forms of unacceptable conduct listed above: Continue reading

Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought

How do you treat a monster like Wanetta?

How do you treat a monster like Wanetta?

Of Wanetta Gibson, the woman who sent innocent high school football star Brian Banks to prison for five years for a rape he didn’t commit, collected $750,000 by continuing her lie in a lawsuit against the high school where she and Banks were both students, and then sought forgiveness from him in prison while refusing to exonerate him to prosecutors because she didn’t want to give back the money, I wrote:

“There are not sufficient laws, nor words in the dictionary, nor public shaming, shunning and condemnation to do justice to the likes of Wanetta Gibson. She ruined a young man’s life and stole $1.5 million in the process. She can recant, apologize, say that she found God, weep, express regret and anything else, and it should not insulate her from societal rejection. No one should hire her. No bank should give her a loan or a credit card. No taxpayer should have to contribute to her health insurance or food stamps. No one should befriend her. Absolutely no one should forgive her, consort with her or trust her. The kind of organized hatred that was manufactured against George Zimmerman is appropriate in her case. The Golden Rule? If I behaved like Wanetta Gibson, I would deserve everything I have described, and more.”

And you know what? I think I was too easy on her. Continue reading

Valentining Bobby Valentine, Victim of Three Biases

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

Hindsight bias is bad, confirmation bias is worse, and naked bias is the worst of all. 2012 Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was the victim of all three with a vengeance during that disastrous Boston baseball season, and is still. I have been tempted to write about Bobby’s plight since last August, when the Red Sox management threw in the towel on the season and the long knives really came out in the Boston press corps. Now Valentine has been gone for six months, half the team has been replaced, and spring is dawning, yet hardly a day passes in which one of these ink-strained wretches  doesn’t take a pot-shot at the deposed manager, leaving the absolutely false impression that he could have done anything to forestall or mitigate the cataclysm that befell the Red Sox in 2012. Continue reading

“Walking Dead” Ethics: The Worst Leader Ever

Follow this leader at your peril...

Follow this leader at your peril…

The Walking Dead’s” resolution of the ethical dilemma facing Rick Grimes—give up a member of his group to be tortured by a deranged sadist, on the basis of a dubious promise by said deranged sadist not to attack Rick’s group with a superior force if he receives the sacrificed member as his torture-toy, or resolve to fight said superior force despite the likelihood of defeat—was consistent with what we know of Rick as a leader from past episodes. He is hopeless. With this crucial decision, however, he forged new ground in fecklessness, stupidity and incompetence even for him:

  • He made the wrong decision, deciding to turn over the sword-weilding Machonne as the Governor demanded;
  • He did not tell his group what his decision was;
  • He confided in the most untrustworthy member of the group, the cynical, homicidal Merle, because Rick knew he would have no compunction with executing such a twisted choice;
  • After doing so, Rick changed his mind, but not before Merle, being certain that Rick couldn’t follow through on his decision, went ahead and subdued Machonne on his own and began transporting her back to the Governor’s lair for the trade.

In the end, Machonne wasn’t handed over to the Governor, and Merle ended up dead, but that’s irrelevant here. “The Walking Dead,’ in addition to being a handy primer on how ethics evolves when civilization collapses and zombies outnumber human beings, is a tutorial on leadership do’s and don’ts. Sheriff Rick, who has been the leader of the central band of survivors from the start, is the George Constanza of leadership: to be successful, do the opposite of what Rick would do. Continue reading

Tell-Tale Signs Of An Incompetent Government: Rationalization # 32, Star Trek and Chairman Who?

mao zedon.png.CROP.article568-large

One of the common rationalizations that leads to both unethical conduct and an unethical organizational culture is “The Management Shrug,” often verbalized as “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  (It is #32 on the Ethics Alarms ever-lengthening Rationalizations List; it really should have been in the top ten.) This is a favorite excuse of self-anointed big thinkers of the arrogant and incompetent breed, and is an attitude at the core of a much more sinister ethical fallacy, “the ends justify the means.” The Obama administration has been habitually guilty of the Management Shrug, as has a national news media that largely refuses to hold it accountable, and the U.S. public, which pretty obviously doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

Here’s a ridiculous example: some idiot paid  with your tax dollars thought it was appropriate to place a quote from Chairman Mao on the Kids’ Zone page at the National Center on Education Statistics website. Continue reading

Portrait Of The Deadbeat As A Young Fick


We haven’t had a flaming fick for a while, but Christopher Robinson certainly qualifies for the term, denoting someone who proudly flaunts his anti-social, self-centered and unethical ways.

The man who took a photo of himself rolling in dough and then proudly posted it to Facebook, you see, is a deadbeat dad, owing three years of child support. His self-accusing photo brought him to the attention of authorities, and now he’s facing up to eleven years in prison if he’s convicted of willful non-payment.

Being a fick isn’t a jailable offense, but interestingly, most ficks find themselves in trouble with the law sooner or later.

Go figure.


Facts and Graphic: ABC