Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/17/2018: The Tragedy Of The Commons Bites Starbucks (Good!) And Other Fiascos

Are we having holiday fun yet?

Not yet…

1. ” Madness! Madness!” (Culturally literate readers will be able to name the movie.)

An 11-year-old boy named Joshua Trump has been forced to go by a different name at his Delaware middle school because he has been relentlessly bullied and punched on the a school bus because of his last name.  School officials said that as soon as they learned of the bullying they took action, including disciplining students  involved. The school should be investigating teachers, who may be signalling their biases against the President, and we should be looking at the bullies’ parents and the toxic influence of the media.

This story is just a tiny tip of a very large, very deep, very dangerous cultural iceberg.

President Trump should write the boy and his family, or better yet, call him.

2. “My Bloody Valentine” ethics. I am compiling a list of the very best horror movies for a relative who professed ignorance of the genre. I have done the same for Westerns (this became a Smithsonian program) and movie musicals. It is really annoying to hear people say that they don’t like movie musicals when they have never watched “Singin’ in the Rain” or Fred and Ginger at their best, or that they don’t like Westerns when they have never seen “Shane.” What they are really saying is “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I have strong opinions on it anyway.”

But I digress. I had remembered that the 2008 remake of “My Bloody Valentine” had impressed me with its original and gory special effects, like the maniac mine murderer jamming a shovel into a victim’s face between her nose and mouth, causing the top half of her head to sliiiide down the shovel blade, or the killer yanking another victim’s lower jaw off with a pick- axe. What fun! But when I selected the film on Netflix to see if it was list-worthy, I discovered that those moments and many others had been edited out. This effectively renders the film pointless and scare-free, but it is also a bait-and-switch. If the film isn’t really the film the director made, a notice to that effect is mandatory. I assumed that Netflix only showed the movie, the whole movie, and nothing but the movie. Guess not.

3. Tucker Carlson, boycotts, and virtue signaling. On his Fox New show, Tucker Carlson was discussing the attitude exhibited by some politicians toward illegal immigration and the economic impact it has on the United States:

“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided. Immigration is a form of atonement. Previous leaders of our country committed sins; we must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans. That’s the argument they make. Somehow the immigration-as atonement idea has become the official position of virtually every guilty liberal in the United States. Our tech overlords, the ones always lecturing you, corporate America, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan—they all believe this, and anyone who disagrees with them is denounced as a bigot and fired.”

But how do you really feel, Tucker? I think Tucker would like to take back “dirtier”—how do illegal immigrants make the country dirtier?—but then he’s speaking extemporaneously. His overall point, while a bit inflammatory in the rhetoric used to express it, is valid. However, Pacific Life, which ran an ad on Fox right after Carlson’s rant proclaiming that the company had been “protecting generations of families for 150 years,” decided it was time to grandstand. (Carlson has also been a target of Media Matters efforts to get sponsors to abandon his show, because the best way to win arguments is to muzzle opposition, especially when your own position makes no sense.)

The company released this:

“Pacific Life’s national advertising campaign runs on numerous networks and cable stations on a variety of news, business and sports programs. One of our ads appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show last night following a segment where Mr. Carlson made a number of statements regarding immigration. As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson’s statements. Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in. We will not be advertising on Mr. Carlson’s show in the coming weeks as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”

Carlson made it clear that he was talking about illegal immigration, though he gave those who want to misconstrue him sufficient rope for them to do so. If it is going to say it disagrees with Carlson, Pacific Life is obligated to say how. (I ding comments on posts here that just say “You are wrong,” “I disagree,” or “You’re an idiot.”) They don’t, because they can’t, and don’t have the guts to take a clear position. Do they believe that the U.S. has an obligation to take in all of the world’s poor? Do they not agree that unregulated and unrestrained immigration will make the country poorer and less united? Do they disagree that liberal guilt and race-baiting are primary tools of those pushing for open boarders? They probably haven’t thought about any of these things beyond the thought a puppy gives a biscuit. They just want to signal “Immigrants good!” and, to use Ann Althouse’s phrase, “Orange man bad!”

Are there corporations with integrity? Right now I can’t think of any.

4. This describes my experience exactly. From Althouse:

For many years, I’ve DVR’d “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “State of the Union,” “Fox News Sunday,” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” and I used to watch nearly all of all of them and carefully select things to blog. I’d jot down key words so I could find things in the transcript, and I’d talk about them at length here. In the Trump years, however, I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t watch at all, and I will leave the room if someone else even starts to watch.

5. HAHAHAHAHAHA! I LOVE this story! It has everything: justice, lessons in obvious consequences, “Get woke, go broke” and so much more! Remember how Starbucks responded to being race-shamed when a Philadelphia store manager told two black men to either buy something or leave the store? It decreed that anyone could hang out at stores without having to be customers, and use the bathrooms too.  Any fool could predict that this policy would be disastrous….progressive! Compassionate! But disastrous. Now we learn:

A New York Post team investigated several Manhattan bathrooms and found that there wasn’t an open stall.

…A half-dozen toilets were locked or barricaded for no clear reason. Others were closed for prolonged “cleaning,” which an insider said was needed after extreme soiling caused by drug-using, incontinent vagrants.

“Letting everybody in has resulted in nobody getting in,” an employee at one branch fumed.

“Rest Room closed,” declared signs at 399 Seventh Ave. (entrance on West 32nd Street) and at a branch at Pearl Street and Maiden Lane. At 252 W. 31st St., the road to relief was blocked by garbage cans. Furniture and boxes formed a barrier at 61 W. 56th St.

A rope and traffic cones barred the way at 38 Park Row. When a desperate visitor asked if the loo would reopen any time soon, a barista directed him to a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby.

Why would the bathrooms need “prolonged cleaning”? Perhaps the experience of the Seattle shops provides an explanation:

Several Starbucks workers in Seattle say that they’re encountering hypodermic needles on the job nearly every day and that they’ve had to take antiviral medications to protect themselves from HIV and hepatitis.

Three employees at the coffee giant in northern Seattle told the local news station KIRO 7 that visitors would dispose of the needles in store restrooms, often in tampon-disposal boxes, and that workers would then come in contact with them while cleaning and were sometimes accidentally poked.

KIRO 7 said the three employees provided hospital, pharmacy, and insurance receipts showing that they took antiviral medications to protect against HIV and hepatitis after being poked by needles at work.

Providing extra safety training and prophylactic care for employees can be expensive. The extra costs could have been a contributing factor in a spate of recent layoffs.

Starbucks will lay off 350 corporate employees amid a broader effort to revamp its global operations even as the coffeehouse chain’s former top executive gears up for a 2020 presidential bid.

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson announced the 5 percent reduction of Starbucks’ global workforce in a staff email on Tuesday, writing that the layoffs are “a result of work that has been eliminated, de-prioritized or shifting ways of working within the company.”

Concludes Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection, “The best lesson to be had here may be not to let anything other than profit and customer satisfaction drive your business decisions.”

And ignore the Tragedy of the Commons at your peril.


35 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/17/2018: The Tragedy Of The Commons Bites Starbucks (Good!) And Other Fiascos

  1. Netflix doesn’t censor anything (at least allegedly). What they DO, though, is show whatever version of movies and shows the network or studio provides. It sounds like maybe they were given a TV edit of My Bloody Valentine.

      • Wikipedia says this about the original 1981 film, but that has nothing to do with the 2009 version. It’s a bit disconcerting that anything shown on Netflix might be subject to revisions and edits and the viewer could be none the wiser.

        My Bloody Valentine faced notable censorship, having a total of nine minutes cut by the Motion Picture Association of America due to the amount of violence and gore. Though co-producer Dunning confirmed that the excised footage still existed, attempts to release it proved difficult as Paramount Pictures refused to offer an uncut version. In 2009, Lionsgate subsequently acquired DVD rights to the film and released a DVD with three minutes of additional footage restored. The same year, Lionsgate released a remake of the film.

      • If they won’t censor the racial humor in Blazing Saddles (or the campfire farts scene, which is always mysteriously overdubbed with horses whinnying in TV airings) then it sounds like a version issue with the cut of My Bloody Valentine they were given, rather than Netflix making editorial choices.

  2. 1)Poor kid. I do not hold much hope for him a was an extreme victim of bullying in schools and found the most of the administrators joined in because I was the odd kid, obviously, gay , religious, and odd( later to be determined to be as-egrets), one counselor said I had delesusions that others were out to get me! I guess I imagined getting shoved in locked, tripped, my books and glasses thrown about. Note I didn’t. If I defended my self I got punished. Fortunately there were. Some teachers that Looked out for me! The trick was getting from one classroom to another. Bullying is an issue we are just starting to address, but I do not have much faith in the administrations of most schools, my nephew is a vice principal and talks of his trying to get some of the other administrators to pay attention. As oddness runs in his family, he trys to look out for the outcasts. Your right the President should reach out, it would help is image, and maybe help the kid.
    2) Too many films have been damaged by poor editing, and I have found when I complain about that, that some of the venues online or elsewhere have no idea they are showing an edited version. It is sad, that this happens. There are are also on amazon prime some of the old Christmas cartoons from the thirties that are racist as can be. amazon has warnings on them, but I am shocked there has not been an uprising.
    3) I am pro legal immigration and do have my problems with illegal immigration but the lines are sometimes muddled by law, you have to already be in our country to apply for Asylum but that would mean that to get here you would need to falsify your reason for a visa, or enter without. Both are illegal. That is a problem. The liberals seem to not understand the issues of. Legal vs illegal immigration, and honestly we tried to go without the migrant workers in California and Texas in the past it was also a nightmare. This is a mess that nobody really wants to deal with as any response with integrity it going to piss someone off. That loses customers, but looking for an insurance company with integrity, that is a unicorn your looking for. Anyone dealing with a customer base need to either bend to keep their business, or if they try to raise up and practice their trade with honesty and integrity they lose customers. I know this because sticking to my principles lost me a lot of business.
    4) Things have become so polarized that I middle of the roader like me is finding that he is sick of the whole damned thing. I have friends on Facebook and elsewhere that are expressing extremist views some from each side.
    5) Compassion costs, the problems is sometimes to run a business you need to take a hard stand on somethings. Unfortunately it is a strange and difficult obstacle course.

  3. 1. “President Trump should write the boy and his family, or better yet, call him.”

    Should, but won’t. And, in this toxic atmosphere, it won’t do Joshua any favors. If he was bullied before the President empathized with him, imagine what will happen after….

    2. Antics like this bother me because, as formats change and some films stop being available for purchase in hard copy form, streaming services now have almost editorial control over what is shown. Do we trust Netflix and other streaming services not to edit scenes (or performances) they don’t like?

    3. When you have an angry left willing to try to put out of business a company that doesn’t take the Orange Man Bad jargon seriously, it’s understandable, albeit cowardly, for a company to try to distance itself from Tucker’s rambling.

    4. I don’t blame her…or you.

    5. Since I refuse to pay for $4 drinks, Starbucks bathrooms haven’t been an issue for me. It’s hard not to feel a sense of schadenfreude here, though.

    • If I were a stock-betting man, I should have plunked some money down on Dunkin Donuts years ago. Reasonable prices, not poisoned by Seattle “sensibilities,” and not afraid to attract, ahem, less affluent customers.

  4. President Trump should write the boy and his family, or better yet, call him.

    Or he could send in the National Guard and a Seal Team and blow the school up. Do they allow summary executions in times of revenge in America?

  5. 1. I always hated that movie. POWs helping the evil Japanese and all. The child being bullied is a sign of the coming Civil War.

    2. Netflix is now suspicious, with their warming up to a series by the Obamas and other leftists. I don’t trust them to no censor movies.

    3. “Are there corporations with integrity? Right now I can’t think of any.

    Hobby Lobby

    4. Speaks to the progressive bubble, which they wish to impose upon our reality.

    5. I love it when a virtue signalling business gets the natural consequences of their progressive stupidity. See ‘Sporting Goods, Dicks,’ for another example.

    6. There was no number 6

  6. I think Tucker Carlson is from California. Have you seen pictures of San Francisco lately? He quite possibly means it literally. The human waste, homeless camps, the pollution, all constitutes as ‘dirtier’.

  7. Several Starbucks workers in Seattle say that they’re encountering hypodermic needles on the job nearly every day and that they’ve had to take antiviral medications to protect themselves from HIV and hepatitis.

    Two different situations, both unlikely (yes, I hear the lottery-ticket buyers going what-if what-if whatifwhatif I’ll be the first thefirstthe first!!), so just in general: the information above is vague and misleading. As usual. First of all, someone else’s fresh blood, whether it carries Hepatitis or HIV, does not penetrate intact skin (“intact” means the skin is not actively bleeding from a cut or open wound – and if it was, it would be bleeding OUTWARDS) Okay? We’re talking about what are called “needle sticks”, not hypodermic needles attached to syringes with fresh blood being somehow sloshing around in the barrel of the syringe — it’s never happened, by the way — (try imagining the addict tossing away a syringe that has a drop left in it, having pulled the plunger all the way out.) . Even then, what is going to trigger the plunger to push the blood THROUGH the needle? Answer: nothing not alive. (Aagh, Night of the Mad Infector . Both the US and Canada have kept strict data on both HIV and HCV for the past 35 years (if not by name, by case number), and there has been one – count ’em, one – incidence of HCV (none of HIV) being transmitted via that unlikely scenario. (Presumably anyone cleaning public bathrooms is wearing gloves all the time on the job and has access to as many changes as needed – that’s what they’re for. Gloves are the #1 prevention.)

    Hepatitis C is the more transmissible of the two under almost all conditions. [Sidebar Hepatitis: Both Hep A and Hep B have vaccines. A is rare in the US now; the vaccine is mandatory for certain countries – this is where the “peel the fruit, boil the water” warnings come from; B is carried in feces, thus more likely to be found where Starbucks’ open-door policy abounds but again, any outbreaks are quickly tagged, and gloves are the primary protection for cleanup (While I’m at it — did you know no one has ever caught anything from sitting on a toilet seat? Except splinters. Urban legend, that one, like the razor blade in the Hallowe’en apple.) Anyway, A,B, and C, in ascending order are bad for the liver.

    Which brings me to Hepatitis C [HCV}. This is treatable, with a “cure” rate of 98% but like HIV (which I will get to eventually, I promise) it must be looked for and diagnosed early — there’s no guarantees it will not progress. HIV strikes fear into the hearts due to the misinformation and stigma attached 35 years ago, now comparatively groundless, but most people ignore Hepatitis C. They feel okay, no heavy symptoms, or reasons to get checkups until the steadily eroding liver goes into complete failure or terminal cancer. And meanwhile they’ve infected others — sexually, a mode of transmission that was denied for decades because HIV was such a bogeyman the organizations would not tell anyone that HCV was the same … but easier to get because of its higher vulnerability to blood transmission. I would suppose, I would hope, whoever employs those who do the dirty work is paying to have their liver function tests done regularly.

    The line about “having to take antiviral medications” (or antiretrovirals) leaves people thinking this is a lifetime lifeline for HCV, but this is something that would occur only after a proven contact with the virus for several reasons. One is the side effects that can be unpleasant and disabling, such as frequent nausea, another is that once you start taking these meds you have to stick with the routine pretty strictly until you’re clear of the virus or with HCV may have to take them the rest of your life. And yet another consideration: just as you don’t need to capture and test the rabid animal before starting the four anti-rabies injections, with or without the living “proof,” you do have to be able to … and want to … pay the cost ($3,000.00+ for the four shots) so it’s not something you are going to do every time a strange dog shakes a drop of saliva on you. Even less, I think, is private insurance, the “City,” or Starbucks’ going to want to pay $55.7K-$94K for a 12-week course of meds to stop HepC after every needle stick without knowing precisely what what the exposure consisted of.

    So I’m assuming that, for HCV, these drugs (a three-drug combo) have been allotted for that anomalous syringe full of blood — that has already tested positive for the virus …. the syringe that somehow slipped point-outward into a crack in the floor that the employee fell on top of thus depressing the oddly extended plunger. My guess is that the employee is not getting a cure, but may be taking one or both of the old line, much cheaper, meds (interferon and Ribavarin) which will boost the immune system and keep the employee going with a possible chance of automatic remission instead of going for the gold.

    At last, on to HIV, short and sweet. PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It means taking antiretroviral medicines (in one daily pill) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. Period. (1) PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV, but the sooner it’s started, the more effective. (2) If the meds can be tolerated [women three months of pregnant can tell anyone how to do that!] for 30 days compliance with a continual, regular, daily (same time or close to) schedule, the only thing left is cost, and (3) PEP is affordable: $400 $1,000, often depending on the state or public/private hospitals for the 30 days required., That’s it. No HIV. If there are future needle sticks before the 30 days are up, and the clean-up person wants to get on with the job, the meds can be extended — and usually the worst if not all of the side effects – mostly nausea – have subsided by then.

    I wrote this out after checking online for updated costs and found that seven (out of the 10 most trafficked) websites – no two of which agreed – were worse than ever with outdated, misinformed or invented factoids, fearmongering, and “lies, damned lies and” NO useful statistical information whatsoever. Given the language used, I concluded that they had copied from one another and their own older posts from as far back as thirty years ago. [The worst was put out by the State of West Virginia, written in language designed to scare the daylights out of anyone reading it, thus blocking essential, life-saving knowledge from reaching those who need it most.] The reason for this is that people don’t like to deal with realities like blood and sex unless it’s at the movies or in the realm of the lower orders. More, that they don’t want to know that sexually transmitted diseases are still around (syphillis has had recent outbreaks in the US, among teenagers: going untreated for years because the kids couldn’t talk about it with any adults, including their physicians. They,didn’t know how to talk about it, they just flat didn’t have the words. They, like their parents had a large vocabulary regarding sex, and couldn’t name the essential parts of their bodies or their functions much less how to treat and protect those bodies [cliche coming!] if their lives depended on it Which it did. Which it does .
    The Can’t Happen Here syndrome is contagious. It can.
    Got a question? For HIV, ask at The Body dotandsoforth (and lose the homophobia first or don’t bother).
    For HepC, might as well use the CDC:

      • This bathrooms to shooting galleries thing reminds me of one of my favorite Will Rogers lines: “If you treat your employees like partners, they start acting like partners.” [referring to the unintended consequences of open bathrooms, not to malign the poor Starbucks employees] Just ahead of, “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat.”

  8. Concludes Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection, “The best lesson to be had here may be not to let anything other than profit and customer satisfaction drive your business decisions.”

    I am going to start with the sort of observation you don’t like on its own, but then I am going to clarify and justify it.

    Eastman is an idiot.

    I’m not talking about IQ but rather in the Ancient Greek sense, or the sense in which Karl Marx used it in “rural idiocy”: someone so wrapped up in his or her own perspectives as to be blithely unaware that there could ever be any other considerations.

    In any business, there are typically three main categories of activity: finance (broadly understood), marketing, and its operations proper (e.g. shipbuilding). There are variations, e.g. a bank’s own operations are of a finance sort, so there can be fusion and overlap, but it is important to handle things as separately as possible for all sorts of reasons. This is why the Du Pont measure breaks down return on investment as (return/sales) * (sales/investment) – the first, ROI, is a finance issue, but the other two focus more on marketing and on operations. It helps to be modular.

    Anyway, that separation is where the old saying “never make an engineering decision for accounting reasons” comes from. Space is too short to give examples, but there lots of horror stories about what happens when you break that rule (and its symmetries etc.). And that’s the idiocy: without even realising it, Eastman is advocating breaking that rule. Eastman wants all decisions (including operations/engineering ones) only ever to be driven by accounting/finance reasons and by marketing reasons. Eastman is an idiot.

    Oh, hell, I’ll give you a couple of horror stories in support. In fiction, Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy has the marketers dithering over what colour the first wheel should be. And there is a reputedly true story of a calculator company in which the marketers recommended that future products should have a flashing light to indicate when the battery was dead.

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