Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 9/12/2019: It’s The Ethics Derby, With The Obamas In The Lead, Ms. Monopoly Close Behind, Apple Coming Up On the Rail, And The News Media And The Democratic Party Bringing Up The Rear!

Post time!

I’m stunned at how little publicity and outrage has been generated by the just-revealed Triple Crown scandal. I’m hoping it’s because thoroughbred horse racing is such a marginal sport today that nobody cares about it—quite a fall for “the sport of kings,” which was once among the three most popular sports in the U.S. I fear it is because the public has become so cynical about sports generally that ethical breaches don’t surprise of bother them much.

1. Speaking of ethics insanity in sports: A female teen  champion swimmer for Anchorage’s Dimond High School easily won the 100-yard freestyle during last week’s night’s meet against a rival school. Then she learned that she had been disqualified, because her swimsuit was exposing too much of her buttocks, according to an official. The swimmer was wearing the exact same suit as her team mates and her competition; the problem was, apparently, her body, which was “curvier” than the typical female swimmer, perhaps because she was a mixed-race competitor in a sport that is almost exclusively white.

Another official who was working during the meet, told the Anchorage Daily News that one of the female  refs complained that the bottom of the girl’s suit “was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek.’’

The Horror.

From the Washington Post: “Anchorage School District officials  have announced that they  reviewed the incident and concluded that the teenager “was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body,” and that the referee’s decision was ‘heavy-handed and unnecessary.’ The district is appealing to the Alaska School Activities Association, asking to reverse the swimmer’s disqualification, return all points to her team, and revoke certification for the referee who made the call. The district is also seeking to suspend and eventually revise the guidelines in place for appropriate swimsuit coverage, which officials said were ambiguous and left room for biased interpretation.”

They should also ask that rudimentary ethics alarms be required of all swimming judges.

2. There is hope! Two recent polls—stipulated: any poll is likely to be misleading and worthless–suggest that Ethics Alarms hasn’t been entirely futile in its—to some—excessive coverage of what I believe to be the two most important ethics stories on our times: the Democratic Party’s rejection of its duty to uphold American institutions and respect elections, and the corruption of American journalism. Oh, I have no illusions that this oft-censored little blog has contributed much to enlightening the public, but I’m satisfied that it contributes in a small way to the zeitgeist, which is vital if the nation is going to survive the assault on its values.

The first study comes from the PR agency, Bospar, in collaboration with Propeller Insights. Its survey of 1,010 American adults found that more than 95% are troubled by the current state of the news media, with 53% citing “reports on fake news,” 49% citing “reporting gossip,” and 48% citing “lying spokespeople,” as concerns. 67% believe ethics in journalism will be worse during the 2020 presidential campaign–I’d say that’s a safe bet. I’m amazed that anyone wouldn’t expect this.

Oddly, almost all of my Facebook friends reside in that less than 5% who feel the news media is as pure as the driven snow, and anyone who impugn its objectivity is a Nazi, racist, moronic Trump supporter.

The second comes from the more reliable Pew Foundation. Pew data from last year showed that most Americans had a favorable opinion of the Democratic party, and a negative view of the GOP. 53 % of respondents last September said that they viewed the Democratic party favorably, compared to 42% who said they viewed it unfavorably. In the same survey, 43% had a favorable view of the Republican Party compared to 52% who had an unfavorable view. This September’s Pew survey shows that most Americans view both the Democratic and Republican parties with disfavor, and in exactly equal proportions: 45 % positive,  52%  negative.

Good. The Democratic Party has been behaving crazy and irresponsibly for more than three years, a I’ve tried to document; they deserve this result.

3. I’m shocked..shocked! It looks like Apple rigs results in the search function of its app store to list Apple products first.

Of course it does.

4. From the Ethics Alarms “overplaying your hand” files: Hanisya Massey owns Higher Ground Enterprises, a tiny computer training company in Covina, California. The Obamas seek to trademark their nascent company’s name, Higher Ground Productions,  but the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that it is too similar to the mark  Massey registered in 2017. Barack and Michelle are willing to pay a reasonable price for the name, but Massey, sensing an opportunity, wants to drive a hard bargain, including a guarantee that she can have onscreen roles—they don’t have to be big, now!—in  the Obamas’ future productions for Netflix and others.

No more Mr. Nice President! The Obamas now seek to have Massey’s trademark invalidated. Their Higher Ground Productions filed a petition to cancel  Massey’s trademark on the theory that she was not  actively and regularly using the trademark to conduct business.  If there is not sufficient use of the mark by Massey, then her registrant’s rights vanish.  Higher Ground Productions filed the petition after finding scant evidence of  Massey’s company or use of the trademark.  The  company’s internet presence was dormant for years, and the current website for Higher Ground Enterprises was still “in development” until September 5.

I don’t know why the Obamas couldn’t just shrug and come up with another name. It is also clear that  Massey is being greedy. Fox News and others are framing the story as Obama bullying, but I don’t see it. Massey’s demand for parts in their productions is not reasonable, and tells me that she is trying to cash in, while exploiting her underdog status against the Obamas to gains support in public opinion.

5. Credit where credit is due. But before we get to that… let us give a giant raspberry…

…to Hasbro, the current owners of Monopoly, for promoting division in a classic borad game. Pandering to feminists, progressives, and those who still hold on to the 77 cents on the dollar lie, the toy company is releasing Ms Monopoly, a version of the real estate game in which women earn more than men. Female players start out with 1,900 Monopoly dollars, while male players get 1,500. Women also collect more after passing “Go,” earning 240 Monopoly dollars instead of the usual 200.

Yet the game decided not to right a long-standing wrong by revealing that the inventor of Monopoly was not Charles Darrow, who sold the game to Parker Brothers in 1935, but a woman, Elizabeth Magie, a progressive and feminist.  In 1904, Magie received a patent for  what she called The Landlord’s Game. Players  rolled dice to advance along a path composed of 40 spaces around a square board They purchased property along the way, as well as utilities, railroads and a bank. A corner square told players to “go to jail,” and a trip around the board earned each $100. Here are the details from the patent:

A Quaker community in Atlantic City made copies of the game with the property names replaced by local areas, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, Virginia Avenue, Ventnor Avenue and Boardwalk. Charles Darrow was shown the game by a man who attended a Quaker school with Darrow’s wife, made a few changes, and re-christened the game “Monopoly.”   Darrow sold “his” game to Parker Brothers  in 1935.

The company secured a patent, and George Parker, the company’s founder, realizing that Magie might have a case, visited  her in person and persuaded her to sell the patent for The Landlord’s Game in exchange for $500 and his promise to publish it and two other games of her design. That promise was never kept.

In  the box of Ms. Monopoly, Hasbro writes,

“The Monopoly game as we know it was invented by Charles Darrow, who sold his idea to Parker Brothers in 1935. However, there have been a number of popular property trading games throughout history. In fact, Elizabeth Magie — a writer, inventor, and feminist — was one of the pioneers of land-grabbing games.”

I rate that statement as deceit, and intentionally misleading. Magie’s 1948 obituary made never mentions Monopoly. You would think that a feminist version of the game she developed would at least give her proper credit.

19 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 9/12/2019: It’s The Ethics Derby, With The Obamas In The Lead, Ms. Monopoly Close Behind, Apple Coming Up On the Rail, And The News Media And The Democratic Party Bringing Up The Rear!

  1. What is the point of Ms Monopoly? It’s not like regular Monopoly gives out more money to men than women. Every starts off with the same amount of money and the same opportunity. Through skill and, yes, luck, your fortunes rise or fall.

      • Is this game trolling feminists? Could this be mocking the feminist position? Equal rights for women except when we want better rights! I can’t tell anymore. The world is being written by “The Onion’s” staff.

        • “Women cannot beat men at Monopoly without help! Wage controls should be used to keep women from losing a game! Fairness insists that women are less capable than men, and thus need artificial advantages!”


          I know quite a few women who dispute that message… not all of them are conservative, either.

    • Elizabeth Magie made the game to teach about the inherent abuses of landlords and profiting off poor people. She and Quaker friends hand-copied the games for years before Darrow saw it. They thoroughly underestimated how much fun people would have driving their friends and family bankrupt. So what was supposed to be an object lesson on meanness and cruelty of the system on the poor became a trumpet call for greed and power over friends.

      Unintended consequences, like never have I ever seen a game of ‘never have I’ not bruise or destroy relationships in the player group. It would be an interesting exercise in game redesign to teach that, but it would probably not be any fun. And anyway, how would this special game handle intersex players? Should all the boys declare such to get paid the same? People like board games because standard rules give everyone a fair chance, or else we’d all play unproven cheat-prone things like scissors-paper-rock-lizard-spock. The only copies sold will be rabid collectors and very woke with more money than brains. For the rest of us, regular is far better than the inflated price of a special edition.

  2. “Oh, I have no illusions that this oft-censored little blog has contributed much to enlightening the public, but I’m satisfied that it contributes in a small way to the zeitgeist, which is vital if the nation is going to survive the assault on its values.”

  3. 2. Polls As I commented a couple of days ago, it’s my opinion that the left-tilt (both in what they cover and how) of major media has made polls less reliable than they could otherwise be. That is, they are increasingly reflecting what people have been “pushed” to believe, rather than indicating what the public’s opinions would be if provided with more neutral information. Maybe your polls cited indicate more people aware of this…or does that create some kind of a conundrum?

    Monopoly Do you think there will be a demand that this version be recalled, and Target, etc. will stop selling it and pull their stocks, like they did with the recent version satirizing socialism? Does this new version also make male players permanently withdraw from the game earlier than the females, and turn over all their assets to the girls?

  4. On the Monopoly thing, I thought it was another joke version, like their socialism Monopoly. Maybe I’m not reading enough into it.

    On the polls thing, I watched a video this morning about polls for the 2016 election. One of them, I think it was the ABC one, was redone after someone from Trump’s legal team sent a letter threatening legal action. The issue was the 14 point lead it gave to Clinton. The new poll, which was done a week after the first, showed the two candidates neck and neck. Polls can’t be trusted; statistics is too easily manipulated.

  5. 1. Yeah, the horror, right? You usually have to go to any beach in the entire USA to see such a sight.


    2. News media

    Oddly, almost all of my Facebook friends reside in that less than 5% who feel the news media is as pure as the driven snow, and anyone who impugn its objectivity is a Nazi, racist, moronic Trump supporter.

    Odd, indeed. I’d respectfully suggest some misjudgments on the quality of your Facebook friend’s intellect — and possibly their character as well.

    Good. The Democratic Party has been behaving crazy and irresponsibly for more than three years, a I’ve tried to document; they deserve this result.

    You mean all that anti-Trump bile, virtue-signaling, open borders demands, and identity politics along with lots of offers of free stuff actually caused people to like them less?

    I have hope for American intelligence after all.

    4 and 5. I can’t even…

  6. #2 Why is it that professional researchers polling 1,010 people out of the 253,768,092 USA adult population (that’s 0.000398% of the adult population) or polling a different 1,502 (that’s 0.000592% of the adult population) think that they can extrapolate and present their data in such a way that it appears to prove trends within the whole adult population of the USA? Maybe, just maybe if they had surveyed 1% of the adult population it could be presented as a reasonable representative sample of adults in the USA. With the minuscule number they surveyed it’s as if 2512 people speak for the whole of the USA’s adult population, that’s like asking one person in Tuscaloosa, Alabama ten questions and then saying their answers would be the same for everyone in the entire city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

    I’ve noticed over the last 30 years that statistical representative samples are getting smaller and smaller to the point of absurdity and no one is questioning them. Won’t be long and these kinds of surveys will be conducted with a representative sample of 100 or less.

    Statistics is big business especially in distributing political propaganda, the old phrase “the survey says” has been translated into “the experts say”.

    My anti-statistics rant is now complete.

    All that said; I hope the trends their little surveys show are actually nation wide trends but I’m very skeptical especially in the progressive bubble that dominates the area where I live.

    • A sample size of about 1,000 is more than adequate for a survey of a large group, PROVIDED it’s a random sample of the large group, meaning every individual in the large group had an equal chance of being selected for the survey. A random sample of that size will yield a confidence level greater than 95 per cent, meaning you can be more than 95 per cent sure the results are valid. It also will produce a small confidence interval, the plus or minus of the result. For example, you might have a result that 53 per cent agree with Proposition A, with a confidence level of 98 per cent and a confidence interval of 3. That means you can be 98 per cent sure that 50 to 56 per cent agree.
      Don’t forget random. How can we be sure the sample was random? Most of the time we can’t know that; it’s a matter of trust. And, for very large groups, getting a truly random sample is not possible. Good pollsters approximate it as best they can.
      At least as important — what leading information was the survey group given before the question was asked? And, how was the question asked? If multiple choices were involved, was the order of those choices the same for all survey members, or was that randomized.
      If we don’t have information on how the survey group was selected, or what information was provided to them, or how the questions and responses were structured, then we are left with nothing but trust. Sample size actually is the least of our concerns.
      And, don’t overlook that small percentage that the pollster is completely wrong.

  7. Speaking of polls, 145 CEOs have signed a letter to the Senate, calling for universal background checks and red flag laws. They partially base this call on a recent survey that says the majority of Americans want these things.

    Here’s the article:
    Here’s the survey that I think they’re referencing:

    As Steve said, 1,600 Americans from we don’t know where, are said to speak for the whole country.

  8. Dear Monopoly,

    If you really want to make a (unsubstantiated) point, start me out with $400 less than the men, and then watch me build an empire, with a diapered baby on my hip, a cigarette in my mouth, a Glock 26 Gen 4 in my back pocket, and a 2018 Fleurs de Praire rose in my hand.

    Do not pander to me. Do not.

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