Category Archives: Environment

The Flint Water Bills: Is This The Most Outrageous Ethics Story Of The Year?

“What do you mean it’s brown and poisonous? Water is water! Pay up.”

This story out of Flint, Michigan is so wrong, so astoundingly and obviously unethical, such a satire of government ineptitude at its worst and bureaucratic soullessness at its most damning, that I literally didn’t believe that it could be anything but a momentary hiccup, and that it would be resolved by the state, the city, an elected leader with guts and the sense God gave a mollusk, within a day or two, after the voices of millions were heard screaming. “WHAT????”

I was wrong. You want to know why it is insane to place your freedom, health, livelihood and survival and that of your families in the hands of government? THIS is why. Exactly this.

Thousands of Flint, Michigan residents risk losing their homes if they don’t pay their overdue water bills  less than three years since the start of a prolonged, botched, water safety crisis that led to extremely dangerous levels of lead in the city’s water pipes. In a move that will stand through the ages as the epitome of shamelessness and gall,  the Flint government sent threatening letters to more than 8,000 residents warning them they will face a tax lien if they do not pay water and sewage bills they have avoided for six months or more. Residents have until May 19 to pay the delinquent bills, and after that, a process begins that could end with foreclosure on their homes. Flint sends these letters annually to property owners whose payments are at least six months late, but skipped this process in 2016, given that the water the residents weren’t paying for was only technically water at all. The better label was “poison.” This year’s letters cover two years of past-due balances. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

“We’re Environmentally Conscious, So Buy Our Cereal!”

And if you are really just cynical, reckless virtue-signalling grandstanders? How good does that make your cereal?

General Mills, the company that makes Honey Nut Cheerios, launched a creative campaign to raise awareness about declining bee and other pollinator populations in the U.S. and Canada, or, perhaps, to sell more cereal. Which do you guess it is? I’m stumped!

The company gave away 1.5 billion allegedly bee-friendly wildflower seeds attached to its Honey Nut Cheerios boxes. urging consumers to plant the seeds in their backyards and community spaces. More wildflowers, after all, will mean more food and shelter for our stressed honeybee population. There is a real problem to address here: honeybees and the honey industry are threatened. From April 2015 to April 2016, beekeepers lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies.  The U.S. Agriculture Department says that it was the second year in a row that beekeepers lost as many bees during the summer as they did during the winter. Of the 47 species of bees native to the U.S. and Canada, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says more than a quarter face a risk of extinction from pesticide poisoning, climate change, disease and habitat loss.

But General Mills doesn’t really care about honey bees. If it did, it would have put some thought into its promotion. No, all it was doing, like most companies when they advertise, is counting on the cognitive dissonance scale to do its magic:

It works every time. See, environmental sensitivity is at the top of the scale. So are flowers: who doesn’t like flowers? Below the zero mark for a lot of people are empty calorie breakfast cereals and big consumer corporations. Dr. Leon Festinger, who developed the scale more than half a century ago, showed through his research that when something we place high on the scale is associated or linked to something low on the scale, the low item naturally rises in our esteem. (The higher-placed things will drop, too; the process reduces dissonance, the inate human difficulty of holding two inconsistent values.) This is why candidates for office recruit celebrities and sports figures to endorse them, as if Tom Brady or Rihanna have any more expertise about government and politics than the average 7-11 clerk. This is also why the news media and Democrats keep “linking” President Trump to Russia without any evidence whatsoever—to drive him down on the scale. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces

The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016: The Last Of The Worst

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Ethics Alarms wraps up the Worst in 2016 Ethics with the usual education and journalism breaches, Ethics Dunce of the Year, and more delights for the sadistic…

Unethical Government Fiasco Of The Year

The Flint, Michigan water crisisA failure of competence, diligence, responsibility and honesty, compounded by bureaucrats, elected officials, the city of Detroit, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the EPA made people sick and cost billions.

Good job, everybody!

Scam of the Year

Sen.Ted Cruz’s fake “official” mailer before the Iowa Caucus. Cruz’s campaign  sent out mailers labeled in all capital letters, “ELECTION ALERT,” “VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD,” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.” On the other side, the mailer said, in red letters at the top, “VOTING VIOLATION.” The text read:

You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.

This is why Trump’s nickname for Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted,” was crude but accurate.

Ethics Dunces Of The Year

All the social media users and others who ended Facebook friendships, genuine friendships and relationship over the 2016 election. Haven’t they ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Morons. Shame on all of them.

Weenies of the Year

The college students who demanded that exams be cancelled, therapists be available, safe spaces be found, puppies be summoned and cry-ins be organized because the awful candidate they supported in the Presidential election lost, as candidates often do.

How embarrassing.

Unethical University Of The Year 

Liberty University.  This is the most competitive of categories, with all the schools that railroaded male students based on questionable sexual assault claims while quailing in fear of the Dept. of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter,” and all the schools that signaled that the results of a simple election justified PTSD treatment for their shattered charges, as well as making it clear to any students who dared to tilt Republican that they were persona non grata. Nonetheless, Liberty University takes the prize with its unique combination of greed, hypocrisy, and warped values. From the Ethics Alarms post:

Last week, with great fanfare, Liberty hired Ian McCaw as its new athletic director. “My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference.

This is his first paying assignment since May, when he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, also a Christian university. His departure was made essential after a thorough investigation that found that those overseeing Baylor’s  football team as well as the management of  the athletic department—that is, McCaw— had been informed of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by team members and had ignored it, as any good football-loving Christian would….especially when a star was involved.

Continue reading

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Esquire’s Ridiculous Book List Smear

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To paraphrase Michael Corleone, every time I think I’ve gotten away from having to comment on the extraordinary unethical performance of the national media toward the President, they puuuull me back in.

What is the correct and fair reaction to the latest media cheap shot on the President of the United States? This one would have been contemptible to inflict on a candidate before the election; now, almost three months after it, the feature is something to behold. Godwin’s Law is invoked far too often, but in this case, it tells the tale.

Esquire’s embarrassing article is called “20 Essential Books to Prepare You for What’s Next: A handy reading list featuring not-so-speculative dystopian fiction, political memoirs, and cautionary tales from Nazi Germany.” The point being made, of course, though already hackneyed, dishonest and thoroughly debunked, is that the President is Hitler. This contention requires ignorance of the United States culture and institutions, Germany, world history, Hitler and the President, but never mind: hate and fear is all the article is intended to generate, not perception or understanding. Taking it seriously requires blocking out the fact that it is the President’s opponents who are flirting with totalitarian methods, using violence to stifle dissent, trying to overthrow lawful elections, calling for coups, and co-opting the news media. The list is an insult without substantiation or justification; Esquire might just as well have published a full page reading: “The President of the United States is a Poopy-Face, and We Hate Him!” There is no substantive difference.

For anyone who has read the books and is not deranged regarding the President to the point of delusion, Esquire’s book list is kind of hilarious. “1984,” for example, is a vision of Soviet-style totalitarianism, with a news media that distorts facts  to support a political party similar to the way our current news media manipulates it against the current administration, but previously did to bolster the Obama. Indeed, Esquire’s book list itself is Orwellian, using mass communication to control public opinion with deception, emotion and fear.

Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” was considered hysterical when it was written in the Thirties. Including “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a guide to “what happens next” is about as silly an example of fearmongering as one could imagine: Continue reading

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This Is How Our Educational System Teaches Students Not To Challenge Authority

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Hazel Juco, a 17-year-old student at John Glenn High School in suburban Detroit, went to the school’s bathroom to wash her hands. When she turned on the faucet, ugly brown water came out. She then used her cell-phone to take the picture above of the discolored water and posted it to Facebook and Twitter.

Juco says she was soon called to the principal’s office shortly after she posted the photo.“They told me I was being suspended… It’s inappropriate use of electronics in the restroom. And every girl takes selfies in the bathroom and makes it their profile pictures and no one has gotten in trouble,” she said. Indeed, that policy, it has been noted, didn’t seem to apply to the many students in the school whose cell phone use didn’t involve exposing health hazards that school administrators should not allow to exist.

Thanks to social media, the school’s outrageous conduct didn’t remain an internal matter, as it would have in an earlier era. Hazel’s photos were widely circulated, and eventually the news media became involved. After all, this is Michigan, and there was that little episode involving inept elected officials and agency administrators poisoning the Flint water supply just a few months back. Hazel Juco was hardly being an alarmist.

When reporters called Wayne-Westland Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Harmala, and she said school administrators made a mistake by not reporting the water issue to maintenance, and the rule against students taking pictures in bathrooms was misapplied, since Juco was taking photos of polluted water rather than students using the toilet. It’s an easy mistake to make! Anyone could make it!

Sure.

The deteriorating  pipe leading to the faucet is being replaced, and the suspension has been expunged from Juco’s record. How nice. Nonetheless, the fascist, incompetent and abusive administrators remain in their jobs, and though Hazel’s unjust punishment has been retracted, the message sent by it remains. The school has taught the lesson that it is dangerous to speak out, perilous to blow the whistle, and risky to point out the deficiencies of those with power.

Unless the counter-message is sent that Hazel did the right thing, and that serious career consequences await administrators and teachers who seek to cover up their own ineptitude by intimidating students, these episodes will continue.

 

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Ethics Dunces: National Park Visitors

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The major reasons for the increase in National Park visitors breaking rules by getting too close to the wildlife and disturbing the integrity of the parks in other ways appear to be…selfies, selfies, selfies, and too many morons.

I may be over-simplifying, but not much. From a CBS report:

Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary.From Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Continue reading

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This Just In: Journalism Ethics Is Still Dead…

An ad currently running on the New York Times website:

Drone footage that shows Greenland melting away. Long narratives about the plight of climate refugees, from Louisiana to Bolivia and beyond. A series on the California drought. Color-coded maps that show how hot it could be in 2060.

The New York Times is a leader in covering climate change. Now The Times is ramping up its coverage to make the most important story in the world even more relevant, urgent and accessible to a huge audience around the globe. We are looking for an editor to lead this dynamic new group. We want someone with an entrepreneurial streak who is obsessed with finding new ways to connect with readers and new ways to tell this vital story.

The coverage should encompass: the science of climate change; the politics of climate debates; the technological race to find solutions; the economic consequences of climate change; and profiles of fascinating characters enmeshed in the issues. The coverage should include journalism in a variety of formats: video, photography, newsletters, features, podcasts, conferences and more. The unit should make strategic decisions about which forms are top priorities and which are not.

The climate editor will collaborate with many others throughout the newsroom, but will operate apart from the current department structure, with no print obligations. (The Times is also searching for editors to lead similar teams exploring education and gender.)

This is, of course, smoking gun evidence of a political agenda, bias, and the intent of the Times to warp policy and public opinion according to what it has already determined is “the most important story in the world.”  Continue reading

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