Category Archives: Finance

Latest Ethics Notes On The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, Part 3

denial

Continuing from Part 1 and 2…

9. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign circulated a draft letter critical of James Comey to former federal prosecutors, implicitly inviting them to comment publicly.  (This is an implied but unenforceable quid pro quo. These people are good...) Eric Holder, naturally, former US attorney general Michael Mukasey and poor, disgraced former Bush AG Alberto Gonzalez heeded the dog whistle, all disgracing themselves in the process.

Not one of them are privy to the evidence involved, and for these men to be using their positions and reputations to level charges and accusations at a high-placed law enforcement official based on speculation and partisan warfare is unethical. It is unfair, and  undermines the public trust. This is always something that former officials should avoid, as a near absolute. The Golden Rule also applies. These men know how hard these jobs are, and what they would have thought about  ex-officials criticizing them. Basic professional ethics principles discourage this.

Holder, of course, is a proven Clinton hack. Gonzalez might even make Comey look better by criticizing him, so thoroughly discredited is he. (My guess is that he’s desperately attempting to fashion a new pubic image.)

Mukasey’s comments may have been the worst of all. He took the opportunity of the current controversy to attack Comey again for his decision not to recommend that Clinton be indicted. (Meanwhile, CNN used his name in a misleading headline implying that he was criticizing Comey for his letter to Congress. It initially fooled me.) Speaking of the earlier Coney statement, he said,

“This wasn’t Comey’s call. It is not his function as director of the FBI to decide who gets charges and doesn’t. It’s his function to gather evidence. And he didn’t fulfill that function very well. But it’s certainly not his function to get up and pronounce on whether charges should be brought or whether a reasonable prosecutor would ever bring them.I don’t think he should have been this fix. I don’t think he should have put either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.”

Wrong (1): it was Comey’s call, because Loretta Lynch told the public that Justice would accept the recommendation of the FBI regarding Clinton’s possible prosecution. Did Mukasey follow the story? I guess not.

Wrong (2): Comey’s extensive public statement in July was necessary to ensure transparency and trust after Loretta Lynch stupidly allowed Bill Clinton to appear to be brokering a deal with her. Presumably Mukasey wouldn’t have done that.

Wrong (3): So Comey did notput either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.” Obama put them in this fix, by allowing his Secretary of State to skirt security policies. Holder put them in this fix, by operating such a blatantly partisan and political Justice Department that public trust in a fair investigation of the presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate was impossible. Lynch put them in this fix, by not resigning.

To his credit, Mukasey did dismiss Harry Reid’s and Richard Painter’s Hatch Act nonsense with appropriate disdain, saying, “That’s baloney. I mean, you know, it’s sort of an amusing talking point for three and a half seconds, but it’s not serious.”

10. The issue is not whether Donald Trump is as corrupt and dishonest as Hilary Clinton, or even more so. In trying to shift focus to Trump to allow Clinton, as usual, to wiggle out of the well-earned consequences of her own wrongdoing by distraction, confusion, and diversion, Clinton’s corrupted allies are throwing every accusation and innuendo at Trump that they can concoct or dig up. It-Doesn’t-Matter. Trump is horrible, the bottom of the barrel, UNDER the barrel, at the bottom of a long, narrow pit under the barrel. Understood. That still doesn’t make Hillary less corrupt, less untrustworthy, and less dishonest. Nor less ruthless, cynical, manipulative, venal and totalitarian.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Trump’s Taxes

trump-taxes

“The New York Times obtained records from 1995 showing that Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss. The figure is so substantial that it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income tax for 18 years,” exclaimed the New York Times in today’s big “scoop.”

Observations:

1. The New York Times should not be publishing anyone’s tax returns who has not publicly released them. It’s unethical. They Times has the right to print just about anything, or course, but like all newspapers, it is obligated to exercise that right responsibly and fairly. This is neither. Tax returns are private. These tax returns reveal no crime, and nothing unethical on Trump’s part.

2. Nor does the public have a “right to know” Trump’s taxes. It has a right to trust Trump less than otherwise because he refuses to release his taxes, and has a right to think less of Trump for not following the recent accepted practice of candidates to release their tax returns. The public has no more right to see his tax returns without his consent, however, than it has a right to see mine.

3. What Trump’s taxes “could” have allowed him to do isn’t news. Nor is it responsible speculation.

4. This tax expert argues persuasively that it is highly unlikely that the returns mean what the Times says they do. Either way, it is all innuendo and speculation.

5. Federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Someone Explain To Me, Please, Why Anyone Should Trust Wells Fargo With Their Money Ever Again?

Federal regulators announced today that  Wells Fargo employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts without their customers requesting them or being informed, knowing since 2011.  Employees even created phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services, the CFPB said.The stealth accounts allowed the bank to charge millions in illicit fees,  while Wells Fargo employees boosted their sales figures and earned bonuses. Wells Fargo told CNNMoney that it had fired a staggering 5,300 employees over the last few years as they discovered the misconduct—but they didn’t tell customers what had been going on. .An investigation revealed that bank employees opened over 1.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts.

The scamster employees moved funds from customers’ legitimate accounts into newly-created ones without their knowledge or consent, regulators say. Then the victims were  charged for insufficient funds or overdraft fees when  there wasn’t enough money in their original accounts. Wells Fargo hustlers also submitted applications for 565,443 credit card accounts without their customers’ consent.

In response, the feds have hit Wells Fargo with the largest penalty since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began was founded in 201, ironically right around the timeWells Fargo started cheating its customer.. The bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines, along with $5 million to refund customers.

I don’t care how much the bank pays, or even if I get some of it (The Marshalls banked there, but as soon as I get home, that’s going to end.) I don’t care of I have to keep the nest egg in an old sock. I’m not trusting these people. The managers are inept or corrupt, and the lower employees are poorly trained and supervised, as well as crooks. This is a bank. The management has high fiduciary duties. It breached all of them. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Finance, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Comment Of The Day: “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”

Milwaukee rioting

Chris Marschner, a grandmaster of the Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day feature, issued another deserving one with his thoughts on the Milwaukee riots. It is a highlight of the threads generated by this topic, but there are many other highlights amid the 90+ comments, including an Alamo-like stand against overwhelming odds (and logic) by that prolific, embattled, and adamant EA progressive, deery. The whole discussion is well worth reading. Deery also authored the comment that inspired Chris’s response below.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”:

For the life of me I cannot see how any rational human being can justify rioting and the looting businesses because they feel they are owed something for being “oppressed”. What the hell did the gas station or auto parts store do to them? Does that case of Cheezits being carried out of the store address all of your complaints, or is it just a partial down payment on a never ending invoice for the injustice you perceive? Sorry I have no sympathy for anyone who had myriad opportunities to become educated in a manner that would permit them to read, write, perform arithmetic calculations, and just plain think.

No amount of funding can overcome community apathy. Especially, when apathy is the root cause of the need for funding in the first place. The community needs to recognize that if it wants things to be different then it needs to come to grips with the idea that they must take on the lion’s share of the work to enjoy a better life; it cannot be bestowed upon them. It must pool its own resources first before it requests resources from others. It must demonstrate that it is committed to being responsible for the work of changing the situation. Any one who thinks jobs and opportunities will simply emerge with more government spending in areas that suggest crime is rampant needs his/her head examined. No amount of tax abatement will overcome the cost of rebuilding a business that has been burned to the ground. It should be noted that the police did not spray paint tags all over other people’s buildings. It’s not urban art, it’s vandalism. The police did not create the need for security grates over the glass windows of shops. The police did not throw litter all over the street and dump furniture and tires wherever they pleased. More importantly, within the BCPD, the officers charged with various felonies while on the force were predominantly non-white so it not always a racial issue.

I grew up in Baltimore City. I lived there from 1956-1989. I went to Balto. City public schools (BCPS). I went to Woodbourne Jr. High and graduated from Northern High in 1974. Both schools were integrated and each had its share of bad actors be they white or black. In those days black parents wanted to keep their kids away from the “element”. I don’t think that is the case today. Today we celebrate the gangsta persona.

I was neither a star pupil nor a bad student. What I did learn from my father was that college was not something I could ask for help with and no school counselor ever suggested that I consider college. I saw the battles my older brother went through to get him to fill out the financial information on the financial aid applications. My father hated to disclose his income. Perhaps it was because he felt inferior to what others made or maybe he just did not like the idea of getting government assistance. I don’t know. I just learned not to ask about college. To this day I don’t remember either parent talking to me about college except for when I was in 8th grade and I could not pass the foreign language class which was required for college prep.

I did not go to college immediately after high school. Ironically, both my parents were Baltimore City Public School teachers for much of their lives. My mother who taught English was known as that white honky bitch at Northern Parkway Junior High. That’s what the parents called her when she called them to discuss a student’s lack of progress. She got called that a lot. I saw the tears of frustration.

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Filed under Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Finance, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Month—But Awfully Revelatory, If You Have The Integrity To Accept What It Means—California Gov. Jerry Brown

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“Economically, minimum wages may not make sense. But morally, socially, and politically they make every sense because it binds the community together to make sure parents can take care of their kids.”

—–Governor Jerry Brown on April 4, as he signed into law a phased state-wide increase in the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour.

As Commentary wrote in reaction to this jaw-dropping admission following an irresponsible act, “Good intentions have always inoculated the left against criticisms of the consequences of their policy preferences.” This has become a culture-wide, self-destructive malady during the Obama administration, led by the President. Lately, Obama has become increasingly open about it, as when the President killed the Keystone pipeline citing climate change concerns while admitting that doing so would have no likely effect on climate change, but most of his “signature policies” are similar. The Iran deal bids fair to leave Israel as a smoldering wasteland, and the Iranian government has gone out of its way to demonstrate that it cannot be trusted while already violating, as even Obama admits, the “spirit” of the deal, but God Bless Obama for trying to restrain its nuclear ambitions.

The Affordable Care Act is failing in virtually every respect, fulfilling most of the dire predictions of its opponents, but this is still an “achievement” because, and it’s true, more Americans are insured than before. Obama’s Education Department’s sincere—I’ve no doubt about it—effort to make women feel supported and safe on college campuses seeded extensive due process abuse and discrimination against male students, and the most-gender divided campus community since the Seventies. His civil rights policies and rhetoric have created the worst racial divide since the early 1960’s. The intentions in all of these cases were, at least arguably, impeccable and admirable, and apparently for committed progressives, it is that, and not that the policies in pursuit of Panglossian goals have been societally disastrous, that matters.

The mass insanity of raising the minimum wage is the apotheosis of this mania. Note that I am trying to attribute the best possible motives with this: I have read many conservative writers who believe that the left knows the policy will be catastrophic economically, but because it will be politically useful in the short-term, they don’t care about the long-range consequences. Admittedly, statements like Brown’s makes this difficult for me not to agree with them, except that it is usually considered stupid to tell voters that what you are doing makes no sense.

To state what should be obvious, if  large minimum wage increases don’t make sense economically, that means they are bad policy, incompetent, and thus unethical. And we know–know—that they do not make sense economically.

Here’s economist Robert Samuelson: Continue reading

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Barbra Gives An Ethics And Intelligence Test!

Streisand tweet

Quick, now: what is Babs missing, other than the basic ethics principle that “Everybody does it” is not a justification or an excuse for unethical conduct?

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Finance, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Quotes, Social Media

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Hillary Clinton

hedge funds

Among her almost infinite flaws, Hillary Clinton is stunningly lacking in self awareness, and her statements often—astoundingly often—point to her own misconduct and ethical bankruptcy without her comprehending the self-indictment. She has tweeted, more than once, this sentiment, for example:

“To every survivor of sexual assault…You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you.”

…though Hillary was emphatically not “with” the women who credibly accused her husband of sexual assault, and still do. She will make statements to one group that are the exact opposite of what she recently said to another group, without batting an eye. Hillary actually committed the meta-lie of saying she never has lied, which is manifestly unbelievable. Then there was this Titanic-style gaffe…

“There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail.”

…coming from someone who is, many legal experts believe, not already under indictment purely because she is “too big to jail.” (and then there is hubby Bill, who engaged in flat-out illegal election conduct in Massachusetts that you or I would have been arrested for, and didn’t even get a rap on the wrists.) Neither Clinton has any integrity at all, or shame either. It’s really quite stunning.

Last week, Hillary tweeted this howler:

Hillary Tweet 1

This is an example of a politician intentionally playing to class divisions, ignorance and bias, and worse, encouraging them. It is exactly like saying that it is “unacceptable” that Jimmy Fallon, who only hosts a silly late night show, makes more money than any cancer surgeon, special needs teacher or EMT alive. In some ways it is worse, because most people understand what those jobs are, and may  sort of comprehend the economic principles at work: if Jimmy Fallon drops dead, there is no replacement who will bring to the job exactly what Jimmy Fallon did. He is a unique commodity, and EMT’s are not. The statement is just an emotional attack on the fact that people value laughing over things that are objectively more practical, and entertainment salaries reflect that. Continue reading

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