Category Archives: Marketing and Advertising

A New Way To Be Unethical On An Airplane, Courtesy of “The Hamilton Effect”

I’m in O’Hare, with about 20 minutes to post something, and amazingly, I just witnessed something of ethics significance.

As my United flight from Sacramento was at the O’Hare  gate, with passengers waiting for the jetway to be set up, a young man stood up in the middle of the plane and launched into a loud sales pitch for his depression counseling services!

Let’s call this ‘The Hamilton Effect,” in which people assume that a captive audience is there to be inflicted with their particular rants, business promotions and other intrusions.

The flight attendants had no idea what to do.  He was behind me, and I didn’t feel like fighting my way to him, intervening, and telling him, “You’re depressing ME. Shut up. We’re not your infomercial audience, and we didn’t consent to being bombarded by propaganda or marketing blather.”

Now I’m ticked off that I didn’t. Next time, I’ll be ready. This has to be nipped in the bud.

Oh, this probably wasn’t really sparked by “Hamilton’s” ambush of Mike Pence, but I’m going to blame the production and cast anyway. And all the ethics-challenged theater professionals who applauded this breach of trust.

On another topic, David Cay Johnston,the journalist who revealed the President’s 2005 tax returns, offers a rebuttal to my recent post, here. What fun!

7 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Marketing and Advertising

Comment Of The Day: “Catching Up On “Instersectionality,” And Finally Paying Attention”

These do not exist.

My heart sank when the I saw that the extremely lively debate following yesterday’s post about “intersectionality” had sparked a posting of “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Paula McIntosh, who either was time traveling  from 1947 or who was awakened from a coma in 1988 and set it to paper.  The list was out of date then, and it is 29 years old now: one of my favorite aspects of perpetual victim-mongers is that they always pretend that no progress has been made in ethics and human relations, because progress puts them out of business. 

I had to debunk this thing, but there were other priorities hanging over me. Fortunately, reader Isaac took up the challenge. This is often the case in Ethics Alarms, where the remarkable reader base either assists me in doing my job, or, as in this case, does it for me, often better than I could. Isaac chose humor to do the job here, and looking over the material, that might have been the kindest course.

Here is Isaac’s epic Comment of the Day on the post, “Catching Up On “Instersectionality And Finally Paying Attention.” (I’ll have a few comments at the end.)

I wish to thank Deery for sharing about the “Invisible Knapsack” of 26 White Privileges invented by someone named McIntosh. I had never heard of it and am eager to unpack all of unseen ways that the White-spiracy has gifted me with an implicit advantage over my colored people friends. By knowing what my white privilege affords me, I can now exploit it and achieve my highest potential! Let’s dive in.

—-“1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.”—-

That can’t be right, and I don’t just mean the sentence structure. My neighborhood in Riverside County, California is about 65% Latino and 15% Black. And I can’t afford to move. I like it here. But if I did want to move to Orange County or Malibu or whatever and hang around fellow Whites all day, I can’t afford it. Maybe McIntosh can connect me to the secret White Privilege Office that will hook me up with a McMansion in Irvine.

—-“2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live.”—–

Seriously, McIntosh? I just went over this. If it costs more than a one-bedroom apartment in Perris, I CAN’T afford it. Who is McIntosh and why does she believe that being White gets you real-estate discounts?

—-“3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.”—-

My neighbors have been pretty cool except for the three or four people who have robbed me or smashed some of my property. Is this the realization of my White privilege or do I still have untapped benefits?

—-“4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”—-

I got kicked out of a gift store once as a teenager, but to be fair, I WAS shoplifting at the time.

I’ve only been unfairly followed or harassed while shopping a few times. But I checked with some of my Brown and Black friends, and they ALSO had only been followed or harassed while shopping a few times. That number should be WAY higher for them than for me. What kind of white privilege is this? Why are my benefits not notable?

—-5. “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”—-

To check my privilege in this area I turned on the television and looked at a newspaper, and was surprised to find that yes, there were quite a few white people there. Sweet, privilege! But it gets better! I checked Wikipedia and found out that White people make up almost two thirds of the population of America! Wow! How can a group of people that make up 63% of a country’s population also be seen on the television and newspapers constantly? It’s gotta be a conspiracy, baby! A sweet, sweet, white conspiracy.

—-“6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”—- Continue reading

30 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Rights

A Very Bad Month For Price Waterhouse Coopers

Earlier this month, Big Four accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers sustained a high-profile hit to its reputation when  the senior accountants the firm sent to ensure the integrity of the Oscars broadcast, a job the firm has had for more the half a century,  couldn’t manage to hand out the correct envelope at the televised ceremony’s surrounding.  Now it looks like the chaos that this botch created was a prelude to far, far worse. Awards For years, federal investigators have been scrutinizing ’s overseas tax affairs with no resolution to the examinations of the complex maneuvers involving billions of dollars and one of the company’s Swiss subsidiaries.

Now, a report commissioned by the government  accuses the equipment manufacturing giant  Caterpillar of carrying out a massive tax and accounting fraud, involving billions of dollars. The accounting firm Caterpillar employed to perform its audits?

The envelope please?

You guessed it.

The report, part of a wide investigation being undertaken by the United States attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois, the IRS and  the Inspector General of the F.D.I.C., thus far is neither public nor made available to Caterpillar for review, It  describes an illegal company strategy to bring in billions of dollars from offshore affiliates while avoiding federal income taxes.  Leslie A. Robinson, an accounting professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and the author of the report concluded that…

“Caterpillar did not comply with either U.S. tax law or U.S. financial reporting rules. I believe that the company’s noncompliance with these rules was deliberate and primarily with the intention of maintaining a higher share price. These actions were fraudulent rather than negligent.”

Dr. Robinson’s 85-page analysis, based on publicly available and internal financial data from Caterpillar as well as bank data tracking wire transfers from Switzerland into the United States, found  that Caterpillar brought back $7.9 billion into the U.S. structured as loans, over and beyond the income that had already been taxed overseas. The company failed to report those loans for tax or accounting purposes, though under U.S. law  those profits were be subject to federal taxes.

For example, the professor  found  correspondence between the company and the Securities and Exchange Commission in which Caterpillar said it had $2.5 billion of income eligible to be brought to the United States tax-free. The company, she wrote, did not have “anywhere near” that much money still available to be brought in tax-free.

No charges have been filed yet. Last week, federal agents raided three Caterpillar buildings near its headquarters in Peoria, Ill., as part of the investigation. Caterpillar said it was cooperating with law enforcement, but denied wrongdoing. The Internal Revenue Service is currently seeking more than $2 billion in income taxes and penalties on profits earned by the Swiss unit.

Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Ethics Train Wreck Update: Now The Dictionary People Have Boarded The Post-2016 Election Freakout

It’s really depressing. I did not expect to see so many professions and professionals debase themselves and their ethical principles because they couldn’t deal with the results of a presidential election. . Historians. Judges. Scientists. Professors. College presidents and administrators. Performing artists. Intelligence community professionals. Judges. Journ–well, no, that one wasn’t a surprise.

My own profession, legal ethicists, booked a seat on the ethics train wreck, a development that was profoundly disappointing. Wrote one member of the profession who has remained clear -eyed while keeping his integrity, Steve Lubet in Slate,  “As a liberal Democrat, I have no sympathy for Conway’s habitual disregard for truth. As a professor of legal ethics, however, I think this complaint is dangerously misguided and has the potential to set a terrible precedent…The professors no doubt have faith in the professionalism of the District of Columbia Office of Disciplinary Counsel, but the bar authorities in other states may not always be reliably even-handed or apolitical. It is hardly inconceivable that lawyer discipline might somewhere be used as a weapon against disfavored or minority candidates, or as a means to squelch protest movements and insurgent campaigns. In the 1940s and 1950s, suspected Communists and alleged “fellow travelers” found their law licenses in jeopardy in many states. In the 1960s and 1970s, civil rights lawyers were hauled before the bar authorities in the South. The complaint against Conway is an unfortunate step back in the direction of using lawyer discipline against political enemies….”

Bingo.

Now “America’s dictionary,” Merriam-Webster, has decided that it is within its mission and purview to attack and mock the President of the United States..

Almost immediately after his election, the dictionary’s editors began trolling Trump and his administration, defined, by Merriam-Webster, as “to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant or offensive comments or other disruptive content.”

The website Acculturated has observed that on social media and its website Merriam-Webster has  ridiculed the President  “for his every spelling mistake, grammatical error, and verbal gaffe. In honor of the election, they changed their header photo to a picture of a German word defined as the “collapse of a society or regime marked by catastrophic violence and disorder.” Then they highlighted what they claimed was the word most frequently looked-up, “fascism.” On Inauguration Day, they tweeted “Welp,” a word that conveys dismay or disappointment. The company also derided Betsy DeVos, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, and, of course, Kellyanne Conway.

This, needless to say, is not their job, their mission, or responsible professional conduct. It is, as it is for the other derailed professionals, smug virtue signalling and tribalism. Acculturated again:

[T]he dictionary’s editors are clearly partisan. They didn’t harass Hillary Clinton, and they don’t needle sports stars, celebrities, or, well . . . anyone else like they needle the President and his people.Theoretically, even that could be okay—a good, playful, occasional joke from the dictionary could have the whole country laughing. But if you mock one person too often, you start to reveal a pattern. If that pattern persists, the fun and games lose their light-hearted feel, and begin to betray bias instead.

Ya think???

Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, language, Marketing and Advertising, Professions, Public Service, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Fast Food Ethics: Subway’s Chicken TASTES Like Chicken—Isn’t That Enough?

OK, what's in this Teriyaki Sweet Onion Chicken sandwich? (Hint: It's a trick question...)

OK, what’s in this  Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich? (Hint: It’s a trick question…)

DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, working out of  Peterborough, Ontario, analyzed six popular chicken sandwiches served at various fast food chains. Unadulterated chicken should have 100% chicken DNA, or close to it. Seasoning, marinating or processing meat  bring that number down some , so fast food  wouldn’t be expected to have a perfect score.

The chicken in the following sandwiches were tested: McDonald’s Country Chicken – Grilled,Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe,Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap, Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich, and Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, which is made with chicken strips.

The lab tested two samples of five of the chicken meat fillings, and one sample of the Subway strips. From each of those samples, the researchers isolated three smaller samples and tested each of those. The scores were then averaged for each sandwich. The results? Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Animals, Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Candy Packaging Ethics: How Much Air Can A Candy Box Contain Without Being Deceptive?

Peeps Manufacturing

Stephanie Escobar is suing the makers of “Mike and Ike,”  claiming that it is misleading customers by filling nearly half the box with air rather than candy. She bought a box of “Mike and Ike” for  $4 at a Los Angeles movie theater, and was stunned  to find that  46 percent of the it  was filled air, what is known in the business as “slack-fill.”  She checked a box of Hot Tamale candy sold by the same company, and there was only 54% candy in that box too, disappointing her greatly.

Her suit argues candy maker “Just Born Quality” Confections is violating California’s false advertising law, unfair competition law and the consumer legal remedies act.

(This is a separate movie candy ethics issue from the apparently obscene $4 price, much on my mind since on my recent visit to the the theater to see “Fences,” a drink, hot dog and popcorn cost me $19. 85. Movies charge those prices to keep the prices of tickets down, and in the aggregate, that is better for consumers and the theater than charging 20 bucks for the movie and half as much for the junk food.)

Just Born vice president Matt Pye promised a vigorous defense to the “baseless allegations.”“Our products and labels comply with all FDA regulations and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchase decisions,” Pye said in a statement.

That rather ducks the issue, doesn’t it? How often have you been shocked that a container is mostly air? Many products, candy notable among them, have been reducing the size of the product sold rather than raising the price. That is fair enough, if one can see what one is purchasing. A box, however, doesn’t permit a consumer to see what’s inside. The argument that the labels are compliant isn’t the same as proving that it’s ethical to have a container that’s twice as large as the the contents require.

Fortunately, I’ve always hated Mike and Ike. AND Hot Tamale. But now I’m wondering about my Raisinettes…

____________________________

Pointer: ABA Journal

16 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

Unethical Websites, Unethical Publicity Campaign, Unethical Studio…Of The Month.

...but none for stupidity.

…but none for stupidity.

“Do what?”

“Sure, why not? What a great idea!”

As part of its marketing campaign for 20th Century Fox’s new  film “A Cure for Wellness,” the studio created and launched realistic websites for the Sacramento Dispatch, the Houston Leader, the Salt Lake Guardian, the New York Morning Post and  the Indianapolis Gazette. They included a graphic displaying the current weather , and above the above the story, the standard labels, such as  News, Business, Sports, Entertainment. None of these publications are real. None of them included any disclaimers or explanations.

They did contain fake anti-Donald Trump stories. One especially popular one among Trump haters on social media claimed that the President  was refusing  to provide California federal support  as 188,000 citizens were evacuated to avoid the Oroville Dam overflow. Sanctuary cities, you know.  Trump is so mean. Can we impeach him yet?

Eventually the sites and stories were discovered to be fake. When asked  about the strategy, a spokesperson for Regency Enterprises, the film’s  production company, explained that  “‘A Cure for Wellness’ is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker. “As part of this campaign, a ‘fake’ wellness site healthandwellness.co was created and the company partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news.”

Oh. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, The Internet, Unethical Websites