A Bait-And-Switcher Is Called To Account


Our small ethics training and consulting business always has cash flow worries, so when an offer arrived from Reliant Funding promising a quick line of credit, my business partner and COO–also known as my wife—leaped into action. She checked up on the outfit, and all indications were that they were legit. Comments about them on the web lacked any red flags.

Then she called the number listed to apply for the loan, a process promised to take “hours not days,” and activate the loan card, which looked like a credit card with my name on it. Our representative was articulate and informative, and prospects looked rosy. Then my wise COO, herself now crippled by the business curse, ethical thinking, heard  “Steve” say ProEthics could probably get a $10,000 loan. She immediately and curtly said that she would have to call him back.

“This mailer says that a $41, 739 loan was pre-approved. She said. He said the most we could get was $10,000. That mailer is a lie!”

“Correctamundo!” I ventured.

Now Steve was in trouble; you don’t want to cross Grace. Really. She called Steve back, and went on the attack: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III And Any Other Celebrity Who Has Somebody Other Than The Celebrity Send Out Social Media Messages In His Or Her Name


I’m really sick of the “an intern did it” or ” a low level employee did it” explanation when a social media tweet, re-tweet, “like” or message goes wrong and causes an uproar that causes trouble for a celebrity or politician. It’s your name, the person sending the message is your employee and agent who you have authorized to communicate in your name. For the purposes of social media, they are you. Take your medicine, be accountable, own what “you” say online, or get off social media. It’s really as simple as that.

Robert Griffin III is the central figure of a pro football drama that many of those outside of Washington, D.C. or, better yet, those who recognize that pro football is ethics rot put in colorful uniforms to maim minds and and make money every Sunday for more than half the year. Once an NFL rookie of the year, a blooming super-star black quarterback in a majority black city, and the lord of all he surveyed, RGIII, as he is almost exclusively called locally, has fallen far, brought low by bad coaching, injuries, and his own hubris. His one great advantage has been the Skins’ owner’s infatuation with him, as Croesus-like Daniel Snyder runs his franchise like Fantasy league team, and also into the ground.

So how does “RGIII,” a.k.a. the anonymous kid who sends out his tweets and other messages when the star is busy doing what young millionaires do, decide is a great is a great way to show his loyalty to his patron and the man who pays his salary? “He” likes a post from an angry fan that features the hashtag, #inpeachdansnyder.

RGIII, recognizing that this was an especially bad time to tick off his guardian billionaire (he had just been benched by the Redskins’ coach), sent out his own, genuine, reallyreallyreally what he thinks post blaming his intern:

@rgiii I just wanted to set the record straight on this one. I did not “like” that IG post ridiculing our team. I have not been social media active consistently for awhile now and am ultra-focused on working to get back on the field and trying to help this team. One of our interns who helps with Instagram liked the post. As soon as I was made aware of it, it was immediately unliked. That is not how I feel and I appreciate your understanding.

No, actually “you” did like that post, Mr. Star. And if you have “not been social media active,” stop paying someone you obviously don’t supervise to keep you socially media active.

I’m glad they benched you.

(At least Donald Trump makes his own offensive tweets.)

The Unethical Ploy Of The Blameless, Powerless Agent

It happened again.

Do you ever feel like Jerry when they didn't have his rental car?

Do you ever feel like Jerry when they didn’t have his rental car?

I am always friendly, respectful, kind and generous to people behind desks, windows and counters, unless they engage in a particular kind of conduct that is guaranteed to cause me to be confrontational and critical, and that almost always leaves me feeling simultaneously guilty and infuriated. This is when an agent of a service provider announces, almost always with a smile, that the organization/company/government agency will not be able to do what it has assured me, often for a price, that it would do, or is not able to do it at an acceptable level of quality, or perhaps in the promised time frame. The agent helpfully tells me that I am stuck with the  inferior product or service I bargained for and relied upon, and that yes, it shouldn’t be this way, but it is, so there.

Then, when I express some dissatisfaction with that result, explanation, and most important of all, the absence of any guaranty that I will be compensated or that the organization, while acknowledging its failure, has given any thought to compensating those like me or executing some response in time for my problem to be, if not solved, mitigated, the agent pathetically points out that he or she is just a humble and powerless messenger and that it is cruel of me to persist in expressing my dissatisfaction to him or her, since the agent is neither responsible for the problem nor has any power to fix it.

This is where I lose it.

And it happened again.

My wife and I paid close to $1500 ( in fees only, transportation and lodging not included) for the privilege of attending a national conference of a professional association to which we belong. When we arrived at the site hotel to register and pick up our credentials, badges, tickets and materials, shortly before the opening reception, we were told by a cheery, smiling woman that our name and convention materials were not there. “But we paid for them, and pre-registered,” my wife said. “I got a confirmation. We were told in an e-mail response that the materials for events and programs we designated would be waiting for us here.”

“Ah, then you must have registered on-line after Wednesday,” she told, us smiling. “Unfortunately, we were already here by then, and there was no way for us to make out your package! And you don’t have one of our formal, printed, professional badges that make you look like the member you are, but I’m happy to give you a crappy sharpie so you can scratch out a couple and look like you snuck in instead of paying 1500 buck for the privilege. Isn’t that good enough?” (She didn’t quite say it that way, but that was the gist of it.)

“Well, no, actually, it’s not,” I said.  “Your confirmation said that everything would be ready for us here. It isn’t ready.”

“That was just an automatic response, sir.”

THERE it is! “Don’t blame the owners and programmers of the computer, sir—it’s Skynet’s fault!”  Do not tell me that. Ever. Continue reading

Are Citizens of Warring Nations “Innocent”?


“Innocent” and “civilians” apparently go together like a horse and carriage, if one is to believe the cliché used with increasing regularity by journalists, bloggers and even elected officials. The instance that finally provoked me to write about the irresponsible acceptance of this falsehood was the gratuitous appropriation of it by a sportswriter, who, if I understand him correctly, feels the United States has no standing to object to baseball star Barry Bonds’ lying and cheating because it dropped atom bombs on “innocent civilians” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (The sportswriter neglects to mention that these act occurred during wartime; perhaps he doesn’t know.) The exoneration of civilian citizens for the acts of their governments is a relatively new phenomenon, one happily endorsed by the habitually politically correct. It is untrue, and it is time to blow the whistle. Ethics foul. Continue reading

Proposed Rule: Unethical Politicians Have To Be Dumb, Too

Smart unethical politicians can do a lot of harm; it may be years or decades until the public catches on to them, if ever. But unethical politicians who are not so bright do everyone a favor. They don’t know how to cover their misconduct; they often don’t even realize it is misconduct. With luck, they flag both their lack of ethics and their shortage of gray matter while they are running for office.

Take Bessemer, Alabama  Councilwoman Dorothy Davidson, who is running for mayor of the city. Continue reading