July 4th Celebration Ethics

Since anything this President of the United States says, tweets, decides or does is automatically wrong, bad, stupid or ominous (according to 90% of the news media and the immovable “resistance”) the big story today will undoubtedly be how lousy the Trump-produced celebration in Washington, D.C. is.

Nobody will mention that the celebration has been pretty continuously lousy for decades, low-lighted by the hollowed out, aging, croaking shell of The Beach Boys that headlined the festivities for so many years, giving it the whiff of a cheesy local summer  county fair. It was high time someone shook up the thing, and this President, who has experience in theatrical production, is as good a choice to do that as anyone, except for those who refuse to concede that he is good for anything.

Most of the recent bitching has focused on the President’s insistence that a tank be part of the festivities. I can see several reasons why the President, or any President, might want to do this. The tank is a symbol of  military force, and a less ambiguous one than parading soldiers. In the midst of the kind of tough diplomacy with several hostile powers, sending the message that this administration, unlike the last one, is not reluctant to project the threat of military action has some obvious benefits.

Or maybe the President just likes tanks. Continue reading

When Big Corporations Act Exactly As Bad As Bernie Sanders Says They Are..

Thank you city

Banking behemoth Citigroup is suing AT&T for using  “Thank You” in ads, because Citigroup claims that it owns the trademark on “THANKYOU.” See, it’s not enough that corporations want us to think of them when we go to a baseball game or maybe when we are wishing that our children never existed. They want us to think of them when we are being nice, too

No, this is not a hoax. I wish it were.

Law professor/blogger Jonathan Turley, who hates this as much as I do, has kindly provided links to other examples of this nauseating phenomenon (this , and this, yes, and this , don’t forget this, oh, and this nonsense , this ,this too ,here ,here ,another one here, here as well, and this), but this is really the last straw, or should be. Continue reading

No More And The Ethics Of Awareness

NO-MORE-MUG-11ozI was aware of the flimsiness of No More, the NFL’s designated mouth piece to show that it cares about domestic violence, when I recently reviewed the Super Bowl ads. It wasn’t the place to raise the issue, but now Deadspin writer Diana Moskovitz had done so in explosive fashion, in a piece called “No More, The NFL’s Domestic Violence Partner, Is A Sham.”

I think “sham” is a bit harsh, but her point is well-taken: the organization doesn’t really do anything to stop domestic violence. Its sole goal is to raise awareness of the problem by creating a “brand” that can be plastered on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, stickers and tote bags. Oh—there’s also a pledge you can take. That’s about it. If you expected that the organization giving us the frightening ad featuring the terrified woman calling 911 was more than this, I guess “sham” may be fair. “Scam” may even be fair.

As Moslkovitz explains with barely restrained anger, No More is all about PR and feeling virtuous. It was inspired by the AIDS ribbons, which in turn were inspired by the yellow ribbons people wore to show support for the Iranian hostages in 1979, which in turn were inspired by…a Tony Orlando and Dawn song. As with Michelle Obama’s hashtag appeal to brutal Nigerian terrorists, none of these symbolic efforts are substantive, but they do make the good, caring people who perform them feel like they are solving a problem. Of course, they aren’t. Moskovitz:

“You know why they are doing this? Because it works. Because it makes money. Because we love pretending to care, especially when a brand makes it easier for us to do by removing all the pain, horror, darkness, and self-reflection and turning concern for others into products—preferably ones that can be worn. Do those teenage boys wearing “I Heart Boobies” really care about breast cancer? Probably not, but at least they’re thinking about it, right? And even if they don’t think about it, they generated money (a nickel on the dollar, maybe, but better than nothing) for a good cause!

This is how low our standards are. Gesture toward a good cause and you’re practically unassailable. No More gave Goodell and the NFL a cheap and perfect way out of a public relations disaster and we shouldn’t be surprised. We do the exact same thing every day when we throw on our Toms, our pink baseball hats, and our latest rubber bracelet of choice, shopping our way into another day with pure hearts and clean consciences.”

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: University of Wisconsin

I am not 100% certain that the University of Wisconsin’s complaint about Nike’s responsibilities is fair. The important thing is that the University has thought the matter through, decided what the right thing to do is after serious analysis, and is taking principled action.

The Universityhas cancelled its licensing agreement with Nike to protest what it considers Nike’s inadequate efforts to help laid off workers in Honduras factories that make Nike products. Two factories that abruptly closed, both Nike sub-contractors, have not paid the $2.6 million in severance required  by Honduras law.Under The school’s Code of Conduct commits the 500 companies that make products bearing the University of Wisconsin logo to take responsibility for their subcontractors’ actions. In rejecting Nike, Wisconsin will be forfeiting royalty income from its Wisconsin products. Continue reading