Obama’s Damaging Ethical Blind Spot

For several years, I have been using a hypothetical in my business ethics courses involving the head of a non-profit who brings in a fundraising whiz to help the organization survive. While he is settling in and before he has had time to rescue the organization with his fundraising wizardry, she has asked the staff to accept a freeze on raises and hiring, and has cut other expenses, and even some staff. She asks the new fundraiser to live with his dilapidated office, though she had promised him a redecoration while recruiting him. But he objects: Continue reading

The Slippery Slopes of Religious Freedom and Female Genital Mutilation

The American Academy of Pediatrics slipped on the slipperiest of ethical slopes when earlier this year it attempted to balance multi-culturalism with pragmatism and traditional medical ethics. The topic was the genital mutilation of young girls in a form of (so-called) “female circumcision” practiced by some Muslims, in which the clitoris is cut and mutilated in order to make future sexual activity less enjoyable, thus ensuring a female’s “virtue.” The AAP argued that its members could ethically agree to inflict a lesser “nick”—a ritual drawing of blood— to fulfill a patient’s parents’ request for the ritual cutting, because to do otherwise might lead to greater harm to a girl’s genitalia if the parents sought a full-fledged mutilation abroad or elsewhere.

This policy effectively repealed the ancient ethical standard of “First, do no harm” by employing the versatile rationalization, “If I don’t do it, someone else will.” Predictably, women’s rights advocates were horrified. Equality Now proclaimed in May… Continue reading

Ethics Dunce Deux: Rand Paul Whiffs on Accountability

G.O.P Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul has pulled off a record-worthy achievement: he has earned Ethics Dunce status twice in a week’s time, something no one else, even serial Ethics Dunces like Sen. John Kerry and Tom DeLay, were able to do in the nearly seven years the designation has been in existence. He did not earn it the old fashioned way, however, as the old Smith-Barney ads used to say. Most Ethics Dunces do something, but in both cases Paul has proven himself worthy by what he says he believes.  This makes him kind of a classic Ethics Dunce. He literally doesn’t understand basic ethical values, or if he does, can’t articulate them. Continue reading

Whatever Else It Is, Move-On.Org Is Not Hypocritical

The Wall Street Journal blog “Best of the Web” suggests that Move-On.Org’s latest fund appeal is hypocritical. Why? Well, the progressive organization is now promoting the version of health care reform that finally passed, although during the endless debates and bill-drafting it opposed the same bill, saying…

“America needs real health care reform–not a massive giveaway to the insurance companies. Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives should block this bill until it’s fixed.”

Is Move-On talking out of both sides of its metaphorical mouth? Continue reading

Rep. Bart Stupak: Double-Reverse Ethics Dunce

Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak has been wrong in so many ways lately it is hard to keep count. If you are going to be wrong, however, the ethical way is to have integrity and at least be consistent in your wrongness. He couldn’t even do that right. He did manage to become Ethics Alarms’ first Double-Reverse Ethics Dunce. That’s something.

First, Stupak staged a revolt in the House to insist that the original House health care reform bill didn’t wouldn’t mandate the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.

What was wrong with this?  Oh, only everything…. Continue reading