The New Rationalization #23: The Dealer’s Excuse, or “I’m just giving them what they want!”

The new Rationalization #23, The Dealer’s Excuse. or “I’m just giving them what they want!” now bumps Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants” to sub-rationalization status as 23A.

Good. Woody Allen doesn’t deserve a free-standing rationalization.

While narcissist Woody’s contribution to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list states that something is ethical if you want it badly enough, as in, “I really, really want to have sex with my adopted daughter,” its recently revealed parent hold that conduct becomes justifiable and benign if there is a market for it. Woody’s excuse is bad, but this is worse. For one thing, it’s usually disingenuous. Those who employ the Dealer’s Excuse aren’t providing a service out of altruistic motives, but out of the profit motive. They want the money they can make by doing unethical things that make society uglier, dysfunctional and dangerous, and they really don’t care if their customers come to a bad end or bring miseries to others.

The most famous exposition of The Dealer’s Excuse is in “The Godfather,” as Don Corleone and the other mafia heads discuss their “business.” The Godfather is balking at adding drugs to the mob’s businesses, and says:

When — when did I ever refuse an accommodation? All of you know me here — when did I ever refuse? — except one time. And why? Because — I believe this drug business — is gonna destroy us in the years to come. I mean, it’s not like gambling or liquor — even women –which is something that most people want nowadays, and is forbidden to them by the pezzonovante of the Church. Even the police departments that’ve helped us in the past with gambling and other things are gonna refuse to help us when in comes to narcotics. And I believed that — then — and I believe that now.

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Today’s Weasel Words, Courtesy Of Big Pharma: “Have Happened”

Hi!

Some time in the recent past a memo went out, and as a result virtually all the TV ads for new drugs now include the deliberately awkward and puzzling phrase, “have happened,” or sometimes “have occurred.” First the ad ends with all the possible side effects of the drug and what conditions make it dangerous. Then we hear the list of all the maladies the drug “can cause.” Last of all, we learn that other undesirable things like early onset dementia, a taste for human brains or the dreaded ass-fall-off syndrome “have happened.”

Wait, what? Have happened why? Tornadoes, plagues and firebombings have happened too: why are these things that have happened mentioned in the drug commercial?

Here’s why: the manufacturers are fighting lawsuits alleging that the drugs caused these things to happen, but the companies are arguing in defense that causation is uncertain. By using the vague, passive “have happened,” they aren’t conceding that the drugs caused the problem, but it will still claim in later law suits that the customer was warned, and thus assumed the risk.

It’s double talk, essentially, and deceit. You are warned, but by warning you we aren’t admitting that there is anything to be warned about.

I hate this stuff.

Just thought I’d mention it.

Not As Empathetic As You Should Be? Blame Tylenol!

Oh no! Uncle Phil overdoes on Tylenol again, and now he wants to vote for Donald Trump!

Oh no! Uncle Phil overdosed on Tylenol again, and now he wants to vote for Donald Trump!

From Salon, reposting from Alternet:

“Researchers from Ohio State University recruited 80 college students as test subjects. Half were told to drink a solution containing 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, while the second half were given a placebo drink containing no drugs. After the medication took effect, the two groups were instructed to rate the pain levels of people in eight different fictional situations — all were emotionally or physically traumatic scenarios. One story involved a person forced to deal with a parent’s unexpected death, another a person with a severe stab wound. Researchers found that students who had taken acetaminophen rated the pain levels of the traumatized story characters lower than those who had ingested the placebo liquid.

In another experiment involving 114 students, half drank the acetaminophen solution and the other half were given the placebo. Both groups were then subjected to brief, loud blasts of white noise and asked to rate the pain levels of a fictionalized participant who had experienced the same. Those who had consumed the acetaminophen solution rated both their own pain and the pain of others who experienced the noise lower than those who drank the placebo solution did. In another study section, subjects were shown short videos depicting a person being socially rejected from a group and were asked to rate the level of emotional pain the rejection caused. Here again, the group that drank the acetaminophen-infused liquid rated the pain lower than those who had only ingested the placebo drink.”

Hmmmm.

A few reactions to this:

1. Many news reports on these weird studies summarize the findings as “Common pain-killers can make you less empathetic.” “These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,” Dominik Mischkowski, the study’s co-author and a former Ph.D. candidate from Ohio State University, said in a news release.

Says Baldwin Way, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University: “Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings.”

I think I know what is going on here. This seems to be one of many ideologically-inspired studies, designed to make the case that those who are privileged and are in less daily distress are naturally less likely to be capable of empathy, and hence have less ethical reactions to the distress of others, including that caused by the conduct of the empathy-impaired. Continue reading

The Unethical Face Of Martin Shkreli

Smirk

The face above belongs to Martin Shkreli, who was subpoenaed to testify before Congress over  last September’s decision as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals to raise the price for Daraprim, an antiparasitic commonly used to treat HIV patients, from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Shkreli bought the 60-year-old drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and swiftly raised its price. Three months later he stepped down from that position in December following his arrest on securities fraud charges. He is now free  on $5 million bail.

He is probably the less able to justify that face above, which he displayed to the elected representatives of the United States of America  on earth while refusing to testify, repeatedly citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Nobody could justify that face, of course; not a ten year old brat, and definitely not a greedy, narcissist corporate executive and predator. In a setting where he should be humble and remorseful, he was defiant and disrespectful. The face is an affront to the entire nation and everyone in it. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The “420” Tattoo And GoFundMe Ethics

Tattoo 420

Tabitha West, of Fulton, New York, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a worthy cause: paying for her to get a giant woman  “420” tattoo removed from her forehead. “420” apparently means “I’m a pot head.” Some madman tied her down and defaced her. Wait, no scratch that. She paid to have someone but the big, ugly, stupid tattoo there. Now she finds that having a tattoo on her face that proclaims her love of illegal drug use is an impediment to employment. Huh. Boy, knock me over with a feather: who could have foreseen that?

So, broke and desperate, Tabitha—did I mention that she is an imbecile? Did I need to?—is begging for kind and generous people to undo what she did.

Her message on the GoFundMe page, seeking a goal of  $800, reads:

“I am wanti,g $ to get that tattoo off my for head I want to have a better start out in life and have a second chance at life please help me I was young n dumb when I got that I’m older one looking for a job can’t get out and people call me a druggie every day of my life and being called 420 is not nice and I almost killed my self over it. … can’t stand to look at my face anymore. .save a life save me..invest in me and I will show you I can be better with my life. ..thank you.”

We can all see from that eloquent appeal that Tabitha is a dummy no longer, and thus a superb investment.

Surprisngly, some critics demur. Shawn Morse, for example, wrote in response to the appeal:

“It’s people like you that keep my (sick) girl from getting help. My daughter has three brain tumors, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, an optic glioma, & a feeding tube. My daughter’s GoFundMe keeps getting passed over for things like this. There are too many people begging for money for their bad decisions in their life.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

Is it unethical for Tabitha to seek help on GoFundMe, and for donors to give her money?

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Ethics Hero, Ghost Of Christmas Past Edition: Dwight Gooden

Dwight-Gooden

For me, Christmas triggers not only memories fond and bittersweet, but also regrets, realizations, and discovered clarity about where I have been and how I got where I am. This was really what Charles Dickens was expressing in “A Christmas Carol, and why it resonates even with the kinds of people who would be tempted to put a zombie Nativity on their front lawn.

Last week, former New York Mets pitching ace Dwight Gooden, known in his prime as “Doctor K” (a “K” is a strikeout, and if you didn’t know that—wow) and eventually just “Doc,”penned a brave and inspiring piece for The Player’s Tribune, in which he addressed his younger self, warning the young, cocky kid with the world seemingly begging to be his playground and cheering section in 1984 about the traps and landmines lying in his path.

Gooden, for those of you who face life every day without the accumulated wisdom bestowed by the love of baseball, and who somehow live through cruel winter without the promise of Spring Training warming your nights, looked like he might become the greatest, coolest, most unhittable pitcher in baseball history when he arrived on the big league scene in ’84, winning 17 games with a deadly curve and a 98 mile per hour fastball at the tender age of 19. He became the youngest player ever to pitch in an All-Star Game that year (he struck out the side), and the next season, at 20, he won 24 games, lost only four, and led the National League with a miniscule 1.53 earned run average.

And he was never that good again. He began losing speed on his fastball the next year, and steadily declined thereafter. Eventually there were drug problems, alcoholism  and other embarrassments, and Doc Gooden, instead of being the lock for the Hall of Fame that he seemed at 20, was washed-up at 35, and an unofficial member of the Pantheon of Disappointing and Fallen Sports Heroes.

Today, as the former pitcher nears 50, Gooden is a dedicated father and grandfather to  his children and grandchildren. He is the president of Best of the Best Sports Management, where he works with his oldest son, Dwight Jr. and is also a spokesman for PinkTie.org , a Long Island-based charity dedicated to fighting breast cancer.

In his essay, titled, “Letter to my Younger Self,” Gooden is frank, uncompromising, wistful, self-critical, funny, and never indulges in self-pity. He ends it this way:

Drugs and alcohol are only a false sense of security. Neither thing will fill the void you feel. Unfortunately it might take you a few missed Christmas Days with your family to learn this.

You will want to try to fix your issues on your own. This is how you think a man handles his problems. It isn’t. Being a man is about reaching out for help when you need it. If your curveball isn’t working, you’ll know how to fix that. If the control on your pitches is off, you’ll know how to fix that. But you will face a lot of hardship because of your inability to realize that you can’t fix yourself.

Finally, please know this: I love you. It’s going to take you a long time and a lot of pain to realize this, but accepting it will go a long way towards healing. The journey will be trying, but it ends in a good place.

Keep getting those Ks,

You’re a hero after all, Doc.

Merry Christmas.

Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer!

"Not there, you idiot! Remember, my cousin said to find those drugs he planted UNDER the car!"

“Not there, you idiot! Remember, my cousin said to find those drugs he planted UNDER the car!”

To give you further faith that our justice system is in good hands, this guy was formerly a judge, too. In fact, it was his forced resignation from the bench that inspired him…well, let me begin at the beginning.

Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission investigated Bryant Cochran, then the chief judge of Murray County’s Magistrate Court, after a woman said Cochran had made inappropriate sexual advances toward her when she came to his chambers to seek some warrants. She alleged that Cochran told her he needed a mistress and wanted her to come to his office wearing a dress and no underwear.

Smoooooth.

The results of the inquiry led to Cochran’s  resignation from the bench in August of 2012. To get his revenge, Cochran persuaded one of his tenants to plant a box containing meth under the car of his accuser. Cochran then called police with a tip that she was carrying drugs. Police stopped her car and used a drug-sniffing dog to  turn up the illegal substance, but the dog’s sniffing came to naught. A police officer who just happened to be Cochran’s cousin—hmmmmmm—  informed his colleagues that the drugs were in a magnetic container attached under the vehicle. Continue reading