Sunday Ethics Round-Up: Cynical Fines, Drunk Norwegians, Lazy Newsmen and Pitiful Ballplayers

Here are some ethics issues to ponder from the recent news and around the Web:

  • Who says it pays to be ethical? The astounding insistence, under oath, by Goldman Sachs executives that they had done nothing wrong in selling admittedly “crummy” investment products to clients while using the company’s own money to bet that the same products would fail will not be sufficiently punished or contradicted by the S.E.C.’s cynical cash settlement of its suit against the firm. For a $500 million penalty, Goldman Sachs is off the hook for the equivalent of four days’ income, as the Obama Administration claims to the unsophisticated public (“Isn’t $500 million a lot of money?”) that it is “getting tough” with Wall Street. The fact is that Goldman Sachs’ unethical maneuvers paid off handsomely, and nothing has happened that will discourage it from finding loopholes in another set of regulations and making another killing while deceiving investors legally and, by the Bizarro World ethics of the investment world, “ethically.” You can read a perceptive analysis here. Continue reading

Moral Luck Gets Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor and current talk show host Mike Huckabee, an early leader among GOP presidential contenders in 2012, is the process of being vilified and ridiculed by conservative commentators and talk radio hosts for what appears to be a tragic instance of moral luck. Nine years ago, he issued clemency to a prisoner named Maurice Clemens, a man who had been convicted of larceny and burglary at the age of 16 and had served seven years of a 108 year sentence. Clemens was just killed after going on a two-day rampage in Seattle, Washington  murdering four police officers. Now critics are blaming the deaths on Huckabee, calling him a “bleeding heart” who cares more about criminals than their victims, and demanding that this tragedy permanently end his presidential ambitions. Continue reading