Morning Ethics Expectoration, 4/15/2021: I’m In A Really Bad Mood (And Ethics Is Just A Part Of It…)

Let’s see what revoltin’ developments we have accumulated, shall we? But first, some positive news…

1. Bernie Madoff has died in prison. Good. If there was ever a case for using capitol punishment for crimes other than murder and treason, Bernie is it. He was convicted of orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history and was serving a 150-year sentence that he managed to escape by dying in prison of natural causes at age 82. He was a stone-cold sociopath who destroyed his family, foundations, charities and lives, all out of greed. On the plus side, his exploits did spawn two excellent dramatic portrayals, one by Robert De Niro and the other by Richard Dreyfuss. I liked Richard’s better, but after his disgusting conduct during the Trump years, Robert is permanently unwelcome to my eyeballs.

So much for the good news…

2. Don’t tell me again how poor Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pete was the second Ethics Dunce of them all, way back in 2004, here. Knowing well that baseball had an iron-clad, one strike and you’re out forever rule forbidding players, coaches and managers from betting on games, he did it anyway (as a manager) because, see, he is Pete Rose, and the rules don’t apply to him, but mostly because he’s an idiot. So he got banned from the game and the Hall of Fame despite being the all-time hit leader, ahead of Ty Cobb. He’s a walking, talking ethics corrupter, prompting fans and writers to resort to rationalizations to explain why he should be forgiven.

Now we have this:

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Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

Brain Damage football

Ethics Alarms has been chronicling the mounting evidence that pro football condemns a large percentage of its players to future dementia and premature death for a long time, often in conjunction with what a Georgetown professor friend calls “The Concussion Bowl.” Many of those posts are here, under the CTE tag. Incredibly, the NFL has done little to stop the carnage, perhaps because seriously addressing the inherent damage to brains caused by a necessarily violent sport would end football as we know it, and that would cost owners, TV networks, colleges and merchandisers billions. Can’t have that.

Equally amazing, the public and the news media have allowed the NFL to get away with distracting from its unethical priorities with the flagrant and cynical virtue-signalling of pandering to Black Lives Matter. I’m pretty sure that when it is all tallied, the NFL will have killed more innocent black men by far than all the brutal police officers over the same period. But most people just don’t care. If they cared one hundredth as much about athletes getting permanent brain damage for their Sunday (Monday, Thursday) TV viewing as they do about a single ugly incident where an overdosing lifetime petty crook died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop, there would be action. Not riots and take-overs of public property, but serious, effective action, including safety regulations.. Football would have to change, evolve, or vanish. The public and the media (and government officials) don’t care, and neither do the NFL executives. If Colin Kaepernick had performed his on-field protests against CTE, he would have been suspended and eliminated from the sport faster than Deion Sanders running for the goal line.

Talk about conspiracies….

1. False Narrative Dept. Now dishonest anti-Trump propaganda is showing up on Turner Classic Movies, which has been generally exemplary in avoiding partisan pandering over the last four years. Today, Eddie Muller, TCM’s film noir maven, pointedly showed the 1950 move “The Killer Who Slaked New York,” about a potential smallpox outbreak that was shut down by New York City health officials in 1947. Ultimately only 12 people were infected, and the threat was a single contagious smallpox victim who had to be found and contained. As you can see, this is a perfect analogy for the Wuhan virus outbreak in 2020. Noting that New York City quickly launched a mass vaccination effort (because there was already a smallpox vaccine, another close parallel), Eddie raised an accusing eyebrow and said,voice dripping with contempt, “That’s how we did things then.”

It’s Eddie’s show. I don’t think he should be fired or suspended. He’s welcome to his ignorant and obnoxious opinion. But he’s part of a disinformation campaign and an effort to distort reality, He’s also annoying TCM’s generally mature audience members who have been paying attention, and who presumably watch old movies to get a break from political BS, not to be subjected to more of it by movie nerds driving out of their lane.

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Not Illegal, “Just” Cynical And Unethical: The Bloomberg Florida Vote-Buying Scheme

As part of the Democratic Party’s commitment to “go high” in its pursuit of power, Michael Bloomberg is buying the votes of convicted Florida felons for Joe Biden.

Not technically, of course, but that’s exactly what he’s doing. After all, the ends justifies the means. Isn’t that what Mitch McConnell essentially said when he refused to let the Senate vote on…wait, that’s the Republicans. I’m getting my cynical, unethical parties mixed up.

Mike Bloomberg has pledged to pay off the debts of  felons in Florida who have recently been ruled ineligible to vote unless they pay the fines that are part of their punishment.  This is a generous action by Bloomberg, who is devoted to expanding the right to vote of all Americans…no, wait, I’m confused again. The Washington Post reported that only Black and Hispanic ex-felons in Florida will get the gifts, because they they are more likely to vote for Biden than whites.

Nice.

The revelation comes from a memo originally obtained by the Post which read in part, “We know to win Florida we will need to persuade, motivate and add new votes to the Biden column. This means we need to explore all avenues for finding the needed votes when so many votes are already determined.”  Apparently the former New York Mayor with the personal vendetta against the President only cares about the right to vote when it is exercised the way he wants. Of course, Joe Biden and the rest of the party are thrilled to have Bloomberg’s money purchasing votes to defeat that unethical Donald Trump, who will do anything to win.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), himself possessed of somewhat dubious ethics alarms, told Fox News that that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody  might launch a criminal investigation of Bloomberg (actually the non-profit organization that he is funding) for vote purchasing. That looks like a stretch. The relevant law, Section 104.061, Corruptly influencing voting, states, Continue reading

Addendum To Item #5 Of “Wednesday Ethics Jolts, 6/17/2020: I Think We Have Our Answer To Question 13….”

I saw this shortly after posting today’s potpourri, which ended with…

This is part of what appears to be the proposed answer to my Question 13, What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?” That answer: special accommodations and benefits for African Americans in all things. Affirmative action in employment, promotions, salaries and school admissions; preference in grading, contracting and hiring; elimination of any standards that African Americans continue to lag in meeting. Reparations, of course; race-based leniency in law-enforcement and sentencing; plus  culture wide discrimination in favor of blacks and against whites in all things, all instituted by the intimidation, punishment and “cancelling” of anyone who dissents.

This happened to me, too, and it altered the course of my life. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On UCLA’s Endorsement Of Race-Based Grading

It would be tempting to label UCLA an Ethics Dunce after it suspended a lecturer at its Anderson School Of Management for mocking the idea of grading black students more leniently in light of the George Floyd protests. That, however, would understate the deceitful Orwellian reasoning going on now in several sectors of society, including higher education, journalism, and politics.

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has pulled accounting lecturer Gordon Klein from his classes because of his email response to a student who asked for “special treatment” for black students. Klein has been teaching at UCLA for almost 40 years.

The  email Klein sent read, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/2/2019: Monkeys, Howlies, Nikes, And The Great Tag Hoax

Gooooood Morning!

1. Talk about a newspaper column that is exactly the opposite of the truth! The Times had an essay in its “Review” section this Sunday with a title that gave me a shock: Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii”

The headline would have been more accurate if it read, “Want to live in the only state with lawful and open racial discrimination? Move to Hawaii!” Hawaii gives special benefits to residents with full or partial Native Hawaiian ancestry. There is a special  Hawaiian registry program which verifies an individual’s Native Hawaiian ancestry, so the favored race can receive such goodies that are unavailable to other racial groups as buying land for a home at only $1 a year,  low-interest loans, and admission for their children to the elite Kamehameha Schools.

Anecdotally, I can also state that the only time in my life that I felt I was the target of racial epithets was in college, when the Hawaiian contingent frequently derided me and my white room mates as “howlies,” a disparaging Island term reserved for anyone who is not a native Hawaiian. I will always remember my 6’5″ roommate Dave ending the practice by saying to the two main offenders, “If I ever hear that word from any of you again, I promise that I will shove you, Howie, directly up Reggie’s ass, head first.  Are we clear on that?”

Dave never bluffed, and seldom joked. That was the last time we were called “howlies.”

2. Nike is not just scum, but cowardly, sniveling scum. Nike Inc. cancelled a U.S.A.-themed sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross American flag because Head NFL Kneeler Colin Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, told company officials that he and others felt that the  historic flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.

The Air Max 1 USA had been designed for release in celebration of the July Fourth holiday, and scheduled to go on sale this week. The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, the original flag created during the American Revolution and known as the Betsy Ross flag.

Wow! How racist can you get!

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/2/18: Of Tyros, Typos, Grandstanders And Rotting Fish Heads

Good Morning!

1 Don’t try that here! Several commenters on the Ethics Hero post yesterday , about a British minister resigning in self-declared disgrace after he was late for a session in Parliament, argued that his wasn’t a true resignation because he had to know it wouldn’t be accepted. I had written a comment to that theory, but I decided to post it on the Warm-up instead.

Fake resignations are unethical. Ethical people don’t attempt such a stunt, which is designed to make everyone beg them to return and create a sense of power and importance. I learned long ago in my parallel theater and management careers not to trust or tolerate subordinates who threatened to quit, telling one cast member of this ilk, in what he thought was  too-vital a lead role to be relaced last in rehearsals and who made the threat in a full cast rehearsal, “You have ten seconds to either quit, be fired, or retract that threat. I’ll play your part myself if I have to, and I’ll be a lot better at it. 10-9-8…” He retracted the threat. When I took over a struggling, spectacularly badly managed health promotion organization in Maryland and announced major policy changes, two legacy managers of the non-profit handed in their resignations in protest.  Then they came to work the next day. My predecessor, it seemed, routinely tolerated such games. They were shocked, indignant and angry when I told them, “You don’t work here any more, remember? You quit. Good luck in your future endeavors. Now get out.”

Ethics Alarms, as veterans here know, has the same policy regarding commenters who self-exile, usually with a “Good day, sir! I am done here!” flourish. When they try to weigh in days, weeks, or months later, they find that their self-banning is permanent. This is now explicit in the Comments Policies. As at least six regulars here know from their own experiences, I reserve the right to try persuade a valued commenter to reconsider his or her exit, and I have done that as a manager with subordinates too. But anyone who counts on a resignation being rejected is a fool.

I have to believe that Lord Bates’s resignation was principled, not grandstanding.

2. Fox owes me a keyboard!  Yesterday afternoon,  I spit out a mouthful of coffee when Fox News flashed this news item under a feature while I was surfing the news channels to see what was happening to the “secret memo”: “Poll Says Majority of Americans Support Border Ball.”

This came up multiple times. I think spending billions of dollars for any ball is unethical, whether it is the party or the toy, or even if “Border ball” is a new professional sport that doesn’t give its players CTE.

And speaking of typos, yes, I would fire for cause everyone in the chain who let this happen…

If you don’t have enough respect for the government, its institutions and the nation to take more pride in your work than that, you shouldn’t be working for the government.

3. A show of hands: Who has heard about this depressing story? Anyone? Funny that the mainstream news media doesn’t think it’s newsworthy… The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that many of the nation’s “historically black colleges and universities” have ridiculously low graduation rates.  The newspaper found that the six-year graduation rates at twenty schools were 20% t or lower in 2015, and some schools in the category had graduation rates as low as 5%.  Here was the explanation offered by Marybeth Gasman, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania who directs the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions: Continue reading

Sanctioned Race And Gender Bias In Tort Compensation?

For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished  forensic economist...

“For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished forensic economist…”

I was going to make this an ethics quiz, but there really is only one answer. The practice is ethically indefensible, and noxious too. The only question is how and why it is still occurring.

One reason may be that not enough people know about it. I certainly didn’t. Kudos to the Washington Post for shining light on a terrible, and terribly unethical, practice.

The American tort system frequently uses race and gender statistics to calculate the damages victims or their families should receive in compensation after someone is catastrophically injured or killed by another individual’s negligence or misconduct. Experts are allowed to testify regarding what a particular victim might have achieved and earned during their lives, were they not dead, or brain-damaged, or paralyzed. Race and gender are among the factors allowed into that calculation.

Writes the Post:

As a result, white and male victims often receive larger awards than people of color and women in similar cases, according to more than two dozen lawyers and forensic economists, the experts who make the calculations. These differences largely derive from projections of  how much more money individuals would have earned over their lifetimes had they not been injured – projections that take into account average earnings and employment levels by race and gender.

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Burger King, Mary J. Blige and the Political Correctness Double-Bind

"No, let's give the fried chicken commercial to Donny Osmond. I don't think Mormons even like fried chicken..."

My theater company did a production of the Depression Era comedy “Stage Door,” about a group of young actresses  who stay in a boarding house. There are two roles for “domestics” in the play; the female of the two has quite a few lines. The director felt that it would be perpetuating a stereotype to cast African-Americans in these roles, though that is what the characters were supposed to be, so she cast white actors in both parts. The bottom line is that African-American actors were not cast because of their race, in parts written for actors of their race. No offensive stereotype..and no jobs.

This seems counter-productive and foolish to me. Another example: I was once told by the EEOC specialist at a New York law firm that he never took female associates on travel to meet with clients, because he didn’t want to be vulnerable to sexual harassment claims. “So you’re discriminating against women in your firm to avoid harassing them?” I asked. “Well, I suppose you could say that,” he replied.

Which brings us to Mary J. Blige. The singer was hired by Burger King to sing in a fried chicken commercial, and the result has been attacked as racist stereotyping by several black publications and critics. Burger King has pulled the commercial, muttering some cover-story, along with Blige, about the ad being released “prematurely.” How that would change the fact that she is singing “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses with dressing!” I don’t really grasp. Anyway, Burger King has officially apologized, which, I suppose, means that just as you can’t use the term “chink in the armor” in discussing anything to do with Jeremy Lin, you can’t hire a black singer to promote fried chicken….even if a black singer wants to promote fried chicken and needs a job. Continue reading

Note to the EEOC: “Fairness” Must Not Require The Suspension of Common Sense

In the  rich and annoying category of “Official Statements and Actions That Guarantee The Death Of Affirmative Action,” we have the recent warning by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that companies using criminal records to screen out job applicants might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws and be illegal because such a policy would have the effect of disproportionately disqualifying blacks and Hispanics. Continue reading