The Late Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax
[Not many people were checking in on Ethics Alarms when I wrote this post in response to yet another example of bystanders choosing to do nothing when a human being was in peril. Some of the comments to the Alameda post, those making excuses for the 75 faint-hearted or apathetic citizens in that city who would rather gawk at a tragedy than try to stop it, caused me to recall the essay, which explores related issues. I wrote it, but I had nearly forgotten about the story; when I re-read it today, I got upset all over again.Here, for the second time, is “What Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax Can Teach America.”]
The one with the premium-grade ethics alarms bled to death on the sidewalk. The people who never had theirs installed at all took pictures. Is this the way it’s going to be? Continue reading →
50-year-old Raymond Zack waded into the surf on an Alameda, California beach and stood calmly in the 54-degree water, apparently waiting to die. His suicide took nearly an hour, but eventually he drowned, with no rescue attempts from any of the 75 San Franciscans who gathered on the shore to watch the entire tragedy.
Why didn’t anyone try to rescue the man?
Apparently it was because nobody was paid to do it. You see, stopping Zack from killing himself wasn’t anyone’s job.
The media’s focus in reporting yet another disturbing incident with echoes of the murder of Kitty Genovese has been exclusively on the inert Alameda police and firemen who witnessed Zack’s suicide. “Fire crews and police could only watch,” wrote the Associate Press.
What does the AP mean, “they could only watch”? Were they shackled? Held at gunpoint? Were all of them unable to swim? They didn’t have to watch and do nothing, they chose to watch and do nothing, just like every one of the bystanders who weren’t police or firemen chose to be passive and apathetic when saving a life required action and risk. Continue reading →
Gee, where do "Treasury Secretaries" fall on the list?
A study of I.R.S. data by a University of Chicago graduate student, now Doctor, Oscar Vela, produced the following list of the professions most likely to file fraudulent tax returns, at least according to his analysis. Make of it what you will. The Time Magazine website blog post about the list is worth reading, first for the blogger’s highly questionable theories explaining, for example, why lawyers aren’t on it, but mostly to see conclusive proof that Time is hiring English-as-a-second-language night students, relatives of Ko-Ko the talking gorilla, or stroke victims to write their blogs. Sample sentence: “His conclusion was that as much as we would like to think so we pay taxes out of the goodness of our hearts, or even because we are fearful of fines or worse.” Henry Luce just did a back-flip in his grave.
Dr. Vela’s theory is that the professions that are required to maintain a perception of integrity are less likely to cheat. Let us say that I am dubious. Why then are scientists so high on the list?
Here it is: Continue reading →