The EpiPen Edition


The EpiPen Edition

Today, we run into the business ethics of pricing. What’s fair and what’s not? 

Robber Baron or Public Benefactor – You Decide.

We open with a discussion of what an EpiPen is and what it is for, along with a few facts about how Mylan, the owning company, wound up with a monopoly. We then talk about how much the price has increased, how “frustrated” the CEO is and how much money she makes and how much her decisions affected the price. We talk about who she is and how she took her American company, “Dutch,” to avoid taxes while using the power of the government on her behalf. We conclude with two articles about the lack of morality about all this and I have included a petition/letter drive site – if you want Congress to be upset about this little piece of business ethics. 

James Pilant

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Are Mylan Executives Vultures? 

Even Martin Shkreli, who became the poster boy for jacking up drug prices, called Mylan executives “vultures” for the price hike.

I have two daughters with nut allergies myself, and I can tell you that going without an EpiPen is simply not an option for them. But instead of asking the government to come in and provide more help, the solution to this problem is simply to demand that the government start doing a lot less.

It’s important to understand exactly what people are paying for when they buy the EpiPen. The cost of the life-saving epinephrine drug itself is minimal. Epinephrine has been around for more than 100 years and is easy to produce. The real costs come in connection to the EpiPen’s auto-injector which delivers the drug to people who need it in a much easier fashion than a traditional needle and syringe. Mylan’s patent on that auto-injector is the key to everything. And it’s the government’s protection of that patent that lies at the root of the price hikes that are leaving a lot of families struggling to meet the costs.

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The EpiPen Edition

Just a $100 in 2008

The EpiPen sold for $100 in 2008. In the eight years since, the price has more than quintupled, as this chart shows. About 43 million people are at risk from anaphylaxis, or the severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that EpiPen’s injection of epinephrine is designed to counteract.

“This outrageous increase in the price of EpiPens is occurring at the same time that Mylan … is exploiting a monopoly market advantage that has fallen into its lap,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said last weekend.

Klobuchar, whose own daughter uses an EpiPen, noted that Mylan has seen one competitor, Sanofi’s Auvi-Q, exit the market last year due to a recall, and Teva’s generic version failed to receive regulatory approval.

Is no one more frustrated than she? 

“No one’s more frustrated than me,” Bresch said. “My frustration is, the list price is $608. There is a system. I laid out that there are four or five hands that the product touches, and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter. Everyone should be frustrated. I’m hoping that this is an inflection point for this country.”

A little under 19 million dollars in compensation makes frustration worthwhile? 

The executive of the pharmaceutical company that hiked the prices of two dozen drugs, including EpiPen, received a 671% pay increase over the past nine years.

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan, came under public scrutiny this week after reports that since acquiring rights to EpiPen in 2007, the company had implemented a series of gradual price increases inflating the price of the drug from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461% increase in cost . During that same time, Bresch went from being Mylan’s chief operating officer to president to chief executive and saw her pay rise $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671% increase.

When Mylan first acquired Merck KGaA in 2007, Bresch oversaw the integration of its 400 products. Among those products was EpiPen, which is used to quickly deliver a proper dose of epinephrine to those suffering from anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is when an allergic reaction causes one’s airways to swell and close. In a 2015 interview with Fortune, Bresch described EpiPen as “my baby”. Under her management, EpiPen went from bringing in $200m a year in sales to becoming Mylan’s first billion-dollar product.

Who is Heather Bresch? 

The CEO is the daughter of a U.S. senator. She reincorporated her U.S.-based drug company in the Netherlands, which cut its tax liability.

She also retroactively was awarded an MBA from West Virginia University while her dad was governor of that state despite not having enough academic credits. At the time, the university’s president was both a former lobbyist for her drug company and a high school classmate of hers.

And Bresch has also overseen her company’s increase in the price of EpiPens from $100 in 2008, to more than $600 for some customers today. During that time, her compensation has risen nearly 700 percent

When Bresch took over as CEO in 2012, Mylan’s stock was trading at almost $22 per share. The shares are up 101 percent under her leadership. Revenue has risen 38.5 percent since she took over, to $9.47 billion at the end of 2015.

A Dutch Company???

Bresch made a significant move a couple of years ago to help the company’s profits by guiding it through a corporate inversion. That meant the company withdrew its United States corporation and re-incorporated in the Netherlands, even while its physical plant, all its employees and executives, stayed in West Virginia. That saved the company paying its corporate tax rate of somewhere between 16 and 23 percent, even while it still takes full advantage of its location in the United States and all the infrastructure the country puts around it so it can flourish.

Mylan even sought the protection of the Federal Trade Commission when it was trying to fend off a hostile takeover from Teva, the same Israeli company that was trying to compete with it in the EpiPen market.

So to sum up, an American company has found a way to get out of paying taxes while tripling its stock price for shareholders, but still uses taxpayer-funded services and entities built and maintained by the state and federal governments of the U.S. to save its bacon from a foreign company and flourish in one of the poorest states in the country so Heather Bresch can cruise around Morgantown in what I’m sure is a very nice luxury car.

There is so much wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to begin. Mylan is certainly not the only company taking advantage of loopholes like tax inversions. But the fact that it is doing so at the crushing expense of people who need its lifesaving product to avoid easily preventable death is an outrage.

Robert Klitzman – What’s the ethics? 

Since Hippocrates in ancient Greece, health care has been seen as a noble art, in which physicians should treat patients — even those who are poor — and put the interests of the patient first. Physicians generally follow the principles of beneficence, of helping patients and not harming them.
It seems increasingly, though, as if many drug companies don’t follow such principles. Indeed, greed seems to be the prime motivating factor.
Some might argue that they are private entities, and therefore under no obligation to put the consumer first. The trouble with this argument is that vast amounts of taxpayer money has gone into research to help pharmaceutical companies develop drugs.

If you want to participate in the letter writing campaign to Congress on this issue, clink on this link!

The Athlete Rapist Edition


The Athlete Rapist Edition

Business ethics does not exist in a vacuum. Ethical beliefs are shaped by the larger society. Business ethics are simply a sub-set of a society’s ethics. And this society’s ethics are often problematic at best. 

The worship of athletes and sporting events is part of American society. And worship is not too strong a word. Fans have actually rioted when their teams have lost. Many people seem to have lost all perspective when it comes to supporting their team and their athletes. 

This brings us to today’s subject, David Becker, a rapist. He raped two women and he was sentenced to two years probation which if he fulfills the terms of – will result in his record being clean. It will be as if he had never committed a crime. This is a sweet deal for him. 

For the rest of us, not so much. Creating a class of privileged athletes empowered to prey on women might not be a goal for the “good” society. It might be, in fact, be counterproductive and evil. 

When you hand a “get out of jail free card” to an athlete, you are conveying a powerful message to everyone that these people are special, their lives and careers must not be jeopardized by being penalized for their acts. 

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The Athlete Rapist Edition

No, they are criminals. Whatever their pretences to special treatment, their actions have placed them in opposition to society’s rules. That women should able to sleep undisturbed by sexual assault is an important social value. That crimes should be punished is another one. 

And I’m sorry. I just don’t get it. There are a lot of athletes. If some go to prison for their crimes, how are we impoverished? What have we lost? 

If there is anything a society should want to be know for, want to be famous for and is vital to uphold, it is justice. 

Let us be known more for our justice and less for our sports. 

James Pilant

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Mary Elizabeth Williams writing in Salon 

Upon sentencing, Becker’s attorney gloated in court that “he can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender. The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience.” (The University of Dayton, where Becker reportedly had planned on attending, says he will not be joining the freshman class.)

 Rooke believes that what occurred that April evening was “one mistake at one moment on one night which was clouded with alcohol,” and that “We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn’t be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender. Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”

Ah, yes, the old “What about the kid? What about his life?” argument. It should go without saying that headlines of the story do not fail to mention that Becker is a promising athlete who plays volleyball, basketball and soccer. Gotta think of that guy’s future! Hm, where have we heard this before? Oh that’s right, EVERYWHERE.

Pilant’s Business Ethics Links 8 23 2016 The Volkswagen Kills Edition


The Volkswagen Kills Edition

Today, we open with a little (1:01 minutes) film about Volkswagens and death. Then there is a strong article about the national parks and the drive to steal those public resources. We have a little short story about a guy pulling off one of the oldest cons – “Producers” style. There are several business ethics stories but the most interesting of what follows is a public musing on what might happen if Donald Trump loses. I don’t think his supporters are going home quietly after the election, either. 

As always Share, Like and Subscribe!

James Pilant

From Reuters!

Read more from one my favorite blogs – Dear Kitty, Some Blog. 

National Parks in danger of privatization and neglect

While the political landscape has tilted, public support for national parks remains rock solid. It’s almost impossible to find an issue that 95% Americans agree on, but polling suggests this is the level of support for federal government protection of national parks.

Separate polls show a hefty majority of voters would be unhappy if their representatives stripped protections from public land. A record number of visitors – almost 305 million – gazed at the vistas of Yosemite, Yellowstone, Gettysburg and other NPS properties last year.

While the NPS could be enjoying a triumphant centennial in 2016, it has to cajole funds from a recalcitrant Congress to deal with crumbling visitor centres, trails, campgrounds and education programs.

An overdue maintenance backlog has grown from a headache under George W Bush to a weeping sore under Obama. It will cost nearly $12bn to patch up all of the creaking infrastructure in national parks, at a time when a recent study found Congress has trimmed the budget of the NPS about 15% over the past 15 years.

A Producer’s Style Fraud? 

It sounds like the plot of Broadway hit “The Producers” come to life: A man conned seven investors into giving him $165,000 to produce a fake Broadway play, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

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The corporate food system rigs the game

What do Trump supporters do if he loses? 

So I think the danger is . . . when they lose and I tend to agree with you, I think they’re gonna lose, although it’s not guaranteed. The question is, If the vote total is close — if it’s 10 points, it’s different — but if it’s 4 points or 5 points or less, where do they go? I wrote “Dear White America” in 2012. My argument at the time was, What do these white folks do who have been nurtured in this anxiety and resentment and this idea that they’ve ‘lost their country’?

At the time I was thinking about the Tea Party; I wasn’t even thinking about Trumpkins. My point at the time was, What do these people do? Are these the kind of people who gladly say, “Oh gosh, we lost, that sucks. But we’ll just work harder next time and gosh darn it, in four years we’ll come back and we’ll be ready to go.” My argument was then, and is now, I don’t think that that’s what Trump’s people are like. I don’t think Trump’s people are the kind of people who go, “Gosh darn it. How can we tweak our message to get moderate voters?” These are people who I think, to be perfectly honest, lose in November and then they look around and look at their wall and they say, “Well goddamn. We’ve got a lot of guns. We don’t have the vote, but we got the guns.”

Is Wal-Mart a magnet for criminals? 

Time reported last week that police in many communities get more calls to Walmart shopping centers than anywhere else. For some stores, police are called multiple times a day. The problem appears to be far larger for Walmart than for competing retailers like Target. And the crime ranges from mostly standard shoplifting and petty theft to the occasional rape, stabbing, shooting, murder, or meth lab hidden in a 6-foot drainage pipe under the store parking lot.

“I’ve got all my bad guys in one place,” Darrell Ross, a Tulsa police officer permanently stationed at the local Walmart, joked to Bloomberg.

Critics in both stories point to Walmart’s aggressive cost-cutting, beginning in 2000 with the tenure of former CEO Lee Scott, as a big part of the problem. Retail consultants told Time that Walmart likely has about 400,000 fewer workers in the U.S. today than a decade ago. In giant stores that can range up to five acres, that translates into one worker for every 524 square feet of retail space — a 19 percent decrease in workers per square foot from 10 years ago. The greeters at the entrances are gone, many cashiers have been replaced with automated checkout scanners, and there are simply fewer eyeballs monitoring everything than before.

A majority of men believe sexism is gone!!!

Is it Time to Prohibit All Non-Audit Services for Audit Clients? (Guest Post)


Independence Impairments Threaten the Public Interest

(My friend, Steven Mintz, the Ethics Sage, has a new column that he has graciously allowed me to post. This is his blog – here.)

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

The accounting profession has lost its way and has reverted to old behaviors, including increased commercialism, and created a worrisome trend of deficient audits. It may be time to change the regulatory regime and completely prohibit the performance of all non-audit services for audit clients. Restrictions in place since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in 2002 seemed to work at first as audit firms were on their best behavior, but recently the profession has reverted to commercial behaviors that brings into question their commitment to serve the public interest, not the client’s interest or self-interest.

Most people do not realize that the accounting profession is the only profession where the public interest must be placed ahead of other interests. In law, the client’s interest is above all else. In medicine, with some exceptions, the patient’s interests are paramount. Indeed, the accounting profession is a profession because the SEC created its franchise right in that only CPAs can conduct audits of public companies.

The years and activities since the passage of SOX shows that the profession has reverted to its old ways. Firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers sold off its consulting business back in 2002 to IBM for $3.5 billion. It didn’t take long for PwC to back-track and in October 2013, the firm announced it was acquiring the consulting firm of Booz & Company thereby adding $9.2 billion in global consulting revenue to its total global firm revenue of $32.1 billion, or a 28.5% share for consulting services of the overall firm revenue.

Other firms have been sanctioned for providing prohibited non-audit services to audit clients. In January 2014, KPMG agreed to pay $8.2 million to settle charges by the SEC that the firm violated auditor independence rules by providing restructuring, corporate finance, and expert services as well as providing non-audit services such as bookkeeping and payroll services to an affiliate of an audit client. These activities create a self-review threat to independence because the audit firm winds up reviewing its own services.

Some of the independence impairments border on the bizarre, at least with respect to the broadening efforts of Big-4 firms to gain a competitive advantage and bring in lucrative consulting work. In July 2014, Ernst & Young agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle accusations by the SEC that the firm violated independence rules by lobbying on behalf of two of its audit clients, an advocacy threat to independence.

Greed has also infected the actions of some auditors. In May 2013, Scott London, the former partner in charge of KPMG’s Southern California regional practice, provided inside information to a close friend about audit clients. Once KPMG found out, the firm had to recall its audit reports on two clients, Herbalife and Skechers, because of the lack of independence. London sold his soul for $50,000 in cash and a Rolex watch.

A troubling trend is the high level of deficiencies cited in inspection reports by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). In 2014, the PCAOB identified deficiencies as high as 54% (KPMG) to a low of 21% (Deloitte). The deficiencies most often cited include a failure of internal controls over financial reporting, inadequate responses to risks of material misstatement, inadequate review and assessment of auditing estimates, and deficiencies in the audit of inventory, loan reserves, and revenue recognition.

The nature of the revenue stream for public accounting firms has changed since the passage of SOX. The audit function that had previously been treated as a loss-leader in many cases has now become a consistent source of firm revenue in part due to compliance requirements with SOX. New requirements, such as the rotation off the audit of the lead and reviewing partners every five years, has, presumably, created a check on auditors getting too cozy with their clients. Moreover, the PCAOB is considering whether to require audit firm rotation every 10-20 years, as has been done in the European Union (EU) for public interest entities.

Protecting the public interest starts with maintaining the foundation of independence and commitment to serve investors and creditors above all else. Given the ongoing challenges for the accounting profession and questionable results of prohibitions of certain non-audit services for audit clients in the post-SOX era, I believe it’s time to prohibit all such services for audit clients. Of course, firms would still be able to provide non-audit services, just not while they perform audit services for the same client.

Are there other options to protect the public interest? Yes. Similar to audits in the EU, the audit function might become a statutory one regulated through “audit directives”. In this case the annual and consolidated financial statements of public interest entities would be based on these prescribed regulations. The big firms would still be able to perform such audits but they would be answerable to the state as well as to investors and creditors. This exists in the U.S. right now through the PCAOB audit requirements, but a statutory regime implies determination by a governmental body that currently does not exist except for areas such as regulated industries (i.e., utilities).

The time has come for the audit profession to rethink the way in which it provides services, both audit and non-audit, to public clients. The recent trends cited above give me great pause about a diminished commitment to professionalism. I believe the reason is non-audit services are performed largely by non-CPAs that have a lesser commitment to the ethics of the profession and serving the public good rather than the commercial and financial reporting interests of their clients. The audit culture and non-audit culture can sometimes be diametrically opposed.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on August 18, 2016. Dr. Mintz is Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at http://www.ethicssage.com.

The Fatwa Hotline Edition


Today, we discuss the fact that it is better to understand than not specifically in regard to Islam.

The Fatwa Hotline Edition

Ignorance can kill you. It can also hurt a business and lead to unethical content. One kind of ignorance is the simple unwillingness of men to get it, to realize that women have a different experience of the workplace than they do. The idea that your experience is typical is one we have trouble shaking. We devote considerable mental energy to finding ourselves “normal” even mundane.

014-1But the facts are otherwise. We live in bubbles of meaning. Don’t believe me? How about this? A recent poll shows that 63% of Republican men believe sexism is over.  That’s a real bubble. Hopefully, you don’t need me to reiterate the grim statistics on women in the workplace to find the idea that sexism exploded in a bubble of political correctness to be nonsense.

Of course, we can’t know everything but we can try to learn essential things like “how to cross the street” and “what indicates someone is angry.” Knowing that different sexes, races and belief systems are treated differently is important knowledge to both employer and fellow employee. A little sensitivity  and knowledge is good.

While I begin by discussing women in the workplace, my focus today is on religion.

I came across this article in the Guardian. It is called –

The fatwa hotline: ‘We have heard everything’

It can be read in its entirety here.

I think it is one of the best reads I’ve seen in many days. For one thing, it clarified my understanding of what a fatwa is and how hard followers of Islam work at their religion. And I often found it humorous and fascinating.

In the UAE, they have a hotline to answer questions about what should and should not be done as Muslims. There is one for women and a much more elaborate one for men.

What’s a fatwa and where does it come from?

(from the article)

A fatwa is not merely an opinion, however. It must be based on the verses of the Qur’an or the hadith, or the opinions of previous generations of Muslim scholars across 1,400 years of history, or, in the rare cases when those sources do not provide an answer, well-argued logic, to come up with a completely new ruling. These complexities tend to be missing from many self-styled Islamic experts, whose opinions are just a quick Google search away. You can find fatwas giving permission to behead captives or, in the case of Isis, take women as sex slaves. This free-for-all is why the Emiratis have taken steps to direct people towards approved scholars.

“On the internet, not everything is correct,” Zaidi says. “You ask a simple question and get many opinions. I believe it is better to go to a specialist if you have a problem.”

“Most questions from Muslims will have to do with their relationship with the divine and their ability to fulfil that for which they will be rewarded not in this world but in the world to come,” says Justin Stearns, an American associate professor and head of the Arab Crossroads Studies programme at New York University Abu Dhabi. I meet Stearns in a cafe in the sprawling pale stone campus surrounded by miles of sand on Saadiyat Island on the north side of Abu Dhabi. He has a short, greying beard and peppers his speech with fluent Arabic as he types on a silver MacBook. “In the marketplace of religious opinion, if you are just an average Muslim out there, you’d look to someone who can separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to religious authority,” he says. “Here you have the state doing that.”

What you should do.

I recommend you read this. One of the issues in the current election is the status of the followers of Islam in the United States, and, of course, all of us are likely at some point in the future to encounter other religions and it is better to have actual knowledge than the lurid fantasies of the Internet or talk radio.

As a matter of business ethics, an understanding of different religions, their ethical systems and beliefs on business is critical and should be part of every four year business degree although currently it is not a requirement. That we have a separation of church and state does not imply a separation of business and religion (although several of my students have claimed just that). The different ethical systems in play in society affect how we think and act. Business should pay attention.

James Pilant

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The Private Prisons Edition


Today we talk about a milestone in the saga of privatization.

The Private Prison Edition

The Federal government announced a gradual phase out of the use of private prisons. It turns out that studies show that the government run prisons do a much better job, a much, much better job, as the investigative report cited below conclusively proves.

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The Private Prison Edition

This may be a turning point in the neo-liberal privatization story. For years, decades, we’ve been told that everything the government does can be done better by private business. Usually this discussion centers around quasi-religious claims of the free-marketers, you know, some Ayn Rand stuff with scary collectivists and greed being the greatest and most wonderful human impulse of all time. It gives you a sense of how awful it would be to be trapped on a long flight trapped against the window with a free market zealot sitting right next to you.

This may be it, the turning points – the place where people say, “Hey, these private companies promised us the moon and we got worse what they wanted to replace – what gives?”

“What gives?” is the simple lie that private industry can always outperform the government. That’s nonsense. Sometimes, you have subjects that don’t lend themselves well to the profit motive like war and health care. The private sector moves in, scoops up the money and the you’re left with a disaster. Probably, a private company might make a better uniform or provide a service but the government does not always seek to make a profit, sometimes it needs to win a war or make sick people well. For profit making both war and sickness need to last as long as possible but for the sake of the nation we need victory and health.

But in spite of the economic disasters of the last decade, neo-liberalism’s adherents are not discouraged. They’ll be back. They’ll have a think tank make up some studies, hire a couple of ivy league economists to explain the beauty and purity of the free market and how the government must in theory not work well. They’ll say, “Just give us a few billion dollars and watch the money roll in.” Just like they always do.

And we need to be there to say no.

James Pilant

Feds Done with Private Prisons

Yates said in her memo that research had found private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources” and “do not save substantially on costs” either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners “have proved difficult to replicate and outsource” in the private sector, she said.

The decision was announced days after the Department of Justice’s inspector general released a damning investigation report. It found instances of inmate-on-inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons than in government-run facilities, and that the confiscation of contraband mobile phones occurred eight times more frequently.

Federal inmates in private prisons were found to be nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than those at other federal prisons, and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement.

The Feds run prisons better than private companies. 

For the most part, however, the report lays out a much more mundane case against private prisons. The private facilities failed, in large part, not because of high profile incidents — but because, compared to their government-run counterparts, they simply weren’t good at running a correctional facility. In this battle between socialism and the free market, socialism clearly won.

After the Inspector General’s office evaluated prisons along eight different categories, it found that private facilities underperformed government-run prisons in six of them. “Contract prisons,” the report explains, “had more frequent incidents per capita of contraband finds, assaults, uses of force, lockdowns, guilty findings on inmate discipline charges, and selected categories of grievances.”

Mother Jones article on CCA

Private prisons pose serious problems 

Still, where private prisons do exist, they seem to pose extraordinary problems.

The OIG report isn’t the first to indicate that private prisons are worse off, although it is the most recent one. A 2001 report from the Department of Justice found the rate of inmate-on-inmate violence at private prisons was 38 percent higher than the rate at public prisons. And in a four-month undercover investigation, reporter Shane Bauerwitnessed high levels of violence — particularly stabbings, which seemingly went underreported in official numbers — and lockdowns at a private prison in Louisiana.

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The Deceptive Politics Edition


The Deceptive Politics Edition

The best thing I’ve read on the Internet today is from the “History Chick in AZ.” It looks like a major paper on the subject of the misuse of history by advocacy groups in particular, The Federalist Society, although it talks about quite a few others.

These days, if you wander the Internet, it seems there are tidal waves of made up history from Black regiments fighting for the confederacy, to white people being most of the slaves, to Puritans seeking religious freedom, all of them running a muck at all times.

But the paper is talking not about just made up history but made up with a purpose. And the purpose is to change the law by creating an impression of a scholarly take on American history.

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The Deceptive Politics Edition

My first encounter with the phenomenon was an article extolling the idea that the Old West was a paradise of tranquility since everybody carried a gun and it mentioned prominently that Tombstone, Arizona only had two or three murders a year during that wonderful period. Except that Tombstone never had more than 7,000 people in it and the average modern American city of 10,000 has one murder every ten years. I wasn’t impressed by those claims then and I’m not impressed now.

When you don’t have any government and no legal avenues for justice, people get killed and not just a few. The Old West was a time of chaos and crime in American history, and all the spin you can slap on it isn’t going to change what happened.

But there are many other areas where history and simple factual data are under attack – one of them is climate change.

Here’s an excerpt from the article

One of the more visible examples of the power of these groups to shape policy and public perceptions has been the issue of climate change. Flush with money from oil and gas companies, several political advocacy groups were able to wage a public battle against scientists to successfully create the perception of doubt, when there was none within the scientific community. With public confusion and cowed politicians, they were able to bring any legislation meant to deal with the problem to a halt. (19) The media, sadly concerned more with the appearance of neutrality than with the truth helped create this perception of doubt. In addition, reporters have been too trusting of experts without checking their affiliations and potential conflicts of interest. Realizing the problem the ProPublica reporterRobert Faturechi states, “Reporters and editors need to be more skeptical of experts, and the false sense of security that their name brand affiliations provide. Before we quote them or their studies, or publish their op-eds, we have to ask harder questions about their funding and their outside employment.” (20) We are now all paying the price for this mischief, and it will only get worse.

I recommend to got the “history chick’s” blog and have a good read. The article I’m referring to can be read here.

As always, like, share and subscribe!

James Pilant

The Larry Wilmore Edition


The Larry Wilmore Edition

I’m very sad to report that The Nightly Show has been cancelled with Thursday being its last day. 

And this cancellation carries business ethics implications. What is a network trying to do when it creates television programs? The current Neoliberal answer is maximise revenue but there are also question of talent, art and public comment that also need to be addressed. 

In my judgment Wilmore’s show shouldn’t have been cancelled. I believe this is one of those situations in which the long term benefits outweighed the losses. Wilmore was a powerful and distinctive voice and he said a lot of things that needed to be said. That he spoke from a minority perspective and used powerful discussion formats to convey idea were critical to the intellectual weight of the show. 

Caroline Framke (quoted below) discusses how the show was not designed to produce clips for You-Tube but was apparently expected to. Both she and I agree this is unfair. Comedy Central understood the show’s format from the beginning. There was never going to be any drive along sing along segments for multi-media distribution. 

And Josef Adalian writing for Vulture says Wilmore’s firing calls into question whether or not Trevor Noah’s lead role at The Daily Show is a success. 

James Pilant

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The Larry Wilmore Edition

Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show Ends

Comedy Central has canceled The Nightly Show, which will end its run on Thursday, with a re-slotted @Midnight taking its place until a permanent option is determined. The move effectively cuts ties with host Larry Wilmore, who gained notoriety back in 2006 on the network’s Daily Show as its “Senior Black Correspondent” and then segued into a late-night series of his own. However, his Nightly Show—which featured sharp political commentary and roundtable discussions—was never a strong ratings performer over its year-and-a-half run, with Wilmore vocally preferring substantive content to more viral-friendly, “pure comic” fodder such as James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke or Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battle.

Caroline Framke writing for Vox

Comedy Central had high hopes for The Nightly Show, which premiered alongside the final days of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show in early 2015, in the high-profile spot formerly occupied by Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report. But Comedy Central president Kent Altermantold the Hollywood Reporter that the show never quite “connected with our audience in ways that we need it to, both in the linear channel and in terms of multi-platform outlets and with shareable content and on social platforms as well.”

Read that statement again. If you saw a Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle or a James Corden Carpool Karaoke session flash before your eyes, congratulations, you’re basically an expert on how network executives view late-night TV in 2016.

I don’t mean to suggest that Comedy Central necessarily wanted Wilmore to start playing party games with celebrities in a bid to attract more attention online. That’s still not the network’s style, and besides, Trevor Noah’s version of The Daily Show (as well as John Oliver’s HBO series Last Week Tonight) have proved that it’s possible to get viral traction out of political breakdowns and bits that address serious topics and themes.

But it’s significant that Alterman cited a lack of “shareable content” from The Nightly Showas part of the reason the show can’t work, because The Nightly Show was never built to produce shareable content in the first place.

Joseph Adalian Writing for Vulture

Still, as confident as Alterman is in the 2016 version of The Daily Show, the cancellation of The Nightly Show will once again bring into question whether Noah’s takeover of Stewart’s franchise has been a success. There may be signs of growth, and reason for hope, but with just three months left in the 2016 election cycle, Noah’s voice seems weak compared to rivals such as Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers, and nowhere in the same league, influence-wise, as Stewart. Two years ago, the Stewart and Stephen Colbert lineup was sort of the late-night equivalent of NBC’s Must-See TV lineup, particularly among cultural and political elites. Now? The network’s shows often seem an afterthought compared to the aforementioned hosts.

Pilant’s Business Ethics Blog Links 8-15-2016 The Decision Making Edition


The Decision Making Edition

Today, we have five blogs we’re looking at. The first is Steve Keating’s blog where we have his thoughts on decision making. Then the site, Dear Kitty, Some Blog, has a video on DuPont and a court case. 

Can students in poverty by measured by who qualifies for free school lunches. Well, the data is useful but how useful? Read below and see what you think. A postal carrier saves a life and we conclude with a bit of fun with a Doctor Who link. 

James Pilant

illo-29-th
The Decision Making Edition

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Steve Keating’s Thoughts on Decision Making

(This is a short excerpt – please take the opportunity to go to his site and read the whole thing! jp) 

You need to make your own decisions because ultimately it’s the decisions you make that make you who you are. There are outcomes, results, and consequences, both positive and negative, to every decision. Everything you say, do, and even think plays a role in determining who you really are. It’s worth investing a moment or two in deciding what’s best for you.

 

From the web site, Dear Kitty, Some Blog – a video! 

Counting the numbers of free and reduced school lunches is not a good metric of student poverty

Then, using data from Michigan she examined the student performance on tests more closely and determined that “…the achievement gap between persistently disadvantaged children— those who qualified for free and reduced lunch throughout their elementary school years– and those who were never disadvantaged is about a third larger than the gap that is typically measured.” Dynarski found that by eight grade these persistently poor children were three grade levels behind their peers… and on closer examination she found that they almost consistently begin Kindergarten behind their peers and, worse yet from a policy perspective, the persistently poor could be identified very early.

Postal Carrier Saves Boy’s Life

A Doctor Who Link (Just for fun!) 

Reign of Terror (1964) remains very watchable , despite missing a couple of episodes which are replaced by animations. The set design, costumes, script, music and acting are all up to snuff, demonstrating that the essentially theatrical frame of reference that prevailed at the BBC during the 60s and 70s could have very satisfying results.

Sanders is Right about Prescription Drugs


Sanders is Right about Prescription Drugs

(This quote is from Sander’s Facebook Site.) 

Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp
Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp

In 1999, I took a busload of Vermonters – mostly women, many of them dealing with breast cancer – over the Canadian border into Montreal. As long as I live, I will never forget the looks on their faces when they bought the same medicine they were buying in Vermont, in the U.S.A., for one-tenth of the price – one-tenth of the price. These were working-class women who were struggling with breast cancer and who didn’t have a whole lot of money. They were able to purchase the exact same medicine for 10 percent of the price in Montreal. That makes no sense to me, and it only speaks to the power of the pharmaceutical industry over the Congress that we have Members here who vote for all kinds of free-trade agreements – they just love free trade. We can bring in any product we want from China. We can have lettuce and tomatoes coming in from farms in Mexico. But for some strange reason we cannot bring in brand name drugs from Canada. We just can’t do it. We can’t figure out how to do it. And everybody here knows what the reason is – it is the power of the pharmaceutical industry, their campaign donations, and their lobbying efforts.

This is hardcore business ethics. Rigging the game so that Americans are forced to pay premium prices is wrong. This kind of thing and it is an American constant, a continuous cycle of political spending and favors designed to enrich a tiny number while impoverishing the rest, is key to understanding the appeal of Donald Trump. Those voters are so angry that it doesn’t matter what he says or does as long as he is clearly not part of a political system that rigs the game against them on a regular basis.

Americans bear much of the burden of medical research through their tax dollars but are subjected to the agony of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for drugs whose actual costs are measured in pennies. This is an enormous transfer of wealth from the vast majority of Americans to the bank accounts of a few. Why should we Americans pay twice, first to develop the drugs and then, once again, when we need them?

Who designed this? – the drug companies and their allies in the government. Heads, they win, tails you lose. Every single time.

This isn’t right.

We can do better that this.

James Pilant

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