Ethics Roundup – June 7th, 2010

Josh Lipton writing on Minyanville discusses the major historical bills regulating Wall Street as compared to the current effort. (It’s got a video!)

Karl Stephan writing in the Engineering Ethics Blog (his blog) talks about the lessons of Nuremberg for engineers and everyone else. The Nuremberg trials were the war crimes trials held by the victorious Allies at the end of the second world war. Many prominent Nazi’s and other war criminals were sentenced to death or to long terms of imprisonment. Stephan believes that the primary lessons of Nuremberg were the reduction of human beings to objects to be manipulated. He says that culminated in abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.
(I am quite familiar with the Nuremberg Trials and the death camps and many other Nazi not to mention Japanese and Italian war crimes. I in no way agree with Karl Stephan’s conclusions. Nevertheless, it’s a good read.)

Simon Propper writing on the web site, Ethical Corporation, discusses the corporate responsibility movement and British Petroleum. BP was an enthusiastic user of the CR model and things have not worked out well. Propper discusses the ramifications of these events., the Electronic Privacy Center, wants it known that internet privacy has become a major issue in the California governor’s race.

Loren Steffy writing in the Houston Chronicle predicts a high likelihood of skyrocketing oil prices in the wake of British Petroleum’s disaster.

Chris MacDonald writing on his site, the Business Ethics Blog, discusses the phenomenon of “Greenwash.” (I recommended an article from the site, Ethical Corporation, which discusses some of the same issues. I recommend reading MacDonald’s take and then checking out Simon Propper’s views.) MacDonald’s perception is tough on BP and accurate.

David Gushee writes about marriage. Normally I would just have gone on by his article since its relevance to business ethics is very limited. But Gushee is excellent in his analysis of ethical issues from a Christian perspective and I want to encourage that. So I include it.

Jon Talton writes about a world in which “entire professions have been vaporized.” I boil with rage over off sourcing, temps instead of real jobs, – every kind of pain placed on the producers in this economy and it never stops. It has gotten worse every year that I have been alive and it shows no sign of improvement. Can we live in a country without well paying jobs and far too few of any kind of job? This is not a problem of personal initiative or re-training. This is a political problem only solvable by action at the national level. But even in Talton’s article he quotes another writer thusly,
“You have to stay on top of what’s changing, how that affects your industry and your specific job and how you’ll remain relevant and valuable. Most people don’t change until they feel the heat. Sometimes, that’s too late …” Also, “Prepare for ‘hurricanes, sinkholes and manana,’ which is all about what to do so you’re not caught off guard, but instead prepared.” As for older workers, “look for ways to demonstrate you’re ‘not old’ in your thinking, in your attitudes, in your skills and how you look.”
When whole professions have been vaporized, personal initiative is useless. When there is one job for every six applicants, there is no amount of personal drive and guts that can get more than one of those six that job. When the entire economy of the United States and the world has been severely damaged, telling everyone to tighten their belt and get tough is no cure. It’s just nonsense. At what point do you look at an international catastrophe and stop saying if we individually get tough enough we can ride it out. At what point does the nonsensical cure of personal initiative, of there’s always dawn after the darkness, light at the end of the tunnel, only thing left after you hit bottom is up, think and grow rich, have optimistic thoughts and opportunity will find you and this continuing empty drivel of self help, when the only thing that can make a difference is collective action. Is it just impossible to say that the government should implement policies to protect American jobs? It is too radical to suggest that shipping American jobs overseas is unpatriotic and counter productive? It is just plain bizarre to suggest that making the absolute last dime is not the most important thing for an individual, a company or a nation? Can we think seriously about the problem or just stay in a land of fantasy where the exercise of a mythical absolute free will makes us demi-gods upon the earth?

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