Business Ethics Roundup: Week of Sept. 20th – 26th.

“We are going to crush this lady.” 

Seven former employees of E-bay were arrested for sending a bloody pig mask and cockroaches to a couple who ran a small web site which drew the ire of the company. The quote, “We are going to crush this lady,” is from CEO Devin Wenig. This truly ridiculous crimes committed to punish a small independent web site have resulted in several guilty pleas as well as resignations and firings.

The proper response to criticism is to fix the problems in your own house and a due tolerance to the critic. This kind of economic and social “jihad” is both reprehensible, unwise and outside the behavior expected of ladies and gentlemen.

Singapore has adopted facial recognition for identity verification both public and private. Is this wise? It is too early to tell but this technology can easily be misused and there is certainly a vast imbalance of power between the government and the “identified.” I’m very uncomfortable with this. It’s not surprising that Singapore, long a practitioner of paternalistic control is the first nation to dive all the way to the use of this kind of system.

A new Pew Research Center survey of 13,200 people (a truly excellent sample size) shows that less than half of the 22 million jobs lost due to the pandemic have been recovered. About 1/3 of the sample indicated they had got their old jobs back and another 15% had found new jobs.

The data on those that recovered jobs showed a strong class difference in job recovery rates with of 58% middle and upper class workers finding work again opposed to only 43% of the lower class.

Recovery funds have found their way to the giant corporations and even mega churches but to these 11 million unemployed Americans, our fellow citizens, little has been done and it appears that our ruling class finds the suffering of these “little” people to be beneath their notice.

The national tragedy of the federal government’s failed response to the coronavirus continues. We have the example of many successful governmental responses from around the work to emulate and we don’t. We have conducted a policy based on federal inaction and incompetence coupled with fifty different state governmental approaches often bordering on the moronic. Our individual reactions are shaped by conspiracy theories, exuberant denialism and concepts of personal freedom and free market absolutism that border on lunacy.

Maryland becomes the first state to ban foam food service products.

“Single-use plastics are overrunning our oceans and bays and neighborhoods,” Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman, the main sponsor of the House bill, told CNN when it passed in 2019.
“We need to take dramatic steps to start stemming our use and reliance on them … to leave future generations a planet full of wildlife and green space.”

I believe that in time more states will adopt this measure.

Peloton is cutting the price of one of its exercycles. This company was through a fluke of history, the coronavirus, multiplied in its success. Many people unable to jog or walk bought exercycles online. Still too rich for my blood.

I use a rowing machine which I strongly recommend. Unlike a cycle, the rowing machine is a full body workout. But as we age, regular exercise becomes more and more important.

A Massachusetts Veterans’ home combined two dementia wards apparently to save money. Since one was infected with the COVID19 version and the other wasn’t, many veterans died. The decision has been described as “baffling.”

This action and others have resulted in two federal indictments.
There is something horrifying with how casually these veterans were discarded. Weren’t they promised a life time of care? What does this say about us as a nation and a people that this happened.
And  on this same point the treatment, the lack of mourning, for the dead in this pandemic is most concerning. As I continue toward the end of my life, it pains me to think that having reached a certain age, I am expected to perish unmourned and unthought of. Two hundred thousand Americans dead and we continue with our disastrous policies and fail in our duties to the dead – to mourn and remember their lives and contributions.
Lane Unhjem, a farmer in North Dakota, suffered a heart attack while tending his fields. He is in ICU and recovering. But without him, his crops would go unharvested and the money for their sale lost.
Sixty neighbors volunteered to come out and make sure the harvest went as planned. They acted to save his income and thus his farm.
For some, and they number in the millions in this nation, acting to save a competitor without recompense beggars the imagination. Under Ayn Rand’s system of thinking, this altruism, this compassion is a crime against logic and reasonable thought.
Yet, for the time being, there are still those among us who believe in humankind, the values of sharing and civic as well as community duty.
The former head of that vile organization, Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, has been banned from running limited liability companies in England for seven years. The firm offered “unethical” services. Among the unethical services offered were “honey traps’ and “voter disengagement services.” A honey trap is where a woman offers sexual favors which are then used often with covert filming to blackmail opponents. Voter disengagement is a method of using social media to disgust and discourage potential voters from supporting an opponent.
If this strikes you as a small penalty for advertising these disreputable acts, you are not alone. Nix admits no wrongdoing and says he only agreed to the penalty to avoid lengthy litigation.
These kinds of penalties fail to discourage this kind of wrongdoing. What is to become of morality and ethics in the world of business when these slaps on the wrist are all the penalty that violators face?

The agency said it had found that Nix “had caused or permitted SCL Elections or associated companies to act with a lack of commercial probity”.

“The unethical services offered by the companies included bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns,” it said in its statement.

A Native American tribe, the Monacans, are fighting to preserve the original site of their capital from the building of a pumping station.
We as a nation are in a period of reckoning when it comes to Native American sites and history and, in particular, native remains. This should form part of the business communities’ concerns when it come to not doing harm as well as pursuing the public good. We are not endangered by recognizing native culture; we are enriched and enlivened by our mixture of cultures and the amazing combination of European, African and Native American cultures have built a vital and active culture.
As we have seen in Brazil, anti-indigenous organizations are becoming increasingly influential and powerful. This is a business ethics concern.
Anti-Indigenous ideologies challenge bedrock human rights through a number of means. Relying on stereotypes, for instance, is a common tactic in almost every country: Indigenous communities are seen as lawless or corrupt and incapable of managing land, water, wildlife or infrastructure — roles that anti-Indigenous activists and fellow travelers argue should be taken on by the state or corporations instead of Indigenous communities. Those same arguments are often extended to the adoption of Indigenous children, access to health care, and payment of taxes. In all cases, anti-Indigenous individuals and organizations argue that Indigenous people are incapable of managing their own affairs by engaging with racist dog whistles and established stereotypes to undermine rights to land, resources, language and culture. (From the article below.)
There is a currently developing scandal in Pakistan alleging that corrupt officials are issuing pilot’s licenses to those unqualified. I’m sure you can imagine the dire consequences of issuing pilot’s licenses for money.

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