Business Ethics Roundup: Sept. 27th – Oct. 3rd

This is the week that the President was diagnosed with COVID19 and sent to Walter Reed Hospital. As an expert on ethics, I have a couple of observations. The President’s behavior after his exposure was reckless and foolish. He pointlessly endangered the lives of his staff and at a scheduled meeting of major fund raisers took no precautions at all. Secondly, the irony of a man who has discouraged intelligent action on the virus and ignored precautions having become infected with the virus is palpable.

It is also important to note that the messaging coming out of the White House that the President has a mild case and is recovering while taking medication for the most serious of cases makes little sense. Once again as an ethics expert I have to note that the White House has so little credibility that some of my friends don’t even believe that he is actually ill!

I would like to believe that those of us who have been critical of the President would forbear from taking pleasure in his suffering. I have had the COVID19 virus and it is an awful experience. I do not wish it on people and I don’t believe that the Almighty smites individuals with disease not to mention earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. For gentlemen and ladies, the only proper response to illness is a sincere wish for a quick recovery.

Some years ago, I taught a class in criminal justice and some of the students hated Obama so much they could scarce answer a question in the course without saying something disparaging about him. I regard Obama as an average President who missed his opportunities to do justice in the economic crisis of 2008, so I’m not a fan but the level of pure hatred was just amazing. I don’t want to do that nonsense. You can oppose the President without hating him. The place for disputes in a democracy is the ballot box and the courts; and we should let those play out.

In other business ethics news, Robert Murray, the former controversial head of now defunct Murray Energy has applied for Black Lung Benefits. His company was notorious for fighting every claim from his workers for such benefits. There is a certain irony at play here.

“Whose Vote Counts,” premiered this week on Netflix focuses on the problem of voter suppression in the United States. It is definitely an ethics problem. As if to underscore the importance of the film, the governor of Texas issued a proclamation limiting the number of drop off boxes for absentee voting to one per county. Such obvious villainy is not often seen.

In this week of intense irony, it is important to note that the three leaders who most denigrated the threat of the virus have all come down with it. Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson and the President have suffered or are suffering from the disease. Will this experience soften their views or teach them wisdom? Don’t be ridiculous. The denial of science, a critical view of experts, this unwillingness to follow the path of experience and knowledge is wired into their political selves.

The Pope in a new Encyclical entitled, “Fratelli Tutti,” or “Brothers All,” criticized free market capitalism and trickle down economics.

The marketplace by itself cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith,” the pope wrote.

He added that free-market capitalism “reproduces itself” by resorting to the magic theories of “spillover” or “trickle” as the only solution to societal problems.

In an unusual departure for Fox News, Chris Wallace told the network’s audience to wear masks and follow the science. This was an example of positive business ethics. He was under no obligation to explain this or make a claim often criticized by his own network but he did it anyway.

In some sad and unfortunate economic news, about 3.8 million jobs in the United States have disappeared forever.

Jet suits are now being tested in the United Kingdom for use in rescues in rough terrain. My memories of personal rocket propelled suits is confined to James Bond and my recollection is that the suit had very little time in the air and generated monstrous amounts of heat. It appears that personal jet packs have come down in price and have much improved times and efficiency. The world changes!

One of the positive elements of capitalism is innovation and technological development.

It is fascinating to observe that you can tell how well Joe Biden is doing in the polls by observing the international value placed on the Russian Ruble. The higher his poll numbers go, the lower the ruble.

Irony just abounds this week.

The Post Office is an American Institution and for rural American, a vital part of the people’s lives.

Across the rural West, the U.S. Postal Service has long been an integral part of everyday life — especially in recent months, ever since the pandemic made residents wary of going to the grocery store or driving to town for necessities. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, the postal service is a literal lifeline: About one in four veterans live in rural communities, and 80% of their prescriptions come through the mail. Additionally, residents 65 and older rely more on mail prescriptions than younger people do. Many rural post offices also distribute packages from private delivery services, such as UPS, FedEx and Amazon. And across the Western United States, residents also rely on the postal service to deliver mail-in ballots.

The House of Representatives passed a 2.2 trillion dollar stimulus bill. The Senate and the President are unlikely to allow the bill to proceed. The great mass of the American people are of little concern to our ruling elites.

A Senate panel is moving to subpoena the CEO’s of Twitter, Facebook and Google. This is a bipartisan effort although each party has different issues that concern them about the tech giants.

It is important that these organizations have some responsibility to their users although the Senate is a blunt instrument at best.

As Addictive as Cigarettes?

In a House hearing, Tim Kendall a former executive at Facebook testified about its addictiveness.

Kendall, CEO of time-management app Moment and former director of monetization for Facebook, told the hearing held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Tobacco companies initially just sought to make nicotine more potent. But eventually that wasn’t enough to grow the business as fast as they wanted. And so they added sugar and menthol to cigarettes so you could hold the smoke in your lungs for longer periods, At Facebook, we added status updates, photo tagging, and likes.”

According to an article in Scientific American, Greenland is melting faster than any time in the last 12,000 years.