A Great American and an American Tragedy


Jon Stewart is an American hero. His continuous efforts on behalf of those rescuers who suffered injury have finally resulted in funding for their medical bills. I am in awe and I admire him for his work. 

Now, to the troubling part. Why did such obviously deserving American heroes need an advocate like Jon Stewart? What is wrong with a political system that can’t do simple justice for the brave and self sacrificing among us? 

Rewarding heroism and self sacrifice is an ethical and moral duty. It’s how you build the fabric of a nation. It’s why we have benefits for veterans and honor our dead. From the most ancient times, celebrating bravery and a devotion to patriotism and honor have been part of government functions.


There is no way these people would have gotten a dime without Jon Stewart’s public shaming of the Senate. And to add insult to injury, he had to shame them twice! 

It appears to me that the 9/11 responders lacked the most basic element necessary for action on the part of our government, the ability to contribute large sums of money to their political campaigns. Our leadership in this nation could not bring itself to spend money unless there was a direct political benefit. The system is rotten to its very base. 

Jon Stewart imposed a political cost on these people. Otherwise they would never have acted. And right now, these venal politicians are patting themselves on the back for doing what simple justice demanded as if they were statesmen. 

We Americans deserve a better government than this. 

James Pilant

The Hays Code


One of my favorite things in the world is to watch pre-code films. Before the Hays Code was adopted to stave off congressional censorship of films, there was an era of adult talk and intelligent plotting in motion pictures. I like both those things. The Pre-Code era ended in 1934 and we all suffered for it.

The effect of the Hays Code was felt on television far longer than in the motion picture industry. That’s why two single beds in a married couple’s home were the rule until “The New Dick Van Dyke Show.” That’s why we were flooded with widowers like Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show) because people aren’t supposed to divorce or separate so it was easier just to kill off the woman.

You could argue that profanity and sex – and many other things should be censored. I disagree. Many awful things are part of our lives and can be discussed. There are things that should be censored like reality shows. I don’t mean specific lines. Reality shows should not exist. Putting television cameras on real people who are exorted to act out is detrimental to the viewers, the victims and everyone else. Watching an episode of “Survivor” was one of the worst experiences of my life. The people were placed on an island to plot, connive, cheat and lie for the amusement of the viewer. It was pathetically degrading.

The ethics of censorship in films and television are an enormously complex area of analysis. I’d like to talk about it some more in the future. Gene Roddenberry used to write about executives constantly interfering with his science fiction programming and his comments were the beginning of my interest in television censorship.

I’ve got a link below to a young gentleman who has made a film about the Hays Code and its effect on four motion pictures. In my opinion, he did a great job and I found his ideas compelling. So please give it a watch. I hope to see more of his work.

James Pilant

4 Cinematic Victims of Hays Code Era Censorship

What You Say Can Define You as a Racist.


When I was a little boy about the time they were using high power on peaceful black marchers in the south, I remember watching on television people saying that all though they opposed black people voting and using the same schools and sidewalks as whites that they weren’t racist.
This has continued to the present day. Apparently virtually no act and nothing said can define one as a racist according to these people. 
Werner Horn, a legislator from New Hampshire, says that owning slaves doesn’t make you racist. 
Much like a Salvador Dali painting, we have arrived at a point at which all reality is simply melting like so many clocks. 
Horn says that it was an economic decision. No, it is a crime against man and God. It is a savage act that defines one for all time as a depraved monster and, yes, a racist. 
That slavery was legal means nothing morally and ethically. That many people did it is no more a justification than it is for anything else. That those that held slaves were once important members of the government and did great things does not excuse their behavior. Slavery is wrong and the very definition of racism. 
That in the beginning of the 21st Century, that I feel it necessary to reiterate the basic moral rules around racism is a pitiful statement concerning our public discourse. This is a difficult time in America but I believe there will be better times in the future where Americans will realize their purpose and better heritage. 
James Pilant

Broken Heart Syndrome


What does business ethics have to do with broken heart syndrome? Quite a lot. You see we live in a world where there are many who want to tell you that we are individual atoms, or self interest seeking enlightened or patrons of choice – or some other nonsense. The actual facts are very simple. We are a cooperative species and our love, our kindness and empathy are major factors in the quality of our lives. That self seeking greed is an empty life of callous destruction and that we can see this every day in the lives of our ruling class.

Here we have a study showing a likely relationship between a broken heart and cancer. Well, of course, there is. We are not make of stone except in Randian fantasies and “kick them in the teeth” diatribes about getting ahead.

I want you to understand that many of the best things in life are about family and nation and togetherness and cooperation and faith in each other. I know these values are often hard to hold on to in the face of the public evils indulged by our current leadership. Having faith in American and its people in spite of what has been happening may seem foolish. But it is a foolishness I intent to practice and I urge you to do the same.

James Pilant

Broken heart syndrome and cancer are connected, scientists say

Catch Up


Catch Up
The ability to hit a person with thousands, perhaps, hundreds of thousands, of social media attacks is a new phenomenon in law and we haven’t adapted to it yet. 
The appalling mistreatment of Sandy Hook parents by conspiracy theorists and various cranks have resulted in little action so far. 
But that will change. 
The law is in process in dealing with the problem. It takes time but we are starting to see the first successful libel actions and this decision. 
Remember that scandal magazines were once a thing in Hollywood but changes in the law made that kind of operation almost impossible to maintain. 
Be a participant in this. As the law develops let your voice be heard to defend free speech but also to demand accountability to lies and libel. 
James Pilant

Federal magistrate says Jewish woman should get $14 million from neo-Nazi who orchestrated troll-storm

Beyond Planned Obsolescence


Italy’s Competition Authority has fined both Apple and Samsung the maximum amounts possible for deliberately slowing the performance of their phones with the apparent intent of motivating the owners to replace them with newer, pricier phones. 
Both firms provided updates to phones that caused malfunctions and lowered the speed. Neither firm provided any means by which the phones could be restored to their previous capabilities. 
Planned Obsolescence is where you deliberately design a product to only last a limited amount of time. Common with automobiles and similar products, it has been far less practiced in consumer electronics since the products’ capabilities have developed so quickly. 
However, when money is involved, what is unnecessary may still be profitable. They took their own products and handicapped their capabilities so they would reap greater profits when they were replaced. 
Simply put, this is not good business ethics. It is the direct opposite – manipulating customers to buy under the pretence that their phones were too slow – when the update provided by the manufacturer created the problem in the first place. This is stealing and certainly causes one to have serious doubts about the trustworthiness of the companies involved. 
James Pilant

Trolling and Discord!


 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-were-sharing-3-million-russian-troll-tweets/

“FiveThirtyEight has obtained nearly 3 million tweets from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. To our knowledge, it’s the fullest empirical record to date of Russian trolls’ actions on social media, showing a relentless and systematic onslaught. In concert with the researchers who first pulled the tweets, FiveThirtyEight is uploading them to GitHub so that others can explore the data for themselves.”

This is fascinating. Here you can see how the Russian Troll Tweets were targeted and used. You get to look at the data yourself and see what you think. I have to tell you “three million tweets are a lot of tweets.”
This was an endeavor set up by the Russian government to cause discord.
So, why am I, Mr. Business Ethics, talking about it and asking you to think about it.
Because spreading outrage and lies is an Internet business model, and a very successful one. People are building little information empires based on making stuff up. Even worse are those designed to cause discord.
I’m a Methodist. Part of the Methodist doctrine is respect for thing called “the ties that bind.” These are the unifying elements in the church, the family and the larger society.
Societies, towns, states and nations are actually fragile collections of people attempting to share resources, maintain order and accomplish some larger goal like living long lives with some security.
There are people who like to mess that up. Shock jocks on radio and ranting conspiracy theorists are often simply trying to get you mad. Angry people don’t think but they do listen to a lot of radio and watch talking heads on television – both of which I strongly recommend against.
The brain is stimulated and developed by reading and thought. Television is more like a sustained diet of high fructose corn syrup and is better left alone.
Anyway, learn more about trolling, particularly how to spot it. Become aware that what you feed your brain is critical to its well being and that we live in societies that need constant maintenance and care to function.
James Pilant

Non-Profits can be Profitable


“Tiffany Carr runs the state’s top domestic violence organization, a nonprofit that uses public money — state and federal — to finance shelters and other essential services. And she makes a good living.

How good? In a June 30, 2017 report, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence disclosed she is paid $761,560 annually, a salary that is approved by its board. She hit that mark after receiving pay raises totaling $313,475 over a two-year period.” (This is a quote from the article with a link at the bottom of the page.) 

 

Ah, the wonders of privatization! Now, privatization is based on the idea that the private sector can do anything better than the public sector. That’s not true. But it is one of the tenets of semi-religious Neo-Liberalistic beliefs held by the elites of our government, the educational system and the business world. And so, of course, it must be true and we’re going to do privatization no matter what contrary evidence appears.
Now, we are talking here about a “non-profit.” That is one of the strangest words in the modern American dystopia we live in today. Tiffany Carr makes three quarters of a million dollars a year running a “non-profit.” That sounds pretty profitable to me. And usually when I see the word, non-profit, it is in a news article discussing hundred or millions or billions of dollars, so I can’t help but feel the word doesn’t mean what I think it does.
You see the state of Florida decided that they should run their state funds through a private organization and the world would be a much better place. And they are absolutely right. In the old world state employees were paid small salaries and worked to prevent domestic violence. Now private employees can be paid six figure salaries, and work to prevent domestic violence.
The state of Florida routes federal money through the organization as well as substantial state funds. Now call me petty, but I can’t help but wonder how successful the organization is at combating domestic violence. So, I went and looked for numbers and there are just bunches of stuff on shelter days and developed plans but my foolish question of “Is domestic violence going up or down?” is not readily apparent from my search results.
Of course, that’s not the point of privatization. A public school or a public domestic violence response by state employees doesn’t really yield up money or influence. But a privatized agency paying six figure salaries can reward your friends and result in annual campaign contributions. It’s wonderful and much better than that public service thing.
This is about money and how public money can be used to reward and enhance political power. Whether or not it works any better than the public institutions is irrelevant. It is much better deal for those in power.
So, we’re going to see a lot more “non-profits” and privatization – a lot more.

Selling the Soul of Academia (A Guest Post from Steven Mintz!)


I have the great pleasure of introducing an article by my friend, Steven Mintz, better known as the Ethics Sage. Among many other things he is doing, he has a recently developed new blog site: http://www.higheredethicswatch.com/

So, please read and enjoy! As always, like and share whenever possible!

Selling the Soul of Academia

Commercialism a Threat to Academic Freedom

I just read about Texas A&M ‘s lottery to sell hotel reservations in a facility across the street from Kyle Field, where the Aggies play their football games. For a mere $100,000, A&M supporters and alums can stay close to campus and watch Aggie football games. Sound over-the-top? Well, to date 750 alums have expressed interest in the program. If you’re interested in a suite, you can enter the lottery and start the bidding from $125,000 to $475,000.

Guaranteed room options, as their called, seems to be gaining support at colleges and universities across the U.S. Universities, especially those with top-flight sports teams, are always seeking to monetize their athletic programs. But, are these universities selling their soul to commercial interests in return for a seat at the table? Or, in this case, a room across the stadium for long-distance travelers.

I have previously blogged about conflicts in the biotech industry and research by professors,[1] and increasing commercialism at academic institutions industry[2]. In the latter, I pointed out that Penn State University and the University of Minnesota had signed contracts with Pepsi-Cola ($14 million) and Coca-Cola ($28 million), respectively, giving the beverage companies sole rights on campus to sell their products. These pay to play agreements limit choice and should be discussed in classrooms in the context of free or speech and whether such agreements are ethical.

Other conflicts of interest abound including selling patents developed by university researchers to pharmaceutical companies and conducting “independent research” on the efficacy of new drugs in their experimental phase. Does anyone believe the researchers would write a crucial report IF the pharmaceutical companies are donors to the university?

I recently read an insightful publication, University Inc: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education, in which the author, Jennifer Washburn, states[3]:

“During the past two decades, commercial forces have transformed virtually every aspect of academic life. Corporate funding of universities is growing and the money comes with strings attached. In return for corporate largesse, universities are acting more and more like for-profit patent factories, while professors are behaving more like businessmen. Secrecy is replacing the free flow of basic knowledge, university funds are shifting from the humanities to more commercially lucrative science labs, and the skill of teaching is valued less and less. The consequences of the new academic-industrial complex are wide-ranging and disturbing.”

So, what’s the problem with a university raising funds from corporate and other commercial interests?

  • The monies often go right back into athletic activities, not to improving classroom instruction.
  • Academic independence is threatened. Imagine if Pepsi and Coke used child labor overseas. Would the universities criticize the donors?
  • The pay for play arrangements send the wrong message to students that out in the real world they may have to compromise their integrity to gain business for their employers.
  • Funded professors are taken out of the classroom to do research and paid enormous salaries as well. One recent study reported at least ten professors getting $500,000 or more[4].
  • Underpaid lecturers are brought in to teach those classes and, rather than increasing their salaries, more students and/or larger classes are assigned thereby straining their already over-taxed schedules.

These are just a few of the ethical issues. What bothers me the most is it’s another step down the ethical slippery slope, like denying the right to free speech of those with controversial points of view. Rather than opening up the minds of university students, colleges and universities are contributing to the closing of their minds.

Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, is a Professor Emeritus at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His new blog on higher education ethics can be found at: http://www.higheredethicswatch.com/. Visit Steve’s website at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/.

[1] http://www.ethicssage.com/2012/02/academic-freedom-and-the-commercialization-of-universities.html.

 

[2] http://www.ethicssage.com/2011/07/the-selling-of-american-universities.html.

 

[3] https://muse.jhu.edu/article/195083.

 

[4] https://thebestschools.org/features/highest-paid-college-professors-america/.

 

David Fishinghawk


David Fishinghawk

In the 21st Century, it is almost unheard of for a man to live the life of a warrior. Only occasionally can a man can live for decades when suffering from chronic illness. And in these modern times, few men can teach the way of the warrior in a time obsessed with valuing every human endeavor in terms of dollars and sense.

David Fishinghawk did all those things. He walked the earth as a warrior, a martial artist and gifted teacher.

Most men look back on their lives and remember that one time they fought, maybe over a girl or an insult. David fought thousands, almost uncountable times. He fought in the way of the martial artist, to demonstrate his skill, show his courage and practice his art. As a martial artist, he sculpted his body and mind over a period over a period of roughly forty years. A list of his trophies would fill a good sized book from cover to cover.

For many years, David had a studio in Locust Grove, Oklahoma devoted to the teaching and practice of American Tae Kwon Do. There are now multiple generations of students who will carry his teachings on to others. It is said that we live on in the memories of others but a martial artist also lives on in his teachings and in his example. As long a move he perfected is taught and as long as someone small learns to face fearsome odds with courage, David will live on.

He had a wonderful sense of humor and it was given full expression when he was teaching. He loved a game called “Karate Simon Says.” The students especially children tried to follow his instructions trying to only follow his commands when “simon says” came first. And he rewarded the winner of these and many other karate games with stickers, toys and candy always tossed at the victors sometime easily and sometimes to make them lunge or dive for the goodies.

He delighted in teaching children and developed awards for a wide variety of activities so that every student had a chance to excel.

He did not become wealthy or financially secure through his teachings. That’s not why he did it. He was following the tradition of the way of the warrior from both the Western and Eastern cultures and from his tribe as well, the American connection.

On the night he passed, there was a thunderstorm. In the Cherokee tradition, there are storm warriors who roam the sky. Tonight there is one more.