This week in Business Ethics is marred by the death by ovarian cancer of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She died during the week of Rosh Hashanah which in Jewish lore means she is particularly blessed. Here is a guide for my readers unfamiliar with the surrounding concepts.
Currently that American Institution, the Post Office, is under attack. Don’t believe me? A federal judge called the changes: “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” It is very poor business ethics indeed to sabotage a public agency, a public good for all Americans, for private gain. I found a good article on the importance of the sorting machines which I include here as well as the article I got the federal judge quote from.
Tragically there appears to be increasing violence surrounding requests that people wear masks and practice social distancing. In a particularly callous attack, a 67 year old gas station worker suffered a fractured skull after being assaulted with a pipe. It is a particularly bitter reality that during a worldwide pandemic, many Americans are unwilling to pull together in the wake of the viral threat to protect each other from infection. This generation of Americans is half helpless to act on behalf of the common good. Many believe in the crass nonsense of libertarianism and similar beliefs that the only interest is self interest. The generations of Americans that sacrificed in the face of war and epidemic must be astonished at this willingness to sacrifice our fellow Americans out of simple pig headedness.
Are we entering the Pyrocene, the age of fire? Stephen Pyne suggests in the High Country News that is indeed the case. He says that in previous ages we had ice ages and this current situation is the other side of the coin, that is, ages of fire. It’s a good read and a fairly brief one. It is attached below.
Over the last twenty years, financial institutions including the often mentioned five, HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), conducted about 2 trillion dollars in suspicious activity. Rest assured this is a developing story and we are going to hear more as the particulars work their way to the surface.
Federal charges of among other charges, commercial bribery, were filed against six individuals who are charged with bribing Amazon employees to gain an unfair advantage. The bribes totaled about $100,000. Temporary suspensions of competitor accounts was one of the means used to gain advantage.
This kind of crime causes people to buy inferior or even dangerous goods. Let’s hope Amazon acts to clean up its staff.
New York filed a 2 billion dollar lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for its role in the opoid crisis, that is, encouraging opoid use and downplaying the risks of addiction. Since Oklahoma has already won a case and 500 million dollars from the company, one has to wonder why the state has waited this long and is that the correct amount?
How is it that a video in which a man committed suicide live on Facebook does not violate their standards and is still up? Facebook says it has a policy against suicide and videos showing self harm but isn’t enforcing it.
Rand Commits Plagiarism and Wants to Kill His Accuser
A man commits plagiarism and gets caught. It happens. I’m sure I will make a mistake and use someone’s remarks without properly attributing them. I write several hundred posts a year besides my other writing. It’s just a matter of time. It will be totally inadvertent. I have no intention of stealing material. Should someone point out my mistake, I will apologize and properly attribute the remark. A gentleman can do nothing else. If caught in an obvious wrong, amends must be made.
But not everyone understands these rules.
Rand Paul has been caught using direct quotes from other authors as if it were his material. And it appears that further research is revealing that he may have been plagiarizing for quite some time. He didn’t apologize. He’s angry. And he says if only the law allowed he would challenge his accuser to a duel with the presumed intent of shooting her down like a dog.
A gentleman does not take other people’s writings and pass them off as his own.
A gentleman once caught in an obvious wrong does not insist that it is a political attack, and therefore, somehow irrelevant.
A gentleman caught in an obvious wrong does not infer that he would kill his accuser.
I heard that Paul had borrowed some material without attribution the day after the Maddow’s program aired. I, a longtime political junkie, expected a quick admission of a mistake, a simple apology and the media to forget the whole thing in a couple of days. Imagine, my astonishment when a supposedly seasoned politician decided to hang tough in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Rand Paul has made this a big story by refusing to accept responsibility for his acts. And has compounded this with his ridiculous dueling suggestion. Where does he thinks he lives? the South of the Pre-Civil War era? Maybe that’s where he wants to live. But we don’t live there and his antics merely cast doubt on his intelligence, his honor and his judgment.
On the one hand, the revelation that he lifted material from several speeches as well as whole pages of his book from other sources, without attribution, isn’t necessarily a 2016 candidacy-ender. What’s most politically self-destructive is Paul’s bizarre reaction to the charges – which really aren’t “charges,” they’re fact. Instead of admitting he or someone on his staff made an error and promising to toughen his standards, he’s attacked Rachel Maddow, who found the first instance of plagiarism, repeatedly and personally.
“This is really about information and attacks coming from haters,” he told ABC’s Latino-focused network Fusion. “The person who’s leading this attack — she’s been spreading hate on me for about three years now.” Ew, “spreading hate on me,” that sounds kind of disgusting, Rachel – really?
And then, in a bizarre, likely candidacy-ending interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he began talking about a duel.
“Yes, there are times when [speeches] have been sloppy or not correct or we’ve made an error,” Paul said. “But the difference is, I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never intentionally done so.”
He went on: “And like I say, if, you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that, because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”
“I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters.”
Paul’s assumption that normal people will hear his reference to fighting a duel and say, “Hell yeah!” betrays his permanent residency on the American fringe. He lives in a world where it’s always the 19thcentury South, and troubles are best handled with guns and guts, not government. Paul acts like nobody’s ever been either smart enough, or brave enough, to tell the plain truth – and once he does, common sense voters will recognize it and reward him. Instead, they recoil and go, “Huh?”
Then on Tuesday afternoon, BuzzFeed editor Andrew Kaczynski pointed out that
this is a recurring problem for Paul. In a speech to a group of
Hispanic business leaders, he gave a note-for-note recitation of the
Wikipedia entry for the movie “Stand and Deliver,” which tells the story
of an inner city math teacher.
“When you are running for president, a plagiarism scandal is not what
you want on your resume, especially not something as embarrassing as
plagiarizing Wikipedia, but that is what Rand Paul has on his hands
now,” Maddow said.
“And in the face of mounting evidence that this wasn’t an isolated
incident, that this is a repeat thing,” she continued, “Sen. Paul is not
talking. We reached out to his office again today, no response at all.”
“Rand Paul may not want to answer to me or this show or this network
about this,” Maddow said, “but he’s going to have to answer for this to
his home town press or to somebody. He may not want to answer for it,
but he’s going to have to.”