A Speedy Confession

It’s not only business ethics, but a personal matter. I’ve never held such animus against an individual nor a president. If Black Lives Matter, Talibans for hire, Bibles as props, private parts for grabbing, Covid-19 bungling, etc., wasn’t enough, this intermittent stirring of the pot against my people represents the straw that breaks the proverbial back. Sir, You say you care about our great Asian-American citizenry. Well, your actions again prove the veracity of your verbiage. 45 makes me want to say and act in ways I’ve never before. But I hold back my nausea as a man of faith, and a person of principle. I will certainly vote against you come November in order to remove you fromoffice, but as a professional Christian ethicist, I wish I could do more. As a professor, you don’t know how many transgressions you as our “leader” have participated in and led to lure me into becoming such a biased actor against the Republican Party of my youth. Usually, I would opt to take a neutral political stance in my writings and oratory on whomever holds your position; but I find that to do so now is immoral; so I confess I cannot. I will still argue the strongest case from both sides of the aisle, which is philosophical protocol; but to support you, Mr. President, would represent a violation of personal conscience.

I welcome any of my reader’s thoughts and feedback.

No apologies in advance …

The Monday Morning Business Ethicist

Attachment.png

Categories: Business Ethics Tags:

Chain of Command

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Captain Brett Crozier was recently relieved of his naval duties. Why? In military service, the role of the chain of command is analagous to that of law in the relationship between ethics and morality. In the words of a navy commander, the chain of command is …

Ingrained in us from the moment (we) set foot in boot camp … the only proper channel for conducting legitimate operations …

To break the chain of command would require a situation of such gravity and/or breakdown in leadership and communication that it is the only remaining option!

Commander Aaron Carlton
United States Naval Chaplain Corps

Captain Brett Crozier inferred that if he were in actual combat, he would have muddled through the COVID-19 chaos, but since these operations were conducted during peacetime conditions, there was no reason for sailors to perish unnecessarily.

The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of our armed forces. In the last few months, Donald J. Trump has had the misfortune of being at the crossroads of a worldwide pandemic, the consequent worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression, and massive race riots in response to police brutality in several cities across the country. 45 has not helped himself with his own militant rhetoric, in contrast to the position of Mark Esper, his current Secretary of Defense.

As mentioned before in previous posts of how the CEO sets the corporate ethos of the company, the President analogously has a major influence on the tone and tenor of the country. Like a master chef, the President creates the broth and adds key ingredients for either a healthy or heinous aroma in the kitchen. Each day, American citizens are forced to eat from the United States Cafeteria.

Is our country in a place of such societal gravity that intervention is needed? Previous secretary of Defense James Mattis seems to think so. For so long, he has not wanted to interfere with this current administration, in order to allow them maximum freedom to do their job. But like Captain Brett Crozier, he has finally felt the only option is to speak out against the chain of command / his superior officer, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not … even pretend to try to unite the American people.”

His parting rejoinder to the master chef’s claim (per FOX News) that he believes he’s (been) treated worse than Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated.

We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Park. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adoptng a new path–which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals–will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

Former National Security Advisor James Mattis
Categories: Business Ethics Tags:

Naming Rites

In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, this debate has emerged on what to call the virus. Some may currently consider racial epithets a trivial issue in light of presumed growing morbidity/mortality rates; but words matter, especially edicts coming from our leaders contributing to a particular environment and producing lasting consequences, especially during a worldwide crisis.

The President has repeatedly used the term “Chinese Virus,” citing his insistence on emphasizing the truthful origin of the pestilence from Wuhan wet markets. While that assertion is correct, critics, including Trump’s own epidemiologist and director of the National Instititute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, follow World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and insist on using the term, COVID-19, so at best not to stigmatize a particular region or ethnic group, and at worst, not be racist. 

As a business ethicist, I am constantly called upon to determine whether a given action is moral. Some actions are obviously not, and we don’t need a Ph.D. in ethics to render it so. Calling a person a chink or jap or denying African-American individuals a job or house because of race is definitely wrong. Other actions fall in a gray area, and we must investigate various components of the action to judge moral character. To adjudicate a controversial moral act, we must take a look at 1) the action itself; 2) its intent; and 3) the consequences.

The term, “Chinese Virus,” and issues like financial incentives and affirmative action fall in this debatable grey area and demand further analysis. Since using this label is precisely what is at question, and discovering an individual’s motivation is difficult, we must turn to the consequences of the act to shed further light on moral character.

Upon reflection during these political times and crises moments, we must give extra grace and “benefit of the doubt” to those on the other side of the aisle. I must admit not caring much for 45; however, I must give him credit for apparently changing his mind/behavior about giving the virus an ethnicity, but finally being up front about its nefarious impact on morbidity and mortality … regardless of motivation. A worldwide pandemic is not a normal situation, but it neither gives pretext for the blame game nor the opportunity to needle one another. Nationwide stress levels and impatience run high, and everyone is on edge. I don’t envy our nation’s leadership; it’s far easier to criticize than assume their role/position. I thank them for governing during this difficult time. In clicking on Internet links, I have noticed that outside observers, including myself, tend to prejudge an actor’s motivations based on their own respective political persuasion, and then form judgments presuming the actor’s intent. This confirmation bias needs a steady reprimand and counterequilibrium.

However, leaders must also acknowledge they are persons of influence, who in turn, affect larger ripples. There is a good reason the WHO has set parameters on how to label emerging illnesses. These terms set, reinforce, redefine, and have the capacity to harm neighboring countries and fail to love and respect fellow citizens. These consequences automatically make associating any virus with any region or race immoral and unethical. It is indeed appropriate to call a nation (e.g. China) accountable for being transparent in their reporting, and for their sanitary practices in the Wuhan Wet Markets. Just because illnesses (e.g., West Nile or Ebola Viruses) were associated in the past with its origins does not mean it is currently the rght thing to do. It is not kosher to engender a hostile environment for those not culpable for this malpractice (i.e., Chinese or Asian-American denizens).

May this scourge end quickly! Grace and peace to you and yours in the meantime.

Categories: Site Statistics Tags:

Opportunity Cost and the Price of Normalcy

A college friend of mine challenged me to consider integrating my past scholarly pursuits in philosophy and business ethics with my current experience dealing with a long-term illness, and guest lecturing in disability studies. So on that note, this blog post represents the first of many musings outlining the field of economic morality within a life-altering, adjusted lens.

Let us first consider some key terms, definitions, and operational lingo, which will facilitate our conversation in this discipline. The economist, Paul Krugman, asserts that business ethics is NOT primarily a study of money, but of human persons. In the disability community, it is oft mentioned that “It takes a lot of energy to be normal!”

Before digressing on a gratuitous excursion toward defining normal, and whether a handicapped person qualifies, the Opportunity Cost of a given state of affairs are the benefits lost in pursuing mutually exclusive courses of action. For instance, the opportunity cost of my suffering a stroke in October 2012 are all the benefits lost (financial, and/or otherwise in not having the hemorrhagic bleed; likewise, one could also estimate the opportunity cost of NOT having a stroke. These benefits include lessons learned, friendships gained, and the traumatic brain injury’s literal/figurative heartache.

Kudos to Mark Heinzig for the gentle push …

Categories: Site Statistics Tags:

Crazy Rich Stereotypes

Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy (3 Book Series)In early fall 2018, a film based on the New York Times Bestseller, Crazy Rich Asians, will debut with an exclusive all-Asian cast. Similar to responses to the model minority myth, feedback from fellow Asians has varied. A question needing a response is whether ethnic exposure, however stereotypical or blatantly false, is ethical, or pragmatically superior to exhibiting nothing at all.

See the FaceBook conversation over this topic started under the group, “Progressive Asian-American Christians”

Wakanda is no bull$&@/ country

The Black Panther [2018] is Marvel Universe’s latest comic adaptation , and has garnered much public fanfare / revenue along with high acclaim from cinematic pundits . The film tells the tale of the native, fictional country of Wakanda . . . And, like any decent superhero screenplay, a good narrative should include [ORKA] an Origin / Creation Story, an account of the Royal Kingdom / Lineage, and an epic-concluding Armageddon, or the world’s final battle.

Elements of a Good Narrative

O – Origin / Creation Story

RK – Royal Kingdom

A – Armageddon/ Final Battle

There exists disagreement among surveyors of art regarding interpretation: An Intentionalist View of whether art is to be interpreted by the lens of the creator(s) versus a Subjectivist perspective upon whether art lies in the eye of the beholder.  The strengths of the former position lie in the authority of the creator to determine his/her perspective, and the inherent authority of the driving, creative force(s). The inherent motivations behind the latter view rest in the actual evidence of changing interpretations of artwork over time; the corresponding drawback of the intentionalist position involves the consequence that it makes the meaning of a work quite rigid and static.

Ruth Tallman advances a compromise: A view she labels Multiplism, which acknowledges authorial intentions among equal possibilities of other interpretations.

Saquon Barkley and the Pragmatic ‘Ought’

To Declare or Not to Declare

In college football circles the last few weeks, the primary question surrounding Saquon Barkley’s future had been whether the 21-year-old ought to forgo his senior season at Penn State, and go pro.  With all the hype, you would think that his decision would encompass one of moral/ethical scope. It certainly takes on that tone, when pundits assert that he OUGHT or ought NOT head to the professional ranks.

But it is a mistake to view this athletic ‘ought’ as an ethical or moral act. Rather, the decision, while difficult, is  strictly pragmatic. Barkley has to decide whether to experience and enjoy the Fiesta Bowl with his teammates, while risking injury along with the concomitant reward of millions of dollars due him for five years of work in the NFL (the average running back does not last past his 29th birthday). It represents a pure risk/reward proposition rather than a moral decision.  However private the choice is for Barkley, he does also need to balance  this personal decision with the fact that he is a public figure, and has a duty/obligation to family, teammates, and the Penn State community who has supported him.  As Saquon reiterates, “This decision is not easy nor straightforward.”

 

 

 

 

Categories: Site Statistics Tags:

Corporate Ethos from the Top-Down

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued an apology and stepped down from his position as Chief Executive Officer after a video surfaced of him getting in an argument with his personal Uber driver and then shortly telling the man that some people don’t like to take individual responsibility.

This incident represented yet another stain on the company in a trail of sexual harrassment, discrimination, and pushing the envelope in legal and ethical boundaries. It also raises the question of how much the individual morality or personal ethics of a leader affects the corporate ethos or environment of the business culture. The ethos, or corporate climate, also winded up having an impact on the entire tech start-up industry itself, as evidenced by the avalanche of sexual harrassment revelations this week. Uber has also been found in violation of intellectual property laws and local/international driving regulations. My college mentor always mentioned that it’s naturally much easier to bring people down (e.g. from a chair) than to hoist them up. So it is with individual morality in an environment of corporate depravity.

 

Morality in the Wild, Wild Westworld

Many people divide morality up into categories of right and wrong. But this simplistic outlook may represent an infantile ethic.

In the HBO original series, “Westworld” (2016), guests in a futuristic theme park are allowed and encouraged to explore a land without ethical boundaries. However, a more mature moral system comprising nuances and qualifiers layered with categories of good, better, and best may be more realistic . . . an objective world devoid of absolutes, consisting of a continuum of ideals. In this moral landscape, we are neither robots nor androids, but human creations creatively endowed with the capability and privileged power of freedom and choice.

Categories: Business Ethics Tags:

Tesla Corporation deals with first death involving Autopilot system as Ethical distinction comes into play: Prospective Litigation (liability) versus Moral Culpability (murder indictment))

driverless carThe Tesla Corporation had its first death recently, putting a dark blemish on the nascent driverless car technology, and its vision of an accident–free society. It is indeed interesting to note that the issues holding these driverless cars from the market are NOT primarily technological NOR pragmatic–but ethical.  In  other words, if the Tesla automobile is forced to “choose” to hit someone, whom shall it collide with? It is simple to program the Tesla to slam into a tree versus Tammy Tatreau; but what if the “choice” were between an acquaintance and a second cousin named Tammy? Whom shall the Tesla hit? Who ought to live and/or get hurt? Until the automotive engineers and ethicists answer these questions, it may be wise to refrain from purchasing stock in driverless technology.

Categories: Business Ethics Tags: