Recent Commentaries

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Compliance vs. Ethics
Does a corporation have a responsibility to be ethical beyond its employees and shareholders? Whenever this question has been asked in surveys, an overwhelming majority of people answer, “Yes!” Here’s what one corporate chairman said about ethics in a memo: “Employees of the Company are charged with conducting their business affairs in accordance with the highest ethical standards. An employee shall...
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June 30, 2008
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The fallout surrounding Countrywide Financial and Chief Executive Angelo R. Mozilo just keeps getting worse.  The last 42-days have seen an extraordinary amount of activity. On May 15, Federal District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer said that “…she found confidential witness accounts in the shareholder complaint to be credible… they suggested, ‘a widespread company culture that encouraged employees to push mortgages...
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June 27, 2008
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Do Justly
Recently, a friend made this comment about a (June 21) commentary I posted about fairness:  “Fairness,” she said, borrowing from a previous statement about torture, “is basically subject to perception.” Is fairness perceptual?  What is a practical definition of fairness? “All virtue,” Aristotle wrote, “is summed up in dealing justly.” But what is justice?  What is a just or fair...
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June 26, 2008
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If Big Brown Can Do It…
“I know Big Brown or any of our horses do not need this stuff to win.  I’m not worried about an uneven playing field, either.” In a brief but significant statement, Michael Iavarone, co-president of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings just raised the bar for the rest of horse racing. Not only would more than 50 horses owned by his stable...
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June 23, 2008
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The Fairness Factor
“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” This insightful piece of absurdity comes courtesy of Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strip. I thought about this while reading the results of a recent study by a pair of psychologists entitled, “Early Predictors of Job Burnout and Engagement.” Christina Maslach, a social psychologist...
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June 21, 2008
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When Perception Becomes Reality
Torture “is basically subject to perception.” Sounds like something said by the bad guy to Clint Eastwood from some 70’s-era “Dirty Harry” movie, doesn’t it? It’s not. This is what CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman advised U.S. officials at Guantanamo Bay regarding the treatment of detainees in October, 2002.  The statement comes from one of several documents released by a...
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June 19, 2008
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Seattle’s Best
Psychiatrist and radio personality Frasier Crane is wrestling with an ethical dilemma. Dr. Honey Snow is not only a pop-psychologist, best selling author and knockout blonde, she also has a crush on Seattle’s resident narcissist and relationship expert. (That’s not the dilemma.) When the stunning Snow asks him to write the forward to her new book, Frasier struggles to craft...
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June 17, 2008
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The Integrity of Restraint
It’s easy to criticize reporters when they go too far, but what about the times when reporters are pressured to go farther… and they don’t. Charles Lewis founded the Center for Public Integrity after eleven years as an investigative reporter at ABC News and CBS News, as well as a producer for 60 Minutes. The following story comes from my...
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June 13, 2008
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Genuine Experience and Integrity
It’s interesting to see the direction these commentaries take.  I never have a preconceived plan.  I go where the story and the ethical issue take me. In Monday’s post (June 10) I had strong feelings that “Vanity Fair” editor Todd Purdum’s use of anonymous sources to insinuate that former President Bill Clinton’s “…appearances of impropriety” on the road campaigning for...
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June 13, 2008
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June 2008 Ethical Hero – John McCarthy
Sunday mornings, in a quiet corner of Washington, D.C., John McCarthy gets out on the baseball diamond and teaches kids the skills necessary to deal with life – effort, persistence, humor and honor. In 2005, McCarthy was chosen by Newsweek magazine as “one of America’s best.” “For McCarthy,” Newsweek said, “baseball is about joy and if you treat it with...
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June 13, 2008