Recent Ethics Commentaries

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Is Good Ethics Good Business?
Amid the anxiety and chaos on Wall Street today, I thought it would be interesting to revisit an old question. The following comes from a radio commentary delivered in October, 1997 by my own ethics teacher, Michael Josephson.   I believe it’s a message we need to remember in these difficult times. “‘Good ethics is good business.’  ‘Honesty is the best...
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September 15, 2008
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Mr. Smith Goes on the Take
No, not that Mr. Smith, the other one, Gregory W. Smith, the former program director of the “royalty-in-kind program” at the Interior Department.   Gregory Smith is one of 19 officials (about one-third of the program’s staff) who accepted gratuities from oil companies including Chevron and Shell, while conducting official business. As the New York Times reported (Sept. 11), the Interior “…department’s...
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September 12, 2008
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The Way it Should Be
“Let me be as clear as possible.  I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits.  This shouldn’t be part of our politics.”  That’s what Senator Barack Obama said to a group of reporters when asked for his reaction to the news that the 17-year-old, unmarried daughter of vice-presidential candidate...
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September 3, 2008
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A Night at the Oprah
The Visa party went well.  Who knew Rham Emanuel was so fluent in Kantian ethics, (and that Wolf Blitzer could devour a whole tray of crab puffs)? The media has descended upon Denver like a biblical cloud of locusts.  According to CNN, there are approximately 15,000 media to 4,367 delegates at this year’s Democratic convention.  However, thanks to my new...
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August 27, 2008
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Diary of an Ethical Hack
It’s Sunday, and eighty-two degrees at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks cool and relaxed quietly nursing a Corona at Panzano’s, the tony Italian eatery on 17th street. Most of the patrons, Nancy included, keep glancing up at the 42-inch plasma above the bar watching the final Olympic ceremonies play out.  Party Chair Howard...
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August 25, 2008
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Dinner at Eight, Part II
Earlier this year I was invited to attend the Gala of a restored theater in the downtown area where I live. My wife has been one of many involved in a local non-profit effort to bring back a much loved landmark built in 1924.  Although we had been invited to the event, we had to pay the $70 per person...
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August 20, 2008
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Now, You See Him…
“Removing her ex-husband from more than a decade of memories may take a lifetime for Laura Horn,” a New York Times article began.  “But removing him from a dozen years of vacation photographs took only hours…” due to the skillful help of a friend and the popular digital-editing program Photoshop. “What we’re doing,” photo-teacher Chris Johnson explained, “is fulfilling the...
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August 18, 2008
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Dinner at Eight
Okay, boys and girls, here’s today’s ethical dilemma. You attend a Gala fundraising event for a non-profit group in your community.  While walking through the entrance your hand is stamped for what turns out to be access to an exclusive, after-event, dinner party.  You’d like to attend, but you paid $70.00 to attend the Gala and the dinner party costs...
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August 15, 2008
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Stay the Course?
Watching the Discovery Channel the other night, I got hooked on another episode of “Deadliest Catch.” Long considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, these crab fisherman risk the treacherous Bering Sea for the boat-load of money they can catch in a short season – as much as $60,000 – $70,000 per deck-hand.  The crews are a...
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August 13, 2008
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Being Manny
It’s 1938 and the darling of the British stage, Julia Lambert, has just finished another sterling performance.  The next morning, she throws another sterling tantrum. I was thinking about the Annette Bening movie, “Being Julia” when I read that the Boston Red Sox had traded their “sterling” left field slugger, Manny Ramírez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The last several...
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August 4, 2008