The Ethical Take

Published: July 23, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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This month, The Take examines the Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly.


The Good –

It’s gone! What has stood for decades flying on the grounds of South Carolina’s state house, the Confederate battle flag, long seen as a symbol by many of hate and oppression was officially removed last Friday.

In less than a month, after the deaths of 9 citizens by a disturbed shooter who posted photos of himself holding the confederate battle flag, that flag was removed from the state house grounds following legislation, debate and a final vote.

The Take: Finally, consensus says the flag belongs in a museum about the past.

The Moderately Bad –

“Did ‘Magnum P.I.’ star Tom Selleck steal truckloads of hydrant water?” a Los Angeles Times story asks.

“According to a local water district in Southern California,” The Times writes (July 8), someone has been taking huge amounts of water from a public hydrant and delivering it to Tom Selleck’s massive 60-acre ranch in Westlake Village.”

Not so fast. According to an Associated Press report (July 10), “Jay Spurgin, public works director for Thousand Oaks, said a construction company paid a fee to secure the rights to draw water from the city hydrant two years ago. About 1.4 million gallons of water were taken from the hydrant during that period.

“ ‘There was water used during that time, and it was paid for,’ he said.

“Construction firms and contractors can obtain special meters that allow them to haul water from hydrants for large projects. Companies can draw as much water as they need or sell it to a third party as long as they pay the monthly service charge and water bill, Spurgin said.

“It’s unclear if Selleck or his employees bought the water from the company or another source. A representative for Selleck didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Friday.”

With a stage-3 drought in affect in most parts of California, I’m disappointed in individuals who do not take into account the consequences of water usage. Legally, Selleck may be on sound ground. Ethically… well, maybe he needs an intervention from actor-conservationist Ed Begley, Jr.

The E.T.: Selleck has spoken on behalf of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in the past. Where’s the responsibility and citizenship, Tom!?

The Bad –

“El Chapo” Escapes!

Alas, “El Boca Grande” is still with us.

Every age has its reigning narcissist, someone who uses money, power, prestige and sheer blowhard-edness to swagger, badger and bully their way into the cultural zeitgeist. Unfortunately, our age has to tolerate Donald Trump.

While Donald Trump bloviates his way across the country on his “presidential” tour, blustering about anything and everything that pops into his “brain,” the media is giving him exactly what he wants: coverage!

The Take: Memo to the Media: If you really want something to laugh about on your news shows, try Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. He’s a lot less obnoxious and much funnier!

The Very Ugly –

Think Bill Cosby’s bad when he finally admitted in a deposition to drugging and raping women? Sadly, no.

Doctor Farid Fata, who, in order to line his own pockets with millions, prescribed needless cancer drugs to patients who did not have cancer. By recent accounts, Cosby used drugs to rape a dozen or more unsuspecting women. Fata prescribed drugs to more than 500 patients that didn’t need them.

CBS News reported (July 9), “Dr. Soe Maunglay started working for Dr. Farid Fata at his private cancer practice in 2012 and realized something bizarre was going on.

“ ‘I discovered a patient receiving treatment without actual diagnosis of cancer,’ Maunglay told CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

“Maunglay reviewed the patient’s record and saw ‘there was nothing really to support that the patient has active cancer.’

“He asked the patient ‘in a very sarcastic way” who diagnosed her disease because he knew who had.

“ ‘I was enraged so I asked her the question,’ Maunglay said.

“After the discovery, Maunglay alerted the practice manager during the summer of 2013 who then contacted the feds. Fata was in handcuffs less than a week later.

“ ‘I think he’s guilty of the most cruel thing that a human being can do to another human being,’ Maunglay said.

“Fata was back in a Detroit courthouse again on Wednesday and have to face more victims of his health care fraud. Prosecutors say cancer Fata gave unnecessary chemotherapy to patients, and some of Fata’s 553 victims were never sick. Fata pleaded guilty to 23 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.”

The Ethical Take: In the past, I have been a strong opponent of the death penalty. Fata just changed my mind. Among the first words medical students learned: Primum non nocere – “First, do no harm.” Clearly, it was the last thing Fata ever considered.


  1. Totally agree Jim, the media is giving Trump exactly what he wants: coverage!
    Thanks for keeping us on our ethical toes.

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