Following the financial crisis of 2008, the financial industry suffered backlash from the public following a historic and infamous series of events that threatened America’s economy. From media pundits to organized efforts such as the “Occupy: Wall Street” movement, there has been a continual protest against the ‘injustice’ and corruption of greed that supposedly plagues large financial institutions. However, many Americans rely on financial services for retirement savings, investment opportunities, the ability to get a mortgage and more. Despite the complexity of many financial systems, which may be simply understood by the general public, the causes of the crisis held blame with those behind-the-scenes, and an ethical analysis can bring these actors and their decisions to light and provide a clear picture of what was done wrong and why. Looking into AIG, a major player in the financial crisis, a history of ethically questionable management can be seen, with blatantly unethical choices leading underlying collapse of the financial system in 2008.
The AIDS virus is the single most devastating disease the modern world has known. It is easily transferrable, terminal, and unfortunately a cure has not been discovered. The disease is typically concentrated in the heavily populated areas of underdeveloped nations, making the installation of necessary preventative programs difficult. The governments of these countries are easily swayed, and cultural prejudices against Western medicine can prove to be formidable hindrances. Naturally, these regions are vulnerable and thus are susceptible to sketchy medical practices. It is sad that many of these regions aren’t satisfactorily combating the disease, but maddening when pharmaceutical suppliers knowingly implement treatments that aren’t effective for their own profit. Essentially these players are making money through supplying the sickliest populations in the world with ineffective medicine. This is called pharmaceutical imperialism: a term that unfortunately has become the norm.
In keeping with the theme of this week’s blog, the blog council decided it be suitable to model our report in Grammy style. Though very difficult to decide who deserved recognition, the BGS selection committee has decided to present the following awards: Continue reading →
Music can tell you a lot about social and political movements of a certain time period. During the Vietnam War, there were many songs, now considered timeless classics, which were based on war protests of the 60s. For example, “Fortunate Son” by CCR protested the draft and the preferential treatment of those in the upper class, who were “born with a silver spoon in hand.”
“I Drive Your Truck,” written by Lee Brice, is a critically acclaimed country song written about the sporadic emotions that happen after a person loses one close to them. The raw emotion in the song is what truly brings the listener in to fully understand the lyrics
I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck
When looking deeper into the origins of the song, I found that this was not just a song about a countryman driving around to cope with the loss of a friend. It is actually a true tale of a father losing his son to fighting in Afghanistan while serving in the Army. The truck belonged to the son before he was deployed and his father still drives the truck to remember his son that was so tragically killed.
Although this is not specifically a song that entails ethics, it directly relates to modern life and practical virtue. Death is something we all have to deal with and when it comes so suddenly as can be seen in this song, it is tough to handle. The Senators and Congressmen who push so feverishly for war are the same ones sitting in their offices not putting their neck on the line in battle. These men and women that fight overseas to protect our country are true heroes to not only the family members that they leave behind, but everyone else who lives and works freely everyday in the great United States.
The song I decided to write about for this week’s blog is “Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band. Although the song does not specifically state this, it is widely considered to be about the European-American settlers taking over Native Americans’ land and the mass killings that resulted from it. Dave Matthews tells the story from the perspective of the European-American settler who certainly believes in Manifest Destiny. I’ve posted the lyrics and a link to the song below…
As I was trying to figure out what song I should choose for this week’s blogpost, Lupe Fiasco’s Bitch Bad played on my iTunes and I knew it was the perfect song. The song looks to address the negative stereotypes hip hop artist reinforce of black culture and women. Lupe attempts to show the negative affects the misogynistic messages that is passed on to young children.
When it was mentioned in class that this week’s post would revolve around picking a song with meaningful lyrics, I immediately knew what I was doing. I thought back to the class taught by the greatest teacher I have ever had, and probably will ever have. His name is Jan Urban. During my semester abroad last spring in the Czech Republic, I took a class called “Modern Dissent in Central Europe.” Taught by this amazing man, it was unlike any class I have ever previously had. Jan grew up in Czechoslovakia during World War II, his father fought for the Soviet Army. Jan told us about how as a child he would be woken up in the middle of the night by his father’s screams, presumably from nightmares of experiences from World War II. Jan’s father never told him about what happened, but they mystery of what happened still played a huge part in his life. Continue reading →
In conducting my research, I found several definitions of utilitarianism. For this paper, I will use the following definition: “utilitarianism states we ought to make the world as good as we can by making the lives of people as good as we can” (Bykvist, 1). Given this broad definition, we must define what is “good.” If the results of one’s actions create more benefits than alternative actions would, he or she is making the world and the lives of people good. Utilitarianism weighs the outcomes of each possible action in any given situation and it holds the view that “the goal of both personal ethics and public policy is to bring about a preponderance of benefit over harm to all who are affected by human actions” (Darity, 2008). Throughout my paper I will use a utilitarian lens to look at Whole Foods Markets (Whole Foods). More specifically I will examine: how does organic food agriculture and consumption create good in the world and in the lives of people? If organic food is determined to be utilitarian through my findings, in addition to selling natural and organic food, how does Whole Foods work to make the world as good as it can by making the lives of people as good as it can? Continue reading →
One can learn quite a bit about societal perceptions of gender roles through listening to music. What happens when you switch “he” and “she” pronouns in a song (this is called the Willis test)? Does it still send the same message? Usually it doesn’t due to gender differences that result from sexism and misogyny. For example, if we were to take David Guetta’s “Sexy Chick” (at least that’s the name of the edited version). After changing the gender pronouns, the song seems humorous and unrealistic.
I was drawn towards choosing a rap song for this week’s ethical analysis. Rap music provides many critiques of our world, especially as they relate to race, money, gender, and forms of criminal activity. I chose Tupac Shakur’s “Keep Ya Head Up” because delivers a positive message to one of the most oppressed groups in the US: poor, black women. The song is dedicated to Latasha Harlins, a fifteen-year-old woman shot and killed by a shop owner in LA. Her death is cited as one of the causes of the LA riots in 1992. Continue reading →
I listen to a lot of music so I figured it would easy for me to find pick a song for this assignment…it took me a solid hour to find a song because a lot of the songs that I went through were about love and I wanted to find a song with a different meaning. After an hour I finally chose “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé.
After first hearing about this week’s blog assignment in class, my mind immediately jumped to thinking about a song that I had first heard in high school when studying the civil rights movement in the United States. The song, Only a Pawn in their Game by Bob Dylan, was written in the early 1960s shortly after the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi. To give a bit of background, Evers is best known as a Mississippi-born African American who served in the US Army during World War II and was later denied entry in to the University of Mississippi law school. After being rejected, Evers decided to focus his efforts to working with the NAACP to desegregate schools and he quickly became a chief officer for the campaign in Mississippi. On June 12, 1963, Evers was shot in his own driveway and was soon buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Most notably, Evers’ found murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was tried and found ‘not guilty’ by Mississippi’s all-white juries, sparking many such as Bob Dylan to react in anger. Continue reading →
For this weeks music blog, I chose the over-played Katy Perry song Roar. This song is more than just a song on the radio, a song you hear in the bar, or hear blasting among friends in rooms, this song has put smiles on peoples faces across the country and brought people together. For me this song speaks to the chronic bullying that goes on today in our school systems: Continue reading →
The issue of legalizing gay marriage is one that is evolving into a growing social movement in the United States today. In recent years, numerous states have legalized gay marriage and it is likely that more and more states will follow in the near future. I chose to comment on the song Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert. First of all, this song has a very powerful social message. Continue reading →
With dominant vocals and powerful lyrics Childish Gambino explains how the America in which we live is ridden with inequality. Racial differences perpetuated by vastly different socioeconomic status across American society create multiple worlds in which youths live and, in turn, are held down by social norms and societal structure. Gambino takes an aggressive lyrical stance against ways in which our culture portrays black youths and brings attention to this issue. Continue reading →
What is sustainability? What is a sustainable industry or business? In today’s society the definition of sustainable must be quite encompassing; Starik and Rands offer a modern definition. “Ecological sustainability is the ability of one or more entities either individually or collectively, to exist and flourish (either unchanged or in evolved forms) for lengthy time frames, in such a manner that the existing and flourishing of other collectivities of entities is permitted at related levels and in related systems” (Russo, 318). This paper will focus on something called sustainable entrepreneurship, which is well defined by J. Gregory Dees, a business professor at Duke University. “It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley” (Dees, 1). This definition fits quite well for Tesla Motors, Inc. and their plan to address a social problem, specifically our planet’s dependence on fossil fuels. Many governmental and philanthropic sectors have not fulfilled society’s expectations, so it seems that the best way for social change is through industry, specifically social entrepreneurs. As an auto company that created a business model previously unseen, Tesla is a great example of a company led by the ideals of social entrepreneurship.
You’re morning alarm goes off and there is only one thing on your mind, a hot fresh cup of joe cascading down the slippery smooth lining of your throat. After two satisfying gulps and a slight moan of appreciation you are awake and coffee has once again saved the start of your day. Coffee has become a daily necessity for some. It’s no surprise then that coffee is the second greatest trade commodity in the world, trailing only the Crude Oil industry. Thanks this popularity, Starbucks has been able to become ‘King of the Beans’ as the largest coffee company in the world. The demand for coffee is so great that it outpaces water consumption. So it might make sense then why as I write this paper, I have a cup of Starbucks coffee next to me.
The tobacco industry is one of the most prominent industries in the United States economy yet at the same time it is one of the most controversial. It is without question that tobacco is detrimental to a person’s health. Former United States General Antonia Novello is quoted saying, “it is safe to say that smoking represents the most extensively document cause of disease ever investigated in the history of biomedical research.”  The issue at hand, however, is not that it is harmful to person’s health, but rather the degree to which a known harmful substance can be advertised, more specifically, advertised to children and adolescents. In 1988 R.J. Reynolds, American’s second largest tobacco company behind Philip Morris, created a cartoon character mascot to help promote their Camel cigarette brand. Joe Camel, as he was commonly known as, was a cool and suave anthropomorphic camel that endorsed smoking Camel cigarettes. Though this marketing campaign came under scrutiny after a 1991 report by the Journal of the America Medical Association was published citing that the Joe Camel campaign was directly targeted at children and adolescents and that it increased the rates of youth smoking. Eventually, after years of controversy and outside pressure, R.J. Reynolds decided to pull the Joe Camel campaign in July of 1997. The question at hand, however, is: was R.J. Reynolds’ Joe Camel marketing campaign unethical? A closer look at ethical advertising principles as well as documents released from various lawsuits resulting from the Joe Camel campaign reveal that R.J. Reynolds did in fact run an unethical marketing campaign.
“It’s the greatest environmental disaster with no end in sight! Eleven workers dead. Millions of gallons of oil gushing for months to come. Jobs vanishing. Creatures dying. A pristine environment destroyed for generations. A mega-corporation that has lied and continues to lie, and a government that refuses to protect the people.” – activist group ‘Seize BP’ (June 5, 2010)
Deemed by president Obama as an ‘environmental 9/11,’ the immediate economic, political, and cultural effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill have been devastating. The full, lasting effects on the gulf’s environment, however, are less calculable and will likely remain so for many years to come. On the other hand, what was made very clear was general unpreparedness of not just BP, but also, more importantly, of the federal government. Given the unparalleled magnitude of the spill and the wide range of affected parties, it is clear that the Obama administration failed in its duty to properly respond to the accident in the most effective manner. As the primary executive of the United States, the president has the responsibility, as outlined in the Oil Pollution Act and National Response Framework, to assert himself in disaster situations such as the one presented by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Though providing cleanup assistance, the administration deferred the majority of the response efforts to private parties when it should have taken a more active and forceful role from the start. Clearly failing to understand the true complexity of the issue, the Obama administration’s most significant response efforts came late in the process with its most noteworthy one, a drilling moratorium, coming more than a month after the explosion. Ultimately, taking a consequentialist perspective, Obama’s decision to enforce a six-month offshore drilling moratorium can arguably be considered unethical as its associated economic and opportunity costs outweigh the benefits achieved, especially considering the US financial and economic situation at the time. Continue reading →
In the past, people did not generally analyze the consequences of the food they ate, but recently, more and more people have been considering the potentially positive or negative effects of food. The ways in which food is grown, produced, and manufactured has been looked into more than ever and there is more emphasis on the “organic” types of food because they are seen as healthier. Whole Foods is a company that tries to be ethically sound in the production and sale of food. They sell organic foods but also carry main staple items that are found in regular grocery stores, so that people can one-stop shop there. Whole Foods is in the business of promoting “less processed, healthier, more sustainable food” (Koehn, Miller, 2007). The business has been steadily growing in the recent years, which shows society’s newfound emphasis on being healthy and eating food that is more “ethical.”
The Blog Council loved reading your posts this week! Everyone chose fascinating topics and seemed to learn quite a bit. Thanks for sharing the knowledge you gained with the rest of us. Make sure you’re adding an analysis and your opinion in future posts. Remember to comment; we love to hear your thoughts!
I chose to watch psychologist Barry Schwartz’s TED talk entitled Using our practical wisdom. The talk stressed that to solve the majority of problems in our society, excessive rules and laws are not the answer, nor are incentives to perform a particular action. Schwartz talks about how practical wisdom, having the will to do the right thing and the skill to determine what is the right thing. He mentions that rules, no matter how detailed, can be dodged and he gives the comparison of bankers to water in finding the cracks in rules (4:43). In the case of incentives, Schwartz argues that if an incentive is given, people will only care about the incentive and not the underlying action. Thus, people are more inclined to cut corners to achieve the maximum reward for their behavior. Schwartz uses the example of incentivizing doctors to have more or less patients, which incentivizes doctors to increase or decrease their number of patients without addressing the quality of care.
Practical wisdom, Schwartz argues, is necessary to solve the problems of how our institutions are run. He says that wise people know when to bend the rules in order to do the right thing and that people with practical wisdom have both the will and skill to do the right thing (8:11).
While I agree that people with practical wisdom would be the best way to create a more functional society, Schwartz does not offer any practical solution as to how this ideology would be implemented. He mentions the notion of canny outlaws, who go around the rules to do the right thing, and system changers, who attempt to change the way society is run (15:16). While these people are noble, there are others who, without rules or incentives, will promote only their own agendas despite allowance to do the right thing. Schwartz does not address a way to help these people find practical wisdom and virtue, but rather says that legislators should listen more to psychologists than economists. While I believe that practical wisdom is a good way for people to focus on the morality of their practices, there is no way to implement such an idea without rules or incentives to motivate those who are merely concerned with furthering their own self-interests.