Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

Service of When Is It Worth Selling Your Soul to the Devil?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Photo: theodysseyonline.com

There was a day when many wouldn’t buy products from companies or countries they disapproved of. There may be a few who still don’t though I suspect less than in earlier periods. Stock brokers ask if there are industries clients want to avoid investing in. Some PR and Ad agencies refuse to represent certain clients because they don’t like what they stand for or how they operate.

Photo: cnn.com

But this isn’t always the case. As recently as the midterm election constituents voted into high office—the Senate–a man who was indicted on federal corruption charges. [The Justice Department dropped the charges against him after a hung jury and mistrial.] In order to win, another senatorial candidate [photo right] swallowed his dignity and unctuously made up to a former opponent who had seriously trashed his father and his wife. He also won.

Emperor Vespasian. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

The Roman emperor Vespasian is said to have remarked “money does not stink.” The headline of Eliot Brown’s Wall Street Journal article illustrates how true this still is: “In Silicon Valley, Saudi Money Keeps Flowing to Startups Amid Backlash–Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have remained generally quiet about Saudi funding since grisly killing of journalist.”

Brown wrote: “Two startups— View Inc., which makes light-adjustable glass, and Zume Inc., which uses robots to make pizza—disclosed investments over the past week totaling a combined $1.5 billion from SoftBank’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund.” Katerra Inc. that constructs housing units, is into SoftBank for $3 billion. SoftBank is in negotiations to lend WeWork $15-$20 billion. Wikipedia describes WeWork as “An American company that designs and provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small business and large enterprises.” [This reporter wrote in a subsequent article on November 14 that the actual SoftBank investment in WeWork is $3 billion, although his sources told him that the larger amount is still under consideration.]

WeWork. Photo: wework.com

SoftBank is Japanese-owned. The Vision Fund has $100 billion to invest in tech companies. According to Bloomberg’s Pavel Alpeyev, “Saudi Arabia is the biggest investment partner.” Brown reported “Saudi Arabia has become the largest funder of U.S. startups in recent years as it works to diversify its economy by steering a big chunk of its Public Investment Fund toward technology. The kingdom has committed more than $12 billion to U.S. startups since mid-2016, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, largely through its $45 billion commitment to SoftBank’s $92 billion Vision Fund.”

After Turkish allegations about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder some companies refused to attend an October conference “in Riyadh sponsored by the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund,” Brown reported—even some backed by SoftBank.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Companies that wanted to cut ties with Saudi Arabia include what Brown called Hollywood’s biggest talent agency, Endeavor, as well as Virgin Group and “multiple Washington lobbying firms…. Republican and Democratic lawmakers also have called for curbing ties with the kingdom. …Other companies, including many in the energy industry, have stood by Saudi Arabia through the controversy.”

Are there exceptions in which crossing a moral line is legit? Have you boycotted purchases or refused to work for a company or organization on ethical grounds? Have we lost our compasses that determine right and wrong now more than before? Have expedient choices always been pretty much acceptable here?

Photo: medium.com

Service of Everyone Has a Price

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Photo: pinterest

I recently heard someone say “Everyone has a price.” He was speaking about an acquaintance of his who was making a chunk of change as one of the masterminds behind the campaign of the current president.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures” could be one reason for some to ride roughshod over common sense and decency [though I doubt this was the excuse for the person just mentioned]. I took a job in an industry that appealed to me even though it had warning signs flashing all over it. The business owner was not my cup of tea but I needed to pay the rent and didn’t have the luxury to wait for the right job in the perfect place. There was nothing dishonest about what I was doing: The culture didn’t jive. I stayed the obligatory year. 

Photo: saic.edu

Mind you, I don’t begrudge wealthy people whose bank accounts burst with cash as a result of sweat and smarts, choosing a lucrative industry, willing to take risks, folks who may also have benefitted from good timing and a dollop of luck.

Yet countless books and movies describe what happens to those who arrive by selling out. Once they get over the thrill of being rich no matter what I wonder if some regret what it took, especially if  their life falls apart as a result.

I posit that with crucial basics taken care of—enough to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their families—no amount of money would twist the arms of the people I admire to take a job involving dodgy business. Do you have a price? Do you know folks who turned their backs on their principles, made a bundle and have no regrets?

Photo: chronologicalbibleblog.com

 

Service of Inconsistent Morality

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

ups and downs

A society that on the one hand reflects straight-laced puritan roots regarding marriage and at the same time barely shrugs at the likes of a hedge funder’s shenanigans—I’m thinking of Steve Cohen–baffles. Cohen agreed to pay a multi-million dollar fine for insider trading while at the same time refusing to admit guilt, an approach that the Security and Exchange Commission approved. Did someone knock out this watchdog? Does the public play possum again?

hand in cookie jarGood for federal Judge Victor Marrero who, as Kaja Whitehouse wrote in The New York Post, “balked at the agreement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Cohen’s SAC Capital that allows the firm to pay a $602 million fine without admitting or denying guilt.” Meanwhile, Mr. Cohen has recently bought $215 million worth of goodies: a Picasso painting and East Hampton ocean-front home. Any ideas of what investors without the inside scoop bought—maybe a sandwich at Subway?

Of a different nature, a major publisher paid half a $million for what The New York Post reported as the memoir of a “drug-addicted beauty writer.” In addition, the author told reporters “she’d rather ‘smoke angel dust with her friends’ than hold down a full-time job.” The Post continues, “Aside from four abortions, she recalls getting ‘choked out by a Park Avenue millionaire kid in a pine grove by the reservoir at 4 a.m.’ and ‘sex in vacant lots in Bushwick with white rappers.’” Who can believe what someone consistently under the influence remembers about her 29 years and frankly, who cares? The publisher thinks many will. I hope they don’t.

Here’s a society strung out on the politically correct with dollops of conservative values that concurrently lies motionless when someone picks their pockets and regulators wink. In this environment a publisher thinks people are hungry for the sad story of a lost soul with less than three decades and little perspective to write a worthy memoir. Sure it’s democracy at its best but can you explain such extremes and contradictions?

hot and cold

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