The Ethical Barometer

News & Events

Former New York Speaker Sheldon Silver Convicted on Corruption Charges

Mr. Silver faces up to 20 years in prison. However, a few classic lines indicate that New York’s reforms will take more than one measly conviction of the state’s most powerful political figure for the last 20 years. Mr. Silver’s lawyer argued that just because Mr. Silver had accepted millions of dollars in outside income did not make him a criminal because, “That is the system New York has chosen.” And perhaps the New York Times phrased it most aptly, calling the conviction, “A blow to lawmakers who considered conflicts of interest to be business as usual.” Only in New York.

The Real Life Billy Ray Valentine (aka Eddie Murphy), Goldman, and the Fed

Rohit Bansal, a former Goldman Sachs employee, entered a guilty plea to obtaining confidential (think secret) from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then using that info to further his career. Goldman fired Mr. Bansal, 30, after discovering the leak, and has altered its hiring practices for former government employees.

Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe III (aka Dan Aykroyd) arranged to get the crops report in advance of marketing trading for the orange futures (aka OJ) market. They actually swiped the advance crop report from an operative hired by the corrupt Duke brothers. Intrigue, federal crimes, and other issues aside, Billy Ray and Louis retired with the Butler to sandy white beaches after bankrupting the Dukes. Goldman is alive and well and Mr. Bansal will be going elsewhere and will know on March 9, when his sentencing takes place.

Classic Quotes

“He did a lot of bad things, and wrong things, and immoral things. perhaps. He didn’t intend to steal. He misappropriated funds, that’s completely clear. But he’s not charged with that.”

Richard Verchick, attorney for hedge fund manager, Mark Malik, in opening remarks to the jury in the trial of Mr. Malik on charges of stealing almost $850,000 from investors in his Wolf Hedge Fund. Stealing and misappropriating are tricky verbs, apparently not interchangeable in a court of law. Mr. Verchick also maintains that Mr. Malik did not try to cover up his crimes; he simply was trying to avoid failure. Ah, BIG difference.

“I always thought the infraction was like a traffic citation. But what I think of Tom, it hasn’t detracted from that.”

Hall of Famer quarterback Steve Young on Tom Brady and the Deflategate scandal.

Hall of Famer Warren Moon added, “I guarantee you he had some knowledge. Those guys (handling the footballs) are not going to do it if it’s something he doesn’t like. Whatever they’re told, they get it done. But I don’t think it’s that big of an advantage.”

Phil Simms, “My God, he won the Super Bowl, and all he deals with the whole offseason is, ‘Hey, Tom, what about the footballs?’ And on top of that, people are whispering behind his back. What a terrible injustice!” Mr. Simms added, “Where do you draw the line?”

Well, how about we draw it this way: If you break the rules we have ourselves a line? And if it doesn’t make any difference, why have the rule? Lobby to get it changed. Football types surely do stick together! Especially when it comes to a lack of ethical reasoning.

Ethical Dilemmas

“Tie your flag onto your belt.” Advice from a flag football coach to his young charges.

That strategy does cut down on the other team’s ability to pull that flag off. What does the young player tell the coach? Perhaps, more relevantly, what does the parent of the young player tell the coach? Especially if the young team of belters is winning?

“Get Yourself Fired — You’ll Make More Money!”

The Barometer was strolling through the home section of a major department store.  Tempted by  Christmas potholders at 50% off, the Barometer stopped and soon planted feet firm to continue listening as three employees of this fine establishment conversed about their futures.  The ring leader was explaining to the novice employees that after the new year begins, most of them would be going to part-time status because of slow sales, the economy, health care issues, etc.  The two employees seemed crestfallen.  But, their mentor would have none of it.  “Don’t do it!” said he.  “Get yourself fired because the money you make on unemployment will be better than part-time work here and you can get 99 weeks of unemployment.  Plus, you are eligible for medical care through the government because you are unemployed.  It’s a better deal. It is so not worth it to keep working.” This fine consigliore (more…)

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Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings, 8th Edition

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