Friday, May 25, 2012

Botswana ranks high on Transparency International

I find it most heartening to see Botswana so high on the list - its future is secure so long as its people and officials are this honest.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Why does money affect our judgment so severely?

The answer is simple of course:

Money represents human effort. The less of which I have to expend, the more beneficial it is for me.

Getting human effort from another human being is a non-trivial task, and requires an organization, a purpose, a motivation.

Reducing it to cash, a few dollar bills or other forms of paper hides this facet of money, and makes it easier to think about it in terms that are not always clean. And yet, intuitively, it is always with us and couched in phrases like "Money makes the world go around"...

If we found a way to make the human effort behind money somehow explicit - then terms like billions of dollars and trillions of dollar would once again be awe-inspiring, and perhaps stop us before we do something unethical around it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ethics of food industry

Now we know that every business is out to make a quick buck. So can we really blame them for creating foods that are:

  • Excessively fattening?

  • Excessively sugary?

  • Excessively fortified?

In the end we are the controllers of our destiny when it comes to food, but one must wonder should one use these tendencies of the human palate to such a point that it can cause serious damage to the individual?

Some sort of self-policing perhaps? Or is that a failure of our social system where we can't discipline ourselves?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ethics of Advertising

Obviously a big topic, but when does an advertisement go overboard?

Is it when

  • It claims something that is blatantly untrue (most advertisments avoid this)

  • Phrasing something in terms that make it seem one way, but are really another (most late night or mid-day infomercials tend to practice this)

  • Or something more seemingly benign, but has a tremendous impact - playing with human psychology!

Human psychology has been analyzed to death by marketers and many of the best companies leave no "thought untouched" when developing their campaigns.

Have we gone too far in our efforts to sell, sell, sell?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Olympics and Ethics

The change in rules in ice-skating where there are more points for technical merit and less for grace is a sad commentary on the judges and the process of judgment.

I know it stems from the Salt Lake city games and the controversy around the judging in pair skating, but I think the wrong problem was addressed.

We should be demanding more ethical behavior from ourselves and from the judges as opposed to making the sport more mechanical, robbing it off of its charm and grace.

I would love to have the judges undergo an ethical test and be kept in an environment where ethical judging is rewarded and reinforced (rather than taking it for granted) - and allow the sport to be the grand sport that it is.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Rentals and the Fine Print

Apartment Rental Units is another place where the fine-print (or the not-so fine print) is taken to an extreme. A multi-page signing.

I think at least some of that stems from tenants who refuse to behave responsibly, but a lot of it also stems from owners who wish to get that extra $100 from their tenants.

"If you leave even a day early or a day late, or do not notify us, we will charge an arm and a leg!"

Clearly an area that could use a large dose of common sense and consequently open the doors for more ethical behavior to flow in.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Fine Print Ethics

I wonder when did Fine Print on packages come into being? And what triggered it?

Was it the fact that some product manufacturer lost a lawsuit? Or was it because a manufacturer wanted to get away with something sneaky?

Whenever it came, I think that was the end of the age of common-sense. Everything now had to be spelt out - the obvious and the not-so-obvious.

But there is no substitute for common-sense, and for good intent.

As long as our juries award outrageous rewards for an unintentional error by the manufacturer, and as long as there are manufacturers/produces out there to sneak things in by the back-door - there is no return to common-sense.

Just more words and words and words and words.

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