EppsNet Archive: Ethics

Thinking on Your Feet

I can forgive someone who lies, but if he can’t think on his feet, he has no business representing my interests. If he can’t lie to me, how can I expect him to lie, on my behalf, to the other guy? — David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge Read more →

Do You Have a ‘Right’ to Health Care?

The general point is that a positive right to health care – no matter how splendid you hold that right to be and no matter how lovely is the provision of that right – requires that its recipients receive at others’ expense the services to which these recipients have a ‘right.’ Someone (or a multitude of someones) must supply those services whose recipients self-righteously insist be supplied as a matter of ‘right.’ This fact is undeniable and inescapable. Note that – although undeniable and inescapable – this fact does not by itself establish a case against treating health care as a right. But recognizing this reality does reveal certain potentially ugly aspects of all this ‘rights’ talk about health care – namely, to exercise your ‘right’ to health care requires that someone else be forced to serve you. Someone else must not merely refrain from interfering in your life and… Read more →

You Say Anarchy, Sir, Like It’s a Bad Thing

Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is. They have descended from the realm of reasonableness that was the mark of conservatism. They dream of anarchy, of ending government. — Bruce Bartlett My fellow Americans — I’ll tell you who’s insane: anyone who’s not dreaming of anarchy at this moment in history is insane. People forget that this great nation was founded by anarchists, born out of an armed revolution against a corrupt government. As I said at the time, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” I assure you, though, that regrettably neither current political party dreams of anarchy. They both dream of exactly the same things: self-aggrandizement and rewarding their most powerful supporters with political spoils. The well-known liberal cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a book a couple… Read more →

How to Lose Your Job : A Fictional Memoir (Part I)

Because of the huge productivity differences between good programmers and bad programmers — 10x? 28x? More? — my biggest leverage point as a development manager is my ability to hire people. At my last job, we had an HR Director named Lucy. In every one of our annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Lucy’s group had the lowest scores in the entire organization. Nobody liked or respected her. She was, however, close with the CEO, which made that irrelevant. Lucy’s friend Kathy Slauson runs the Slauson and Slauson recruiting agency, so that’s where we got our programming candidates, who were mostly terrible. The Slauson agency doesn’t specialize in IT candidates, although they do have a “technical recruiter,” who unfortunately knows nothing about technology. They don’t bring candidates in for in-person interviews. They take whatever candidates give them in the form of a résumé and they pass the résumés along to clients like… Read more →

The Big Short

What is amazing is not just that people are greedy and prone to engage in ethically questionable activities; the big lesson is how people can reach unimaginable positions of power and essentially be (a) incompetent, and (b) not willing to do even the most mundane and trivial parts of their job. — Jeffrey Pfeffer, reviewing The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis (quoted on WSJ.com) Read more →

The Capitalists Failed Us

There are some things that one just didn’t do. That’s the way I was brought up. It’s not gray; it was black and white. Now the ethical standard seems to be if everybody else is doing it, I can do it too. Carry that over into the banking. Everybody else is doing these funny loans and having earnings grow faster, building up their margins, leveraging those margins. The more leverage A gets, the more leverage B feels inclined to get. So the system fed on itself and drove bankers to making decisions that they, presumably, should have known better than to make. I don’t blame government for this. I was at a meeting of CEOs, even though I haven’t been to one for quite a while, and someone asked me to sum up the morning. This was a bunch of bankers and other CEOs. They said, what do you think… Read more →