Ethics – the boundaries between personal rights and social obligations

  • Politics, Big Business and Ethics

Most people to whom I talk about matters of ethics have come to accept, docilely,  that leaders of society are typically less ethical in their behaviour than is desirable in terms of generally accepted standards of decency. The following two items demonstrate the importance of “drawing a line in the sand” .  Arguably, it is only if/when decent people demonstrate that they are no longer prepared to accept this type of behaviour that it will be eradicated where the most damage to society is being done - by self-centred people in positions of power.  For the purposes of clarity, it is not being suggested that anyone should resort to anarchy. What is being suggested is that unethical behaviour should no longer be tolerated and that those behaving unethically should be held accountable – by being “dismissed” from whatever office they hold, and by being appropriately punished if they have caused harm to society as a whole. It will also be necessary for the general public to become less gullible. Just because a politician (or anyone else) says that something is so, does not make it so.

  1. This 78 minute video is an eye opener. It explains what is meant by the term “psychopathic behaviour” (in simple terminology, behaviour that evidences an absence of empathy for others) and it draws the link between anti-depressant drugs and pychopathic behaviour. It also examines the concept (and potential power) of empathy for others, which requires the presence of normal human emotions. 
  2.  The internet also has the capacity to spread darkness at the speed of light. Therefore everything one reads on the web should be verified for accuracy. Having said this, the following article, if true, will throw some light on the moral and ethical character of the currently incumbent President of the United States: . Quote: “In his recent book Presidential Perks Gone Royal, Robert Keith Gray, a former Eisenhower staffer, revealed that last year the US presidency cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion. Over the same period, the entire royal family cost British taxpayers about $57 million…….. In contrast to the stingy remuneration offered by the royal household, the presidential dog-walker is one of 226 White House staff earning over $100,000 a year. The fish rots from the head down, [* my emphasis] and so do republics. A $1.4-billion president has a defense secretary with a private plane to fly him home every weekend, and a chair of the “White House Council on Women and Girls” with her own Secret Service detail…. (* This expression was used in the video above, which is why reader attention is being drawn to this particular article.)

Of course, an issue that needs to be addressed is that “what constitutes ethical behaviour” may be open to subjective interpretation. The Last Finesse goes into some conceptual detail regarding how ethical behaviour might be codified in a manner that is acceptable to the majority, as opposed to any particular element, of society. Nevertheless, there is a simple guidline that most people would readily accept, nameley The Golden Rule: “Do not do to others that which you would not have them do to you”. Or, alternatively, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. If one were to apply The Golden Rule to item #2 above, the following question might be posed:

“How would you feel, Mr Obama, if you were not president and you observed some other duly elected ‘servant of the people’ using taxpayer money to pay his/her dog minder an annual salary of over $100,000 ?”

 Author: Kevin Dutton Title: “What Psychopaths Teach Us About How to Succeed” Publisher: Scientific American Date: October 2012

  •  This link will take the reader to a media interview of Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick entitled: “The US has become an Orwellian State”. The core observation here is that the law has become disconnected from its foundation of ethics.


  • The following three items flow from some research that was done by the author in respect of The Last Finesse’s theme relating to unethical behaviour of some of society’s leaders in today’s world.
  1. Over the past decade or so, a labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels has been excavated across Myanmar/Burma at the behest of the military junta: (Source: Democratic Voice of Burma). When they were in power, the military junta spent billions of dollars excavating and constructing these tunnels, which begs the question: Given the recent emergence of ”democracy” in Burma, if this labyrinth of tunnels has now been completed, what will the tunnels be used for? Alternatively: Can the junta continue doing what they have been doing up to now – but out of sight of the world’s media and the public eye?
  2. What have the Burmese junta been doing? One of the subjects of significant interest to them has been the acquisition of nuclear technology/weapons.  As recently as August 22nd 2012, it was discovered by Japan that Burma is still actively pursuing the acquisition of equipment that might have nuclear technology applications, which was denied by Naypyidaw: See Quote: “On Aug. 14, the cargo was due to change ships again in Malaysia and then dock in Rangoon Port the following day. However, the US asked the Taiwanese shipping company not to proceed with the transshipment in Malaysia after learning about the possible contents. The Wan Hai 313 entered Tokyo Port on Aug. 22 where it was examined by Japanese officials who found the material in question.” Quote: “Bertil Lintner, a veteran journalist who has written on the subject for many years, told The Irrawaddy that Burma does not have nuclear connections with North Korea but is developing missiles. “The cooperation with North Korea is about missiles,” he said. “And that is still continuing—North Korean technicians are still there working on the missile program.”  Bloom question: “Well, if there is a new democratic regime in Myanmar, why are those North Korean technicians still in Myanmar? The link between ethics and trustworthy behaviour cannot be severed.”
  3. Another subject concerning what the junta has been doing relates to their turning a blind eye (possibly even personally profiting from) poppy production in that country. Bloom Question: “If Burma has indeed decided to join the community of nations, why is poppy production still increasing, as at October 31st, 2012?” See: Quote: “Unprecedented eradication efforts managed to destroy almost 24,000 hectares (59,280 acres) of poppy fields in the 2012 season, running from the autumn 2011 to early summer this year, more than triple the previous year’s total. But the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said land used for cultivation in Myanmar, the world’s second top producer of opium after Afghanistan, still increased 17 percent to its highest level in eight years. Myanmar is forecast to produce 690 tonnes of opium in 2011/12 according to the report, up from 610 tonnes – about 10 percent of the world’s opium – the previous year, the UNODC said. Afghanistan produces around 90 percent.” Once again, the link between ethics and trustworthy behaviour cannot be severed.
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