February 18th, 2010
11:27 PM ET

What should Tiger say?

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
Special to AC360°

Tiger Woods announced yesterday that he will issue an apology at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on Friday at 11 a.m. ET. All we know is that the apology will last around five minutes and that he will not respond to any questions from the media. Ever since the announcement, the blogosphere has been obsessed with whether we have a right to know what happened since Woods drove his SUV into a tree last November, took a leave of absence from professional golf, and apparently checked into a rehabilitation facility that treats sexual addiction.

Does the public have a right to know how Woods conducts his private life?

It doesn’t matter, and I’ll tell you why. Whether or not we are entitled to know about the demons that plague Woods, the best golfer in the world should use his worldwide platform to be a force for good and help others who are wrestling with the same problems he is.


July 10th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Too much Michael?

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
Ethics Columnist for BusinessWeek Online

It’s not a shame that the news media are devoting so much attention to the Michael Jackson story.

It’s unethical.

Here’s why.

Democracy is possible only with a truly free press, not one hijacked by a gossip-hungry public. Yes, Michael Jackson was a phenomenally talented human being, and the fact that his art deeply affected millions of people around the world deserves respect. But news organizations are a public trust, and their obsession now with all things Jackson betrays this trust.

Every Jackson story takes up precious airtime that could be devoted to issues that have a more direct bearing on our future: an economy that’s still in shambles, a health care system in desperate need of repair, the G8 summit—aren’t these stories at least as important as speculating about who will get custody of Jackson’s children?


Filed under: 360° Radar • Bruce Weinstein • Michael Jackson
November 26th, 2008
04:19 PM ET

Tipping & Regifting: What to do this year?

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Editor's Note: Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy, writes the ethics column for BusinessWeek Online.

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, indeed. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's you will face two ethical questions: 1) How much should you tip the people who have helped you during the past 12 months? 2) Is it right to give someone a gift you received but don't want?

Here's some guidance grounded in basic ethical principles so you can handle these tricky matters in the right way and enjoy the holiday season, even during this financially stressful time.

Sometimes it's hard to reconcile the spirituality of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other seasonal celebrations with the crass commercialism that seems to grow every year. Nevertheless, because we have an ethical obligation to express our gratitude where appropriate, and money is one of the most appreciated of all gifts, it can be fitting to give cash to the helpers in our life.

How much you should give depends on three factors:
• How much the person has helped you
• What the relationship means to you
• Your financial position

For someone who looked after your pet only once this year, a handwritten thank-you note or holiday card is appropriate. The person who did this five or six times during your business trips and vacations deserves more than that, so including cash or a check with the note is fair. If your doorman, mechanic, or lawn cutter went above and beyond the call of duty in some way, this too can justify a monetary thank-you.

If you don't have the financial resources to say "thanks" with cash, you have a right and an obligation not to give money as a gift. The ethical principle of fairness requires, in part, that we allocate scarce resources appropriately.


Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Economy • Finance
November 21st, 2008
08:00 AM ET

Are you a tightwad? If not, you should be!

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
The Ethics Guy®, BusinessWeek.com
AC360º Contributor

You can’t blame the American consumer for feeling frustrated. After all, we’re caught on the horns of a dilemma: We’re supposed to keep spending our rapidly dwindling dollars to keep our faltering economy from collapsing altogether, but we’re also told to save as much money as we can to prepare for an uncertain future. What to do?

Since it’s impossible to do both of these things simultaneously, I will argue here that placing the economy ahead of our own needs isn’t merely misguided. It’s unethical.

Here’s why.


Your relationship to everyone on the planet may be represented as follows. Imagine a series of concentric circles. You occupy the innermost circle. (Or, if you prefer, the Creator is here, and you are on the next level outside.) In the next closest circle lies your immediate family. The circle after that includes close friends. Progressing toward the outermost circle are, respectively, the people with whom you work, members of your community, your fellow U.S. citizens, and finally, everyone else.

Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Economy • Raw Politics
September 29th, 2008
01:03 PM ET

Downsizing 102 – When It Happens to You

Editor's Note: The Ethics Guy, Dr. Bruce Weinstein, writes the ethics column for BusinessWeek.com.Here is Dr. Weinsteins followup blog to to downsizing: "Downsizing 101 – When You Have to Do It"

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy,

Americans are bracing for massive job losses in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Even before the recent crisis on Wall Street, anxiety about employment was high; earlier this year, the U.S. Labor Dept. released a report stating that there had been a net loss of 63,000 jobs, which was the biggest decline in five years.

Whether or not your own job is in jeopardy in the near future, at some point in your career you may become a victim of downsizing. What should you do? What you should avoid doing at all costs? We’ll consider these questions in this column, the second of a two-part series on the ethics of downsizing.

Being laid off is one of the most traumatic events we can experience. On the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale, getting fired is the eighth most stressful life experience, behind the death of a spouse (#1) or going to jail (#4), but ahead of the death of a close friend (#17), foreclosure on a mortgage or loan (#21), or in-law troubles (#24). Rightly or wrongly, many of us define ourselves by our jobs, which is why one of the first questions we ask someone we meet is, “What do you do?”


Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Economy • Ethics • Job Market
September 15th, 2008
11:18 AM ET

Downsizing 101 – When You Have to Do It

Editor's Note: The Ethics Guy, Dr. Bruce Weinstein, writes the ethics column for BusinessWeek.com.

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy,

Most discussions about downsizing focus on the legal, economic, or psychological issues raised by this practice. These are essential concerns, but we rarely consider how or why downsizing is also an ethical issue. This is the first of a two-part series that will redress that problem. Today, we'll consider your ethical responsibilities if you are the one charged with giving the bad news. In the second part, we'll look at what you ought and ought not to do if you are the one being downsized.



Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Ethics
August 25th, 2008
12:35 PM ET

At the DNC, is protesting unpatriotic?

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy,

The fear that as many as 30,000 protestors will disrupt the 2008 Democratic National Convention this week has led to preparations for an unprecedented turnout by federal and local authorities, according to the New York Times. The city of Denver has spent over $2 million on protection equipment for police officers, and millions more from the federal government will be tagged for Secret Service, FBI agents, and others charged with maintaining law and order. It’s quite possible that protests planned for the Republican National Convention, to be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul from September 1-4, will be even larger and more intense.

With such a hefty price tag for keeping the peace and the logistical nightmare of doing so, wouldn’t it be better if the protesters just kept their mouths shut? Isn’t it unpatriotic to voice dissent about political matters? What good does protest do, anyway?

The correct answers are: no, no, and a lot.

Here’s why.

August 20th, 2008
12:00 PM ET

The Ethics of Talking Politics at Work

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy®, BusinessWeek.com

The hot-button issues of politics can lead to inflamed tempers that can impede your productivity—and possibly, your progress.

Who do you think should be the next President of the U.S.? John McCain? Barack Obama? Jon Stewart? Regardless of who gets elected, there is no question that this is the most diverse and exciting campaign in many years.

Given what is at stake in the election and the historic nature of this year's race, it is tempting to discuss the issue at work with those colleagues we're accustomed to chatting with and hashing out so many things. Yet there are very good reasons why we shouldn't.

The Fearsome Foursome.

Along with sex, money, and religion, politics is one of the most controversial topics of conversation that exists. I submit that money, more than sex, is the most personal aspect of our lives, and it is the one that opens us up to the greatest potential for embarrassment.

Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Ethics • Raw Politics
August 1st, 2008
07:41 AM ET

Is vacation ethical? The answer – and why!

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy, BusinessWeek.com

Which of the following statements is most accurate for you?

A) I receive 15 days of paid vacation each year, and I take them—guilt-free.
B) I receive 15 days of paid vacation each year, but I feel guilty if I take any of them.
C) I haven’t had a vacation in years; I’m loyal to my company or business and am proud of this fact.
D) I work for myself and don’t take vacations; if I don’t work, I don’t make money.

Even if you chose “A,” you surely know people in the other three situations. We in the United States wear as a badge of honor the fact that we rarely, if ever, take time off from work. We need to earn a living, and many of us like what we do, so our reluctance to take vacations is justified, right?

No, it isn’t.

Leaving work behind for a period of time is not only acceptable; it is our ethical obligation.

Here’s why.

Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Ethics • Raw Politics
July 18th, 2008
07:30 AM ET

The ethics of picking a vice president

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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
AC360° Contributor
The Ethics Guy®, BusinessWeek.com

Who should Senators Barack Obama and John McCain pick as their running mates? This is one of the most debated questions in the presidential campaign, but it shouldn’t be viewed as merely a strategic concern. Whenever we ask what someone should do, and the rights or well-being of others hangs in the balance, we are asking an ethical question. That’s why who our next vice president ought to be is an important ethical issue.

The Vice Presidency: Much Ado About Nothing?

The U.S. Constitution specifies two primary duties of the vice president: to be the first in the line of succession to the office of the Presidency and to preside over the Senate. Beyond these two responsibilities, however, the Constitution leaves the exact nature of the office open to the whims of the President, and up until the 20th century, vice presidents had little contact with the executive branch.

However, nine occupants of this office have succeeded to the presidency... FULL POST

Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Ethics • Raw Politics
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