By David Anderson, Tillicum
Which of the following is wrong?
Becoming careless in the production of a water-retention-reducing drug such that rodent poison finds its way into the production line – a line run at breakneck speeds, pharmacists required to fill 30 prescriptions per hour, more than 2.5 times the accepted standard, the company repeatedly warned but with sales growing from $31.4M to $238M in just three years – eventually resulting in the “cheap, reliable generic” mail-ordered prescription from the cut-rate pharmacy being ingested by an elderly recipient, killing her like a rat? [i]
Or, as an elected representative, bringing the first ever casino to your state and locating it in the third poorest big city in the entire United States, all while “confirming social costs were not considered” according to University of Cincinnati researcher Rexhausen, and yet those attendant costs to gambling’s predatory presence were fully quantifiable: domestic violence, embezzlement, insurance fraud, bankruptcy, suicide, foreclosures, evictions, depression, theft, prostitution, teen addiction, and decreased school performance?
While there are a sad many more examples of a ‘somebody-done-somebody-wrong-
Sponsoring, “as one of the most respected public institutions in the country”, a “Sex Faire” featuring “the ‘tent of consent’ where students could sign a release form, and then enter the on-campus tent, and engage in whatever sexual behavior – safe or unsafe, moral or immoral, that they chose to”?
On February 26, 2001, at a state appropriations hearing when Penn State President Graham Spanier was asked whether the on-campus “Sex Faire” was right or wrong, he replied, “I’m not understanding what you mean by ‘wrong’.”
Now twelve years later Spanier has resigned; legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is dead, and his statue may no longer cast a shadow on campus as there are those calling for it to be taken down; Sandusky is going to jail; the football program may be banned; the university’s ability to raise money will likely suffer; Paterno’s name will no longer grace the entry to a child care center across the country in Oregon – a litany of repercussions the once proud Nittany Lions will suffer because, in the words of their former University President:
“I’m not understanding what you mean by wrong.”
According to Louis J. Freeh, “the former federal judge and director of the F.B.I. who spent the last seven months examining the Sandusky scandal at Penn State,” the leadership involved all knew when there were only twowhat was wrong – but the two boys molested by Sandusky would become 10 because no one spoke up.
There’s a common thread, more like a noose, that links such sordid stories: muddled-headed thinking while on the way to the bank. How can something be wrong when there’s so much money to be made?
“The most senior officials at Penn State had shown a ‘total and consistent disregard’ for the welfare of children, had worked together to actively conceal Mr. Sandusky’s assaults, and had done so for one central reason: fear of bad publicity. That publicity, Mr. Freeh said Thursday, would have hurt the nationally ranked football program, Mr. Paterno’s reputation as a coach of high principles, the Penn State ‘brand’ and the university’s ability to raise money as one of the most respected public institutions in the country.”
“When revenue is a consideration, old-fashioned morality sometimes goes out the window,” said University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis upon Kansas becoming the first in the nation to out-right own casinos.
And in our own backyard, William Harrison, first mayor of Lakewood, in an excerpt from a transcript of a video taken the night of December 1, 2008 when Harrison spoke at the Lakewood library:
“I want to explain, many people have asked me, why did you not do something about this (gambling in Lakewood) when you were in office? And I will tell you that I made a mistake. I allowed my heart to be overruled by my head, and at that time they told us that if we did not go along with this we were going to be sued and break the city and I allowed that to sway me and if I could take that vote back, I would take it back.”
Cotchett, in “Greed and the Casino Society,” said, “America has lost its ethical bearings, both individual and institutional.”
And, once lost, you can’t get them back. Not like before. The stain remains.
 “The Ethics Gap” subtitled “Greed and the Casino Society – The Erosion of Ethics in Our Professions, Business and Government” by Joseph W. Cotchett with Stephen P. Pizzo, pp.97-99