The Brief No. 35: Matters of Ethics

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April 17, 2019

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The (New) War on Drugs: Skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices have become a hot social issue in the United States for years; as prices continue to climb, the discussion gets more heated. Insulin has since become the “poster drug” (for lack of a better term) of the pharmaceutical price-gouging debate, seeing its cost “triple over the past decade”. Public backlash has forced drug companies to reevaluate their business model and spurred lawmakers to start planning a correction course as well. While one proposed restructuring of pharmaceutical pricing encourages value-based costs, some warn that the inherently subjective task of assigning “value” to life-saving medications leaves plenty of room for corruption. Still, many representatives remain captive to powerful pharmaceutical entities, and may actively oppose price containment efforts.

WikiLocked Up: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on Thursday, and will face charges for the release of confidential government documents in 2010. The Australian programmer continues to be a controversial figure, inciting conflicting reviews from POTUS and the U.S. government. After sheltering him for seven years, the Ecuadorian embassy removed its protection from Assange, citing “discourteous and aggressive behavior,” despite denying predictions of expulsion just days prior. Fearing that Ecuador might soon begin to suffer “empty-nesters” syndrome, an American charged with extorsion has recently sought asylum there.

Trouble in the Magic Kingdom: Diversity and ethical issues plague the world’s largest corporations. This week, Disney found itself in the spotlight, with diversity chief Danielle Brown stepping down due to “several uprisings… related to workplace culture.” The epidemic of ethics violations raises psychological questions as well. Why, despite personal accountability and even revenue-based incentive, do so many industry leaders submit to unethical behavior? Certainly more complex than traditional views on human motivation, the reason may lie within a three-pronged psychological theory posed by the Harvard Business Review, which looks to omnipotence, cultural numbness, and justified neglect to explain infringement on ethical boundaries.

Brass Tax: A familiar headline: “Democrats demand documents. White House resists.” Along with Robert Mueller’s full investigation report, D.C. Dems are calling for POTUS to finally release his tax returns. It seems the deciding factor in the fight for Trump tax transparency might be the Democrats’ ability to prove legitimate reasons for wanting them in the first place. On the other hand, some insist that the President is legally obligated to fulfill these requests, and refusing to do so could mean jail time for his Treasury Secretary. Meanwhile, New York lawmakers hope to circumnavigate the red tape with an attempt to obtain Trump’s tax returns under the authority of state law.

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