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Hush Money
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Q. Salary information in my company is considered confidential. Can I discuss my conditions with an associate to evaluate my chances for a raise? A. In the United States particularly, salary information is not considered merely “confidential” but actually “top secret”. This approach solves many problems, but it also creates a few. Let’s look at […]
Racial Profiling Part I
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Q. What does Jewish tradition say about racial profiling? A. For years this has been one of the most popular questions to the Jewish Ethicist. I’ve never related to it because it is such a stumper. On the one hand, there is great ethical detriment to profiling. Yet the benefits can be compelling. Because of […]
Racial Profiling Part II
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Q. What does Jewish tradition teach us about racial profiling? A. As we explained last week, profiling — racial or otherwise — involves singling out people for suspicion based on characteristics that are statistically correlated with wrongdoing but don’t have any inherent connection. We gave the example that most crimes are committed by young men, […]
Worker Ownership Part I
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Q. Is there an ethical dimension to worker ownership? A. Many countries have laws which encourage companies to introduce some degree of employee ownership. In the US, for instance, employers can obtain tax breaks if they set up an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Spain has a highly-developed network of employee cooperatives, which are also […]
Worker Ownership Part II
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Q. Last week you wrote about the many ethical advantages of worker ownership. What does Jewish tradition tell us about this vehicle? A. One of the most prominent and consistent themes in Jewish ethics is the importance of freedom and the censure of servitude. This is clear in the narrative of the Torah itself, which […]
Blogging Ethics Part II
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Q. Blogs provide an open forum for readers’ comments. Is the blogger responsible for encouraging slander and other irresponsible contributions? A. Web logs are at the frontiers of ethical thought, since they are a relatively new medium which blur the boundaries between existing media such as newspapers, diaries, and so on. Yet in many ways […]
Not for Profit
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Q. Many executives at non-profit organizations are getting gigantic salaries. Is that ethical? A. In a previous column we wrote about excessive salaries for executives. The truth is that regarding virtually all questions of excessive compensation we should ask the same question: is this person being paid to create value or to divert value? In […]
Vindictive Vendor
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Q. I have a competitor who is intentionally sabotaging my business relationships. How can I get back at him? For instance, he misled one of his clients regarding his background; can I let the client know? A. It’s certainly regrettable that your competitor is sabotaging your business. While Jewish law acknowledges the right of firms […]
Clerical Criticism
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Q. You recently wrote that while blogs should protect the privacy of private individuals, they don’t need to block reasonable discussions of the qualifications of public figures. Does this include religious leaders? What are the boundaries? A. My recent column on blogging ethics generated a lot of interesting reader comment and, not surprisingly, a fair […]
New Year-Time for Spiritual Accounting
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Usually this column is devoted on taking messages from the world of Jewish tradition and applying them to the world of economic life. This Rosh Hashana I want to go in the opposite direction, and see what the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal. I can point […]