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Hidden Agenda
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Q. My publication has a major advertiser who buys space every week. For the coming week, he provided copy that reads like an objective public interest article, and asked me to copy-set it like a regular article. Is this ethical? A. The supposed “fire wall” between the editorial and marketing staffs in journalism has probably […]
Trip Trap
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Q. My company pays a generous travel allowance for business trips. Although the allowance is enough for a nice hotel and good restaurants, I prefer to economize and pocket the difference. Is this ethical? A. Some employers pay a fixed per-day travel allowance as an addition to salary, and do not request any accounting or […]
Gilt Guilt
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Q. I work at an interesting job that pays a fantastic salary. I guess I should be grateful, but really I feel guilty for getting paid so much when others are suffering from poverty. Is it wrong to enjoy wealth while others are impoverished? A. I’m sure many readers would like to experience your particular […]
Democratic Duty
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Q. Is voting an ethical obligation? A. While voting is not an absolute ethical obligation, Jewish tradition educates us in a number of ethical principles that we fulfill when we take part responsibly in participatory democracy. Participating in elections is a way of showing respect for the government and identification with it. If we look […]
Internet Fantasy
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Q. Some of my friends love to prowl Internet chat rooms using fabricated identities. Their “Internet identity” may change their age, gender, and background. Is there any ethical problem with this? A. In a previous column we discussed the serious ethical problems involved in using an assumed identity to hoodwink customers. Those problems can occur […]
Discriminating Against Discrimination
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Note to readers: The following question was sent to a columnist in a major American newspaper. His reply generated much controversy, and a number of readers requested that I respond to the same issue. AM Q. The courteous and competent real-estate agent I’d just hired to rent my house shocked and offended me when, after […]
Respect or Neglect
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Q. My friend is a recovered alcoholic. As he is now going off to college, he confided in me his fear that the new environment will cause him to suffer a relapse and go back to his old habits. Should I discretely contact a counselor at the university so that someone will be keeping an […]
Members Only
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Q. I usually visit America for a few weeks a year — not enough to justify membership in a warehouse club. So when I go, I sometimes borrow a card from a friend who is a member. Is there an ethical problem with this? After all, the store benefits from the added business!  A. This is […]
Surreptitious Speaker Phone
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Q. Do I need the caller’s permission to put a call on the speakerphone? Sometimes I want others in the office to hear, or I need the speakerphone in order to have freedom of movement yet others are present. A. This is a classic “opt in, opt out” question: Is it my responsibility to avoid […]