Professor Gary Jason, PhD | Business Ethics Resource Center | Part 5

Business Ethics Resource Center | Part 5

  • How to use this resource:
    1. The video and audio links are meant to give you a quick overview of the major disputes/arguments surrounding the various possible paper topics. This is meant to help you choose a topic to write on, and give you an idea of the argumentative terrain you will be on. 
    2. But they are not primary resources – don’t quote them in your papers. Instead, once you have a general idea of what you will write on, the major arguments you must explore, and the major areas of facts you must dig out, THEN do a literature search for relevant articles. It is the written articles you will be using and citing as a basis for your paper.
    3. Remember to avoid direct quotation (reread the tutorial on when to quote, as opposed to putting the thought in your own words and then citing the source.) Indeed, I would appreciate it if you would simply paraphrase, and never quote directly.
    4. Your Turnitin duplication score should be ZERO.
    5. All papers must have numbered pages.

V: Suggested Term Paper Topics

1.  Recently, the news media have taken up the topic of tax “inversions,” which are cases in which an American-based company buys a foreign-based one, in order to move its headquarters abroad to escape America’s corporate taxes (currently the highest in the industrialized world). Is it ethical for a business to do this? Why/why not? And if it is unethical, should it be made illegal as well? Why/why not? What about individuals, who move from California to Texas (say) to avoid state income tax – are they immoral as well? Why/why not?

  1. Varney debate on tax inversions…video.
  2. Nightly Business Report on tax inversions…video.
  3. CNBC report on tax inversions…video.
  4. Stiglitz on tax inversions…video.

2.  What are “co-ops” generally? What are “worker co-ops” specifically? How prevalent are they in the American economy? Should they be the model of what corporate structure should be? Why/why not?

  1. BBC Horizon documentary on the Mondragon Experiment—video.
  2. Freundlich on the Mondragon Cooperatives—video.
  3. Dorrien on coops as the model for economic justice—video
  4. ViraquaFoodCoop on coops—video.

3.  Should government subsidize the arts? Why/why not? If so, precisely how?

  1. Reread Bastiat section 4.
  2. Moran in favor of arts funding—video.
  3. Reason TV interview on funding the arts—video.

4.   Should we restrict free trade (i.e., pursue “protectionist” policies)? Does protectionism really benefit the economy? Why/why not?

  1. Reread Bastiat section 7.
  2. Read JA Jason review of free trade books.
  3. Intelligence squared debate “Buy American, Hire American”—video.
  4. Roberts on Smith, Ricardo, and trade—audio.
  5. Milton Friedman debate free trade—video.
  6. John Stossel debates Lou Doubs on free trade—video.
  7. Tom Palmer debates Lou Dobbs on free trade—video.
  8. Austin Petersen debates Thom Hartmann on free trade—video.
  9. Rustici on Smoot/Hawley and the Great Depression—audio.
  10. Ian Fletcher against free trade—video.
  11. Walter Block for free trade—video.
  12. Robert P. Murphy fro free trade—video.
  13. LearnLiberty on free trade—video.

5.  Some people argue that instead of “free trade,” the world needs “fair trade”. What does “fair trade” mean in this context? Is it better than free trade, as traditionally understood?  Isn’t the term “fair trade” just another case of BS loaded language–doesn’t it just mean having government use tariffs or subsidies to prefer on producer over another, to the detriment of the American consumer, who is treated unfairly? Why/why not?

  1. Milton Friedman on free trade…video.
  2. LearnLiberty fair trade… video.
  3. Narlikar on fair trade and free trade—audio.
  4. Munger on fair trade and free trade—audio.

6.  What are “middlemen”? Are they important contributors to society or merely economic parasites?

  1. Reread Bastiat section 6.
  2. Munger on middlemen—audio.
  3. Prof. Pirie on the value of middlemen—video.
  4. NerdAlert report on eliminating the third party in buying Tesla cars—video.

7.  Does government spending on infrastructure projects increase employment on balance (overall, “on net”)? Why/why not?

  1. Reread Bastiat section 5.
  2. Gifford on the need for more infrastructure spending—video.
  3. De Ruigy critical of infrastructure crisis—video.
  4. CNN report on pork barrel spending—video.
  5. AFP report critical of earmarks—the Cowgirl Hall of Fame—video.

8.  Most business ethics texts leave out of their discussions non-profits, such as charitable institutions. It is probably because non-profits are usually set up to provide a service to people, not make wealth for the owners. But non-profits still face ethical issues. What are some? Are they immune from  the principal/agent problem? Why/why not?

  1. Dan Pallotta TED talk—video.
  2. Munger on love, money, profits and non-profits—audio.
  3. Pallotta on charity and the culture of the non-profit sector—audio.

9.  Some say that technology destroys jobs. That is, while most Americans love technology, some seem to believe that it does destroy jobs on balance. (Back in the middle of the industrial revolution, economists called this the “Machine Problem”). Do you agree? Why/why not?

  1. Reread Bastiat section 8.
  2. For a pro-view (i.e., that technology DOES cost jobs on balance), listen to Tyler Cowen on inequality, the future, and average is over—audio.
  3. For an anti-view (holding that technology does NOT cost jobs on balance), listen to Joel Mokyr on growth, innovation, and stagnation—audio.
  4. Autor on the limits of technology imitating human skills—Econtalk audio.
  5. Brynjolfsson on the second machine age—audio.
  6. Kelley on technology—audio.

10.  Some have argued that K-12 schools are often failing, and that the answer is “vouchers,” that is, in essence allowing the money collected to pay for public schools to be given to the parents directly in the form of a coupon they can use to pay for tuition at the school of their choice (either public or private). This, it is said, would force non-performing public schools to start rendering a better service, or lose their clients and be shut down. Has the voucher system been tried elsewhere? If so, how has it worked out? Is this a good idea for the U.S.? Why/why not?

  1. Hanushek on educational quality and economic growth—audio.
  2. Hanushek on making schools better—audio.
  3. Hanushek on education and prosperity—audio.
  4. Stossel on “Stupid in America”—video.
  5. Milton Friedman “Freedom to Choose” episode #6 on vouchers;
  6. Milton Friedman lectures on his idea of vouchers—video.
  7. John Stossel in favor of vouchers—video.
  8. Diane Ravitch in opposition to vouchers—video.
  9. Columbia students debate vouchers—video.
  10. Economics Today debate on vouchers—video.
  11. Report on the Swedish national school voucher program—video.

11.  Some have argued that the USPS should be privatized. What does that mean? Why do some people suggest doing that? What reasons to some others have for opposing privatizing it? Have any other countries privatized their postal services? If so, how has it worked out?

  1. Jarkesy debate on privatizing the USPS—video.
  2. CNN debate on privatization of USPS—video.
  3. Stossel on privatizing the USPS—video.

12.  Every year, thousands of Americans die waiting for organ transplants, especially kidneys. A few people donate their organs, usually to people they have a connection to, but far fewer than the existing demand. Yet under current law, people cannot sell their organs the way they can sell their eggs, sperm  or blood. Some have argued that we should allow a free market for human organ sales. Do any other countries allow this? Do you think that we should? Why/why not? If so, what regulations (if any) would you propose?

  1. Intelligence squared debates “We should legalize the market for human organs”—video.
  2. Reason TV pro piece on organ sales—video.
  3. Satz on the moral limits of markets—audio.
  4. National Geographic piece on the black market in kidneys—video.
  5. ITVS critical report on Iran’s organ sales market—video.
  6. Official Iranian report on kidney sales—.video.

13.  What is the “sharing economy”? What are some of the major companies in this space? Some argue that these companies should be immediately regulated because of the harm they can cause. Others say that regulation will destroy these new businesses, pointing to the phenomenon of rent-seeking to explain their fears. Explore this issue.

  1. The founder of Airbnb on his business…Econtalk audio
  2. Munger on the sharing economy—Econtalk audio.
  3. Report on;
  4. Report on;
  5. Report on;
  6. Report on Airbnb.

14.  Which common-law countries have a “loser-pay” (also called “fee shifting” or “the British rule”) system? Which do not? How does the system work in practice in (say) Britain? In particular, what role do insurance companies play in Britain’s common law system? In the US, a few states have this system – which ones, and how does it work in those states? Should the US adopt such a system in all states? Why/why not?

  1. American Constitutional Society panel  (very critical) on loser pay system—video.
  2. Gov. Perry signs loser pay law in Texas—video.
  3. Unintended consequence of Texas law—video.

15.  What is the practice of “ticket scalping”? Where (if anywhere) is it legal? Why/why not?

  1. Munger on ticket scalping—audio.

16.  Where is prostitution a legal business? How has that worked out? Should it be legal generally in the US? Why/why not?

  1. Intelligence squared debate “It’s wrong to pay for sex”—video.
  2. World Schools debate on prostitution—video.

17.  What is embryonic stem cell research? Is it the only kind of stem cell research? Why is it controversial? Is it ethical for privately-funded companies to do it? How about government-funded companies? Why/why not? Specifically, what are the ethical issues involved in forcing taxpayers who may have profound religious or moral issues with some practice to fund it?

  1. EuroStemCell conversation on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research—video.

18.  Is the international arms trade unethical? Should it be banned by international organizations? Why/why not?

  1. Arms trade and ethical use debate—video.

19.  Should the US legalize drugs (either all, or just marijuana)? How about decriminalizing them? (What is the difference?) Why/why not? What has been the experience of other countries in this regard?

  1. Intelligence squared debate on drug legalization—video.
  2. James Baker Institute debate on drug legalization—video.
  3. Penn & Teller episode on the war on drugs—video.

20.  Being a barber, being a hair stylist, being a mortician and many other professions that in no way involve major risks to the life, health, or well-being of the consumer require a license to practice in many states. Should these license requirements be eliminated? (If so, should all of these requirements be eliminated? Or if only some, which ones?) That is, should we allow consumers who don’t care whether their (say) hair stylist is unlicensed to go to one who isn’t? Why/why not?

  1. Institute for Justice report on licensing requirements—.article.
  2. Institute for Justice video explaining its report—video.

21.  A recent Supreme Court ruling (Citizens United) held that corporations can openly fund candidates and causes. Some people were outraged. Was that ruling morally right – that is, should companies be able to fund candidates and causes? How about unions? Environmentalist groups? Why/why not?

  1. Intelligence squared debate on free speech and money—video.

22.  Was socializing GM (and Chrysler) on balance a good thing? That is, what costs and benefits did it have (both seen, and more importantly, UNSEEN)?

  1. Young Turks video on the corruption of the deal—video.
  2. NYT video on the bankruptcy—video.

23.  Some people criticize the advertising done by pharmaceutical firms, especially directed at consumers directly (as opposed to the doctors). Is such advertising ethical? Why/why not?

  1. See reading JA 12.3.
  2. See the ProCon discussion, including videos.

24.  Some critics argue that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and that we need to convert it into a system like Chile’s (also now found in a number of other countries), in which individuals put their money into just their OWN separate retirement accounts of stocks and bonds, which they then own as their own personal property. Do you agree? Why/why not?

  1. Friedman on social security—video.
  2. Friedman sketches some of his ideas on retirement—video.
  3. Frontline episode on the retirement “gamble” and the problem of 401k plans—video.
  4. FBN interview with Pinera on privatizing the social security system—video.
  5. Pinera answers questions on the Chilean model of privatized social security—video.
  6. Cafferty critical of privatizing social security—video.
  7. Worldfocus report critical of the Chilean system—video.

25.  One of the many ways the federal government subsidizes the home real estate market is to allow home mortgage interest to be deducted from the homeowner’s income taxes. Should the government be trying so hard to get people to buy homes? Why/why not? How does residential real estate compare to other asset classes in terms of yield? And is this fair to other industries besides home construction, and to people who do not own homes but rent them? Why/why not?

  1. Leopold on what the deduction is—video.
  2. Face the Facts debate on keeping the home mortgage—video.
  3. Adams in defense of the deduction—video.
  4. Gayar critical of it—video.

26.  The eminent economist John Maynard Keynes put forward what he called the “paradox of thrift,” which is (crudely put) that if everybody saved their money, they wouldn’t be purchasing anything, which would cause companies to cut back production of consumer goods, which in turn would cost people jobs. Is this a convincing to you? Why/why not?

  1. PBS short piece on the paradox of thrift—video.
  2. 60 Second Adventures in Economics on the paradox of thrift—video.

27.  Should a company give racial, ethnic or gender preferences in hiring, retention or promotion decisions? Why/why not?

  1. Read Desjardins Chapter 11 for an essentially pro view.
  2. Firing Line interview with Thomas Sowell critical of racial preferences—video.
  3. Charlie Rose interview with Sowell critical of racial preferences—video.
  4. Intelligence squared debate: “affirmative action on campus does more harm than good”…video.
  5. Intelligence squared debate: “it’s time to end affirmative action”…video.

28.  Some argue passionately that immigrants take jobs away from native-born workers. Others just as passionately deny it. Does legal immigration result in job loss on balance? Why/why not? (Do NOT mix in the irrelevant issue of illegal immigration).

  1. LearnLiberty debate on immigration—video.
  2. Intelligence squared debate: “Let anyone take a job anywhere (free immigration across borders)”…video.
  3. Intelligence squared debate: “Don’t give us your tired, poor, huddled masses”…video.
  4. Penn & Teller episode on immigration—part I video.
  5. Penn & Teller episode on immigration—part II video.
  6. Penn & Teller episode on immigration—part III video.

29.  Recently, grocery markets such as “Whole Foods” have made a lot of money selling what they call “organic food.” This is an odd phrase, since all food must be “organic” – after all, we don’t eat rocks and sand. What does that phrase mean? And is it really true that organic food really safer and/or more nutritious than ordinary food? Why/why not?

  1. Intelligence squared debate: “Organic food is a marketing hype”…video.
  2. Penn & Teller episode on organic food—video

30.  Only recently, there was a real-estate bubble followed by a real estate collapse, the consequences of which are still being felt. Some blame the greed of mortgage brokers and bankers, who give people easy loans for homes they couldn’t afford. Others blame government for providing “easy money” and for creating institutions (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) that bought those loan contracts of dubious worth. Which side do you think is right on balance, or do you think that they both are on to something? Explain and defend your point of view.

  1. Frontline/PBS series on the mortgage meltdown of 2007—video.
  2. CBS report on the mortgage meltdown—video.
  3. Intelligence squared debate on blame the financial crisis on Washington—video.
  4. Global Financial Meltdown documentary (long movie)—video.
  5. Fox debate on the role of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae on creating the mortgage meltdown—video.
  6. Thomas Sowell on the government’s role in the mortgage meltdown—video.
  7. Cavuto on government role in mortgage meltdown—video.
  8. Realtor Greg Rand on government role in mortgage meltdown—video.

31.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of women abort their fetuses. But the waiting lists for the adoption of healthy infants are long, with many American couples actually going abroad to adopt children. Under current law, couples can privately arrange to pay the medical expenses of a woman who is willing to bring the baby to term for the couple to then adopt. An entrepreneur has a new idea: to start a website ”˜,” which will allow any pregnant woman to invite couples to bid for carrying the baby to term, and not just be compensated for medical expenses, but getting whatever money over and above that she can negotiate. Sales would be recorded transparently, so just as a person wanting to buy or sell a used car can log on to Kelly Blue Book and see what the going rate for that type of car is, pregnant women and prospective adopting parents can all see what the going rate for a baby is in their area. Should this be allowed? Why/why not?

  1. Lisa Ling report on couples adopting Chinese babies—video.
  2. EU report on foreign adoptions—video.

32.  What is “genetic screening”? Why might an employer want to genetically screen potential employees? Would that be ethical, and is it legal? Why/why not?

  1. Baptist Health report on the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act—video.
  2. Euro report on genetic testing—video.
  3. CCTV report on genetic testing—video.

33.  College sports stars are prohibited from being paid, although their teams often bring in massive amounts of money form school, and the college players risk injury that can end their careers. Should we allow them to be paid in full for what their services are worth? Why/why not?

  1. NBC New debate on paying college athletes—video.

34.  Some critics have argued that government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) should not be allowed, because they create a moral hazard for investors (who are tempted to think there is no investment risk, given the government involvement) and for government (which is tempted to think that since the money invested is invested “voluntarily” – i.e., not gotten by taxation – it can spend that money to buy votes – public choice theory). What do they mean? Are they right? Why/why not?

  1. Horne on GSE reform—video.
  2. Mercatus Center debate on GSE reform—video.
  3. Zillow debate on GSE reform—audio.

35.  Some have argued that the TSA (the government agency that handles airport security) should be privatized-including the Congressman who first wrote the legislation creating it. Should it be? Why/why not? How do other countries, especially those facing terrorism threats, handle it?

  1. Barnes/Cato on TSA mission creep—video.

36.  There is controversy about paycheck protection laws. What are they? How do they relate to the U.S. Supreme Court Beck ruling? What arguments are there for and against paycheck protection laws?

  1. Business Matters debate on paycheck protection act—video.
  2. Missouri House hearings on paycheck protection—video.

37.  Recently, some protestors have argued that college student loans should be “forgiven.” What is the recent history of the college student loan program (nationalized in 2009)? What are some arguments for and against student loan “forgiveness”? What about the idea of “forgiving” them for people who go into government or non-profit work? Is that fair, or is it unfair to those who work in standard for-profit businesses? How does public choice theory enter in? Your view?

  1. PBS report on student loan debt—video.
  2. Kirk critical of student loan programs…video.
  3. Applebaum favoring student loan debt forgiveness—video.
  4. Dave Ramsey critical of student loans—video.
  5. LearnLiberty criticism of student loan forgiveness—audio.

38.  Some companies will buy the life insurance policies of elderly folk (or terminally ill folk), making the premium payments for them until they die, at which time the companies collect the pay-out. Some argue that this is gambling on people’s lives, while others argue that this allows the elderly/terminally ill to utilize some of what they have paid in for their own enjoyment.  What arguments can you give that this practice is ethical? Unethical? Your view?

  1. Scott Page interview about life insurance settlement—video.
  2. Viatical settlements—video.
  3. Mickleson on life insurance settlement frauds—video.
  4. Kanjorski on life insurance settlement investigations—video.

39.  Some have argued that in the modern knowledge based economy, there is no reason to set the minimum age for working as high as it is now. Do you agree? Why/why not?

  1. Report on Bolivia setting a working age of 10—video.
  2. Michigan retailers report on employing minors in Michigan—video.

40.  What are the ethical issues in international trade and the environment? Does free trade hurt the environment? Why/why not?

  1. Mercatus Center report on international trade and the environment—video.
  2. Prof. Mitchell examines free trade and the environment—video.
  3. Prof. Bhagwati argues that trade helps the environment—video.

41.  Explore the ethical issues surrounding advertising directly aimed at children. Are children rational enough to deal with such ads? And if children are rational enough, at what age are they so? Does making children aware of (say) sweet foods such as breakfast cereal really help them? Why/why not?

  1. BBC debate on advertising to kids—video.
  2. Prof. McAllister on advertising to kids—video.
  3. CBS news report on advertising to kids—video.
  4. Excerpt from documentary on corporations—video.
  5. Kravis attack on advertising to kids—video.

42.  Do consumers have an obligation to consume in a way that protects the environment (so-called “Green consumerism”)? If so, what exactly does this mean? Why/why not?

  1. Journeyman pictures documentary “Consumed”—video.
  2. Explainity plumping of sustainability—video.
  3. Prof. Newman on sustainability—video.
  4. Ted talk on sustainability—video.

43.  What are the ethical issues surrounding drug testing in the workplace? Explore them in some detail.

  1. The Law Works episode on drug testing in the workplace—video.

44.  What are the ethical issues surrounding the bailouts of big businesses? (You can focus on a specific industry, or talk about bailouts in general).

  1. Cavuto discussion on bailouts—video.
  2. Buffett on bailouts—video.

45.  Under which conditions (if any) is it ethical for businesses to sell data about their customers to other companies? Review the key arguments in some detail.

  1. CBS/60 Minutes report on data selling companies—video.
  2. PBS short report on data brokers—video.
  3. Angwin on data gathering—video.

46.  Under which conditions (if any) is dating in the workplace ethical? Unethical? Explain.

  1. JobCast on rules for dating in the workplace—video.
  2. The Ethics Guy on workplace romance—audio.
  3. Business Ethics Minute on workplace relationships—video.
  4. Dubuque on asking a co-worker out—video.

47.  Over the years, many commentators have bemoaned the decline of family farming in America. Is that really a problem? That is, are family-owned farms really disappearing? If so, why? And should we care more about family farms than, say, family-owned restaurants, security-guard companies, or mortuaries? Why/why not? Is it ethical to give farms subsidies (government money, taken from other taxpayers) to help them survive? Who gets helped? Who gets hurt (don’t overlook people in other countries)? Should they be given at all?

  1. Iowa Public Television 23 part series on the crisis of the family farm—video.
  2. Stossel critical of farm subsidies—video.

48.  Some economists have argued that corporate taxes aren’t really paid by the corporations, but instead are paid by the employees, consumers, and investors thereof. These economists argue that the corporate income tax should be dramatically reduced or even eliminated altogether. Do you agree? Why/why not?

  1. Tax Foundation on America’s corporate tax rate—video.
  2. Prof. Altman against the corporate income tax—video.
  3. Buffett defends the American corporate tax rate—video.

49.  Some have argued that genetically modified foods (called genetically modified organisms, or “GMOs”)  present a threat and should not be allowed. Others view GM food/GMOs as a godsend. Do you agree with either view? Which, and why?

  1. Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace) on GMOs…video.
  2. Anti-GMO film “Seeds of Death”—video.
  3. Prof. Bohanec supports GMO—video.
  4. GMO debate on Hawaiian TV—video.
  5. PBS debate on GMOs—video.

50.  What is “subliminal advertising”? How prevalent is it? Is it ethical? Why/why not? Should it be outlawed? Why/why not?

  1. Greenwald on subliminal advertising—video.

51.  Some view the payday (paycheck) loan (short-term finance) business as unethical, while others view it as quite useful as well as ethical. What are the arguments here? Discuss in some detail.

  1. CBS News report on payday loans—video.
  2. Another CBS report critical of payday loans—.video.
  3. Reason TV report supporting payday loans—video.

52.  Should e-commerce (such as purchases done on Amazon) be subject to sales taxes? Why/why not? What did the Supreme Court rule about the mail-order business? What is the analogy with e-commerce?

  1. RT News report critical of taxing Amazon—video.
  2. Skinner in favor of taxing Amazon—video.
  3. Fox Business News on taxing ecommerce—video.
  4. Bezos defends Amazon—video.
  5. California Senate debate on internet commerce tax—video.

53.  The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was controversial at the time it passed, and some to this day view it as having hurt the American worker. What are the arguments here?

  1. PBS report on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA—video.
  2. Need To Know (PBS) on NAFTA—video.
  3. LeDuff allegations that NAFTA hurt America—video.
  4. Real News allegations that NAFTA hurt Mexico—video.

54.  Should the administration of the National Park System (the running of the concessions venues, campgrounds, guided tours and so on)  be privatized? Why/why not?

  1. LearnLiberty on privatizing the running of the parks—video;

55.  Should public employees be allowed to unionize? What is the relevant history here? What are the arguments pro and con?

  1. Fox history of public sector unions—audio.
  2. Prof. Ross defends unions—video.
  3. Stossel against public sector unions—audio.
  4. Hillsdale panel on public sector unions—video.

56.  Should the government lower the work week, say, down to 35 hours? What are the arguments pro and con?

  1. France 24 report on the 10th anniversary of France’s 35 hour work week—video.
  2. PressTV report on the 35 hour work week in France—video.
  3. Super News report on criticism of France’s 35 hour work week—video.

57.  Mail-order bride businesses have a long history in America. Today they are internet based, or what has been called the “email-order bride” business. What are the ethical issues surrounding people (almost exclusively men) going abroad on tours to find brides?

  1. Lisa Ling report on international romance sites—video.
  2. National Geographic report on email brides (Russian)—video.
  3. Crimson expose of email order brides—video.

58.  Discuss the ethics of the (private) gaming industry. Is gambling just inherently immoral? Certainly, it is associated with organized crime, and is considered immoral by many people. Can gambling casinos be run ethically? Why/why not?

  1. Steve Winn on ethical casino building—video #1.
  2. Steve Winn on ethical casino building—video #2.

59.  Discuss the ethical issues surrounding the concept of a “natural” (or “creative”) monopoly. Peter Thiel (founder of a number of successful internet companies, including PayPal) has argued that the goal of business owners should be to achieve monopolies, but benign ones. Is he right? In what sense? Why/why not?

  1. Thiel interview on Yahoo news—video.
  2. Thiel interview on WSJ—video.

60.  There is considerable controversy about “intellectual property rights.” What are some of the arguments here? Explore in some detail.

  1. LearnLiberty on three ways to think about intellectual property—video.
  2. LearnLiberty on whether artists can make money without copyrights—video.

61.  What are some of the ethical issues concerning the termination of workers for poor performance?

  1. BLR 10 sins of termination—video.
  2. Attorney Morton on what is wrongful termination—video.
  3. Attorney Johnson ad for wrongful termination clients—audio.
  4. Attorney Maltby on wrongful termination—audio.
  5. PBS panel of attorneys on wrongful termination—audio.

62.  Explore the ethics of an internet-based company cooperating with a foreign government by releasing data about its consumers in that country to that country’s government. Does it make a difference whether that foreign government is a democracy or not? Why/why not? Should we outlaw American-based internet companies from cooperating with foreign governments, or at least repressive ones? Why/why not?

    1. Morozov on the use of technological companies by dictatorships—video.

63.  Amazingly, while states have historically outlawed and devoted considerable policing to stopping gambling, most states now have official state lotteries for their citizens, which they advertise extensively. Explore the ethical issues surrounding state-run gambling enterprises.

  1. PBS Frontline report on state lotteries—part I video.
  2. Frontline report part II—video.
  3. Frontline report part III—video.
  4. Frontline report part IV—video.
  5. Frontline report part V—video.
  6. Frontline report part VI—video.

64.  What are “sweatshops”? Where are they typically located? Are most manufacturing plants located in developing countries sweatshops, or is this loaded pejorative term overused? Discuss some of the ethical issues surrounding manufacturing plants abroad.

  1. PBS expose on Forever 21 sweatshops—video.
  2. International labor union report on abuses in sweatshops—video.
  3. SweatTeam expose of Nike factories—video.
  4. Powell LearnLiberty defense of sweatshops—video.
  5. Zwolinski in defense of sweatshops—video.
  6. Powell Independent Institute extended lecture on the ethics of sweatshops—video.

65.  Explain some of the ethical issues surrounding the right to free speech in the workplace. Should an employee be able to say whatever he/she wants on the job, even if the workplace is private property? Why/why not? How about at home – should an employee be able to criticize his/her employer at home (say, on the internet)? Why/why not?

  1. Schoenfeld on workplace free speech—video.
  2. Barry on workplace free speech—video.
  3. Xu on workplace free speech—video.
  4. Weiss on workplace free speech—video.

66.  Should restaurants and bars be forced to ban smoking completely, because “second hand smoke” can cause cancer? Why/why not? Do employees generally have a right to a smoke free environment?

  1. Penn & Teller episode skeptical of the danger of second hand smoke—video.

67.  What is “patent trolling”? Who wants to regulate or outlaw it? Who opposes that regulation? Explore the ethical issues surrounding patent trolling.

  1. Reason TV critical report on patent trolling—video.
  2. Adam Carolla interview on his experience with patent trolls—video.

68.  What is “offshoring”? What is the relation between outsourcing and offshoring? What are the ethical arguments for and against it? Is there such a thing as “inshoring”? What are examples of it? What is your view?

  1. Leamer on outsourcing and globalization—audio.
  2. Discovery Channel documentary on outsourcing’s impact on India—video.
  3. Cato Institute in defense of outsourcing—video.
  4. PressTV report critical of offshoring—video.

69.  Some argue that the country would be better off if pharmaceutical companies were freed up from much of the FDA’s oversight. Some vehemently disagree. What are the major arguments pro and con? Should the FDA’s power be increased, or decreased, or stay the same? Why/why not?

  1. Intelligence squared debate: the FDA’s caution is a detriment to our health—video.

70.  Some have argued that you should never buy pets from pet stores, because those pets come from puppy mills. What are “puppy mills”? Do pet stores always buy from puppy mills, or is this an over-used pejorative propaganda term? Explore the ethical issues surrounding sales of pets in stores.

  1. Oprah expose of puppy mills—video.
  2. Carone protest against pet shop sales of puppies—video.
  3. Dr. Smith argument against pet stores—video.

71.  From at least Rousseau on, one critique of private industry and capitalism has been the “anti-materialist” one. This is the view that the free market produces massive material prosperity – fancy clothes, rich foods, elaborate cars, huge homes, and endless streams of technologically sophisticated gadgets – yet it makes people unhappy, shallow, spiritually sick, and basically unhappy. Cover some of the issues here. What is your take?

  1. Anti-materialism…video.
  2. Skidelsky on whether our emphasis on growth and GDP is bad and we should focus on more leisure—audio.
  3. Stevenson and Wolfers on happiness and wealth level—audio.

72.  Some people-including some prominent actresses-have said that buy real (not faux) fur coats is immoral, since the fur pelts are harvested from animals that have been killed, often by trapping them. Others argue that there is nothing wrong with the fur industry that doesn’t equally apply to the leather good industry, the meat industry, the fishing industry, or the soap industry. They argue that if we properly regulate the industry, it is morally fine. What are the arguments here, pro and con? Is there a regulated form of the fur industry you could support?

  1. Historian Dolin of the history of the fur trade—video.
  2. Merrilee Parker documentary on fur trade—video.

73.  Read about the Americans with Disabilities Act. This bill made people with disabilities a protected class as regards employment and pay in private industry. Some have argued that the bill was not a good idea, others that it was vitally needed. How has the bill worked out? Should it be retained as is, modified, or discarded?

  1. Vitek on the ADA—video.
  2. DBTAC pro report on ADA—video.
  3. Mazzella critical of ADA—video.

74.  After a string of corporate scandals (Tyco, Enron, WorldComm and others) made the news in the 1990s, in 2002 Congress passed a law called “Sarbanes Oxley” (also called “Sarbox” or “SOX” for short). What was this law intended to do? What were its provisions?
Examine this law from the consequentialist and consistency angles:

  • Consequentialist: some economists (such as Paul Volcker) have argued that on balance it has had on balance great effects. Others (like economics writer Barbara Hunter) have said that is has been generally bad (such as that: it has deterred companies from going public; that it is draconian; that it is overly costly; that it tilts the playing field in favor of big business; and so on). Who is right here?
  • Consistency: government created this law to crack down on accounting fraud by business, but it never extended the law to cover itself. That is, while some government officials (presidents, Senators, Congress people) seem to commit fraud (fail to disclose how much a program will really cost, how it will be funded, etc.) just as some business people do, the government officials face no penalty for any fraud. Is this right? Why/why not? You might want to look at the promises made regarding Social Security or the Affordable Care Act (on the latter, google search “Jonathan Gruber”).
  1. Saylor Academy intro to SOX—video.
  2. Fronelli in defense of SOX ten years later—video.
  3. Center for Audit Quality panel on SOX after 10 years—video.
  4. Oxley defends his law 10 years later—video.
  5. CBS news clip on Jonathan Gruber and the Affordable Care Act—video.
  6. Tapper review of Jonathan Gruber on the Affordable Care Act—video.

75.  Some have argued that fracking is environmentally bad, and should be banned. Others argue that fracking, properly done, is environmentally friendly.  Review the controversy.

  1. Marathon Oil explanation of fracking—video.
  2. FBN report on the economic promise of fracking—video.
  3. CBS 60 Minutes report on fracking—video.
  4. Link TV anti-fracking report—video.
  5. ReasonTV pro-fracking report—video.

76.  Explore the ethics of religious groups (churches, in the generic sense of the word) selling or endorsing products to their members when those organization receive part of the proceeds.

77.  Discuss the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme case. What is a Ponzi scheme? How big was the Madoff scheme? Why did the SEC fail to stop him? What could have been done to stop him?

  1. MoneyandSociety  explanation of Ponzi schemes—video.
  2. Khan Academy on Ponzi schemes—video.
  3. This World report on the Madoff hustle—part I video.
  4. This World report—part II video.
  5. This World report—part III video.
  6. This World report—part IV video.
  7. CBS/60 Minutes interview of Markopolos the man who tried to report the Madoff scheme to the SEC—video.

78.  With the doctrine of privity eliminated in 1916, consumers harmed by products can sue anybody in the chain of manufacture and distribution. This has led to some unintended consequences, such as the pharmacist couple who were sued hundreds of times for simple filling prescriptions for Phen-fen, a drug that had been approved by the FDA and prescribed by state-licensed physicians. Explore the ethical issues here. Should some kind of restrictions be put on such lawsuits?

79.  Discuss the ethical issues surrounding insider trading. Is insider trading legal anywhere on Earth? Is it   inherently unfair? If so, how? Should it be legalized? Why/why not?

  1. MoneyWeek explanation of insider trading—video.
  2. Hirsch explanation of insider trading—video.
  3. Kudlow debate on whether insider trading should be legalized—video.
  4. Stewart interview on the huge insider trading scandal in the late 1980s—video.
  5. Stossel defending insider trading—video.

80.  Desjardins (10.5) argues that a realistic “business case” can be made for managers pursuing “environmentally sustainable” corporate practices. What is this case? What would a skeptic (such as Milton Friedman) say in reply?

  1. RealEyesVideo short video defining sustainability—video.
  2. IKEA exec Howard pitches sustainability—video.
  3. Interface CEO Anderson pitches sustainability—video.
  4. CNN debate on global warming—video.
  5. The Hour interview with Lomborg—video.
  6. Lomborg RSA talk on tackling global warming and doing good—video.

81.  What does the phrase “crony capitalism” refer to? Is it inherently corrupt and unfair, and if so, why? Or is it just a pejorative phrase without meaning? Some have pointed to the recent funding of numerous “green energy” companies such as Solyndra (a solar energy company started up with taxpayer-backed loan – granted by an administration headed by a president to whose campaign Solyndra’s CEO had donated lavishly – which subsequently went bankrupt) as examples. What can be done to stop crony capitalism?

  1. Stossel critique of crony capitalism—video.
  2. EconFree on cronyism—video.
  3. EconFree on cronyism in tax code—video.
  4. MisterSmithMedia documentary on cronyism and Detroit—video.

82.  More and more, companies are using personality tests in hiring, placement and promotion decisions. These tests aim at describing employees’ personality traits such as extroversion, creativity, maturity, work ethic/diligence, and so on. One of the most widely used is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator test, use by nearly 90% of the Fortune 100 firms.
Explore the ethical issues surrounding the use of such tests. How reliable are they? Could their use result in people being unfairly denied job opportunities? Do they violate privacy? Why/why not?

  1. myHRpro advocacy report on personality testing—video.
  2. Hire Well Now advocacy report on personality testing—video.
  3. EmpowermentTO critique on personality tests—part I video.
  4. EmpowermentTO part II video.

83.  In 1970, Congress established OSHA. OSHA has faced criticism all along from both business and labor groups. Businesses have complained that it issues a lot of needless and often picky rules, while labor groups argue that it has been an impotent agency, often failing to stop deaths that are clearly due to reckless and negligent business conduct. Critically explore OSHA’s record.

  1. History of OSHA—video.
  2. Progressive era workplace safety reforms—video.
  3. National Safety Compliance video on complying with OSHA—video.
  4. Public Citizen complains OSHA is too weak with medical industry—video.
  5. Roby accuses OSHA of deliberate bias in conducting inspections—audio.

84.  Businesses face enormous losses every year from employee theft, use of alcohol and drugs, and violence on the job. Some estimates put business losses due to theft at over $40 billion a year, and reckon that one in five business failures are due to employee crime. Employee drug use and on-the-job violence cost companies untold billions more.
In response, some companies such as London House and Stanton Corporation design tests aimed at measuring the honesty of job applicants. Examine the morality of honesty testing.

  1. Duchatschek on the usefulness of integrity testing—video.
  2. Employee Polygraph Protection Act explained—video.
  3. Peters on using lie detectors on employees—video.

85.  Explore the ethics of discrimination among employees on the basis of how well they look. In which situations (if any) is discrimination on the basis of looks ethical in business? In which cases (if any) is it immoral? Since unattractive people suffer through their whole lives, should there be affirmative action for them in compensation? Why/why not?

  1. The Young Turks discussion of discriminating on looks—video.
  2. Stossel piece on discrimination on basis of looks—video.
  3. Bennett survey results on beauty bias—video.

86. The American system of higher education faces any number of problems (rising costs, maintedny students dropping out, junk majors, administrative bloat, to name just a few). Some hold that MOOCs might be a solution. Explore the problems of colleges, the rise of MOOCs, and whether MOOCs are the answer (or part of the answer) to those problems.

  1. Cochrane on education and MOOCs—audio.
  2. Caplan on signaling and higher education—audio.
  3. Kling discussing education and the internet—audio.

87.  In America, it is customary to tip food servers, delivery people, bell-hops and so on for their help. In other countries, it is said, people generally frown upon this practice. Explore the ethics of tipping. Is it in a way demeaning for a person to take tips? Or is it a power-gesture for someone to offer them? Why/why not?

  1. The Ethics Guy on tipping—video.
  2. Waiter on why waiters hate Europeans—video.
  3. TED talk on rethinking tipping—video.

88.  The food supplement and herbal remedy industry is largely exempt from FDA regulation. How big is this industry? What are some of the products it sells? Why is it basically exempt from FDA scrutiny? Should it be exempt? Why/why not?

  1. Dr. Bergmann advocating nutritional supplements—video.
  2. Dr. Hughes on nutritional supplements—video.
  3. BBC report on vitamin supplements—video.

89.  Sometimes, people who could be treated by a drug while waiting for the drug to be approved for sale by the FDA.  Explore the ethical controversy here. How often does this happen? Why does it happen? What can be done about it?

  1. ABC News report on Denver mother dying while waiting for FDA to approve a drug—video.
  2. ABC News follow up report—video.
  3. FDA approval documentary—video.
  4. Gary Null attack on FDA—video.

90.  Explore the ethics of discrimination in hiring on the basis of criminal records (past criminal convictions).

  1. Maltby on how a criminal record affects employment—video.
  2. EEOC  on guidelines on how to use arrest records in hiring—video.
  3. Ryerson on use of criminal background checks in hiring—video.

91.   Some people have argued that the VA (Veteran’s Administration) should be privatized. What does that mean? What reasons do people have for favoring that? What reasons to people have to oppose it?

  1. NextNewsNetwork critical of privatizing the Veteran’s Administration—video.

92.  Examine in detail the long controversy about silicone breast implants, which were introduced by Dow Corning in the 1960s, and led to the company’s bankruptcy in a hail of lawsuits. What lessons does it offer regarding the ethics of regulation and tort law?

  1. Westlake surgery discussion of silicone vs. saline implants—video.
  2. WCPO archive of breast implant settlement—video,

93.  Over the last few years, our government has been massively subsiding electric vehicles (EVs). Explore the ethical issues here. Are EVs good for the environment? If so, how much? If they are so good, why do they need government subsidy?

  1. Fox debate on EVs—video.
  2. GetConnected quick debate over EVs—video.
  3. Pro-EV documentary—video.
  4. Lomborg on EVs as not so green—video.
  5. Sharkee lecture on problems with EVs—video.

94.  Some American drug companies first do clinical trials of their experimental drugs not in America, with its strict FDA requirements, but in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, where the restrictions on medical tests are lower. In other words, many pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing their testing. These American drug companies often employ independent contracting companies, called “clinical research organizations” (CROs) such as Russian Clinical Trials.
Typically, after the trial ends, the drug companies do no follow-up studies of the participants in the experiment. And often, if a useful drug is produced, the drug company won’t market it in the countries where the initial tests were done, because the price is set so high that it is beyond what Eastern Europeans can afford. And remember that setting up a marketing and distribution system in another country is hugely expensive.
Explore the ethics of this issue. Does it matter if the countries with lower medical regulations on testing have democracies? Why/why not?

  1. Industry panel discussion on CROs—video.
  2. Association of CROs panel on CRO growth—video.
  3. Faultlines critical report on CROs—video.
  4. JourneymanPictures critical report on using the poor as guinea pigs—video.

95.  One of the most controversial pesticides ever made is DDT. Some investigations-starting with the famous (or infamous) writer Rachel Carlson-have claimed that DDT causes cancer in humans and destroys wildlife. Others have urged that since its ban, hundreds of thousands of people – many children – have died because of malaria, a disease spread by mosquitoes which were in the past eradicated by DDT.
Explore the ethics of the use of DDT.

  1. Rachel Carlson critical of DDT—video.
  2. Gottschau excerpt critical of DDT—video.
  3. MSU story of Wallace, the biologist who investigated link between DDT and bird deaths—video.
  4. ReasonTV report supportive of DDT—video.
  5. Stossel report supportive of DDT—video.
  6. VOA on Silent Spring at 50—video.

96.  Nuclear power has been controversial since its inception. Some self-styled environmentalists have deeply opposed it, claiming that it kills people (as in the incident at Chernobyl) – indeed, that it poses the risk of killing massive numbers of people-and polluting the environment for ages to come. Others, including recently some other self-styled environmentalists, have pointed to America’s nuclear power industry as being amazingly safe and effective, especially in view of the fact that it contributes essentially nothing to global warming. Examine the ethical issues surrounding nuclear power.

  1. Schwenke video on how nuclear reactors work—video.
  2. Intelligence Squared debate on nuclear power—video.
  3. Columbia panel discussion on the future of nuclear power—video.

97.  Many colleges have speech codes that prohibit students from saying or writing things which other students find harassing or offensive. In some cases, students who have been punished for violating these codes have in turn successfully sued their colleges for violation of the right to free speech. Examine the ethical issues surrounding campus speech codes and (more generally) free speech on campus.

  1. Paikin panel on free speech on campus—video.
  2. Stossel episode critical of college speech codes—video.
  3. ReasonTV interview with Prof. Kors skeptical of speech codes—video.
  4. ReasonTV interview with attorney Lukianoff skeptical of speech codes—video.

98.  What are the ethical issues concerning off-shore oil drilling (if any)? You might want to examine the recent BP Deepwater Horizon disaster (and perhaps the much older Exxon Valdez fiasco). How have other countries dealt with the dangers implicit in this form of oil production? For example, the North Sea has been drilled for many years with few problems—why?

  1. Shell Oil Company video on how deep water wells are drilled—video.
  2. History Channel documentary on deep water drilling—video.
  3. Oceana documentary opposing deep water drilling—video.
  4. BBC documentary on the BP spill—video.
  5. CBS/60 Minutes report on lingering effects of BP oil spill—video.

99.  Examine the moral issues surrounding the Google experience in China. Did Google live up to its motto, “Don’t be evil”? Are they now living up to their motto? Why/why not?

  1. Google internal talk about its plans in China—video.
  2. Google insider explains why Google left China—video.
  3. Levy on why Google left China—video.
  4. CBS News report China vs. Google—video.
  5. Larson report on the Google exit—video.
  6. PressTV report on the China/Google split—video.

100.  Discuss the issuer of Napster and whether artists have a right to endless royalties for their music. What was the impact of Apple’s introduction of iTunes? And the lawsuit of Sony?

  1. Gloor in favor of music piracy—video.
  2. French on the change in the music industry—part I video.
  3. French report—pat II video.
  4. Gene Simmons argues that the fans killed the music industry—video.

101.  Some people have called for privatizing AMTRAK. What does that mean? Why do some people favor doing it? What reasons to people have for opposing it? What is AMTRAK anyway, and why does it exist?

  1. Stossel report critical of AMTRAK—video.
  2. Coons favoring funding for AMTRAK—video.
  3. O’Toole favoring privatizing transportation—video.

102.  What is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS, NPR)? Some people have called for defunding or privatizing it. What would this mean? What reasons do they have for doing it? What reasons do others give for opposing it?

  1. Lamonna report critical of efforts to defund PBS/Corporation for Public Broadcasting—video.

103.  What is the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority)? Some people have called for privatizing it. What does this mean? What reasons do they offer for doing it? What reasons do people offer for opposing it?

  1. CSPAN report on the history of the TVA—video.
  2. TheLipTV report critical of Obama’s consideration of privatizing TVA—video.
  3. Chattanooga report on proposal to sell TVA—video.

104.  Investigate the ethical issues surrounding the Davis/Bacon Act, a federal law that mandates that all federal projects be contracted only to companies paying “prevailing” wages. What does that mean? Should we get rid of the law? Why/why not?

  1. L2Federal Resources introduction to the Davis/Bacon Act—video.
  2. Economist Walter Williams on Davis/Bacon Act—video
  3. Congressman Courtney defends Davis/Bacon Act—video
  4. Congressman Amash criticizes the act—video

105.  Explore the ethical issues around the introduction of online private currencies, most famously Bitcoin.

  1. The Guardian explanation of Bitcoin—video.
  2. 16/9 report on Bitcoin—video.
  3. Motherboard report on a Bitcoin mine—video.

106.  Investigate the ethical issues surrounding having taxpayers pay to build sports facilities.

  1. Bloomberg TV report on a tax-supported baseball stadium—video
  2. ReasonTV on taxpayer support for sports facilities—video.
  3. LA Raiders rally—video.

107.  Explore the ethical issues around vaping, the seemingly harmless alternative to smoking. Should it be subject to the same strict regulation (heavy taxes, not permitted in restaurants, etc.) as regular cigarettes?

  1. Vape Channel defense of vaping—video
  2. Vape Guy defends vape coughing—video
  3. Doctors defending vaping—video
  4. Fox News report on vaping—video
  5. BBC report on vaping—video.

108.  Is a common law system a benefit to a country’s economic system? Why/why not?

109.  Amazon has an internet platform – a “crowd work” platform –  it calls “Mechanical Turk”, which allows people from all over the world to get online work from others, making it a virtual labor market. The workers call themselves “Turkers”. But some argue that the work amounts to lo-paid piece work, and the platform is a kind of cyber-sweatshop. Investigate the ethical issues surrounding Mechanical Turk.

  1. The website—site.
  2. GuyGirlGaming explanation of turking—video.
  3. Chance York explanation of mturk—videos

110.  What are the ethical and legal issues surrounding placement by drones, that is, a retailer delivering the products to consumers using drone aircraft?

  1. Amazon demonstration of delivery drone—video
  2. Domino pizza drone—video
  3. RT on dangers of drones—video

111.  What are the ethical and legal issues surrounding delivery by bricks-and-mortar customers? For example, Fred goes to buy a DVD from Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart’s cash register/computer terminal notifies the clerk that Sue, a customer who lives near Fred, has ordered something on Wal-Mart’s website. The clerk then offers Fred a Wal-Mart discount coupon worth, say, $15, if Fred will drop off Sue’s order at her house on his way home. Is that a good idea, from the business point of view? The legal point of view? The ethical point of view? Why/why not?

112.  Discuss the Enron fiasco. What was the company? Who were the key players? It started out as an energy company, but wound up as a futures trading company. What is a “futures contract”? What useful role do futures contracts play in a free market system? Why do they carry great risk for both buyers and sellers? Enron presented itself in its financial statements as profitable, but in fact it fraudulently hid debt by creating “special purpose entities (SPEs).” What are SPEs? Who was Sherron Watkins? Was she a true whistle-blower? How did the company end? How did it impact Arthur Anderson Corporation? Finally, is the Enron case morally defensible from the perspective of the Free Market Model?

  1. Read pages 150-153 Desjardins.
  2. Charlie Rose interview with the makers of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the     Room”—video
  3. Documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”—video
  4. Mugshots documentary “Enron-Wall Street Scammers”—video

113.  Wal-Mart has long been a controversial company. Discuss: What is the amazing Wal-Mart story, i.e., the history of the company? What are some of the complaints about how it compensates and otherwise treats its employees? What are some of the complaints about how it treats its suppliers? (You should explain what as “supplier” is).  What are some of the complaints about how it deals with competitors (both other large retailers, as well as small (so-called “mom and pop”) stores? What are some of the complaints about how it treats local communities? How might a Wal-Mart defender reply to these criticisms? Is Wal-Mart destined to be the future of retail in America?

  1. Frontline/PBS documentary on Wal-Mart—video.
  2. Anti-Wal-Mart documentary, “The High Cost of Low Prices”—video.
  3. Penn & Teller episode replying to that movie—video part I.
  4. Penn & Teller episode replying to that movie—video part II.
  5. Penn & Teller episode replying to that movie—video part III.
  6. Penn & Teller episode replying to that movie—video part IV.
  7. Roberts and Epstein on legislators vs. Wal-Mart—audio.

114.  Over the last 30 years, many American Indian (i.e., Native American) tribes have opened casinos on their reservations. Critically explore some of the ethical issues involved.

  1. FBN report critical of Indian gaming…video.
  2. AP report favorable to Indian gaming…video.
  3. New Media report favorable to Indian gaming rights…video.

115.  Some have argued that allowing wealthy individuals to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns is unfair to ordinary systems and corrupt political life, and laws have been passed to limit this practice, namely, so-called “campaign finance reform” laws. What are the moral issues involved in such laws? Do they infringe on the right to free speech?

  1. George Will opposing campaign finance reform…video.
  2. George Will on money in politics…video.

116.  Some nations have adopted a “flat income tax,” meaning a tax on income that is the same percentage no matter how much anyone earns, and there are no deductions of any sort (e.g., for charitable contributions, state or local taxes, or whatever else). Other nations–including the USA–have a so-called “progressive” income tax, meaning as a person’s income goes up, so should not just the amount he pays in income tax go up, but the percentage should as well (although deductions for various things are allowed). Discuss the ethics of flat taxes. Don’t forget to look at how the flat tax has worked in other countries.

117.  Some environmentalists have argued that the most environmentally important thing we can do is to move towards what they call “renewable energy sources,” by which they mean wind and solar power (though not, curiously enough, nuclear power). Most industrialized nations are now heavily investing in those forms of energy using government money (i.e., taxpayer dollars) to subsidize them. Many find this bad policy. Discuss solar and wind power. Are they as “green” as touted? Do they cause environmental damage (say, to birds) that exceeds other forms of energy? Are they cost efficient?

  1. Alex Epstein on solar and wind power…video.
  2. Alex Epstein on fossil fuels…video.

118.  Many cities have “rent-control” laws intended to keep rents affordable for average people. But many economists think that rent-control laws are counter productive, and many owners of rental property believe that such laws deprive them of their rightful property. Discuss the ethics of rent-control laws.

  1. Nicole Gelinas report critical of rent control…video.

119.  Most cities have extensive regulations requiring recycling. But some writers have argued that recycling is a waste of time–that if some waste is worth recycling, the free market will pay people to recycle. Otherwise, it is a waste of people’s time. Is that true?

  1. Battle of Ideas Debate: Recycling is a Waste of Time…video.
  2. Tom Woods interview with Dr.Lilly…audio.

120. Some have argued that the solution to ecological problems is–free market capitalism. Explore free market environmentalism.

  1. Walter Block on free market solutions to environmental issues…video.

121.  What is the “deep” or “dark” web (net)? How significant is it compared to the standard, ordinary internet we all use daily? What are some moral issues raised by the dark web?

  1. Kyle Terry TED Talk explaining the dark net…link.
  2. Alan Pearce on the deep web…link.
  3. Alex Winter TED Talk defending the deep web…link.
  4. 60 Minutes expose of the Silk Road…link.

122. There has been a lot of controversy about whether vaccination of infants causes diseases or disorders such as autism and mental retardation. Some parents don’t want to vaccinate their children for fear their children will develop (say) autism, other parents worry that unimmunized kids will spread diseases that have not been seen for awhile: polio; measles; whooping cough; mumps and so on. Some pharmaceutical firms no longer produce vaccines because of the cost of defending themselves against lawsuits filed by parents of children with autism. Explore the ethical issues around the vaccine industry.

a. Frontline documentary on the vaccine wars…link.

123. We allow movie stars and rock stars to take whatever drugs they think enhance their attractiveness. Professional and semi-professional athletes are just entertainers….should we not allow them to use performance enhancing drugs?

a. BBC Expose of Doping in Sports…link.

124. Investigate the ethical issues surrounding the use of animals in medical testing.

a. TED Talk on the Use of Mice in Medical Research…link.

b. VICE Expose of the Use of ANimals in Medical research…link.

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