Democrats’ Tricky Ethical Issue: Is It Okay to Hope Trump Fails?

Ethics is about doing the right thing. It’s primarily about actions, about how we behave when we interact with others. But it also involves how we think about others. Having racist thoughts, for example—believing someone else is inferior just because of skin color—is clearly unethical. That’s because such thoughts end up influencing our behavior, whether we realize it or not, and because they likely make us more tolerant when others act with prejudice.

But what about hopes, especially when politics is involved? Can a hope be unethical?  If you’re a Democrat or Independent who pines for President Trump’s defeat, is it okay to hope that he’ll fail in dealing with the coronavirus, the economy, or anything else because you know that will hurt his re-election prospects?

That kind of question has always been in play, but the Covid-19 crisis raises the stakes considerably. As red states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas reopen their economies, Republicans and Democrats disagree in almost every poll. Republicans are far more likely to support a relaxation of restrictions, usually arguing that the economic damage is just as bad or worse than the health risks. Democrats tend to be more cautious about reopening, fearing a spike in deaths that would outweigh the harm from a deep economic recession. The divide has the awful effect of building on pre-existing polarization to turn the pandemic into a blue vs. red phenomenon.

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Ethics Quiz: Selling Tactics

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Ethics Quiz: Fake Security Alarm Signs

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Ethics Quiz: Asking Your Doctor to Fool an Insurer

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Ethics Quiz: Fudging an Application

Ethical dilemmas aren’t limited to big issues of life and death, corruption, or serious cheating. They come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with surprising frequency. This week, we’ll look at five relatively common “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine by clicking on the link below the poll. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Should Workers Know What Colleagues Earn?

There’s been a lot of debate lately over whether information on salaries should be shared with the staff. Those who favor making the names and numbers available to others at the firm argue that transparency is crucial to fairness and ethics. Employees need the information to conduct salary negotiations on a fair footing, and if two people are doing the same work and one is getting significantly more money, the boss should be forced to explain and justify the difference. In short, secrecy gives the boss an unfair advantage. If the pay scale is fair, no one has anything to hide.
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Naming ‘Problem Drinkers’

The Janesville Gazette, a Wisconsin newspaper, set off quite a furor when it published a list of “problem drinkers” distributed by the Janesville police to bar owners with a warning that those named shouldn’t be served. The police did not intend for the list to be made public, and the newspaper’s decision prompted a debate about the ethics of the actions by both the police and the newspaper.
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