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The Moral Lowground

In case you didn’t think these are times meant for satire, take a look at business and politics in the world today. Some juicy examples of attempts at seizing the moral highground by companies and countries who have been in the news lately. Some of them fall instead into the low ground of hypocrisy1 – even laughably so.

That’s what makes programs like The Daily Show so popular – how can anyone take the news seriously when there are so many stories that need to be told with a skewer in hand rather than a microphone. The jokes are already written up by Reuters, not a satirist. Here are three that are heading up the news today make the point rather plainly. And they’re a good change from discussions about inflation and the value of the US Dollar.


No, that's the fun Captain Morgan

No, that’s the fun Captain Morgan

We’ve gone after JP Morgan many times in Barataria, claiming that the problem they have is living up to the famous standards of Morgan – that is, Captain Morgan, the notorious pirate. After many years of legal troubles, apparently JP Morgan wants to have a squeaky-clean image of tremendous moral decency.

That’s the only explanation anyone can find for the sudden action taken against everyone in the porn industry who has a Chase bank account – a wholly owned subsidiary of JP Morgan, or at least it has been since the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed. The bank has refused all comment on the subject but it does appear they are systematically closing the accounts of anyone remotely famous in the industry.

That is, the ones who used their real names on screen. You can imagine for yourself how someone at Morgan compiled the list.

What makes this particularly hilarious is that the action may not be legal. You cannot deny credit to anyone for reasons other than the black and white numbers on their credit report. So JP Morgan, eager to avoid more press for legal troubles, may have done nothing more than an much more interesting way to keep fillin’ up the financial pages with their rap sheet.

Maybe I'll sue you, too

Maybe I’ll sue you, too

Speaking of strange bedfellows, the ongoing series of lawsuits between Apple and Samsung is about to go to the jury. This started back in 2010 when the two companies that developed smart phones as we know them today (that is, actually useful ones) had a terrible falling out over who owned what in the technology. Apple apparently patented just about every aspect of a phone, including its shape. A judgment in favor of Apple for a cool billion bucks in 2012 was only round one.

This time, however, Samsung has been striking back. One issue in this trial are search features that Samsung is contending are part of the android operating system, telling Apple to go sue them. They also dug up some rather blatant examples of Apple using Samsung patents.

Apple’s search for the high ground in this case appears to heading instead into the lowest kind of swamp that you can find yourself in – one filled with lawyers, not alligators. Another billion dollar judgment seems unlikely, but stay tuned to find out.

What makes you think he's a bad boy?

What makes you think he’s a bad boy?

But law and the practice thereof gets even greyer when you’re talking about International Law. That’s a mythical thing that has been developed by a series of treaties, not a Congress or Parliament. Without police and lawyers there is only force – and the ability of anyone who is watching to declare naked hypocrisy when they see it.

That’s why the sanctions the Obama Administration has placed against a few Russian officials is so rich with irony. The list is long and includes some very big figures – aides to Putin, the Chief of the Armed Forces, the head of the Duma, and so on. The exact crimes any of these men have committed have not been described in detail, but clearly the administration feels that threatening to invade another nation is a crime in and of itself.

Granted, it’s been 11 years since anyone in the US thought about doing that, but you have to wonder. It’s not like anyone has banned Haliburton from doing business anywhere, or restricted the movements of anyone in the Bush Administration.

Lest you think this report on the stench of hypocrisy from the swampy lowgrounds is partisan, take a good look at what’s not on the list. No companies involved in the oil and gas industry in Russia have been targeted, despite the fact that this is about the only way Putin could really be hurt by sanctions. The world is still far too dependent on Russia for its energy, so we’ll all just look the other way. Russia’s been bad, yes, but they need to keep selling us oil all the same.

Those are the stories from today’s moral lowground.  Stay tuned because, frankly, we should all expect more coming every single day.

Note:  Hypocrisy should never be confused with the common misspelling “hippocracy”, which would in fact be rule by hippopotami.  That may be better in the long run, but it’s not clear which is more fun.

9 thoughts on “The Moral Lowground

  1. Nate Silver has just informed me of the breaking story.

    You have been banned for life on Barataria and fined 2.5 million euros by the American Statistical Association for the following statistical errors:

    –Breaking the news and not fixing it
    –Fixing the news without a license
    –Coining the term managed depression and giving us all manic depression
    –Being a communistic capitalist
    –Predicting that my children will get a job in 2017
    –Repeating yourself
    –Denigrating Florida
    –Thinking St. Paul is a European city
    –Using the vulgar term basefook
    –Not fixing the great vowel shift

    Also Katie Holmes says hi!

    • I get to make fun of Florida all I want. And Manic Depression explains reporting on financial news more than the news itself. So there. 🙂

  2. If I was the head of PR for J.P. Morgan I would declare that anyone who gets them into the news for the next year is automatically fired.

  3. Wasn’t the apple suit about things like the shape of the phone and other really obvious things? They fell quite a lot since Jobs died, its all about the lawyers now. Theyre just mad that the Galaxy S3 is as good as any iphone and about half the price.

  4. Pingback: Banks Amok? Perhaps Not | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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