Is Money Ever Free?

What would you do if a cash machine gave you £100 instead of £10? The law states that you should give the excess funds back, but most of us probably wouldn’t. A recent story on the BBC website reported that cash machines in Melbourne, Australia were giving out more money that they were supposed to. This drew quite a crowd, with people forming queues to take advantage of what one witness described as “free money”. But what are the moral implications of taking money from banks, and why would most of us feel like it’s not really stealing.

Simon Rippon of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics thinks that a person who takes money from a malfunctioning cash machine is often judged Continue reading “Is Money Ever Free?”

The Power of Wind

Today we live in the Age of Green. Everyone has realized that we use our natural resources carelessly and thereby are not only slowly destroying the Earth but also ourselves, whereby the speed in which that will happen is not yet determined. Energy generated by wind power therefore seems to be a wonderful solution to many of the problems. Wind is a natural resource that we do have in abundance and it seems to be easy to use. But the wind parks we have so far encounter huge problems. The wind turbines in these parks are huge and very tall propellers that frighten human beings and animals alike, and two-thirds of these turbines are not rotating most of the time. So now an article in Science points out that scientists have developed a new wind turbine that is far more efficient and is designed in a way so that migrating birds can circumnavigate the turbines easily and that the wind parks will need much less space then they are using now. That should be exciting news, since it would solve many problems. The question however is if this solution will be looked at at all. The reason for my skepticism is that those companies that have build these giant wind parks have already spent a lot of money on them and are probably very unwilling to change the system as entirely as it would needed to be changed. In terms of evidence based policy making, the wind parks illustrate the problem of the accumulation of evidence. They were a perfect idea in theory but not in practice, as so many scientists had pointed out already at the time. But the quick solution to the energy dilemma won out over the skeptics and now, when new evidence is available, it seems doubtful that something will change, because the financial interest of those involved in the wind parks is probably more important. But if we really want to make changes, should we not be waiting for the right evidence, and maybe newer science, in order to make the right decisions? We live in the Age of Green and we want to save our planet. Hence we should carefully and patiently accumulate all the evidence we can get to achieve that goal.

Related Article:

$1.99 - small Environmental Ethics: An Overview
By Katie McShane, Colorado State University
(Vol.4 May 2009)
Philosophy Compass

Bonus payments: A special form of greed?!

GeizGreed is nowadays most often associated with money and courtesy to the recession, now mainly with bankers. A simple definition of greed is that those who are greedy want more of what they already have. And studying ethics, we know that greed is a vice and therefore wrong.  Since the recession bankers are portrayed as greedy and as acting against their clients, and therefore against society at large. For the past weeks a new “problem” in the world of banking has cropped up: the payment of bonus payments. By definition bonuses are paid for extraordinary work. If employees really outdid themselves, they receive a special reward. Only that this definition does not seem to be valid anymore. Bonuses have become a part of employment contracts and of employment deals. They are seen as something the employee is entitled to. Therefore bonuses seem to bring about a new form of greed. It is not only greed about the money it seems, but also about the gratification. Bonuses are more than sheer payments, they give the employee perceived job-security. But the problem now is that if bonuses are paid to bankers from banks that have received money from the government, that same government de facto gratifies bankers for making mistakes in the first place. The clients that were mistreated are, via their tax money, now rewarding the bankers. The bankers on the other hand claim that they earned the bonuses and will be motivated to work more successfully, which is then beneficial for the client. It is a vicious cycle!?!

A times article dealing with the bailout is here, and a whole plethora of articles about the topic at large is here.

$1.99 - small Business Ethics: An Overview
By Jeffrey Moriarty, Bowling Green State University
(Vol. 3, August 2008)
Philosophy Compass