Friday, May 8, 2020

Atlanta Man Tries to Sell Millions of Non-Existent Masks to VA (2020)

Atlanta Man Tries To Take Advantage of the COVID-19 Crisis By Trying to Sell $750 Million Worth of Fake Masks to VA

The Case

   
      During this first of its kind pandemic, many people and companies alike are adapting and overcoming the new territory we all are enduring. As we move forward and adapt to the situation as well as take the hit from a foreseeable recession we are in, some people have taken the opportunity to jump onto the train of fraud as it is seen the best time to take advantage of struggling companies as well as having the opportunity to exploit these companies and organizations as this is all new ground. Some have been caught but there are many individuals and companies alike that are still committing fraud in the wake of this pandemic. Christopher Parris was one of the individuals trying to take advantage of the tough times we are all in.
            Christopher Parris , of Atlanta Georgia, was arrested on April 10, 2020 on a wire fraud charge with connection to the latest corona virus scheme of trying to sell non-existent masks and other PPE to the Veterans Affairs in exchange for large up-front payments. Parris is accused of making many false statements and representations in order to try to convince the VA to order millions of dollars’ worth of 3M masks as well as other personal protective equipment. He claimed he could obtain millions of masks from factories domestically and foreign. Parris is alleged to make these similar claims to other companies and agencies. If Parris is convicted, he could face up to 20 years in Federal Prison as well as a hefty fine which could be close to $250,000. There are many who are trying to exploit the COVID-19 crisis as a way for them to make large amounts of money very quickly.

Stakeholders
            The stake holders involved within the case of Christopher Parris, are listed below:
  ·       Christopher Parris ( Atlanta, Georgia )
  ·       Veteran’s Affairs ( VA )
  ·       Department of Justice ( DOJ )
  ·       3M Company ( PPE Seller )
  ·       Other agencies/organizations who were contacted by Parris

Individualism
          The ethical theory that is Individualism states that the only goal of business to to obtain profit as well as hold the only obligation maximizing profit for the business with little regard to other businesses. Part of the Individualistic theory is that the business must stay truthful when conducting themselves. Parris did not exemplify the trait of staying truthful as his whole scheme was based on lies. Parris tried to lie and sell non-existent masks to a truthful organization of VA. Parris lied in saying that he could obtain millions of masks through factories domestic and foreign. This is totally against the perspective of that of an individualist. On the other hand, Parris’s main goal was to maximize profit for the business (himself) by coming up with and acting upon his grand scheme of selling “ghost masks”. Parris acted in the way of a selfish individual in that he had no regard to what would happen to these organizations and businesses that he was trying to sell these fake masks too as it would have possibly caused these organizations and businesses to go under/bankrupt. The Individualism Theory would not support that acts of Parris with regards to his scheme.

Utilitarianism
          In the ways of the Utilitarianism Theory is that the only thing of value is pleasure or overall happiness with all the stake holders involved when dealing with the business or person. This means that the main goal for a business is to create positive outcomes with minimal negative situations and make everyone around the business as well as within the business feel happy and satisfied with the dealing of said business. With regards to the money scheme that was tried to be carried out by Parris, there were no positive outcomes of his dealings with the VA and other organizations/businesses. When Parris tried to sell of masks that he did not have as well as demand large upfront payments for the alleged millions of masks provided by factories, he did not obviously think of the repercussions of these actions and the massive loss of money and donations associated with the fraud. If the fraud had taken place fully, many people would be out of a lot of money at the expense of Parris wanting to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. In the ways of Utilitarianism, Parris did not act accordingly and went completely against the ways of Utilitarianism.           

Kantianism
          The way in which Parris tried to deceive multiple organizations/ businesses is totally against the views of Kantianism. This theory calls for being truthful at all times and to “never deceive or harm people or otherwise use them for your own personal gain” (Salazar 2). Parris was gloatingly lying and deceiving the companies in which he was dealing with in order to gain profit. This way of conducting business is very much against the ways of Kantianism as well as highly illegal. Parris tried to get companies to commit to his fake scheme with statements and representations of the millions of masks he so called claimed could get. If the scheme had not been caught and played out, the organizations/businesses would have endured great harm from the loss of millions of dollars of money that would have been received by Parris for personal gain. Parris would have collected a huge sum of money from the VA and the VA would be out millions of dollars as well as no masks in which they were promised. This is completely against the theory of Kantianism.

Virtue Theory
          The Virtue Theory operates on the premise that rationality is what distinguishes different peoples characteristics. This theory was brought about through Aristotle’s Functionalism which also says that a person who are good people and rational, will always live a happy and good life. The Virtue Theory has 4 main virtues of character in which a person should possess in order to live a good and happy life. The 4 main virtues are that of justice/fairness, honesty, courage, and temperance/self-control. Chris Parris did not operate while using these 4 main virtues at all actually and went against what the Virtue Theory preaches and that is to be a good person and truthful to gain a good outcome and life. Because of his own actions, Parris will most likely be going to Federal Prison for 20 years and be hit with a $250,000 fine on top of everything. Parris, while trying to gain profits for himself and himself only, tried to take the money from a veteran organization which would have hurt those who actually needed the money. Parris tried to exploit the situation of COVID-19 in a way that would have benefited him and hurt many of those the money would have helped and for that reason among others, a Virtue Theorist would not view Parris as a Virtue-st.

Sources :
https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-arrested-attempting-scam-government-paying-millions-covid/story?id=70100763

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Google, Apple Seek to Develop App to Fight Coronavirus (2020-Present)


Singapore's contact tracing app, TraceTogether, which is being used as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus in the city-state.
The Case 

   During this time of the global pandemic, citizens, businesses, and the world alike is scared. Along with many tech companies and governments trying to fight this pandemic, Google and Apple have decided to team up to develop a phone application system that would harness the customer’s location and movement data in order to determine the efficacy of social distancing and to pinpoint the origin of possible new cases of Coronavirus. Specifically, the companies are building the application programming interfaces for which public health groups can use. Apple and Google will implement the system within the iOS and Android phones to any user that opts into the program. The system will work through Bluetooth where the data will be sent to one’s phone anonymously and the phone’s identifiers will be constantly changing every 15 minutes. Apple and Google have both gone on record to say that these Bluetooth codes will be encrypted. While this program could aid in the fight against the Coronavirus, ethics and privacy experts as well as the public predict this could be dangerous and invasive.
Apple and Google release sample code, UI and detailed policies for ...

Individualism

   Milton Friedman believed that under the Individualism theory that the only goal for business was profit. According to this theory, the business must also remain truthful and within the laws set by the government. In a time of desperation for the world, Google and Apple recognized a solution and business opportunity. While the public is still optimistic on the product, the company has promised to be truthful and open with the public and have abide by the laws. However, the product is being made to specifically assist the public against the fight of the Coronavirus and not for Apples or Googles own profit. If there is a poor response from the public after the implementation of these systems then it could hurt the future sales and profits for each company. An Individualist would disagree with the making of this system as the system is not being made to maximize profit for either company.
   On the other hand, under Machan’s Individualistic theory, the companies would be following the principles of Individualism. Machan’s interpretation states that the only goal for a business is to maximize profits but sometimes the direct goal of profiting may need to be met by indirect goals not aimed at profiting and business people may have other goals outside of the ones that are maximizing profits and such goals may be prioritized. A Machan Individualist would agree with the development of this system as they may believe that the heroic act done by these companies for the public will lead to maximizing profits in the future through the indirect goals in the present.

Utilitarianism

  John Stuart Mill believed that companies should only seek to maximize happiness within itself and within the consumers. Under this theory, happiness and pleasure were the only two things of intrinsic value. The pessimism from the public would make an Utilitarian to disagree with the production of these systems. The systems are causing the consumers to worry about the potential privacy issues and selling of information to data companies. Apple and Google have been developing this product for the safety of the public which may lead to happiness when the pandemic is over. Unfortunately, the system is not out yet and future predictions can not be determined, so in the ways of Utilitarianism, Google and Apple are going against the theory.

Google's brand-new AI ethics board is already falling apart - Vox

Kantianism

   Immanuel Kant founded the theory of Kantianism based of the four basic principles. These principles include acting rationally, allow and help people to make rational decisions, respect people and their needs and differences, and be motivated by Good Will. Good Will is seeking to do what is right because simply it is right. In this case, Google and Apple are working to develop this system for the betterment of society as a whole. The product will not be forced onto any consumer that does not opt into the program. The companies were motivated by Good Will as they are attempting to assist in the fight against Coronavirus which if any company can spare the funds then that would be the right thing to do in this time of need. Currently, the companies have been respecting the opinions of the public toward this invasive system of location tracking. A Kantian would agree with the development of the system due to the motivation of Good Will and acting rationally during the pandemic.

Virtue Theory

   The Virtue Theory originated from Aristotle’s Functionalism where he explains that the distinguishable characteristic of humans is rationality. He believed that people who live good lives by functioning well will also live happy lives. In the Virtue Theory, the four main virtues of character that are based around the function and circumstances of such character are courage, honesty, temperance/self-control, and justice/fairness. Google and Apple are developing a system in order to fight the pandemic to help everyone around the world. Many companies have not been assisting in the fight so for that, the companies show the virtue of courage. A Virtue Theorist would agree that the companies have been honest so far and have been fair to the public about information. To show temperance, the companies will need to prove that it is encrypted and that the use is strictly to assist the citizens and not to profit from data companies. Overall, the companies are following most of the virtues of the Virtue Theory.
Apple Accessories for Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac - Apple


Sources



COVID-19 Forces New Guidelines Into Airline Industry (2020)


The Case

            One of the hardest hit industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic is the airline industry. Mainly because passengers sit so closely together in a small space, which hasn’t been allowed due to the social-distancing guidelines. That could change for the foreseeable future as many U.S. airlines are putting new guidelines into place for flying and going through the airports. All major U.S. airlines have slashed flight schedules considerably in response to the record low demand for air travel. The number of passengers at U.S. airports is down more than 93% compared to last year, according to the TSA (Kaji, Maile). American, United, Southwest and Delta have already reported a collective loss of $4 billion in the first three months of 2020. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that the global aviation industry could take a hit of more than $300 billion due to COVID-19 (Kaji, Maile). In an effort to prevent layoffs, the U.S. government agreed to a $25 billion bailout for the major passenger U.S. airlines through the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act. In receiving this money, which is comprised of grants and loans, airlines must refrain from laying off employees through the end of September, and must temporarily eliminate stock buybacks and reduce executive compensation (Kaji, Maile)
  Travelers boarding most U.S. planes must now wear a face covering, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at some airports sit behind plexiglass, and more than 3,000 planes have been taken from the skies to storage (Kaji, Maile). Major U.S. airlines have already mandated that both passengers and crew must wear face coverings, and have enhanced their cleaning procedures and implemented policies aimed at encouraging social distancing by reducing the number of seats available and blocking some or all middle seats (Kaji, Maile). In the U.S., at Paine Field Airport in Washington state, thermal cameras test passengers for fevers before they go through the TSA checkpoint. Airlines then can determine whether passengers flagged with a high temperature can fly. Overseas, Emirates became the first airline in the world to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test for passengers in Dubai. It's a blood test that reportedly returns results in ten minutes (Kaji, Maile). U.S. airlines are still preparing for when demand picks back up. Carriers' maintenance teams are spending countless hours to ensure their planes are ready to take to the skies. United Airlines has parked 70 aircraft alone at Dulles International Airport, one of the airline's hubs.

American Airlines pilot Capt. Dennis Tajer has been flying commercial planes for more than 30 years. "Three decades of this and this is my first time I'm packing things like masks, wipes and sanitizers," Tajer, who is also a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, told ABC News as he was packing to pilot his first flight in more than a month from Miami to Houston. He said all of his flights kept getting canceled in April, and that he's never seen an impact to the industry this "long and deep." "I was working on 9/11," Tajer said. "I was in New York. That was shocking on many levels and a horror that many of us had never imagined. This is a different shock." (Kaji, Maile)
There is no question that these new guidelines for flying with most U.S. airlines is going to take time to getting used to. This is only one of the major precautions that we are going to see for the future that is going to be considered the “new norm.” With that being said, I think this is a step in the right direction to ensure the health and safety of people flying.

Individualism
            According to Milton Friedman the only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders, but it must be within the law. In this case, an individualistic person would disagree with these new guidelines for flying because if you leave empty seats on the planes, then these airline companies are not maximizing profit. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes to actually get through the airport because of these guidelines could be delayed for many people, which also is not maximizing profit or distribution of services throughout the airport.
            However, these new guidelines could be agreed upon through Tibor Machan’s theory which states that the direct goal of profiting may need to be met by indirect goals not aimed at profiting and business people may have other goals and those goals may at times be prioritized over the goals of profit-maximizing. An Individualistic person under Machan’s theory would say that the health and safety of the passengers needs to be prioritized first and profit will come later as these airlines get back on track.


Utilitarianism
            The goal of utilitarianism is to maximize happiness in yourself as well as others. According to John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism says that happiness or pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value. In this case, a utilitarian would agree with these guidelines because the airlines are ensuring the health and safety of their passengers, which would help the passengers feel more comfortable and happier to fly again. Even though the circumstances are not ideal and the wait times could be delayed, at least people are able to fly again and they can do so with the necessary precautions.

Kantianism
Immanuel Kant came up with the four basic principles of Kantianism. These are to act rationally; allow and help people to make rational decisions; respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences; and be motivated by good will, seeking to do what is right because it is right. A Kantian would also agree with these new guidelines to fly because the airlines that are putting these guidelines into place are following all four basic principles. They are being totally transparent with their passengers and want to ensure their health and well-being.

Virtue Theory
            Virtues are the characteristics that allow things to function properly. Aristotle came up with the virtue theory and said that rationality is the distinguishing characteristic among people. The four main virtues of character are courage, honesty, temperance/self-control, and justice/fairness. Aristotle also added that a thing is happy if it fulfills its function. In this case, a virtue theorist would agree with these guidelines that most airlines are setting into place. The airlines are acting completely rational and they should feel happy with themselves that they are looking at their passengers as people and want to make sure their health is not compromised while flying with their airline. Most airlines who have set these guidelines into place have followed the four main virtues and, like everyone else, wants to see the world get back to normal and get through this deadly pandemic.

Sources
Kaji, Mina, and Amanda Maile. “With Face Coverings and Social Distancing, COVID-19 Ushers in New Age of Air Travel.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 4 May 2020, abcnews.go.com/Business/face-coverings-social-distancing-covid-19-ushers-age/story?id=70489144.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Princess Cruises': Coronavirus Negligence (February 12, 2020-Present)

19 crew members with coronavirus kept on Grand Princess cruise ...
Grand Princess sailing into quarantine




The Case
The COVID19 or coronavirus pandemic has struck the entire world. The virus has stopped businesses in their tracks and caused a major loss of revenue and production. One of the major industries affected due to the virus is the cruise line industry. Princess Cruise Lines operated two ships at the start of the pandemic where more than 800 passengers were infected with the virus. The Grand Princess cruise ship left California on February 12th, 2020. One passenger, Michael Dorety, began developing COVID19 symptoms on the Grand Princess cruise ship. His wife, Susan, called the ship’s emergency number multiple times before a doctor came to see him. They prescribed him Tylenol and Tamiflu which did not help his symptoms. Susan Dorety begged the ship to let him off to receive proper care. After two days, they let him off the ship and the CDC asked why he was not brought in sooner. Michael tested positive for the coronavirus and died days later. Susan is attempting to sue Princess Cruise Lines claiming they were negligent in their response to the outbreak. The cruise line did not test more than 60 passengers from the previous Diamond Princess voyage who were exposed to the coronavirus and had stayed on board. Many other families and workers of cruise lines are attempting to sue the companies for negligence.
Individualism Theory
The Individualism theory states the only goal of business is to profit, the only obligation a person has is to maximize profit for the owner. This duty must be achieved by the employees while abiding by laws. Another requirement is that the company needs to be truthful. The company should be trying to make the best products possible. While the cruise line is not making a product they should be attempting to provide a safe and enjoyable experience to the passengers. The cruise lines in this situation were maximizing profit and they were abiding by the laws. “Our response throughout this process has focused on the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness," the company said in a statement. At the time of the cruise, there was no restrictions on business in the USA, therefore the cruise line was still abiding by the law. Susan Dorety argues there were 60 passengers from the previous voyage who were exposed and stayed aboard the ship. The new passengers were not told about the possibility that there were exposed passengers on board which could be a sign the company was not truthful. The Individualism theory would therefore not approve of Princess Cruise Lines actions.
Utilitarianism Theory
            The Utilitarianism theory states that the only thing of intrinsic value is happiness or pleasure. This theory essentially means that the less negative outcomes there are, the better. Princess Cruise Lines were attempting to make people happy by letting events still go on while aboard the ship. Every passenger was excited to be aboard and therefore happy to be going on a vacation. Would the passengers have been happy if the cruise line had cancelled? That is unknown. In hindsight, the cruises should have been cancelled and passengers would have understood given the circumstances we know now. At the time of the cruises the coronavirus was not a significant threat in the US, although, it was known anyone traveling would be at risk. Now that we have seen the aftermath of the virus we know the cruise lines did not make the passengers happy and therefore the cruise lines did not abide by the utilitarianism theory.
Kantian Theory
What Have Scientists Learned About COVID-19 And Coronavirus By ...
Diamond Princess at port after virus struck
            The Kantian ethical theory principles include acting rationally, allowing and helping people to make rational decisions, respecting people/their autonomy/individual needs and differences, and to be motivated by good will. To act rationally is to act consistent with your own actions and do not consider yourself exempt from the rules. Kant's belief to allow and help people make rational decisions means to give people all the necessary information they need to make a rational decision instead of being misled. To be motivated by good will is to do what is right because it is the right thing to do rather than for money or another purpose. Another main concept of Kant’s theory is his Formula of Humanity which states to never treat others merely as a means but always as ends in themselves. Unfortunately, Princess Cruise Lines did not inform the new passengers that there would be people from the previous voyage on board which puts them at a higher risk. Passengers would most likely not have been as comfortable boarding the ship given this information. The cruise line did not cancel which was all in all the wrong thing to do as the risk of a untreatable sickness at this point is not worth the reward of a cruise. The cruise line also went against the Formula of Humanity by clearly using the passengers as a means to an end rather than treating them as ends themselves. The cruise line did not take extra precautions to make the passengers safe and because this all they went against Kantianism.
Virtue Theory
           Virtue Theory has a four main ideas such as courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. 
Princess Cruise Lines did not show courage as they did not take it upon themselves to cancel any trips and therefore lose profit. The company was also not honest and transparent with the risk of the virus aboard these ships. The cruise line did not show temperance as they ignored the risks presented and focused on the profits they would be making off of the trips. The company went against every aspect of the Virtue theory.
Justified Evaluation
Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Has 65 More Coronavirus Cases : Goats ...
Passengers in quarantine on Princess Cruise
            The cruise lines overall should have done more research on how to prevent the virus from spreading which would have resulted in these cruises being cancelled. The cruise line was focusing on government restrictions which were not yet in place meanwhile they should have been making decisions for themselves to cancel the cruise. I believe it was difficult to make the decisions at the time because the virus was still so new. It is tough for the cruise lines to gain the knowledge they need to make an educated decision while not shutting down operations which move so quickly. With the information we know now, I would say the cruise line made a horrible decision by not cancelling the voyages as soon as the outbreak began. I don’t believe the cruise lines were making entirely selfish choices to not cancel due to the fact that no one knew what exactly the virus is and there was no way to tell how much of an impact it would make on our society. The passengers themselves knew the same information the cruise lines did at the time and therefore are also at fault.
Action Plan
            For the future, the Princess Cruise Lines should come out with the following statement, “We strive to provide our passengers with the most safe and enjoyable experience on the water. With the knowledge we have, we vow to shut down operations the moment a new threat is apparent.” This statement will show the customers they have changed the way they will continue to operate. The customers safety and enjoyment will always be the cruise lines first priority. Princess Cruise Lines should also move forward with hiring more medical staff and properly equipping their ships to handle more severe illness. Following these steps will allow the cruise line to make a strong comeback once the industry is back on the sea.

Will Risko

Works Cited
Allen, Greg. “Even With COVID-19 Cases, Suing Cruise Lines Is 'Extraordinarily
Difficult'.” NPR, NPR, 22 Apr. 2020, www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/22/840525310/even-with-covid-19-cases-suing-cruise-lines-is-extraordinarily-difficult.

Madani, Doha. “Old Maritime Rules Pose Obstacles to Lawsuits from Princess Cruise
Passengers.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Apr. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/old-maritime-rules-pose-obstacles-lawsuits-princess-cruise-passengers-n1185791.