Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Buying and Selling of Non-Certified Helmets

Remaining Headstrong After Buying a Fake Helmet: The Buying and Selling of Non-Certified Helmets (November 25th, 2018)
Amazon has always been trusted by buyers to have quality items year after year. You may not have realized, but counterfeit and defective items still find their way onto the website through third-party vendors. Selling these products can have very negative and detrimental effects, such as in the case of selling something that is supposed keep one safe, such as a bicycle helmet.
Image result for broken bike helmet
 While courts are yet to find Amazon liable for selling said counterfeit products on its website because the company is able to argue that it is a platform for sellers, rather than Amazon being a lone seller itself, it has still faced legal issues. Amazon, through a spokesperson, has been quoted saying that the company “invests substantial resources into preventing counterfeit products from being sold on its site.” Despite this, Amazon suggests that it does take precautionary measures to make sure that these counterfeit items are not sold, but as it is a vendor website, it is nearly impossible at this point for them to catch all fraudulent items.
            As Amazon becomes more legitimate and trusted by the public, their products must be as well. For this reason, they must do even more to prevent these issues. Many ideas have circulated to increase this patrol. These include making the laws of counterfeit items to be much stricter. For example, it one were to buy a fraudulent bicycle helmet and reported it to authorities, the business should be shut down after the investigation of authenticity proves that the item is not up to code. There are many websites as well such as that of the Better Business Bureau that people can research the legitimacy of a given product or service. There is also the possible removal process of these listings. However, the removal can take days or even weeks.
 In the sense of individualism, or considering personal benefit to be the most important factor when making a decision, the focus is on that of single person rather than the whole. While at first glance it may seem like there is no driving force of individualism within this ethical dilemma, there ultimately is a reason that people create these counterfeit helmets. However, this can be viewed as a very negative implementation of individualism. These vendors make a large profit directly off these helmets that are made for a very cheap price. On an individualist scale, the creator and vendors of these helmets only see the money they make rather than the possible detrimental effects on others. This level of personal benefit is the basis of individualism- economic Darwinism. Applying the theory of utilitarianism to this topic offers an interesting perspective in the sense that the theory itself it the determination of right from wrong through focusing on the outcomes a certain situation. This moral framework has been used to justify the social correctness of many issues. This can be applied to the selling of counterfeit helmets in the sense that the proof of its unethically is rather blatant; one person’s desire for wealth should allow them to “play God” in the sense that they can potentially severely injure or even kill another human being who believes they are in safe hands. The theory of Kantianism focuses on that of fulfilling a given duty. One can look at this situation as Amazon merely doing what it was created to do: sell goods to the desired audiences via the internet. However, this point of view is a great disservice as the true focus should be on the idea that the creators and vendors, including Amazon, are in no way fulfilling their allotted task of creating a helmet that protects humans from injury in case of emergency.
However, while this system has remained flawed for this long, at a certain point it sadly must become a “buyer beware” situation, despite the fact that it should be necessary for every single manufactured bicycle helmet to be checked for safety and authenticity. For this reason, they must do even more to guarantee that the necessary guidelines are met when creating these helmets. It is important for companies such as Amazon to make sure they are ensuring quality products as it can truly save lives.
Written by,
            John Arceri
Armstrong, Warren. “Government Officials Sounding Alarm about Counterfeit Bike Helmets.” ABC30 Fresno, 16 Nov. 2018,
Bicycle Helmet Statistics, 
“Helmet Safety: Keep a Lid On It.” Rush University Medical Center, 
“How to Stop the Sale of Counterfeit Goods at Online Marketplaces.” Yellow Brand Protection,
Owens, Jeremy C. “Amazon Earnings Explode to Record Thanks to Surprising e-Commerce Profit, Stock Gains.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, 27 July 2018,
Tyler, Jeff. “Fake Bike Helmets: Cheap But Dangerous.” NPR, NPR, 16 Sept. 2018,

The Truth about Twitter: From Fake News to Total Censorship.

Twitter issued a statement in January of 2018 which declared their policy-written power. The blog post clarified the ability to delete any comment they wish- be it from a head-of-state or your Aunt Sally. (3) Twitter disclosed they would not, however, delete an entire account- unlike Facebook. (1) Twitter argues, they were not issuing a threat; The company wishes to foster a healthy and safe environment, free from “trolls” “bots” and types of ‘phobic harassment. (2) The social media site posted, “Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in communal places like conversations and search.” (2) Specifically, the company plans to monitor for multiple account sign-ups under the same email.

This implementation has been twisted by our Commander and Chief, backed by the Attorney General. In 2016, electoral candidate Trump made claims that social media platforms were restricting conservative views- by “rigging” search results. (8) This stems from; the removal of Alex Jones from Facebook; claims that google “rigged” search results to limit conservative information; as well as over 50,000 Russian “bots” that posted propaganda to try to skew the 2016 presidential election. (5) Although censorship is the correct verbiage for twitter’s actions, its definition has been taken to the extreme- rather than what it means literally. Twitter is simply preventing users from offending the majority of the site’s community, by monitoring and removing harmful content. (2)
The question remaining, is what ethical codes were broken, if any? Kantianism argues for truth, that information be available to all- good or bad. Individualism’s main goal is to maximize profit within the limits of the law. Utilitarianism’s ethical framework is of overall happiness, it is a business’ responsibility to ensure the most pleasure over an elongated period of time. Virtue theory is founded in acting in such a way so as to avoid negative character traits, such as hate and dishonesty. 
According to the Chicago Tribune, Twitter makes money by selling advertisement space, and advertisements are aligned with user preferences. (9) Therefore, more users generally means more revenue. Twitter’s idea to monitor posting and ensure a safe environment is in theory supposed to prevent the loss of users, and thus keep turning a profit. So in theory, the move to censor feeds is ethical in the case of individualism. 
Utilitarianism would urge for more measures to be taken in order to remove such offensive content. It would even take twitter’s plans further and perhaps block Trump’s account to maximize overall happiness. As twitter is enforcing censorship now, it may be minimal but the effort is in place to maximize user happiness.
Kantianism would argue that the information should be available site-wide, no matter the content and that people should be treated as an ends in themselves, not a mere means. It should be up to the users themselves to report content as offensive. It is not the company’s responsibility to define what is acceptable or not, because not everyone will have the same standards of acceptable behavior. In this case, twitter is being unethical in the sense that the public has not had the chance to decide for themselves what may be acceptable or not. 
Twitter attempted to keep within ethical boundaries to an extent. With the exception of Kantianism, the company has overall found an ethical balance in censorship. However, their implementation was weak initially, as they made very little public statements regarding their new procedures- outside of their own blog. It is important to address the media before it addresses the company! This gives the upper hand so to speak. Although twitter would have to call out the fact that their current implementations are failing, the important part is that they are fixing the problem. This is how any great company succeeds; honesty and ethics are balanced upon the shoulders of the operations. 


Monday, November 26, 2018

Ethical Corruption in the FDA: FDA Guilty of Conspiracy and Racketeering (2009-2016)

Company Background
Dr. Herbert Ley, Former FDA Commissioner (1968-69).
          Since 1848, the Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, has used chemical analysis to monitor the safety of agricultural products and has changed along with social, economic, political and legal changes in the United States. One would think that a federal agency claiming it is dedicated to protecting and promoting public health would actually protect and promote health to the public. However, that is not the case with the Food and Drug Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

The Case
          Between 2009 and 2015, the FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, and her husband, Peter Brown, defrauded customers and conspired with Johnson and Johnson, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures drugs, while suppressing information about the harmful effects of two dangerous, even fatal, drugs they manufactured from the public and profited millions of dollars by allowing the drugs to be sold on the market, causing thousands of people to die and even more to be permanently ill or disabled for life.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Former FDA Commissioner (2009-2015).

          A former federal prosecutor, Klayman, was the attorney who filed a lawsuit against the former FDA Commissioner (2009-2015), Dr. Margaret Hamburg and Brown, on behalf of six patients who took the antibiotic Levaquin. Brown was an investment banker and co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies LLC, which had a large amount of stock in the Johnson and Johnson Company during the time his wife was the FDA Commissioner. Dr. Hamburg and her husband were accused of suppressing information about serious adverse reactions to two pharmaceuticals, Levaquin and Zohydro, that Dr. Hamburg approved to be sold on the market. Subsequently, the accusers claim Dr. Hamburg, Brown, and Renaissance Technologies profited by millions of dollars from existing and successive investments in the manufacturers (Ray). It also alleged that if Johnson and Johnson did well while Dr. Hamburg was the Commissioner of the FDA, her husband (thus, herself included) profited millions upon millions. 
          The drug Levaquin is often prescribed for everything from sinus infections to urinary tract infections yet has been nothing but a “prescription for pain” (O’Brien). Johnson and Johnson does
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Hamburg and her Husband
Mr. Brown and Other Co-Defendants Over Alleged
Conspiracy to Misbrand and Mislabel the Drug Levaquin.
not include this on its warning labels. In furtherance of her racketeering and conspiracy, Dr. Hamburg counseled the FDA to approve another dangerous pharmaceutical drug that Renaissance Technologies also owns stock in, Zohydro, despite the fact that 11 of the 13 FDA Advisory Committee members voted 11 to 2 against its approval. Yet, Dr. Hamburg neglected the vote and went through with approving the drug to be sold to the public. Over 5,000 people died from taking Zohydro. It is becoming more prominent that “the chemical industry has a long history of political power and influence. Chemical corporations also control and manipulate the science by funding research that downplays, contradicts, or casts doubt on health hazards” (Mercola). The circumstances surrounding its approval reflects her desire to profit from the drug’s sales and illustrates the company’s corruption and the unethical measures the company would take to make profit. Thousands of the drugs’ consumers suffered the terrible side effects of the drugs Levaquin and Zohydro. The side effects of Levaquin included mitochondrial toxicity, nervous system adverse events, and various multi-system disabilities related to taking the drug, among over 15 other side effects (Nathan). As for Zohydro, it is essentially a concentrated, timed-release form of hydrocodone (a highly addictive opiate used for pain management) containing five to ten times more of the drug than Vicodin (Ray). A drug being this easily addictive makes it another potentially fatal drug.

          One may say that in certain situations, the public is in great need of a drug for an epidemic outbreak, which is indeed true, however that is rarely the case and the public would be totally fine waiting a bit longer for new, yet just as effective cough medicine or foods that were grown using fertilizer with a microscopically-altered formula. The FDA sacrifices quality testing of safety by
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention - Over Half of Drug Overdose Deaths in 
Entire Nation are Result of Prescription Painkillers.
speeding up food and drug testing just to move on to the next tests they have, putting the public’s safety at risk of long-term side effects of food and drug products. Michael Elashoff, an ex-FDA biostatistician, told The People’s Chemist that “The people in charge [FDA officials] don’t say ‘Should we approve this drug?’ They say ‘Hey, how can we get this drug approved?'” and a former senior consultant to the FDA, Paul Stolley, also told them “The agency [the FDA] neglects drug safety in its rush to speed the drug-approval process because current laws and policies let the drug industry influence FDA decisions,” meaning that drug industries, like Johnson and Johnson and Gilead Sciences, have influential power over the FDA and “influence” the FDA to approve the safety of their products so that the can profit from sales in the market. The unethical actions of Dr. Hamburg and her husband conspiring with FDA coworkers and Johnson and Johnson proved disastrous and fatal for thousands of stakeholders who consumed the drugs. Stakeholders consisted of those who consumed the drugs, their families and friends, and businesses for whom the people worked for because now those businesses have employees who are either disabled, severely ill, or whose positions need replacing because the drugs’ side effects were fatal. A broad area of stakeholders of this case is health care and emergency health care organizations, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices, because they financially gain from all the additional visits and doctor appointments being made with more ill people coming in with the serious medical conditions produced by the drugs’ adverse side effects.

          According to Milton Friedman’s Individualist beliefs, Dr. Hamburg and her husband were ethically fine to profit off of the selling of the dangerous drugs Levaquin and Zohydro because it profited them greatly and approving the drugs was within Dr. Hamburg’s power as the FDA Commissioner. Friedman’s Individualism focuses on the importance of how the only goal of business is to maximize profits for itself and for its stockholders. In this case, Dr. Hamburg and her FDA conspirators were ethically justified in conspiring with Johnson and Johnson and approving the dangerous drugs to be sold on the market. An individualist would in fact consider it clever because it proved highly lucrative and greatly benefited Dr. Hamburg. The theory also would not deem her and her husband responsible for the nationwide harm they’ve caused because does not affect them, only the profiting off of the drugs does. The theory deems the consumers of the drugs to be responsible for conducting research for themselves before deciding to consume drugs because that is included in the effort of benefitting one’s health. Essentially, all individuals are accountable for whatever happens to them and should only focus on profiting for themselves because nobody is responsible for anything but for the actions they make in attempt to profit themselves.

          From a Utilitarian perspective, the actions of Dr. Hamburg and her husband were entirely unethical because of the major and fatal consequences it causes many of the FDA’s stakeholders. Utilitarians believe that people should aim to maximize the happiness and pleasure of themselves and of all beings capable of feeling it simply because happiness is valuable and there is no difference morally-speaking between one’s own happiness and another’s (Salazar). Dr. Hamburg’s approval of the drugs to be sold on the market was unethical because not listing their warnings or dangerous long-term side effects on their labels endangered everyone who could possibly consider buying either drug, proven by the several thousand deaths it caused as a severe consequence. Since Utilitarianism focuses on maximizing the happiness of the overall population, the conspirers in the FDA were ethically wrong to approve the drugs and withhold the drugs’ important warning information on the labels, resulting in the devastation, harm, and deaths of thousands of people’s lives. A Utilitarian would say that Dr. Hamburg should have considered all the possible risks and consequences approving the dangerous drugs would have on the population and should have chosen the path that would not have harmed or endangered the population at all: to not approve of either of the two drugs. It would also be said that the FDA should from now on include each and every warning and side effect information on drugs’ labels and push Johnson and Johnson to develop better, safer formulas for the drugs or else they would not be approved.

          Based on Kantian beliefs, the actions of Dr. Hamburg and the company were incredibly unethical. As declared by Immanuel Kant, there are four basic principles of Kantianism:
1.       Act rationally - don’t act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from the rules.
2.       Allow and help people to make rational decisions.
3.       Respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences.
4.       Be motivated by Good Will, seeking to do what is right because it is right. Actions that come from Good Will are both right/rational and rightly motivated (Salazar).
          There are also three formulations of the Categorical Imperative, or the Law of Rationality, which includes the Formula of Humanity: “act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Salazar). Kant meant that people should not merely use people to get to places, but rather treat people as valuable beings in themselves (Salazar). When looking at the actions of Dr. Hamburg and her husband as they conspired to profit off of the sales of dangerous drugs, their actions heavily endangered people because not listing the dangerous and long-term harmful side effects of the drugs on their labels exploited consumers and put them at an unfair disadvantage and prevented them from making rational decisions, which violates the fourth basic principle of Kantianism: “allow and help people to make rational decisions” (Salazar). Unlike Utilitarianism’s perspective, a Kantian would consider that it was ethically fine for Dr. Hamburg to approve of the drugs, yet would believe that Dr. Hamburg should have included all the warning and side effects information on the labels to allow customers to rationally decide whether they want to take the risks of consuming the drugs. She also violated the fourth basic principle of Kantianism, which was to be motivated by good will, by simply by being motivated by the millions of dollars’ worth she was going to profit. So, a Kantian would consider the former FDA Commissioner’s actions to be unethical because she exploited the customers and prevented them from being able to make rational decisions in assessing whether buying the drugs is worth the dangerous risks that follow. Kantians would say she should have included all the warning and side effects information on the drugs’ labels to allow customers to rationally decide whether they want to risk consuming the drugs. Also, by the Formula of Humanity and from the right motivation, to treat others as an end as opposed to a means Dr. Hamburg should have been motivated by doing the right thing because it was her duty as the FDA Commissioner.

Virtue Theory
          According to the Virtue Theory, Dr. Hamburg’s actions were unethical because they put the drugs’ consumers at an unfair disadvantage when she was dishonest with them when withholding the warning and side effect information from being printed on the drugs’ labels. This violates three of the 4 Main Virtues of Character of the Virtue Theory, which are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Instead of being brave enough to take the step to do the right thing, Dr. Hamburg indulged in greed of profiting and approved the drugs to be sold on the market. Needless to explain, withholding the crucial information from the drugs’ labels was outright dishonest and unjust to customers. Overall, the actions of Dr. Hamburg and those in the FDA who conspired with her were entirely unethical from a Virtue Theorist point of view due to how their actions were entirely greedy, dishonest, and unfair to the drugs’ customers. A Virtue Theorist would consider that the best course of action Dr. Hamburg and the FDA employees could have done instead would be if they had not approved the drugs at all in the first place and had sought a way to improve the drugs’ formulas to make them safe to use, more effective so that they could fulfill their functions of curing the ailments, and to sell them for the right reasons, which are to help cure people’s ailments or illnesses as opposed to selling them just to make a large profit off them as they conspired to do.

          The Food and Drug Administration had the responsibility for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs, along with the safety of the nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and other processes. The nation has trusted the FDA with fulfilling its responsibility, however it has become corrupt through conspiring, racketeering leaders within the company, such as the case of Dr. Hamburg and her Husband conspiring with Johnson and Johnson to profit millions from putting the nation’s health in fatal danger. The FDA’s unethical actions have caused the deaths of over 5,000 people, among permanent illnesses and lifelong multi-system failure for tens of thousands more consumers of the dangerous drugs Dr. Hamburg had approved in order to financially gain from her husband’s stock in the drug’s manufacturer’s company, Johnson and Johnson. From now on, the company should include every side effect and warning on the labels of products it approves and cease acts of bribery with drug manufacturers.

The article of the lawsuit can be found in this link: 

These analyses of facts are based on a research paper by Katalinn Cooper, "The Ethical Corruption of the FDA: Former FDA Commissioner Guilty of Conspiracy and Racketeering (2009-2016)."

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