Post for Jul 17-Jul 23 2011 (Tidbits and Nuggets)

TaN: Antitrust law are laws designed or intended to discourage monopolies and cartels and encourage competition for the purpose of stimulating businesses to innovate and improve production efficiency with the goal of benefiting consumers.

In line with this, banks and financial institutions are or (if they are not) should be prohibited from engaging in any other business activity or endeavor.  The reason is, if banks and financial institutions are likewise engaged in other off-industry business activities or ventures, since they are repositories of large amounts of money (i.e., capital), there is a great tendency (or temptation) to “enlist” or “employ” these monetary resources to serve as “additional capital infusion” into their other businesses and without the permission of the depositors.  This results in an unfair advantage of business that own banks and financial institutions over those that do not have the latter.

In addition, another industry that should likewise be prohibited to engage in other business activities or endeavors is the media – especially the mass media (such as print and as broadcast).  The Fourth Estate is a very influential industry.  This is because its concern is information – specifically, its dissemination – and by deciding on and controlling what information the public receives, it possesses the power to manipulate and “determine” the manner people think, behave, and react.  [If the media reports only good things, people will have the mistaken or skewed impression that everything is just fine and okay, when in reality it could all be a mess.  Just like the fact that – in a study – statistics show that at least half to as much as ninety percent (or 9 out of 10) clinical trials and studies are failures, but only the successes get to see publication.  This gives people the distorted idea that all pharmaceuticals are beneficial and effective, when in truth they are a dismal failure and even downright deadly – see: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=21070001&sid=a3sPE.5wN8NY or search the Internet using the keywords “publication”, “medical studies failure rates”, and/or “PLoS”.]  Should mass media decide to disseminate only a segment of the truth or the facts, the public can be misled.

On the other hand, it is likewise deceitful to “selectively” publish or disseminate bad news or detrimental information as this would have the same effect.   Since it is obvious that bad news will assuredly cause public apprehension or negatively impact the public, media has the tendency to either sugarcoat or to purposely “soften” certain aspects or emphasize the less damaging details thus shifting the attention from the graver portions.

And there is the “willful” or “intentional” non-reporting or “withholding” of vital information that will definitely and clearly impact people’s lives but, in the name of national security or the (lame) excuse of not wanting to cause panic and “unnecessary” concern among the public or (even worse) to protect or preserve corporate profits or image.  Take the case of the recent (with respect to the time of this writing) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Facility catastrophe.  It took close to three months after the incident for the official confirmation that the facility is not only in meltdown but even in “melt through” when the “alternative” press has been publishing it as soon as a couple of days following the incident.  To top it all, an even more recent development (see commondreams.org: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/07/21-2?print) states that TEPCO appears to have decided to “abandon” plans of “plugging” the problem reactor/s.

Finally, these deceitful practices of manipulating the minds and thinking of the public have undergone further “evolution” by disguising advertisements as entertainment (i.e., edutainment) or as information (i.e., infomercials).  These nefarious schemes “herd” gullible people toward a pre-determined and desired objective or goal.  All these are some of the more common and unscrupulous developments in media and in advertising, with the witting or unwitting involvement of the “fruits” of the field of psychology – more specifically, human psychology – where natural human behavior is studied and used against people (instead of for man’s good and benefit).

TaN: In addition and in continuation to the above “Tidbit and Nugget”, the advertising industry’s proclamation of “Truth in advertising” (one can only conclude) is just a clever advertising scheme.

Advertising is the act of making known to the public (i.e., the intended target market) information about a certain product or service being offered by a certain business venture or enterprise with and for the purpose of getting the public (i.e., potential customers and consumers) to make a purchase.  An advertisement can come in varied forms (print, broadcast, handouts and brochures, flyers and handouts, etc) and has two segments or aspects: the informative and the persuasive.  The informative simply puts forth objective information with the goal of disseminating information concerning the product’s or the service’s existence and how and where it may be obtained.  The persuasive aspect is intended to provide additional information to boost the probability or chances of convincing the potential buyer to make the purchase.

The informative aspects is innocent, while the persuasive aspects is where the situation becomes “delicate” and often subject or leads to debate or heated arguments – mostly due to ethical issues or considerations.  On the one hand, the argument of providing the good aspects of a product or a service is deemed enough and constitutes telling the “truth” – and is mostly (if not entirely) the case with commercial advertisements.  [The qualification of “commercial” is because there are advertisements that are not commercial in nature or intent, like those issued or made by non-governmental, by civic, and by other non-business-related organizations.]

On the other hand, the counter argument is that the truth, in order to be the truth (as against being truthful), must be completely true otherwise it would still constitute a lie or deceit.  [Lies comes in varied forms: outright lies, partial truths, and white lies.]  However, some qualifications must be made when it comes to “incomplete” truths; the conditions or reasons for the incompleteness are vital to its being ethical.  For an “incomplete” truth to be ethical – when not providing the complete truth – the omitted or deficient segment should fulfill or satisfy (all of) the following: that there is sincere ignorance of the existence of the segment left out (by any and every one involved in the creation or development of the product/service, including the vendor or the promoter), that the existence of the unincluded segment is sincerely unknown to the provider/endorser (of the “incomplete” truth), that, upon acquiring the knowledge/awareness or even just an inkling of the existence of the omitted or unincluded segment, there is a sincere effort or attempt to confirm/verify and , upon confirmation, to atone consciously and deliberately make amends and to rectify the deficiency by disseminating the new information as the soonest possible time and opportunity.

In conclusion, any and all damages resulting from the “incomplete” truth being made public should be properly and satisfactorily addressed and resolved.  The feasibility or practicality of accounting for the damages and harm done must be also guided and tempered by ethical principles and considerations and not limited or hampered by just financial restrictions and realities – i.e., the responsible parties (inclusive of the endorser and other entities having a contribution to the publication or advertising of the “incomplete” truth) should not be permitted to shuck or evade taking responsibility for it should be and is part and parcel of the risks and “perils” of engaging in business and bankruptcy should not be a hindrance nor an excuse not to make complete reparations to all aggrieved parties.  It is but right, ethical, and just.

TaN: “Necessary evil” is an oxymoron.  Something that is necessary cannot be evil; and vice versa.  What we did was redefine the terms to make them “useful” and fit our purpose.  In truth (which we are veering ever-increasingly away from every moment), if you seriously – and objectively – give it a lot of thought, by virtue of being a necessity, something cannot be evil.  As well, by virtue of being evil, it cannot be necessary.  The two are complete contradictions.  It is as if we are saying and accepting that Satan is necessary.  If this were true, there would not only be no need for God to “defeat” Satan (i.e., Lucifer) – through His angels, specifically the Archangel Michael – God would have kept Satan out of necessity.

It is a common “habit” of man to redefine terms and truths in order to make them fit or serve his own wants (NOT NEEDS) and ends.  A case in point is one of the claimed “accomplishments” of a post-EDSA Philippine president was to have reduced the number of poor people.  What happened or how it was done was to redefine who qualify or who can be considered as poor – from someone who earns less than a certain amount (say Php10,000) a year to a much less amount (for example, Php5,000).  This way, thousands, even millions, “magically” became not-poor anymore.

In this way, Man is greater than God – because Man can bend and change the truth; Man can do many things God cannot (like lie).  And so it is with “necessary evil”, we redefined our “wants” into “needs” so they became “necessary” and in order that we now have a “legitimate excuse”.  As for “evils”, we redefined them from natural effects or consequences – which are neither good nor evil, but – resulting from choices we make.

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