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The possibility of the financial sector to influence the media for its own personal gain is greatly debated. Enforceable evidence is difficult to find but sound reasoning allows for certain assumptions to be made. The documentary “Inside Job” directed by Charles Ferguson investigates the causes of the 2008 financial crash and his discoveries have displayed the over-arching reach of the financial sector by uncovering all the previously undisclosed fields in which it has power. These fields include rating agencies, the U.S government and Ivey League universities. Each of these sectors can in turn use their power in the media to influence the public. The documentary explains the workings of collateralized debt obligations or CDO’s. Lenders were selling the rights of their loans and mortgages to investment banks who compiled and grouped these loans together in complex derivatives known as collateralized debt obligations. These investment banks then sold these CDO’s to investors. The issue is that lenders now gave no importance to whether the loan’s they issued had to be paid off or not since they were selling them off to these big investment banks. This made loans accessible to people who previously would never have be approved for loans before. Continuing down the chain, the investment banks now paid off rating agencies to give safe ratings to this compiled debt even though it could not be paid off. Where does the influence over the media come in? It is present throughout the entire chain. Lenders were advertising a cheap loan knowing very well that these people would default on them. This treated consumers with a general lack of respect they were never meant to pay back the loan from the beginning. Moreover, rating agencies were purposefully misleading their customers with the false ratings they were sending out which breaks the most important point in advertising’s five point test: truthfulness. Consequently, they are purposefully misleading consumers demonstrating how they influence the media in unethical ways. The U.S government has unparalleled influence over the population regardless of whether it reaches traditional media outlets or not. The government’s act of supporting legislation provides confidence to the public in these banking institutions. In other words, when lobbyists managed to increase the amount of leverage available to the investment banks through deregulation, the government portrayed confidence in these banks. Henceforth, the greater the trust the government held for these banks, the public’s perception of trust in these banks also increased. The issue is not that of government placing trust in these investment banks, the problem arises in who was influencing the government and pushing for deregulation. In 2006, Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs was appointed to be the secretary of the treasury. Of the CDO’s sold by Goldman Sachs in the last couple months of Paulson’s time as CEO, a third of them defaulted. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs took this a step further. Not only were they continuously selling these sub-prime mortgages at ratings equivalent to government securities, they were then betting against them for when these loans would fail. These actions demonstrate that the person in charge of economic counselling and policy making for the government’s financial interests, that is the secretary of the treasury, had an adverse interest to his clients. His teleological form of ethics was purely Machiavellian in nature and it is this type of ethical attitude that is advising the president of the United States. During the beginning of the financial crash, Paulson insisted that the economy was still growing despite numerous signs to the contrary. He pushed against regulation and by doing so; indirectly mislead the public through his power at the White House. In other words, the financial sector once again abused their power to influence the media according to its own agenda. The last sector in which the financial sector influences the media in unethical ways is through their connections in highly ranked universities. Academia has played a major role in support of deregulation since the 1980’s. Moreover, academic economists have helped shape current economic policy. Business school professors have done very well financially by consulting part-time with very powerful corporations and argued for deregulation on behalf of these companies to political parties. Larry Summers is the treasury secretary and played a critical role in the deregulation of derivatives, he became the president of Harvard in 2001. He made millions of dollars from speaking fees all sponsored by major investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. In addition to this, Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economics professor, was the chief economic advisor during the Regan Administration and was a major proponent to deregulation. He was on the board of AIG, a major insurance firm who played a pivotal role in derivatives and helped investment banks bet against the CDO’s. The issue arises with the notion of conflict of interest. Seeing as how these two major officials in a prestigious university are receiving huge compensations from the financial sector, they will most likely preach for the benefit of these firms. By doing so, students and members of the public who attend these speaking engagements will abide to what they are encouraging in the speeches, without the knowledge of where their true intentions lay. Harvard is not the only university to have similar problems with conflict of interest. Columbia University and Brown University all have similar problems. Glenn Hubbard is the dean at Columbia University and has several consulting clients all which he does not disclose and Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown University, sits on the board of Goldman Sachs. A conflict of interest is present in all cases in that each authority figure uses his/her own power to influence people in an unethical way based on compensation from investment banks. In conclusion, the financial sector uses its power to influence the media in an unethical way based on self-interest. Investment banks have used their power over rating agencies to deceive the public in order to sell more CDO’s. Furthermore, investment banks used contacts in high ranking government positons to promote deregulation so that they can continue on with activities that have an adverse interest to their customers. Lastly, investment banks have compensated academic authorities in top universities to promote their viewpoints on the masses and in government. All Information was taken from the documentary "Inside Job" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645089/

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An article on Quartz discusses an important ethical issue. In February 2014, the Representation Project started a campaign on twitter called #Askhermore which encourages rep carpet reporters to ask female actors more meaningful questions about their career and causes rather than their appearance. The campaign has gained public support from many female actors such as Amy Phoeler and Reese Witherspoon. The most typical question female actors receive is “Who are you wearing?” and the #Askhermore campaign is trying to eliminate that question.

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According to an article called At-risk Montreal schools fight high dropout rates published by CBC News on December 13, 2013, dropout rates of students are the most pronounced in the East Island of Montreal mainly because of poverty. On the other hand, Danish students do not seem really affected by this issue since they are getting paid from the government to attend to school, as described by an article from journalist Rick Noack from the Washington Post posted on February 4, 2015 named Why Danish students are paid to go to college.

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Financial planners, stock brokers and financial advisors face numerous moral dilemmas on a daily basis. One of the most recent moral dilemmas that has reached the public eye is of broker fees vs commissions. Looking at each mode of compensation individually, a moral dilemma develops that changes the entire scope future actions. A typical set up of a fee based method of payment results in the planner taking a percentage of all the assets they are managing. In a hypothetical situation, say a planner was managing a portfolio of $200,000 at a 1 percent asset under management fee. His fee is $2,000. As the assets that he/she manages grow, his/her compensation will grow accordingly. The result is the temptation to employ more aggressive trading strategies in order to increase the value of the portfolio. More aggressive trading strategies, if not managed properly, could result in the loss of all the capital employed. The second compensation method is that of commissions. The ethical dilemma that this method creates was made famous by the movie “The Wolf on Wall Street” which was based on a true story. The issue is that the planner receives compensation for each transaction regardless of the performance of the portfolio. This makes the planner focus on completing as many transactions as possible without regards to the financial security of the investment. Both of these situations have one underlying principle behind them; greed. Greed is entrenched in the human psych. From the days of Jacques Cartier and monarchs in search of new territory for more precious metals and land to modern day Wall Street in search of maximizing profits, it is entrenched in our society. Speaking strictly of Wall Street, greed and profit maximization is a long standing tradition that everyone who is part of that culture believes. This translates into the fact that there are no universal morals since Wall Street has many critics and not everyone follows the same beliefs that they hold true. In other words, morality is determined by the social consensus of a particular culture and in the case of Wall Street is it the end goal or purpose. Seeing as how the summum bonum is the leading factor, a teleological viewpoint of morality is in use. Moreover, since the people of Wall Street believe that what they are doing is right, Ethical Relativism is the best alibi of Wall Street. However, any solution proposed to the problem of greed will be rejected. Since social consensus is the determining factor of morality on Wall Street, a reform will never be accepted because the consensus is the acceptance of greed.

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