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Ethics, Economy, Politics, and Democracy
Please Don’t Miss the Documentary Inequality for All

Majid Ali, M.D.

Let me get it off my chest. Without ethics, all deliberations of economy are frivolous. Without ethics, all ideas of politics are meaningless. Without ethics, all notions of democracy are silly.

Talat, my wife, and just came home after seeing “Inequality for All,” a wonderful documentary produced and narrated by Robert Reich. If you get a chance, please see it and visit www.“Inequality for All.com. This documentary is most informative and enlightening. You will like it. Robert Reich is former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and now teaches Public Policy courses at UC Berkeley.

Now, why did begin with the words “Let me get it off my chest”? For a good reason. Before the documentary started, I wondered how long might it take Secretary Reich to recognize the core cause of the deepening financial inequality that threatens democracy in the U.S. Half way into the documentary, I started wondering if the Secretary would mention the word ethics at all. I listened carefully to every word that he spoke. He did not utter the word ethics once.

Glass–Steagall Act, President Clinton, and Secretary Reich

I thought Inequality for All would definitely cover the brazen annulment of Glass–Steagall Act in 1998 by his former boss, President Bill Clinton. Clinton’s fiat did more to deepened the inequality crimes more than anything else in modern times. The documentary skipped the issues. Why? Secretary Reich did not tell us.

Glass–Steagall legislation (the U.S. Banking Act of 1933) limited commercial bank securities activities and affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms. Citibank’s 1998 affiliation with Salomon Smith Barney, one of the largest US securities firms, was permitted under the Federal Reserve’s interpretation of the Glass–Steagall Act.

Why Focus on Ethics?

In my writing, radio, and television work, I strive hard not to subordinate ethics to ideology. I define ethics as the study of the consequences of one's action on others. Ethics is also the study of the consequences of one's inaction on others when action is needed. Why did Secretary Reich miss the word? I suppose for the same reason as other economist miss it. They love numbers and we are informed well by their numbers. But the study of economics. first and foremost, should be about human behavior. What might be more important than ethics in deliberations of human behavior?

How Much Healing Literacy Might $243 Million Buy?

In 2011, the U.S. spent $2.8 trillion on its disease maintenance system. It consider this to be the most heart-rending consequence of the lack of ethics in public health policy and funding at all levels of this pernicious system. Disease-literacy, drug-literacy, and device-literacy are the weapons used against the people by those who profit from diseases, drugs, and devices. In 1012, the lobbyists of this system spent $243 million, more than any other segment of the national economy. How much healing literacy might $243 million buy?, I wondered when I learned about the cost of medical lobbying. What does it say about the ethics of bthose who accepted this money?

Ethics at Harvard Medical School

I close this article by offering you the following quote from The New York Times of March 2, 2009 about the alma mater of Secretary Reich: “David Tian, 24, a first-year Harvard Medical student, said: “Before coming here, I had no idea how much influence companies had on medical education. And it’s something that’s purposely meant to be under the table, providing information under the guise of education when that information is also presented for marketing purposes.” You can read more about the subject in my articles posted on www.ethicsinmedicine.org.

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