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Thread: Morality and career decisions

  1. #1
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    Morality and career decisions

    I recently turned down an interview after finding out the company was Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company owned by Martin Shkreli, the guy who bought the only Toxoplasmosis drug and then raised the price by 5,500%. The job was introduced to me as an "up and coming pharmaceutical company with cutting edge technology and great long-term promise," so I was pretty interested until I found out who they were. I'm extremely miserable at my current position, and they would probably have paid me more, but there wasn't really question in my mind about not being able to work for that asshole.

    But it got me thinking, because how many companies are owned by people who are just as evil, just less publicly? For example, would I be as hesitant about taking a job at Halliburton? No. The morality is more diffused. I wouldn't have to walk past Dick Cheney in the hallway every morning. But Halliburton has arguably profited from much more suffering than Shkreli. Plus, I wouldn't even have the chance at getting the Wu Tang Clan album.

    Have you ever been in a similar situation of morality vs. money? How did/would you respond?

  2. #2
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lud View Post
    Have you ever been in a similar situation of morality vs. money? How did/would you respond?
    Not in degree, but in nature, yeah. I was employed by a big name in the investment industry, one which (as time went on) I grew to dislike the practices/ethics of considerably. Same story happened during an employment in the health care industry. I just quashed the cognitive dissonance and took a paycheck, I guess. Everywhere I'm going to work is bound to be a corrupt well of shit, basically.

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    Scobblelotcher Sistamatic's Avatar
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    There is a name for biologists who work for big corporations writing environmental impact assessments and spinning things so the company can do what they want. Biostitutes. Great money in it. Every corporation has talented biostitutes working for them. I took environmental law as an elective as an undergrad. It wasn't what I expected. It was a lawyer explaining all the loopholes in current environmental law and how to get around them. Amazing class...real eye opener.
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    I recently took a job at a hedge fund. A lot of people villify hedge funds for screwing over the little guy, but I don't think what we're doing is the least bit wrong. I do think the system that allows us to make so much money doing what we do is fucked up, but I think what we do is actually beneficial to the people that think we're screwing them over. And for all the moaning I hear about high frequency trading, I cannot for the life of me figure out how these guys are cheating anybody out of money. That doesn't mean I think they deserve all the money they make.

    I think I could probably work for Halliburton without having any problem with it. I don't have any moral objection to a company providing oilfield services and making money off of it. I think Halliburton brings money into our economy that would otherwise go elsewhere. I'm not happy that the government spends so much money and so many lives protecting Halliburton's business, but the problem wasn't created by Halliburton, it was created by our dependence on oil. You could argue that our dependence on oil was created by oil companies but I think it's a bit more complicated than that, and plus, anything they did our system allowed (if not encouraged).

    I don't think I could take a job at Turing Pharmaceutical though. Apart from their scummy tactics, the CEO is a douchebag and I'd rather be poor than work to make him rich. I quit my last job for pretty much that reason; the management was awful and even though I was making good money, I was making even more for them while they treated all the people below them, the same people whose hard work was making them rich while they sat on their asses in conference rooms, like sub-human scum. I'm pretty sure they would have bought us if they could, but I digress...IMO, the pharmaceutical industry is just another product of our fucked up healthcare system. We need the pharmaceutical companies to continue to invent and manufacture drugs that people need to stay healthy, but what we don't need is all the shitty management lining their pockets off the backs of American workers.

    Its funny, the older and wealthier I get, the more I think capitalism is just robbing the poor to pay the rich. Isn't it supposed to go in the opposite direction?

  5. #5
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lud View Post
    I recently turned down an interview after finding out the company was Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company owned by Martin Shkreli,
    wow, I just had that exact thought earlier.

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    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I used to want to study computational linguistics. Then I learned what it's most often used for: targeted marketing. Killed my boner.
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    Bringer of Jollity MoneyJungle's Avatar
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    I can usually tack on a moral reason or two for quitting a job I already hate.

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    I'm working for a bank at the moment. There are no doubt areas in the institution that I consider immoral and wouldn't personally work for, but so far I haven't really witnessed anything that would make me say my work is immoral as such, just levels of flagrant stupidity and inefficiency and waste: nothing that isn't different from the public/other sector stuff I've worked with. Unlike others, I do consider banking an actual structural service inherently connected to supplying the quality of life and services considered normal and everyday in a modern society.

    I don't believe executives are worth what their paid anywhere I've been. I do get paid more here when I know that there are theoretically other activities I could be doing which would serve people better, but I say theoretical because they don't exist reliably in reality. In that sense I consider the system pretty broken.

    Economics is a kinda funny qualification, because many economists are literally employed to do little more than be intellectual PR/self-interested yes men for their employer, so I've tried to steer clear of that.

    I thought about going into physics and sciences when I was younger, but realised that what little jobs existed outside of teaching where often connected to defence or other companies I consider immoral.

    I left a grad interview for sales work when I was younger because it was too much for me to take.

    I generally try to only take jobs where I can consider myself to "do no harm" morally. I've worked with jobs notionally targeting the jobless and the homeless, but in both I can't say I was actually providing any more of a service to the community than I do now in banking. That was an experience I needed to have before I believed it.

    Basically if things turn shitty i'll transfer or move on, and I will refuse to put my name to anything I consider false or misleading.

    I have had a permanent boycott on working for the military as I consider the values and culture of that institution immoral as it currently exists. I haven't generally applied for any jobs I consider immoral: though I did push that line at one stage applying for our internal secret intelligence service, under the understanding that I was young and wanted to see whether they would have any use of me in anything I considered moral and would not take part in anything immoral. I think i failed the psychological assessment though when I pretty much told them as such...

    The military, along with various other firms/industries are just jobs that don't appear on my radar. I don't look/ignore them with a general blanket ban on acknowledging their existance, so its not much of a struggle.

    An interesting one for me at the moment is gambling. There's lots of analytic roles being advertised for betting companies. So far I think working for a gaming company is a bit much...
    Last edited by ACow; 12-16-2015 at 06:01 PM.

  9. #9
    Member Viktor's Avatar
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    I suppose it boils down to what you consider ethical and unethical. Do you have a formulated set of standards to check against, or do you just decide on the fly? Also, how important to you is money, and at what monetary level do you want to exist? Subsistence? Comfortable? Opulent? How strong or important is your ethical stance versus your material or monetary need or desire? All of these factors tie in. In short, it is how much you are willing to sacrifice for what you believe, or maybe how much you are willing to believe for what you sacrifice.

    Yes, every organization has questionable ethical practices, some downright evil. I believe it is human nature to gravitate towards some type of moral compromise to get what you want, or think you want. Throughout my careers, I've been asked to falsify documents, sign documents that I knew were false, steal, create things for companies that were questionable (both the things and the companies), and participate in exploiting others for the organization's gain. Early on, I was fine with all of that, as long as I got my paycheck. The bigger the check, the better.

    At some point, I became dissatisfied with my laissez faire approach towards my values and progressed on a journey to codify them. After than, I was more careful about what I did and for whom (or to whom) I did it. Perfect? No. It is almost impossible to investigate every employer or client so thoroughly that you know everything they are doing. If you did, you'd find them all evil in some way. I believe there is some element of responsibility on their parts. You provide an honest product or service, and they are responsible for using it that way. However, if I know they are doing something unethical or illegal with my work or service, it is time for me to move one. With knowledge comes responsibility. That works both ways however. You cannot hold yourself responsible for client's or customer's poor choices with your product or service.

    Yes, I've given up some bigger paychecks and better perks, but I am satisfied with how things have turned out. Using Starla's hedge fund example, I think I would be comfortable working there, provided they were not violating any laws. Turing Pharma, no. Military - I used to be in it, wouldn't work in or for it again.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    It's been a factor and I've rationalized it.

    What can be seen as service might be destructive and there's no way to know until the future has played itself out.

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