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Lots of email about the role of ethics in companies and business schools, and our comment that if parents don’t teach ethical behavior, none of the rest will matter.

One MNB user wrote:

Ultimately, at some point on life’s journey, the choice becomes the individual’s. There are instances throughout history, where a child was not given the best of circumstances in their early years, but they chose to rise out of it. Ben Franklin and Beethoven were both beaten as children, but they managed to still become contributors to society. Through CHOICE.

MNB user Chris Wood wrote:

I do not want to read too much into your reasoning the lack of parental instruction results in individuals making poor ethical decisions as adults.

Although parental influence and role modeling can have an impact on imprinting future behavior on the offspring as they grow into adults, let us not forget that as adults we still have a free will. In pop culture terms, you could have Ward and June Cleaver as your parents, and still turn out to be an Eddie Haskel.

And, dare I say, we all fight our fallen nature that some would subscribe as the stain of original sin.

Of course, we all have free will. And people make decisions all the time that would distress their parents. (It also is worth noting that unethical parents can have children who make ethical decisions.)

And at the risk of getting involved in a discussion of catechism, we’ve always had a problem with the notion of original sin, especially as taught to us at the end of a ruler by nuns, because it seems to stress humanity’s flaws and sins rather than what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

MNB user Joan M. Cole wrote:

You are absolutely right! The idea of ethics in business schools is a very good idea. I think the idea should be extended to our middle & high schools, however. Yes, the responsibility resides with the parents but there are so many parents who are unethical - how can they possibly teach their children something they don't know about?? At least if kids are being exposed to ethics at an early age (even a mini-ethics class in elementary school) they can start to ask questions about what is right and what is wrong. Something might rub off even if it doesn't come from the parents. Children WANT to please others so why not catch them early?!

There’s only one problem with teaching ethics. Some teachers believe that such things need to be learned by rote, when in fact any discussion of ethical behavior requires a person to think, to reason, to challenge and to debate. Not all educational institutions applaud such initiatives.

Another MNB user wrote:

The purpose of ethics is so the unseen line in every business situation is visible. It would be wonderful if every transaction had a magical back door you could pass threw when things went wrong.

Unfortunately, most character in life comes from bad experiences that force you to look inward and upward. Every person in my young life that I have met has some type of horror story that makes them real and down to earth. I have learned that if you surround yourself with people who have experienced life and learned from it, your neck will not go out of place by always looking over your shoulder. I also tend to think that everyone in society is to blame for poor ethics, poor morals and general apathy toward their fellow man.

Everyone has to set an example, including myself . Remember you can't cheat an honest person.

We continue to get email about the decision by the Cleveland Clinic to try and evict a McDonald’s from its food court because of concerns about the nutritional value of the food served by the chain.

One MNB user wrote:

As an 18 year-old, I had a need to stay in hospital for a week after breaking my ankle. As the particular hospital I was in had no beds left in "adult" wards, I was placed into the children's ward. There were some fairly sick children -- including several cancer & leukemia patients -- and the hospital allowed them on occasion to have McDonald's brought in for them. For the half hour or so it took them to eat that meal, they were normal -- the fun of "Macca's" (as we call it down under) was sufficient for them to forget about their troubles and problems. McDonald's in Australia also host McHappy Day, in which a dollar from each Big Mac sold goes to the Children's Hospitals & Charities.

I also wonder if the new CEO has ever watched “Patch Adams,” and if he had had Patch in his hospital what may have become of the legend…

Another MNB user wrote:

Obviously, all the people with the ideas on this issue must not have had someone from their family in the hospital for a serious health issue. Hospital cafeterias have limited serving times, they run out of food, and they are very time consuming. I have seen some with very unappealing food. Often, they are not close to the patient's room or easily accessible from the ER.

Fast food in the hospital complex is a way for people waiting to meet their food needs. It is very possible to eat food at McDonald's that is relatively healthy, especially when one considers that this is for a short period of time. Employees and others who do not make other choices for meals need to accept responsibility for their own choices.

Having been in ER for hours, under stress on more than one occasion, having the option of real food available would have helped in a difficult situation. A machine that makes awful coffee (which I cannot drink no matter how good it is) or offers diet pop or a bottle of water is not enough to sustain a person under difficult circumstances. Candy bars from another machine are not a good choice either. Making a trip to the cafeteria means leaving the area where the patient is being treated. When dealing with trauma or serious illness, one does not want to leave.

I say the clinic is to be applauded for taking a step to help with this issue by having McDonalds locate there. Talking turkey with McDonalds about more healthy choices on the menu seems to make much more sense than yanking the food establishment.

And yet another MNB user wrote:

As a long time reader but a first time contributor I should say how much I enjoy the MNB. You approach is usually very fair and refreshing...

On the issue last week of the Cleveland Clinic now wanting McDonald's out of the hospital because of their new revelation of fast-foods ie...McDonalds as selling non-healthy and obesity related food products.

You suggested, "Nobody is suggesting the banning of all fast food joints. But it seem to us that it is perfectly legitimate for a hospital to sell heart healthy food.”

It seems to me the clinic is now jumping on the public bandwagon in wanting public pressure to override a legal lease/ rent issue. The hospital didn't seem to mind collecting the lease/rent monies from McDonalds the first ten (10) years of it's 20 year lease. The Hospital now thinks because of public awareness on this issue McDonalds should just abandon its established location, and based on your comments you would agree. "The hospital should have the right to sell heart healthy food".

I think you’re correct, however that choice should be in 10 years from now, when they have the right not to renew the lease. Not try and force somebody out, do to public pressure. But since that tactic worked with Pizza Hut already, the Cleveland Clinic probably thought it might work with McDonalds as well.

It just drives me nuts, when people can't or won't honor their commitments when it gets a bit uncomfortable. The Cleveland Clinic is world class as a treatment facility, seems like the doctor might want to stick to being a Doctor not a public speaker.

Since you use sports as examples all the time for reference, here's one for you. A baseball player is considered outstanding if he gets hits 3 of 10 times at bat. Your average is much much higher with your content than 300 your at least a 800 hitter, but you struck out here.

Maybe. But we think that our understanding of nutrition and heart disease is a lot better today than it was a decade ago. And while the doctor who is trying to evict McDonald’s certainly is setting himself up for criticism, it seems to us that he is trying to behave in an essentially ethical manner.
KC's View: