read the following case and answer the three questions that follow:
On a sidewalk in San Pedro Sula, Honduras a lanky, dark-haired boy is sitting with arms curled around his folded legs, staring at the passing traffic. The boy, a nineteen year-old named Marvin, has been sniffing glue for ten years. Once the leader of a gang of street kids, he now has slurred speech and vacant eyes. A year ago, Marvin began to lose feeling in his legs. Now he can no longer walk. He slides on his butt, spiderlike, through gutters, across streets, and along the sidewalks. Still loyal to their chief, the younger kids in his gang bring Marvin food, carry him to a news stand to spend the night, and make sure he has enough glue to stay high. Doctors offer no hope that Marvin will ever walk again. Solvane, the solvent in the glue he sniffs, is a neurotoxin known to cause irreparable nerve damage. In Honduras, the drug of choice for children is Global Companys Grebol, a common shoe-glue made with solvane. Solvane creates the high the children come to crave. Sniffing the glue is so common that the common name for street kids is Greboleros.Marvin was not the only casualty of the solvane-based glue. Solvane, a sweet-smelling chemical used as a solvent for the ingredients in adhesives, destroys the thin layers of fat that surround nerves, causing them to die. Occasional inhalation will produce nosebleeds and rashes while habitual use produces numerous disorders including: severe neurological dysfunction, brain atrophy, loss of liver and kidney functions, loss of sight and hearing, leukemia, and muscle atrophy. Prolonged use can result in eventual
death. For over a decade, thousands of homeless children throughout Latin America, but most visibly in Guatemala and Honduras, had become addicted to inhaling the glue. Many of them were thought to have died while many more were now severely disabled by blindness, diminished brain functioning and crippling muscle atrophy. Global Company had total revenues of $1.243 billion in 2011, up from $1.097 billion in 2010. Profits had totaled $392 million in 2011 and $354 million in 2010. Founded in 1887, the company was now a global manufacturer of adhesives, sealants, and other specialty chemicals, and had operations in over 40 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. While 15 percent of its sales revenues came from its Latin American operations, those operations accounted for 27 percent of its profits, indicative of the fact that its Latin American operations were much more lucrative than its operations elsewhere around the world. According to the company, it has profits of about $450,000 a year from glue sales in Central America.The companys adhesive products are made and distributed in Central America by Global Company S.A., a subsidiary of Kativo Chemical Industries, which itself is a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. Grebol is a brand name that Global Company puts on over a dozen of the adhesives it manufactures in Latin America including its solvane-based glues. These solvane-based adhesives have qualitiesthat water-based adhesives cannot duplicate: they set very rapidly, they adhere strongly, and they are resistant to water. The glues are widely used throughout Latin America by shoe manufacturers, leather workers, carpenters, furniture makers, and small shoe repair shops due to the glues affordable cost and bonding quality when compared to alternatives.
Both Honduras and Guatemala, two countries where Global Company markets its glue products and the two countries where Grebol abuse is most pronounced, are stuck in poverty. In 2011 Honduras had a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of only $1950, and unemployment of approximately 20 percent.
Guatemala was doing slightly better with a per capita GDP of $3,000 and an unemployment rate of about 15 percent. More than a third of the population of each country is below poverty. For several years both countries have had large deficit budgets, forcing them to take on an ever larger debt burden and to sharply curtail all social services. Migration from the countryside into the major cities had increased urban
crowding and had created large impoverished populations in every large city. In these impoverished, insecure, and stressful conditions, family life often became unstable: husbands abandoned their wives, and both abandoned the children they were too poor or too sickly to care for. The countless children that roamed city streets begging for handouts, for the most part, had been abandoned by their families, although a good number were runaways from what they felt was an intolerable home life. For years Global Company had been pressured by child advocate groups in Central America and the United States who were concerned about the rising use of the companys glues by homeless children in Latin America. A number of child advocates and social workers argued that Global Company should follow the lead of Testors, a company which makes and markets glues in the United States. Criticized in the late 1960s for marketing glues that American teenagers had started sniffing, the company ran a number of tests and
decided that a safe way of keeping kids from sniffing its glues was by adding tiny amounts of mustard-seed oil, a common food additive. Inhaling glue containing the mustard-seed additive produced tearing and gagging that discouraged inhalation. Testors reported that the use of mustard-seed oil had virtually eliminated abuse of its glues and that it had never had reports of any kind of injury deriving from the addition of the oil from users nor from employees in its plants.In response to the urging of Honduran social workers, the government of Honduras in early 2010 passed a law which banned importing or manufacturing solvent-based adhesives that did not contain mustard-seed oil. However, the general manager and other executives from the local Global Company subsidiary successfully lobbied the government of Honduras to have the law revoked, meaning it was once again legal to sell the glue without containing mustard-seed oil. Possibly, observers noted, because it might reduce the glues effectiveness, possibly because the smell would be irritating to legitimate users. Company officials in Global Companys Honduras subsidiary argued that they had data showing that mustard-seed oil had a short shelf life and that studies on rats in the United States had shown that the substance potentially caused cancer. They urged that instead of requiring additives, the government should attempt to controldistribution of the glue by prohibiting its sale to children, and should educate street kids on the dangers of inhaling it. In late 2010, a Honduran government commission recommended that the government concentrate on controlling distribution of the glue and providing education on the dangers of inhaling glue. Two years later, a journalist investigating the incident reported, however, that there is no official study showing a decline in the effectiveness of mustard-seed oil in adhesives as they sat on store shelves and that, far from causing cancer, the Food and Drug Administration lists the additive on its Generally Regarded as Safe list and it is consumed daily in products such as horseradish and pickles.
Honduran law already prohibited the sale of solvane-based products directly to children, although the law was rarely enforced. To reduce the availability of the glue to children, the company now discontinued selling the glue in small jars. Global Company also began paying for the support of several social workers to work with street children. And the company began providing information to distributors warning of the dangers of Grebol addiction.
Childrens advocates, however, who had worked with street children for several years, did not feel the programs were working. The terrible economic conditions afflicting the country that led parents to abandon their children, also made life on the streets a painful unceasing nightmare for a child from which the only available escape was the cheap intoxication offered by inhaling glue. Casa Alianza, the Latin American wing of Covenant House, an international Catholic charity based in New York, would later
release a report on Central American street children stating that Living on the edge of survival they are often swept in an undertow of beatings, illegal detention, torture, sexual abuse, rape, and murder. The report detailed numerous cases of children detained and beaten by police for sniffing glue. In one case the mutilated bodies of four street boys were found in 2011, their eyes burned out, ears and tongues severed, some had had boiling liquid poured over their bodies, and all were shot in the head, some with bullets that were later traced to a government-issued gun. In such conditions, the lure of the hallucinogenic glue was irresistible. Said one social worker about an abandoned child who habitually sniffed glue, When he inhales Grebol, he hallucinates about his mother caressing him.Although criticisms of the company continued, including calls for consumer boycotts of the company on social media, the company argued that the problem did not lie with its glue, but with the social conditions that led children to misuse it, particularly the terrible economic conditions afflicting the countries. The company insisted that it was not responsible for the way its glues were being misused and that if it were to remove Grebol from the market, the street children would merely begin to use one of the solvane-based products of the other companies selling glues in the region. The company insisted, in fact, that by continuing to sell its glue in Central America, it was helping to improve the economic conditions that were at the root of the problem. Commenting on its reasons for staying, a company spokesperson stated that We believe those little shoe businesses need to survive. They provide employment, help relieve the issue of poverty, and were willing to do whatever we can.Global Companys website states the following in its section on Community Responsibility: Global Reach. Local Impact: Global Companys global strategy is centered around our commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where we do business. As a global leader in industrial adhesives, we are focused on inspiring tomorrows innovators today by supporting education and leadership development programs for youth.In no more than a total of 1,800 words (please indicate your total word count at the end of the analysis) analyze the following ethical issue: Is Global Company morally obligated to: (i) discontinue selling their glue at the present time; (ii) add mustard seed oil with respect to their glue; or (iii) continue selling the glue without taking any additional steps? To answer this question, students should do the following (there is no need for any introduction to your analysis):
Question 1: In your first sentence, indicate your position on the ethical issue (select one of the three alternatives). Then immediately apply all seven moral standards (i.e., core values, relativism, ethical egoism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, moral rights, justice), to the full extent that they are applicable, to both support and/or critique your position on the ethical issue (clearly indicate which moral standards or components of the moral standards you are applying and highlight in bold text). As part of and incorporated into your application of the moral standards, make reference to any other relevant cases and/or theoretical concepts or frameworks discussed throughout the course (highlight name of case or theoretical concept in bold text), including those related to consumer protection and doing business abroad (approximately 1,600 words).
Question 2: Indicate whether Milton Friedman would agree or disagree with your position on the issue and why based on his criteria and constraints (approx. 200 words).
No additional research beyond the course materials is required. Include any reasonable factual assumptions you are making if necessary. Note that you wont be graded on the specific alternative you defend but on the quality of your analysis and your demonstration of your grasp and application of the course concepts and cases. This assignment is to be completed by you alone. You may not discuss, ask, or allow another student or anyone else to read, review, or give any comments on your answer (or even an outline of your answer), and you may not discuss, review, or give comments on any other student\’s answer or outline. Failure to observe the requirement to write your assignment alone will be considered a serious ethical violation, so please be careful to avoid problems. Please do not ask if you can go over the word limit (the total maximum of 1,800 words) as I will reply that you should not go over the word limit (in fairness to other students).
Question 3. (Additional Mandatory but Non-Graded Question). Please review your personal ethical dilemma and start by summarizing your dilemma in one sentence as a question (e.g., should I accept the expensive gift from the supplier?). Then briefly indicate with reasons whether now after taking the course you would act exactly the same way or differently (put this in bold text I would act the same way or I would act differently) if you faced your dilemma again (maximum 300 words, not included in total 1,800 word limit for questions 1 and 2).
Currently 3 writers are viewing this order