Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category


The New York Times’ Stephanie Clifford had an interesting piece today about RealAge, an online quiz site that apparently has garnered a fair amount of press from Oprah etc. Public Citizen’s Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research, weighs in by telling the Times how sites like this take advantage of consumers’ health fears:

“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up,” said Peter Lurie, M.D., the deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a public interest group in Washington. The company, he said, “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis.”

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Victory! Roll Call  reports that the nomination of Chamber of Commerce lapdog Mark Gitenstein to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy has been dropped — and suggests Public Citizen played a significant role in convincing the administration to drop the nomination.

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Like many folks, I often feel a twinge of guilt for not reading all the fine print when signing  contracts for credit cards and other services. I feel like there’s something there I should know (and worry) about, and if I could figure out exactly what it is, then I might be able to fight back if it turned out I signed a bad deal. But, of course, I start to read, my eyes glaze over, and … well, I never figure out what that worrisome item is.

Today, we need Congress to overturn one of the most unfair items in contracts like these: binding arbitration agreements. Sign one, and you sign away your right to take the company to court. They’re tucked into many contracts for numerous services and employment, and there’s little a consumer can do to combat them directly.

Sound too boring to bother with? Ask Debbie Dantz, a former Applebee’s employee. Ian Millhiser writes of her plight in the Huffington Post. Dantz endured appallingly cruel sexual harrassment at work. Her complaints to management were ignored, and she eventually was presented with a binding arbitration agreement to sign.

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K Street

by David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

It’s big news when a president says something like “I screwed up.” And it’s true that mistakes were made, so to speak, regarding some recent nominations. But President Obama still has a groundbreaking ethics policy, and he can still make it work. Sen. Daschle’s nomination shows how.

We at Public Citizen were concerned about Daschle’s nomination right away because we had heard about his work at Alston & Bird, which has a major healthcare lobbying practice.  Even though many people thought Daschle would have done a great job at HHS and as health “czar,” his private-sector work over the past few years didn’t seem to fit with Obama’s promise to change the way Washington works.

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