Consumer Ethics


III. Essay (this is a fictional scenario): (30 points)  

Note:  An essay is an organized narrative-- not a divided, truncated answering of questions.  Your response should include an introduction and a conclusion.


Since their introduction, state lotteries have been a source of controversy.  While generating an average of $2 billion dollars for a state’s general fund (often ear-marked for education), research shows that it is primarily funded by individuals with lower incomes and less education.

After nearly being abolished by the Texas House of Representatives this April, "Lotto Texas" is looking for a new advertising agency (has put its account into review) and has requested that your advertising agency participate in the RFP (request for proposals) process.  As you conduct your research on the lottery industry for the background of your campaign proposal, you discover that approximately 30% of all lotto winners (the big money game) end up in deep financial difficulty.  Most winners lack the experience managing money, and as a result of the financial difficulties, they have often ended up with personal, marital, and family problems.

You also discover that the TX lottery offers winners a short video on how to manage their money and encourages them to seek professional financial help.  However, TX lottery officials also give the winners’ names to independent loan companies that deal with lottery winners nationwide.  Since lottery winnings are paid out in installments, these companies offer to purchase future payments, giving winners a lump sum payment, in exchange for a high commission.  Or, if the winner ends up in financial trouble, these companies offer debt management programs at interest rates of 24-35%.

Since these companies are from out of state, the Texas Attorney General has no jurisdiction over them.  Since the people these companies target are perhaps limited in their education and facing a major change in their lives, questions arise as to their ability to deal one-on-one with sophisticated financiers.  The loan companies have worked diligently to secure the right to offer these debt and loan programs to winners.  In 1998, House Bill 837 was offered as legislation to allow lottery winners’ installments to be voluntarily assigned by contract to these companies.  The Bill was sponsored by a Virginia Representative who said, “I felt we didn’t need to be a nanny state.  If they choose to squander their money, shame on them, but it’s no business of the government.”

In light of the above "information", analyze [in paragraph form] the actions:

          1) of the loan companies using a deontological lens; AND

          2) of the state using a utilitarian lens; AND

          3) of your advertising agency’s taking on this client (Lotto Tx) using a virtue ethics lens


3-part lens discussion (5 points each lens section = 15 points)

Indicating a thorough understanding of the differences between the lenses (4 points)

Applying the lens to the indicated focus of analysis, e.g., loan company--deontology; state--utilitarian; student's ad agency--virtue ethics (2 each = 6 points) 

Organized, paragraph form with introduction and conclusion, well-written essay (5 points) PROOFREAD!


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