Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013
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Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013
A place to share resources & examples related to ethical questions in marketing and discuss how marketing can both positively and negatively affect society, now and in the future. For QSB Fall 2013 COMM338 Class.
Curated by Monica LaBarge
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Free Advice: Don't Peg Marketing Plans To Natural Disasters

Free Advice: Don't Peg Marketing Plans To Natural Disasters | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

Is it considered ethical to take advantage of natural disasters to promote a product?

Many brands see these kinds of situation as opportunities to make more profit. So they launch campaigns to promote their products while a tragic event is happening. We can wonder if it is empathy towards these affected populations, however the way they did their campaign makes us doubt about it. In such tragic situations, the use of humour is very delicate and if it is not well used it is just going to hurt people. Moreover, the simple fact to turn a disaster into an opportunity to advertise is extremely shocking. These brands clearly do not respect victim’s pain, nevertheless these victims are also (or were) their customers. By hurting them, these brands chose short term benefits, and those will be certainly low compare to the number of customers they lost by doing their promotional campaign. They easily crossed an ethical line and it looks like they could do everything to make a buzz. And these very bad taste campaigns bring to a broader question, can we laugh at everything. We can wonder, would marketers do these same campaigns if someone in their family was concerned?

But some brands acted more discreetly like the example of Anheuser Busch shows. Of course we can always wonder if it’s empathy or opportunism…

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Tesco criticised over 'misleading' horsemeat ad

Tesco criticised over 'misleading' horsemeat ad | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Advertising watchdog says campaign attempted to shift blame to 'the whole food industry' rather than just supermarket chain. By Mark Sweney

Via Philip Bjerre Andersen
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Philip Bjerre Andersen's curator insight, November 12, 2013 1:40 PM

In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, Tesco published an advertisement in national newspapers in which it publicly apologized for the historic events under the heading "What burgers have taught us". In this advertisement Tesco states “It’s about the whole food industry”. The ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) on the basis of ambiguous wording.

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Globe and Mail: Fat or Ugly? Abercrombie & Fitch Doesn't Want You

Globe and Mail: Fat or Ugly? Abercrombie & Fitch Doesn't Want You | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

Abercrombie & Fitch, a trendy and popular retail store based in the U.S, has raised controversy due to their racy marketing tactics. In early May of 2013, Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, drew a public relations firestorm over an interview he gave seven years ago. In the interview, Jeffries stated that he was not interested in selling to overweight women and ‘not-so-cool’ kids. Abercrombie’s current size offering for their female clothing line does not include any size greater than a “Large”. Jeffries wants an absolutely exclusionary brand and believes that the ideal beauty standards of Abercrombie should be extended from the core brand to its advertising, hiring practices, and whom they want as their customers. There are several ethical and social issues that stem from Abercrombie’s marketing practices. By selectively marketing to those who are thinner and “good-looking”, Abercrombie is excluding larger sized women, and indirectly labeling them as “uncool”. Furthermore, Abercrombie’s shallow view of beauty has an impact on a vulnerable target market - tweens “who want to be like teenagers, and therefore, are subject to extreme peer pressure to ‘be cool’”. Abercrombie’s message to these tweens is that in order to be popular, you should be thin and good-looking. Finally, Abercrombie has faced lawsuits regarding their unethical treatment of Asian, Hispanic, and Black employees who are forced to work at the back of stores because they did not fit the company’s “look”. It is evident that Abercrombie is partaking in unethical marketing.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/fat-or-ugly-abercrombie-fitch-doesnt-want-you/article11853840/

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How income inequality hurts every Canadian's chance of building a better life

How income inequality hurts every Canadian's chance of building a better life | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Canada is at a crossroads. A gap has grown between the middle class and the wealthy. Now, that divide is threatening to erode a cherished Canadian value: equality of opportunity for all.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

An extremely well-done illustration of how we are all being hurt by income inequality, in ways that have little to do with how much money we take home at the end of the day -- well-worth the read & watch!

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The Simplest Way to Get People Biking

The Simplest Way to Get People Biking | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Show them how much time they waste using other modes of transportation.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

A great example of a small change in the way that information is delivered that increases perceptions of costs of the behaviour you don't want people to do (i.e. driving) and makes the thing you do want them to do (bike or walk) seem less costly -- social marketing at work!

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Alessia Vettese's comment, November 18, 2013 11:40 AM
I would agree with the underlying message here. While rolling out a simple bike-sharing program has merit, the deeper goal is to successfully change behaviour. The provision of information will help accomplish this. If consumers are not informed as to the amount of time and money they will be saving (not to mention the tremendous health benefits of exercising, rather than remaining sedentary, during transit), then society will never progress. As with any well-marketed message, the full upside potential should be presented. Consumers must be presented with a full range of considerations in order to make informed decisions. Here, this will be in the form of a clear justification on why bike-sharing programs make the most sense given someone’s particular route.
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Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B in drugs-marketing probe

Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B in drugs-marketing probe | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Johnson & Johnson and its drugs unit will pay $2.2 billion to the U.S. government and 45 states to end civil and criminal investigations into unethical drug marketing practices.
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Kathryn Hajjar's comment, November 8, 2013 5:17 PM
This article sheds light on a recent scandal involving Johnson & Johnson’s unethical marketing of their drug, Risperdal. Johnson & Johnson made false and misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of Risperdal. The drug, which is recommended only for treatment of schizophrenia, was marketed towards patients with ADHD, dementia and other disorders. Moreover, the company paid illegal kickbacks to health care professionals to induce them to promote or prescribe Risperdal to patient populations for which there was no FDA approval, such as children and the elderly. As a result of this illegal behaviour, a $2.2 billion settlement was reached, and Johnson & Johnson has agreed to work closely with the Inspector General in order to increase the transparency of their endeavors. Johnson & Johnson violated the Golden Rule since any salient person would not enjoy being lied to or given potentially harmful drugs so that a billion dollar corporation could increase revenues. As well, Johnson & Johnson also breached the American Marketing Association’s Code of Ethics framework. The framework states that “marketers must foster trust in the marketing system”, and that those marketers “must embrace, communicate, and practice the fundamental ethical values that will improve consumer confidence in the integrity of the marketing exchange system.” Johnson & Johnson directly abused the trust of the marketing system in the medical community by bribing medical officials and misleading consumers. It is our hope that an example will be made out of this unfortunate unethical situation.
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Facebook Helps Indochino Tailor to Consumer Nee...

Facebook Helps Indochino Tailor to Consumer Nee... | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Direct Marketing News Facebook Helps Indochino Tailor to Consumer Needs Direct Marketing News A few weeks before the Traveling Tailor arrived to a given city, Indochino used Facebook's geo-targeting and custom audiences features to message...
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I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here's What Happened Next

I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here's What Happened Next | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
For months, I got calls from around the world offering me short-term loans with very high interest.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

Today's posts seem to be all about vulnerable populations -- here's a description of what happened when the author, a journalist, applied online for a payday loan. It's pretty quickly obvious that the system is set up to take advantage of people who are desperate -- it frustrated her, and she knew (sort of) what she was getting into.

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Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion in drug-marketing settlement - Morning Sentinel

Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion in drug-marketing settlement - Morning Sentinel | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
MiamiHerald.com Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion in drug-marketing settlement Morning Sentinel Federal investigators accused a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary of promoting Risperdal for controlling anxiety and aggression in elderly...
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Barilla company announces diversity measures after anti-gay comments - UPI.com

Barilla company announces diversity measures after anti-gay comments - UPI.com | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Barilla company announces diversity measures after anti-gay comments
UPI.com
4 (UPI) -- Italian food company Barilla S.p.A. announced a diversity board of advisers Monday, a month after its president said he would never portray gay families in ads.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

An example of how consumer pressure can affect company "policies".

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"Native Ads on Web can blur lines between news and advertising"

In the article we identified multiple ethical issues regarding the use of native ads.  The first issue was that most readers are unaware that what they are reading is in fact an advertisement, so they are misled into believing that the article has been created by the publication. Another issue we identified is that these new types of advertisements may increasingly affect unbiased reporting by the media. The separation of real content versus advertising content may become more difficult to distinguish, which is ethically questionable, because it violates the trust readers have in these sources. In addition, we found that native ads went against certain ethical frameworks, such as the AMA code of ethics and the duty-based framework. These advertisements are neither honest nor open to consumers, as they hide their true origins and it is in fact their intention to be deceiving and misleading.  Two things we found surprising and interesting about the article were that native advertisements are the sole source of revenue for BuzzFeed and that these ads are more costly to advertisers than methods such as banner ads. We found both of these surprising, because we doubted the strength and validity of advertisements that alluded to rather than outlined a brand. However, the success of native ads can be proven through the different ways that they resonate with consumers, and how they are able to reach a wider span of the population because consumers are willing to share them over social media platforms. 

 

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02-01/lifestyle/36685680_1_ads-web-sites-blur-line

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AmazonSmile lets shoppers donate a portion of their purchases to charity

AmazonSmile lets shoppers donate a portion of their purchases to charity | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Amazon wants to make it easier for its millions of customers to donate to charitable causes. To assist with that effort, the online retailer has today launched AmazonSmile, a new shopping portal...
Monica LaBarge's insight:

A new approach to cause-related marketing (this one at the retailer level).

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Marketing to Kids

Marketing to Kids | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
RWJF works to reduce youths’ exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods through regulation, policy, and effective industry self-regulation.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

All the info you could ever want about how food is marketed to youth (children & teens). Fascinating, data-based research -- great, credible source of information!

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Alessia Vettese's comment, November 2, 2013 6:03 PM
The figures observed in these articles are startling. Burger King and McDonald’s are responsible for 99% of fast food advertisements targeted at children. Despite food companies spending approximately 20% less targeting children last year, this does not change the fact that two major players are shaping children’s perceptions of the industry as a whole. It is the variety of influences (particularly from healthy food companies) that is lacking. This makes me wonder if more stringent policies should be implemented, especially given the vulnerability of the group targeted. In parts of Canada, Norway and Sweden, advertising in any form to children under the age of 12 is illegal. Whether in the form of an outright ban or by instituting stricter penalties, the CARU must taken action to actively confront the childhood obesity epidemic. It is only by doing so that the burden of consequences in society will finally shift away from consumers and toward producers.
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Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B in health care fraud settlement

Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B in health care fraud settlement | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

Johnson & Johnson had to pay a $2.2bn fine because the company was promoting drugs for “off-label” use by paying kickbacks to physicians and pharmacies. For example Risperdal, which was FDA approved for treating schizophrenia was used to treat depression. The company admitted its miss behavior and paid the 3rd largest fine in the pharmaceutical area in US history.

 

There were tree major ethical issues involved in the actions of Johnson & Johnson. The company accepted the possibly occurring health threats, it was targeting some of the most vulnerable populations like children and elderly people and it was misusing its power to influence physicians and pharmacies.

 

Tolerating potential health treats that occur due to “off-label” use is breaking the Fairness Value of the AMA CoE, as the companies and the consumer’s needs are not equally considered. Targeting vulnerable populations is breaking the Openness Value of the AMA CoE, stating that companies have a special responsibility towards them. And finally by misusing its market power to manipulate physicians and pharmacies Johnson and Johnson is neglecting the Respect & Fairness values of AMA CoE.

 

We found it really interesting that despite the negative press about the actions of Johnson & Johnson we couldn´t find any negative reports about the misbehavior of physicians and pharmacies accepting kickbacks to promote drugs for “off-label” uses. As we think that such problems can only be solved, if both parties are made accountable for their actions.

 

 

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NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

This article describes how the NSA has tapped into data centers owned by Google and Yahoo around the world, gaining access to private user information. Although this has been occuring domestically within the United States through the court-approved program PRISM, the NSA implemented an additional data collection program named MUSCULAR in order to take advantage of looser international restrictions. Given Google and Yahoo’s global operations, data between their respective data centers travels globally on a regular basis. Once data has been sent between global centers, it is considered “foreign” (regardless of data origin). The NSA has taken advantage of this, as information with a foreign status is subject to much looser privacy restrictions. As domestic information is easily and frequently transformed into foreign data, the NSA has effectively circumvented the safety precautions set in place to protect domestic data. Outside of the NSA, it is important to note that while Google and Yahoo had no explicit involvement in this data procurement, the NSA’s actions still have an ethical implication for these companies. Having assured premium user data privacy in years past, Google and Yahoo now face consumer doubt as to their capability to successfully protect this data. Moving forward, large data technology companies such as Google and Yahoo will have to continually assess how external factors can have an adverse effect on their respective business functions and brand promises. 

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Tesco criticised over 'misleading' horsemeat ad

Tesco criticised over 'misleading' horsemeat ad | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

In the wake of the horse meat scandal, Tesco published an advertisement in national newspapers in which it publicly apologized for the historic events under the heading "What burgers have taught us". In this advertisement Tesco states that the crisis is “[...] about the whole food industry” and that "we are changing". The ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) on the basis of ambiguous wording.

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The Takeaway - Can Data-Tracking Devices Help Kids Stay Active?

The Takeaway - Can Data-Tracking Devices Help Kids Stay Active? | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Can data and algorithms help motivate kids to be more active? That’s the goal of a new project being pioneered in Snohomish County, Washington. Dr.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

Another example of how to use incentives (and, in this case, technology, and social norms) to encourage behaviour, like Andreas Souvaliotis talked about in class. 

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The Globe and Mail: Advertising food to children moves from TV to online games

Marketing unhealthy products to children has become a major issue due to the rapid rise in childhood obesity rates throughout North America. Many major companies like Coca Cola, Nestlé, Hershey, etc. have products that are typically intended for children ages 12 and under. Trying to take an active approach in helping reduce this obesity epidemic, these large companies decided to make a verbal agreement to stray away from targeting and directing their advertisements at children.  

 

This lead to a new form of advertising called ‘Advergames’. These advergames are computer games for kids that use the mascots of brands, for example Toucan Sam for Fruit Loops, to build a brand connection to these kids without them even realizing it. By making these games available to children to play they are violating many AMA codes of ethics.

 

With the AMA code of ethics stating that “marketers must do no harm” and they need to “foster trust” in the community, by targeting these games directly at kids, companies are encouraging kids to consume their unhealthy products, contributing to child obesity and ultimately “doing harm”. With many of these companies having the promises to not target children have lied to the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, taking away the trust that was once established earlier.

 

With many kids still developing their literacy skills, they can’t distinguish between advergames and other online activities. Companies being aware of this, are actively blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising and it needs to be stopped.

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Struggling Abercrombie & Fitch announces it will now offer larger sizes — after CEO famously said brand wasn’t for ‘fat’ people  

Struggling Abercrombie & Fitch announces it will now offer larger sizes — after CEO famously said brand wasn’t for ‘fat’ people   | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

Struggling fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co said it would expand its women's tops collection, offer larger sizes and more colors, and start selling shoes, in a bid to win back teen customers who have turned to trendier labels.

I'm shore you have all read or heard about the statement that the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries made about that the company's clothes are made for "cool" and "attractive" kids and not for "fat" people.

This message is also reflected in their advertisements (one of Abercrombie’s ads was actually in the movie that we watched today) This is of course unethical because of the reasons that we discussed today, they portray women as objects.

Today however, the company revealed that they will begin making larger sizes again. I believe they are trying to save their reputation and regain customers that they lost because of their ethically questionable behavior. The question is if this will work, will they be able to regain lost customers, or will they still be seen as an unethical company that excludes people? I think they will have a hart time regaining consumer’s trust. 

  

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Feminist movie rating system introduced in Sweden

Feminist movie rating system introduced in Sweden | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Movie theatres in equality-minded Sweden are introducing a new rating to highlight gender bias, or rather the absence of it.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

I think the title is more provocative than necessary; really, the most interesting thing is that the rating is based on whether women talk to each other about something other than men. This essentially tackles the same question that is at the heart of tomorrow's in-class movie (and discussed this week in class) about the extent to which the portrayal of women in popular culture (like advertising or movies) may affect how we see ourselves in real life. 

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Domestic Violence Victims Tend To Suffer From Long-Term Health Problems - ThinkProgress

Domestic Violence Victims Tend To Suffer From Long-Term Health Problems - ThinkProgress | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
ThinkProgress Domestic Violence Victims Tend To Suffer From Long-Term Health Problems ThinkProgress “We now know from science that exposure to violence leads to significant poor health outcomes across the life spectrum,” Kristin Schubert, the...
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Alaska takes fight over seafood eco-labelling to Washington - FT.com

Alaska takes fight over seafood eco-labelling to Washington - FT.com | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
Many of North America’s biggest seafood purchasers, including Walmart, Sodexo and the US government, are rethinking their environmental sustainability standards under intense pressure from the Alaskan fishing industry.
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Telling India’s Modern Women They Have Power, Even Over Their Skin Tone - New York Times

Telling India’s Modern Women They Have Power, Even Over Their Skin Tone - New York Times | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it

The global skin care and cosmetic industry varies internationally in the way that they advertise products to consumers. Specifically, skin-lightening agents are quite a controversial topic when it comes to advertising techniques that are deemed appropriate and ethical. The first key issues identified in this article is the promotional techniques used by Fair and Lovely, in India, that creates the perception of their products as a need by advertising skin lightening products with the promise of greater success in both work and love. Thus, they are successfully skewing Indian’s perception of beauty in a deceptive manner. Secondly, marketers are knowingly doing harm through the promotion of these various skin-lightening creams, as dermatologists have deemed these products as harmful with over usage. Thirdly, Unilever gains a sense of hypocrisy by advertising Fair and Lovely to lighten women’s skin tones in India, while simultaneously conducting a “Real Beauty” campaign for Dove. This exemplifies Unilever’s lack of credibility in the marketplace, as they continuously send opposing messages to consumers. These three key ethical issues go against certain ethical frameworks, such as the AMA code of ethics and the Utilitarian perspective There were a couple of main points we found surprising. Firstly, it was extremely surprising to discover that Dove is owned by the same company as Fair and Lovely, due to the fact that the two brands send opposing messages. Secondly, the popularity and acceptance of skin lightening cream in India is extremely surprising. Overall, the article is an interesting read worth examining.

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When Physicians' Careers Suffer Because They Refuse to Prescribe Narcotics

When Physicians' Careers Suffer Because They Refuse to Prescribe Narcotics | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
In some new systems where doctors are reviewed by patients, physicians unwilling to supply addicts with pain pills receive poor patient-satisfaction feedback. That is judged as poor performance by hospital administrators.
Monica LaBarge's insight:

A cautionary tale about how "satisfaction" scores can have limitations - especially when the population describing their satisfaction is acting unethically. 

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Alessia Vettese's comment, November 2, 2013 5:32 PM
The ethical dilemma here comes down to a personal struggle faced by physicians, caught between an oath of “do no harm” and a desire to maintain their jobs and high compensation. Medical professionals should never feel that they must make a certain prescription where no legitimate medical need exists, simply out of fear of being penalized. This article reminded me of a piece by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Blink”. He explains that the risk of a doctor being sued for malpractice has little to do with how many mistakes he or she makes. Rather, patients file lawsuits because of how they feel they were treated by their doctors on a personal level (with few exceptions). Across this industry, incentives need to be linked to ethically correct actions and adherence to medical principles, above all else. The institutions governing physicians should be taking measures to protect them from such situations.
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How to Cut the Poverty Rate in Half (It's Easy)

How to Cut the Poverty Rate in Half (It's Easy) | Social & Ethical Issues in Marketing - Fall 2013 | Scoop.it
By sending every adult and child $3,000 a year, the government could achieve historic poverty reductions. Think of it as Social Security for all, not just the elderly. 
Monica LaBarge's insight:

An interesting perspective on how to get rid of a problem that is related to so many other social issues: poverty, crime, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, illiteracy, obesity...the list goes on and on.

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