Over the past several weeks, the news has reported that: General Motors recalled 1.62 million cars blamed for 12 deaths in 31 crashes and GM may for years have covered up the defect; the U. S. government imposed the largest fine ($1.2 billion) ever on a carmaker, Toyota, for concealing information about faulty parts that caused sudden and unintended acceleration in some of its models; Russia cavalierly annexed the Crimea in violation of international law and thumbed its nose at the world; a Malaysian flight disappeared with hundreds of passengers aboard, quite possibly for nefarious reasons; and a U. S. Army general pled guilty to reduced charges in his court-martial for sexually assaulting a female subordinate.

Meanwhile, the niche world of horse racing was understandably troubled and outraged by a PETA video that allegedly shows a leading trainer (and a current Hall of Fame candidate) and his subordinates callously treating horses in their care and the trainer is also purportedly engaging in a callous disregard for U. S. immigration law.

The tendency is to simply dismiss these events as just more sordid examples in a long litany of moral and ethical failures in institutions ranging from the presidency of the United States to religious institutions, commercial enterprises, and the professional sports leagues. After a while, one becomes inured to the reprehensible.

Unacceptable moral/ethical behavior is not human nature. It is not human nature, for example, for racehorse trainers to treat their charges as commodities, but rather, it is the nature of some trainers to do so. Unless I am badly mistaken, trainers with the names McGaughey, Motion, Matz, and many others are not of this nature. Put differently, the PETA video is a sample size of one that cannot scientifically be the basis for generalizing about the conduct of all racehorse trainers (though the voiceover language in the PETA video clearly generalizes).

The never-achievable mission in any respectable endeavor, whether it is the Army, auto industry, or horse racing, is to drive out the participants who sully the image of everyone else involved.

This requires unrelenting vigilance and a willingness to identify and punish the always-present bad apples. The racing commissions have this responsibility but the most progress is made when responsible owners refuse to turn their horses over to devious trainers, regardless of how successful a particular trainer may be in winning races.

A few days ago, the author and infomercial promoter Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating a 2004 court order that prohibited him from making infomercials about his deceitful book on weight loss. Never mind that little blemish, a television home-shopping network is still showing Trudeau infomercials hawking other products.

Some people will go to almost any lengths to make a buck…or win a horse race. When you do business with them, you become their enabler and accomplice.

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