GNB or the NRDC??

I bet half of this class is nervous that the Mayans were correct about the world ending because then we will never know who Ted’s wife is.

“How I Met Your Mother” is one of the most popular comedies on TV following the lives of twenty-somethings post college life in New York City. While some of the details are questionable (could a kindergarten teacher and a law student really afford that apartment in Manhattan?), the show is a general reflection of the next 10 years of our lives. It shows five friends who live together choose their life paths, balancing their needs for money against their morals.

As undergraduate students (which some people may believe is a synonym of naïve), I believe we have a general desire to do good in the world with our lives, as Marshall wants to be an environmental lawyer with the Natural Resource Defense Counsel. One day Marshall learns his wife, Lily, is in severe debt from a shopping addiction. He knows that he must take the job at Goliath National Bank, a bank akin to theImage Apple Mike Daisey portrayed in his monologue, with their friend Barney, who is known for his less-than-saintly ways.

Last week, the field house was filled with companies seeking young talents. Investment banks, oil companies and Teach for America were all present. There is a close correlation to the size of the paycheck how the level of “good” the employee does for society. We, like Marshall, must carefully measure our own sense of desire to add value to our communities against our need to pay of student loans and eat more than ramen.

How I Met Your Mother reflects moral dilemmas many young professionals face today, as we are sometimes forced to take jobs we don’t necessarily wants out of necessity, and the personal repercussions of these decisions.




3 responses to “GNB or the NRDC??

  1. This dilemma poses a perfect example of how an ethical decision always has two sides. Working for a big company like Exxon gives you a job, money to spend/stimulate the economy, donate to charity, start a retirement savings etc…Working for a company that focuses on (insert your usual nonprofit cause here) gives you a sense of doing good in the world but what if your “good” is someone else’s pain? If helping the environment requires a large factory to be closed, thousands of jobs could be lost, a local community destroyed, single mothers left with no options, and other sad scenarios with hungry children. If decisions didn’t have these opposing sides, we would all have an easy time
    making them. Even though its a comedy sitcom, I think Marshall’s situation is one of the better examples of an “ethical dilemma” that we have seen.

  2. I don’t think I agree with your statement that “there is a close correlation to the size of the paycheck how the level of “good” the employee does for society”. I’m assuming based off your example that you meant that there is an inverse relationship and that as the amount of good a job does for society the less they are paid. While I certainly agree that a lot of jobs that do a lot of good for our society are not well paying opportunities, I don’t think its fair to say that most of the high paying jobs do not have a positive ethical impact. Consider the executives of companies that have paved the way for our current standard of living. Were the tycoons running railroads not doing good for society?

  3. Sorry, to go along with my statement above, I guess I should have explained part of my motivation to dissent with the idea that a morally good job could not exist within a major money making corporation. My father was a relatively well-paid toxicologist for Exxon Mobile, testing environmental effects of their products on animals. Well-paying socially good jobs do exist at major corporations for those who are morally conflicted. Perhaps Marshall’s situation and the situation of many in-debt college seniors today where they needed a higher paying job is more of a personal dreams issue than a moral one (really funny episode though!). In general, I think the amount of ethics in any job is the amount of ethics you are willing to bring to it.

    I remember reading this article from WSJ about the choice MBA grads are making about non-profit jobs that don’t pay vs. social responsibility jobs that do pay. I think you might like it!

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