Tag Archives: charity

Gift Horse Ethics: The Babe, The Splendid Splinter, and The Ethics Of Self-Promoting Virtue

sick child and-babe-jpgBaseball slugger Babe Ruth was famous for visiting hospitals and orphanages to give kids a thrill. Babe always had reporters in too to record his noblesse oblige , of course. He was an orphan himself, and nobody should doubt the Bambino’s genuine dedication and generosity when it came to kids. He just wasn’t going to let his good deeds go unnoticed.

Other baseball greats, notably Ted Williams, made most of his visits without fanfare or publicity, and he didn’t tip off the press. “The Splendid Splinter” wasn’t visiting kids in cancer wards because he wanted his fans to know what a good guy he was. He did it because he wanted to make sick children feel better.

Was the Babe less ethical than Williams? Did his self=promotion take the ethical sheen off of his good deeds? This is the issue raised by the activities  of the  “Magician Prankster” who calls himself “Magic of Rahat” on YouTube and Twitter. He recently posted a video called “Homeless Lottery Winner” showing him playing  a prank on a homeless man, who ends up with $1,000. He is understandably grateful:

Slade Sohmer however, on HyperVocal, is hearing ethics alarms: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, History, Marketing and Advertising, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Heroes: Senate Republicans

crack

Just say “No.”

Sneaking expensive entitlements into long-term national policy is craven, dishonest, and continues the dangerous trend of sloppy, election-driven legislating that has become virtually standard operating practice in recent years. Senate Republicans generated some hope for transparency and the future of honest debate on governing philosophy by using the threat of a filibuster to block yet another extension of the supposedly “short-term” extensions of unemployment benefits.

I’ve written about this recently, so I won’t belabor it, but there was nothing in Democratic rhetoric surrounding the extension to disprove my suspicion, which was  full-blown three years ago, that this is nothing but a strategy for embedding  a permanent government subsidy of unemployment without a national debate regarding the consequences of such a policy. A ‘temporary” benefit is permanent if elected representatives lack the integrity and courage to end it; for an example one need only look to the supposedly short-term “Bush tax cuts,” which a Democratic President and legislature, despite exorbitant rhetoric about how irresponsible they were (and irresponsible they were), extended, and they are in place still. There is not a single Democratic argument in favor of the supposedly temporary extension that would not apply to a policy of paying the unemployed forever. Here are some quotes from “The Hill” yesterday:

  • “We’re one Republican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans.  There is one Republican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people.”-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

1.7 million, 1 million, 657,000…when would such benefits not qualify, in Reid’s words, as a “lifeline”? If the answer is never, and it is, why would anyone believe these are intended to be temporary benefits? Isn’t the money just as crucial to an unemployed worker whether he or she has 1.7 million companions in misery, or fewer? Continue reading

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When “Heartless” Is Responsible

The Neverending Emergency....

The Neverending Emergency….

Nancy Pelosi just designated the extension of unemployment benefits yet again—they were first extended in 2008 and have been continuously extended ever since—as Congress’s top priority for 2014, which is instructive. She called the Republican determination to end the extensions as “immoral;” others in her party and the media have called it heartless. “Starting tomorrow, too many American families will face the New Year with uncertainty, insecurity, and instability as a result of congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend critical unemployment insurance,” she said. “The first item on Congress’ agenda in the New Year must be an extension of unemployment insurance. That must be our priority on day one.” The budget deal cut between House Democrats and Republicans ends the extensions, unless something is done.

Pelosi’s argument is intellectually dishonest. I would like someone to define the exact point at which the number of families dependent on as yet unsuccessful job-seekers would no longer be regarded as “too many.” Isn’t any number too many? If the nation decides that it should provide a living stipend to the unemployed as long as they are jobless as policy, then so be it: I think that would be a mistake, as the Welfare experiment demonstrated and as the federal disability assistance programs continue to demonstrate, but that’s a debate that needs to be had. As seems to be habitual with the Democrats, they apparently want to make this the policy deceptively and without admitting so, by the device of never-ending “emergency extensions,” with spokespeople like Pelosi ready to hammer any opposition as a “heartless.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Dallas Cowboys Back-up Quarterback-For-A-Day Jon Kitna

Quarterback Kitna, soon to be risking his brain for his high school.

Quarterback Kitna, soon to be risking his brain for his high school.

The Dallas Cowboys raised eyebrows in the sports world last week by making the desperation move of signing NFL veteran-turned-high school math teacher Jon Kitna, 41, to briefly abandon his retirement to help solve their quarterback crisis against the Philadelphia Eagles today. Since retiring from the Cowboys, Kitna, who played quarterback for 15 seasons with four NFL teams, has been teaching math and coaching football at Lincoln High School in his native Tacoma, Washington. Kitna, who retired after the 2011 season, will earn about $53,000 for the day’s work, which, the Cowboys hope, will consist of sitting on the sidelines as insurance against its replacement for Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, being injured like Romo was last week.

Now Kitna has announced that he will be donating his entire NFL check to the high school.

Yes, it’s true: Kitna is well-set financially, like most former pro athletes of recent vintage and long tenure. He is estimated to have about 12 million dollars as his nest egg. Nevertheless, this is a generous and unexpected act of generosity.

Now let’s all hope he doesn’t have to go onto the field, take a snap, get a concussion, and end up mentally disabled for the rest of his life.

For that is the risk he is being paid to take.

________________________________

Pointer: Daily Caller

Facts and Graphic: Dallas News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Tom Crist, Canadian Lottery Winner

“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”

Tom Crist, of Calgary, Canada, announcing that he was giving the 40 million dollars  he won in Canada’s Lotto Max jackpot on May 3 to support cancer research.

Tom Crist, who understands what "enough" is.

Tom Crist, who understands what “enough” is.

Just in time for Christmas comes the aptly- named anti-Scrooge named Tom Crist. Christ retired as president and chief executive of the electronics company EECOL in September, and has said that he had done well enough in his career that he did not need the money.

He did not need the money. How often does anyone in this country say that, feel that, or think that? In a nation that is founded on the principles of liberty and self-determination, the freedom to make as much money as we can also imparts the freedom to say, “Ok, that’s it: enough.” Yet we do not.

Why?

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Family, Finance, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity

Santa Claus Ethics, Stupid Division

I don't care WHAT color this guy is, I'm getting my kid OUT of there!

I don’t care WHAT color this guy is, I’m getting my kid OUT of there!

The fact that there is a serious debate going on in the blogosphere and news media whether 1) Santa Claus is white; 2) whether it is racist to maintain he is white and 3) whether he should be some other race or species is more evidence that the United States of America is having a nervous breakdown. It also demonstrates that race-baiters and the insanely politically correct have no sense of proportion, moderation or shame, and that too many of those who are confronted by these annoying people don’t have the sense to know when to just nod, pat them on the heads and say, “Sure, sure…if it makes you happy.” Here are some loosely connected observations on a controversy too dumb to justify organization: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, History, Journalism & Media, Literature, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Race

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Jack McDonald (1915-2013)

Jack McDonald

Before today, I had never heard of Jack McDonald, and outside of his co-workers , family and friends, not many had. That was the way he wanted it, for he was an unassuming man with a conventional career, including three decades as an attorney for the Veterans Administration. He clipped coupons, dressed humbly and allowed himself few luxuries. He got around his home town of Seattle using public transportation. Most who knew him thought he was struggling.

When Jack McDonald died this past September, his death received little notice in the local news, and none nationally—until about a week ago, when it was revealed that his will provided for the creation of a $187.6 million charitable trust for the benefit of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero, Thanksgiving Division: Scott Stuckey, Manager of Atlanta’s Omni Hotel

Scott Stuckey gets hugged by a grateful non-criminal Joel Hartman was homeless and surviving in Atlanta by dumpster diving, but when he found a lost wallet with the owner’s identification and credit card inside, he was determined to do the right thing. The wallet obviously belonged to a tourist, so the 36-year-old man checked the hotels in downtown Atlanta until he found out that the tourist (from France, for a conference) was staying at the Omni Hotel.

After Alanta’s Omni manager Scott Stuckey saw the surveillance video of Hartman—who looked as destitute as he was— turning in the wallet to the hotel’s  security guards, he decided that a reward was in order.  Hartman had given them a fake name, so it took some effort to track the shy good Samaritan down. Stuckey and his staff searched for a week, leaving messages with other homeless people that the Omni wanted to thank the man who recovered its guest’s stolen wallet. Eventually Hartman heard about their quest, and showed up at the hotel. He was shocked at what Stuckey had planned for him. Hartman was told that he would be the Omni’s guest in a luxury room through the Thanksgiving holiday with complimentary room service. The hotel also  gave him $500.

I think the gesture by Stuckey and the Omni was kind, appropriate, and in keeping with the spirit of the holiday….but: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sister Antonia Brenner, 1926-2013

 

Sister Antonia dies at 86

Sister Antonia caring for a prisoner in La Mesa in 2002

Once again, someone remarkable has died whose life was insufficiently celebrated while she was alive. I had never heard of Antonia Brenner until yesterday. I wish I had.

Mary Clarke was born on Dec. 1, 1926—we share a birthday!— the second of three children. Her father, Joseph, was a prosperous business executive; the family had a second home overlooking the Pacific. After her second marriage, to Carl Brenner, she was known as Mary Brenner, and was the mother of eight children, comfortably ensconced in Beverly Hills.  While struggling through her second divorce, she began doing charity work for the poor in Los Angeles.  A priest friend, Monsignor Anthony Brouwers, took  her to La Mesa state penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico, which was filled with convicted murderers, thieves, gang members, rapists and other hardened criminals, all living in brutal and inhumane  conditions even by the horrible standards of U.S. prisons. Everything—her life, her name, and most of all, the existence of the prisoners, changed after that.

She became devoted to their plight as human beings, and brought the prisoners basics of comfort that were being withheld from them, at her own expense. She gave them aspirin, blankets, tooth paste, soap, even prescription eyeglasses. She carried spare toilet paper with her, and kep a lookout for other missing essentials. Brenner acquired a prison contract to sell soda pop to prisoners and then used the proceeds to post bail for minor offenders. She began spending more and more time with the prisoners, gaining their affection and trust, even singing in their church services. She treated them with dignity and kindness: when prisoners died, it was Mary Brenner who prepared him for burial. Continue reading

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The Ethics Of Demanding Charity

Joanna Leigh

Joanna Leigh

I can not imagine much more heartbreaking plights than that of Boston Marathon bombing victim Joanna Leigh.

By April 14, 2013, Leigh, 39, had a newly minted doctorate in international development, and a promising career as a consultant. On April 15, she was at the finish line of the marathon, waiting for a friend to cross it, when the second of two bombs exploded ten feet from her. She was shielded from the deadly flying metal by other spectators, but still knocked unconscious. When she awoke, there was chaos around her, people screaming, maimed, covered with blood. She helped some injured find help, and then, dazed, walked home. For various reasons, she did not get herself checked out at a hospital until more than a week had passed.

Gradually, however, the symptoms of her injuries began appearing. Soon, it became obvious that the closed head injuries she suffered in the explosion have caused devastating long-term damage to her brain, and it is doubtful that her life will ever be normal again. Today, she says, she has to sleep most of the day. She cannot work or drive, and is easily disoriented, even getting lost on her own block. She has blurred vision, her hearing is impaired and she cannot avoid the constant ringing in her ears. Concentration has become difficult, and the simplest everyday tasks are overwhelming.   Continue reading

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