The Dishonest And Irresponsible Minimum Wage Issue.

Good bye. I know when I'm licked...

Good bye. I know when I’m licked…

I heard Bernie Sanders make another one of his economically-deranged statements as the crowd cheered, this one about how no American should work 40 hours a week and not have enough to live on. Then I went to the local Baskin-Robbins.

I ordered a single scoop of Chocolate Mousse Royale in a waffle cone. The cost was…$4.68.

For a single-scoop ice cream cone.

I will not go back to Baskin-Robbins again, which means I may have had my last ice cream cone. I also cannot believe that the company can continue selling ice cream cones at such absurd prices. When I worked for Baskin-Robbins as a summer job, a single-scoop cone cost $.29, and no, dinosaurs were not roaming the earth. I was paid the minimum wage, because a moron can do that job and you get to eat all the ice cream you want (within limits, which I thoroughly explored.)

Like most minimum wage jobs, scooping ice cream is overwhelmingly one filled by the young, who do not need a living wage, or those who have no skills or experience whatsoever and need to develop some. When the minimum wage goes up, companies eliminate jobs, and when it goes  up too much too fast, whole occupations and companies disappear. This isn’t capitalist propaganda: it’s true. Most of the jobs that disappear are those that make life a little more pleasant for those not doing them, like pumping gas, ushering in movie theaters, operating elevators, waiting on tables, and scooping ice cream, jobs that can be learned in about an hour or less by anyone with an IQ hovering around 90. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Cecil The Lion Killer Walter Palmer…Or Any Big Game Hunter, Really

Walter James Palmer, a  Minnesota dentist,shot and killed the famous Cecil the lion with a bow and arrow. The death of the 13-year-old animal has caused an international uproar among conservationists because Cecil was well-known to visitors at the Zimbabwe nature reserve and enjoyed human contact. The lion was lured out of the national park and shot.

In a statement, Palmer said that the authorities had yet to contact him and added that he did not know the lion he had killed was a “local favorite.” “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” he said. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Oh, so what? Why is it worse to kill a “local favorite” than to kill any wild animal just for—yechhh–the fun of it? Killing for sport is ethically indefensible, and killing these large, beautiful, and even endangered creatures is ugly, cruel and irresponsible.

After Cecil, the photos show Palmer with some of his other “trophies.” He must be so proud… Continue reading

Not Every Disappointment Is Cable TV Or Social Media Fodder: The Case of The Dry Artificial Leg

WHEEEEEEEEE!

WHEEEEEEEEE!

In the old days, the saying was “You don’t have to make a federal case out of it.” Today it would be “You don’t have to put it on the internet.”

At Frontier City’s Wild West Water Works in Oklahoma City, a family objected strenuously because their 8-year-old daughter’s prosthetic leg caused her to be banned from the water slide. The attendant stopped the family at the entrance to the ride, explaining that park policy prevented individuals with prosthetic limbs from sliding because it risked scratching the sides of the slide. The family decided to make a federal case out of it, and the dispute ended up on in the local media, then the national media, then the internet, then social media

The complaint was that the park didn’t have this restriction listed. Okay, good point. That doesn’t mean they were obligated to let the daughter scratch the slide with her leg. I can imagine other perils of sliding with an artificial limb that neither the park nor its insurance carrier would want to risk. It’s a shame the little girl was embarrassed and disappointed. My son was once similarly disappointed when a ride he wanted to go on had a height requirement. Too bad. I didn’t make a federal case out of it. Not every restriction can be listed on park signs; the longer the text, the fewer people read it.

The family of the rejected girl, however, did make a federal case out of it. They got the news media involved, and soon the park was putting out this:

“Our goal at Frontier City is to create family fun and fond memories for each of our guests while placing a priority on guest safety. Our Ride Admission Policy has been developed in consultation with industry professionals, based on the recommendations of the ride manufacturer, past experiences, and evaluations of each ride using knowledge of the ride in all operating conditions.Like many water parks across the United States, regulations regarding loose articles and medical assistance devices are enforced to ensure the safety of each guest. Unfortunately, we can’t allow loose articles, swimwear with exposed metal ornamentation, casts, certain limb braces, or prosthetic devices on certain slides at Wild West Water Works.We never want to refuse our guests the opportunity to enjoy our attractions, but we must also always follow guidelines that have been set by our industry to insure the safety of all guests. To avoid any confusion or heartache in the future, we will strive to make sure this is communicated better in advance by adding the restrictions to our website and ride signage. We deeply regret any disappointment caused to our guests due to our Ride Admission Policies. Again, our first priority is guest safety and our mission is to provide the best experience possible for all of our guests.”

The park sounds completely reasonable, professional and fair. But one family had to react to a minor disappointment by casting the Frontier City as a heartless villain and their child as a victim, resulting in dozens of news stories across the country, blog commentary and Facebook posts. Some things are not worth making a fuss about. Some things should be handled with a shrug, a quiet suggestion of a better way to handle things in the future, agracious goodbye and maybe a letter afterwards.. Every minor dispute doesn’t have to be the Battle of Waterloo.

I fear we are raising a generation of entitled and hair-triggered victim-mongerers, armed with little cameras and video recorders, ready at any provocation to turn every mistake, disagreement, disappointment or ill-considered glance into 15 minutes of infamy for anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths. In the future we will all be spending so much time apologizing to each other and explaining to the media what we meant that it will be increasingly impossible to just live. The insatiable web and 24-hour news cycle makes shaming a constant threat to the most minor offender, and gives everyone the power, under the right conditions, to bend others to their will.

But I guess that dystopian hell will be worth it if the next child with an artificial leg knows she can’t use the water slide at Wild West Water Works before she gets to the top.

__________________________

Pointer: Fred

Facts: KFOR

 

What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!

One of these guys is Donald Trump's lawyer. Maybe both...

One of these guys is Donald Trump’s lawyer. Maybe both…

I realize I run the risk, by publishing this opinion, of Donald Trump’s thuggish, boorish, dolt of lawyer trying to “mess [my] life up … for as long as [I’m] on this frickin’ planet,” to put it in his well-measured, restrained and professional parlance. Well, so be it. Seldom do we see any lawyer befoul the image and dignity of his profession like Michael Cohen, Esquire, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, did yesterday responding to a Daily Beast story about the dirty linen aired during Trump’s divorce from Ivana Trump over 20 years ago.

Ivana then compared a sexual encounter with her husband to sexual assault and rape,  and The Daily Beast wrote about it, as if Trump wasn’t doing enough already to make any decent American head to the loo at the sight of him. So Trump appointed Cohen as his media spokesman on the matter—just think: he was the best and most professional of the candidates for the job!—and he said this to The Daily Beast… Continue reading

Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

emergency-clown-nose

Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence. Continue reading

Bill Cosby’s Rationalization: #14. Self-Validating Virtue

stuart-smalleyThe smoking gun Bill Cosby deposition took place over four days in September 2005 and March 2006, during which time the comedy icon answered questions in a lawsuit alleging sexual assault filed by Andrea Constand, a former basketball operations manager at Temple University. Cosby settled the case, we now know, to avoid the testimony of several women who were prepared to back Constand with similar stories of being sexually assaulted. The deposition did not become public until it was revealed this month by the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Here is a fascinating exchange from that deposition:

Constand’s lawyer:  Do you feel that you are a good person?

Cosby:   Yes.

With this, Bill Cosby illustrates one of the more common and troubling rationalizations, #14 on the Ethics Alarms list, Self-validating Virtue:

A  corollary of the Saint’s Excuse  is “Self-validating Virtue,” in which the act is judged by the perceived goodness of the person doing it, rather than the other way around. This is applied by the doer, who reasons, “I am a good and ethical person. I have decided to do this; therefore this must be an ethical thing to do, since I would never do anything unethical.” Effective, seductive, and dangerous, this rationalization short-circuits ethical decision-making, and is among the reasons good people do bad things, and keep doing them, even when the critics point out their obvious unethical nature. Good people do bad things sometimes because they are (or were) good people, and because of complacency and self-esteem begin with a conviction, often well supported by their experience, that they are incapable of doing something terribly wrong.

All of us are capable of that, if our ethics alarms freeze due to our environment, emotions, peer pressure, and corrupting leadership, among many possible causes. At the end of the movie “Falling Down,” the rampaging vigilante played by Michael Douglas, once a submissive, law-abiding citizen, suddenly realizes what he has done. “I’m the bad guy?” he asks incredulously. Indeed he is. All of us, no matter how virtuous,are capable of becoming the bad guy…especially when we are convinced that we are not.

Very few people can admit that they are not good people. Public polls suggest that over 90% of Americans think they are the most ethical people they know. I am certain Cosby was sincere in his answer. His complete absorption by this rationalization explains the apparent astounding hypocrisy between his words, public image and private life. Cosby doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. How could he? He’s Bill Cosby, and Bill Cosby is good.

Indeed, Cosby embodies the kind of person described by Michael (Jeff Goldblum) in “The Big Chill”:

“Nobody thinks they’re a bad person. I don’t claim people think they do the right thing.They may know they do dishonest or manipulative things……but think there’s a good reason for it. They think it’ll turn out for the best. If it turns out best for them, it is by definition what’s best.You also come up against a question of style. My style may be too direct. Perhaps given my style I seem more nakedly……opportunistic or jerky or… – Whatever. All that’s happening is I’m trying to get what I want. Which is what we all do, but their styles are so warm……you don’t realize they’re trying to get what they want. So my transparent efforts are more honest and admirable….Don’t knock rationalization. Where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who can go a day without two or three rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.”

Well, let’s say that for Bill Cosby they are exactly as important as sex.

 

 

The Great Maine Diner Controversy

Marcys-Diner

Thanks to the internet, every day conflicts between ordinary citizens become opportunities for society-wide ethical evaluation . This can be extremely beneficial, helping to reveal disagreements regarding ethical conduct in common situations, and establishing social norms with efficiency that once would have been impossible. Of course, that requires that society reaches a reasonable consensus.

Last week a controversy emanating from a Portland, Maine diner called Marcy’s had blogs bloviating, pundits punditting and social media boiling over. Vacationing parents took their toddler to a crowded diner for breakfast, waited 30 minutes for a table and another 40 minutes for their food. The hungry child went on a crying jag that went on too long for the owner, who  suggested that the couple to leave in a less than polite manner, and finally shouted at the little girl to  “shut the hell up!” The couple left the diner.

The mother, Tara Carson, couldn’t resist registering her indignation on the Marcy’s Facebook page, the owner responded with even more colorful language than she did in the original confrontation, and social media appeared to divide into the “it takes a village so be sympathetic to parents of young kids and give them a break” camp and the “serves these entitled and incompetent parents right for being so inconsiderate and not controlling their child” camp, with the latter considerably smaller than the former. Then, not content to let the matter blow over, Carson got the Washington Post to publish her op-ed about the episode, which concluded, Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of The Month: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

You're supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby...or Governor, for that matters.

You’re supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby…or Governor, for that matter.

The Westboro Baptist Church has threatened to picket the funerals of the victims of the Lafayette theater shooting.

Governor Jindal, an alleged Presidential candidate, thinks that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, despite a well-publicized Supreme Court decision to the contrary. “If they come here to Louisiana, if they try to disrupt this funeral, we’re gonna lock them up,” Jindal said on “Face the Nation.”. “We won’t abide by that here…Let these families grieve in peace.”

Hmmmm. Appealing to ignorant voters. Grandstanding. Pandering. Abuse of power.  Talking as if the Constitution doesn’t exist. Threatening to break the law. Sounding like an idiot blowhard.

Just the guy to give Donald Trump a run for his money.

 

The Gawker Mess: Is Integrity A Virtue When It Means Continuing An Unethical Policy?

gawker1The website Gawker is reeling in the aftermath of particularly Gawkerish  (that is, slimy) story exposing the efforts of a high-ranking male official at Gawker rival Conde Nast to secure the services of a male prostitute.  Following backlash even from those who usually tolerate  Gawker’s smug invasions into celebrity privacy, Nick Denton, the president of  Gawker Media, had the story taken down. He then wrote a post titled “Taking a Post Down,” defending his executive action.  Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read and Gawker Media Executive Editor Tommy Craggs resigned, and the editorial staff has protested the episode, noting that “business executives deleted an editorial post over the objections of the entire executive editorial staff.”

First, regarding Gawker’s plight: good. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving website. Second, and more controversial is this interesting ethics question that we don’t encounter very often outside the realm of “The Godfather” films: Is integrity applied to an inherently unethical culture a virtue?

When the Conde Nast outing story received furious blowback from media critics but also gay activists, who are flying high right now and thus not to be crossed, Craggs proposed that Denton issue a statement that Gawker was founded as a media gossip site and had always “unapologetically and often mercilessly” invaded the private lives  those who work in  the industry. “We stand by the story, which meets our simple, unwavering standard of being both true and interesting,” the statement was to say.

That simple, unwavering standard is and has always been unethical. Gawker hurts people for fun and titillation, and makes a profit out of doing so. Printing what is “true and interesting” without considering whether the often prurient interest factor outweighs the harm to the individuals and their families done by the site’s prying is inherently unfair and irresponsible. The pulled story was not atypical, but then Gawker has been typically immune to shame and decency. What had changed?

Denton’s various explanatory statements are ethically inert—not surprising, since he founded this monstrosity. Continue reading

UPDATE: Hillary’s Ongoing Corruption Of Democrats, Progressives, and…

moral decay

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Hillary Clinton was gradually converting her admirers into sociopaths, making her a particularly toxic ethics corrupter. I haven’t written here as much about ethics corrupters as I should have, but Hillary will give me many opportunities to rectify that situation. To quote the Ethics Alarms glossary,

“An ethics corrupter is someone, usually a celebrity, a public official or an accomplished and successful individual, who behaves unethically and forces those who admire him or her, or what they have achieved, to defend indefensible conduct as a matter of loyalty or cognitive dissonance. As a result, the defenders warp their own values, using rationalizations to excuse or  justify conduct they once correctly understood was wrong…”

Now Reason has seen the light: Continue reading