Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/18: The All-Disposable Edition…Legal Ethics, Budgets, And Grocery Bags

Good Morning…

1. More Professionals Behaving Badly: The news media has widely reported that Ted Olson of the law firm Gibson Dunn refused Donald Trump’s request for his legal services. Olson, who is best know for arguing  the Bush side of Bush v. Gore that ended the 2000 Florida recount,  had declined to comment on this to the media but a partner in the firm Gibson Dunn’s “global co-chair” issued a tweet that Olson was not going to be representing the President. This is a straight-up violation of an attorney’s ethical duty  of confidentiality to a prospective client.

In other Trump lawyer news, the media is also widely reporting that John Dowd resigned from the President’s legal team over the President’s refusal to accept Dowd’s advice that he not agree to give testimony to the Special Prosecutor. Telling the news media that—telling anyone that—would also be a breach of confidentiality on Dowd’s part.

2. Per se legislative incompetence. Once again the Senate and the House passed a huge bill with massive implications and consequences without reading it. The legislation funds the federal government for the remainder of the 2018 budget year, through Sept. 30, directing $700 billion toward the military and $591 billion to domestic agencies. The military spending is a $66 billion increase over the 2017 level, and the non-defense spending is $52 billion more than last year. It also further explodes the deficit and the debt that bring the United States one step closer to a ruinous financial reckoning. The Democrats have been happily on this path for the entire 8 years of the Obama administration, but the Republicans rode to power in part because the public recognizes how insane this is. The GOP couldn’t even muster a cut in the arts spending that it has been promising since the Reagan administration, or to finally cut ties with public television, though Big Bird fled the nest years ago.

OK, compromises have to be made when two parties are polar opposites. That doesn’t excuse not reading a trillion-dollar bill, and there is no credible argument that even a significant minority of the legislators who voted for the bill read it. The bodies were given 17 hours to examine the 2,232-page bill before voting. That’s two minutes a page assuming no breaks and no re-reads. Have you ever tried to read a bill? It’s like deciphering a Welsh trains schedule, and remember, a vast number of these people would be challenged by a Little Golden Book, being, you know, idiots. We are told that the law-makers were “seething” at the rush. Great: don’t vote for bills you haven’t read. How hard is that? It’s obvious; it’s legislative responsibility 101, Professional  Competence For Dummies, as unquestionably true as such nostrums as “Don’t ride your motorcycle blindfolded,” “Don’t play poker with anyone called Slim” and “Don’t rollerskate in a Buffalo herd.”

I don’t care if you’re “seething.” Do your damn job. I also don’t want to read or hear the litany of rationalizations for this practice, which has brought us bad laws, misplaced priorities a broken system and angry voters. I’ve already heard some of them and will eventually hear or whiff the rest, like  “We can’t stop it,”  “They’re just as bad!”,  “It worked out for the best,”“This can’t make things any worse,” “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” “Just this once!”, “It’s for a good cause,” “I meant well, ”“If I don’t do it, somebody else will,”“It wasn’t my fault,” “There are worse things,”  “I’m just giving the people what they want!”, “I have no choice!”,  “It’s my duty!”, “These are not ordinary times,”“Don’t sweat the small stuff!”, “Nobody said it would be easy!”,   “Give me a break!”, “It is what it is,”  “We’ve never had a problem with it!”,  “It’s not the first time,” “It’s complicated,” “It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done the right thing,” “Nobody cares,” “I don’t care,” “It’s just business,” “I’m all right with it!”, “It’s the right thing to do,”  “It isn’t what it is,”and, of course,“Everybody does it,” which is the problem.

President Trump should veto the bill, and demand that the next budget bill is read and debated.

3. Facts lose, virtue-signalling wins.  Pop quiz: what’s this?

Give up? It is the…

What is means is that “green” measures to ban plastic bags in grocery stores is politically correct nonsense that doesn’t have the effect it is supposed to have. A study done in Denmark indicates that one has to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times for it to be better for the environment than a plastic one, though non-organic cotton bags are better requiring just  7,100 uses. Yes, plastic bags are actually better for the environment.  Never mind, though: in California—you know, the future—grocery stores,pharmacies, convenience stores, food marts and liquor stores no longer provide single-use plastic carry-out bags to customers. Reason points out, 

You know what’s gross? Reusable grocery bags. Think about it: You put a leaky package of chicken in your cloth or plastic tote. Then you empty the bag, crumple it up, and toss in the trunk of your car to fester. A week later, you go shopping again and throw some veggies you’re planning to eat raw into the same bag. Ew.


One common justification for bans is that using less plastic means using less oil. But the lightweight plastic bags we are accustomed to using–high-density polyethylene bags–are actually made almost entirely from natural gas, not oil. Meanwhile, a popular kind of reusable totes–non-woven polypropylene (NWPP) bags–are derived from oil.


Pointer and Facts (#3): Advise Goddess Blog



10 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/18: The All-Disposable Edition…Legal Ethics, Budgets, And Grocery Bags

  1. My understanding had been that the effort to ban plastic bags had more to do with reducing litter and hazards for aquatic wildlife rather than climate change.

  2. 2. The deficit/debt is an issue that will continue to be pushed forward. The reality is folks give a blank stare when budgets are discussed. We are a nation of debt – long and short-term obligations and a credit card mentality.And we wonder why the government does the same? Then there are unfunded obligations.

    3. I will soon be on a plastic bag committee in the town where I live to look at the issue. I do know that the sheer number and long life presents a problem. In town we have single stream and plastic bags are not allowed – they go into your regular trash. At SEMASS – which is a trash to energy facility – I took a tour and they fry them up well.

    What I see at the heart of the issue is disposability and that means sloppy humans. Add plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, plastic drink cups, lottery tickets and cigarette butts to the list. People can be incredible pigs. And those plastic shot nips? Everywhere. Just how hard is it to throw out something?

    I have reusable bags and am constantly forgetting them. I also have a large reusable cup for soda and coffee and that I rarely forget. My diligence is in training. Along those lines Starbucks is in the process of developing a rapidly biodegradable cup. Something that would be unnecessary if folks could figure out what a trash barrel is?

    Is the mind set changing? Where I live is five Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and as a trail runner I use them and others in the area. After hunting season it use to look like a garbage dump. No more. The scout motto of leaving it better than you find it may be kicking in.

    • I don’t have pets right now so I don’t need the extra bags. I have several re-usable bags because I don’t like getting 20 bags that I throw away 30 minutes later. That is the wastefulness I dislike.

      Even better, my grocery chain sells cardboard boxes for a few bucks. 2 will fit in the cart and the ones I have have lasted more than 3 years.


  3. When I lived in “urban world” my local coffee source (non-affiliated– “friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks”) had a significant discount if you provided your own cup. They even warmed it with hot water if it had spent the night on the truck dashboard. A good way to reduce the use of throw away cups which can also be unsightly.

    For some reason the plastic bags from Ace Hardware, Home Depot, etc do not cause any environmental problems and thus are readily dispensed. They will even double-bag your 3-pak of paint rollers if you ask. And how about those bullet-proof hard packs of chainsaw air filters and door locks, and such? Maybe the people giving all these virtue signals do not deal with these things…

  4. 2) Well, if the Republicans really wanted a Blue Wave, with all their previous action / inaction they were working towards the wave, this fiscal betrayal pretty well guarantees it. Not because Democrats will be any better, but because enough Republicans will be disillusioned to flat out not show up.

    And just how bad is this particular betrayal?

    Do we really want to envision the path before us when a vindictive party seething with anger and absolutely certain of the unquestioned righteousness of their cause gets both houses of Congress after spewing the vitriol they’ve spewed?

    God help us and the nation.

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