Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

Got up on the wrong side of the bed today..

…and trying to recover.

1. Finally! The Ultimate Trump Derangement Home Test! This is wonderful, and we owe a debt to CNN for making this available. NeverTrump neocon Max Boot, who has been a “rseistance” ally since the 2016 election and who also writes op-eds for the Washington Post, presented this hilarious—but don’t tell anyone you are using the to test hilarious—visual aid to his recent Post screed:

Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.

Once again, I miss the fevered passion of the self-exiled Trump Deranged commenters on Ethics Alarms, to see exactly how far gone they are, if they are. Hilarity was bound to ensue.

I was tempted to do a whole post showing how every one of Boot’s “reasons” are strained circumstantial evidence at best or utter nonsense at worst, but two words, “confirmation bias,” pretty much covers it, along with a third, “desperation.” Meanwhile, just as self-amusement, I’m working on the list of reasons why Max Boot might be a Russian agent. So far I have Dilbert’s Scott Adams’ observation that while the pitiful Russian fake news on social media couldn’t divide the country, hysterical anti-Trump conspiracy theorists are doing a good job serving Russian interests by undermining the Presidency; Max’s “Boot” code name, which evokes George Orwell’s’ famous metaphor for Communist totalitarianism; and that Curly Howard hair cut, the choice of international anti-democracy villains in James Bond films,  “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” TV’s “The Black List” and everything in between.

That’s only three, though. Suggestions welcome.

2. Is this good news or bad news? “Family Guy,” Seth McFarland’s nastier, cheaper, uglier rip-off of “The Simpsons,” has announced that it will be “phasing out” homophobic jokes. It’s certainly good news if this includes the disgusting and unfunny running gag about the old man next door to “The Family Guy” who has sexual designs on Peter’s idiot son, I guess. The problem is that the only feature of “The Family Guy” that made its intentionally tasteless and offensive humor excusable was that the show was cruel and unfair to everyone, pretty much equally. If the show is now bowing to victim-group pressure, how long will it be before its only targets are white men, conservatives, Fox News and Donald Trump?

If McFarland and the show are now afraid of being politically incorrect when political incorrectness is a career death sentence for everyone else, then it should just kill the show, rather than wander the airwaves hollowed out and submissive like the brainwashed Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”

Oh-oh. Second Orwell reference already today…

3. Perfect: You know how I keep pointing out that the Obama years made the knee jerk Democratic reaction to any criticism to play the “race card”? Here’s some smoking gun evidence: [Pointer: Daily Caller]

Sirius XM radio host and Fox News Contributor David Webb invited CNN analyst Areva Martin onto his radio show to discuss diversity in media.  When he noted that he has always considered his accomplishments to be more important than his skin color when applying for employment, Martin reprimanded him for his “white privilege.”

“How do I have the privilege of white privilege?” Webb asked.

“David, by virtue of being a white male, you have white privilege,” Martin replied.

Webb is black. After he told the embarrassed CNN talking-head what color he was, she tried to blame her response on her staff for not properly informing her, so she would know that the playbook’s “you’re just a biased and privileged white guy” cheap shot wouldn’t work.

4. Stop making me defend “Hamilton”! In his play, “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,”  Ishmael Reed attacks the epically successful musical “Hamilton” and the best-selling biography by Ron Chernow it was loosely based on.  The program handed out at the first attended reading explains that “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” is “about a playwright who is misled by a historian of white history into believing that Alexander Hamilton was an abolitionist.”

Stipulated: Reed can write anything he wants, and if he decides to exploit the success of Hamilton to try to ride its coat-tails to cheap publicity and maybe a buck or two, that’s life in a free country. Attacking a musical version of the life of Alexander Hamilton in which all the white founding fathers are played by blacks, Latinos and Hispanics as historically inaccurate is far more idiotic than complaining about any commercial adaptation of history that makes up facts or leaps to unwarranted conclusions. Movies like “JFK,” “Titanic,” “Selma” and too many others to count present themselves as historically accurate and thus actively misinform audiences who don’t know their history as well as educated citizens should. “Hamilton,” however, makes no overt claims to accuracy, and Reed’s complaint is pointless. Art is one of the few realms where the ends often justify the means.  “Hamilton” made scores of Americans aware of the very important  guy on the ten-dollar bill, revitalized the waning American musical, stimulated Broadway commerce, employed many penurious artists, and made hip-hop mainstream, to list but a few of its achievements. If a more critical  portrayal of the real Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t have permitted any of this to occur—and it would not—then Lin-Manuel Miranda did the right thing.

5. Who needs the Russians? When the news arrived that Virginia is considering a bill to jump the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, all my woke, knee-jerk, Democratic Facebook friends circulated the story and pronounced it wonderful. Of course, the evidence is pretty conclusive that a large minimum wage increase will hurt employment, minorities, the unskilled and most vulnerable, put small businesses in distress and crush small restaurants, but never mind: this is the oldest of old progressive cant, and if Democrats are doing it, it must be right. Many, many moons ago, while running the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s public policy research foundation, I got funding to oversee an objective examination of this topic. My researcher went where the data took him, and it took him exactly where the data goes today.

That study helped get me fired, by the way, because it didn’t back the Chamber’s claims that minimum wage increases case inflation. Thus I don’t take kindly to my “friends'” assertion that my study was just rigged to advance conservative talking points. I was hired to be independent and objective, and later fired for exactly that.

Among the easiest ethical points to make in all the world is that making public policy affecting people’s lives should be based on reality rather than ideology, Nevertheless, people still willfully ignore it. Instead, they spread false and misleading information across our media, causing needless damage to the economy and the nation.

36 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

  1. I would honestly not be surprised if it was revealed that Rashida Tlaib was giving Steve King blowjobs over their mutual disdain for the Judenvolk.

    Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.
    I recall neo-Nazis and militant islamists accusing President George W. Bush of being an Israeli agent in the prelude to the invasion of Iraq.

    Of course, the evidence is pretty conclusive that a large minimum wage increase will hurt employment, minorities, the unskilled and most vulnerable, put small businesses in distress and crush small restaurants, but never mind: this is the oldest of old progressive cant, and if Democrats are doing it, it must be right.

    do not many of the same people argue in favor of carbon taxes because they claim that the increased price of fossil fuels would reduce consumption of fossil fuels?

    What would increasing the price of labor do?

    • What would increasing the price of labor do?

      Unfortunately, the correct answer is “it depends”. Even when I was introduced to the topic way back in the 1970s, textbooks like Lipsey’s “Positive Economics” brought out some special cases in which it actually increased employment – cases drawn from empirical evidence and backed with theory about what happens when labour markets are distorted by only having a few employers in the affected pool and the mandated increases are lower than a crucial cut off. People advocating it now sometimes fall back on all this – but they would need to show that this special case, or something similar, really does hold now for their proposed policy.

      Also, this is only discussing “increasing the price of labor” through mandates. Doing it through wage subsidies bypasses these issues, though those also need to be handled properly if they are not to incur yet other problems.

    • You can see it at your local McDonald’s across the country. Fast food chains did not develop self-serve kiosks because it was found that they only became profitable when the minimum wage was above $13/hour. Once people started implementing $15/minimum wages, the companies went ahead with these plans. Once $15/hour spread, the economies of scale made the technology much cheaper and started putting entry-level workers out of work even in places with the federal minimum wage.

      The analyses I have seen suggest that the $15/hour minimum wage increases automation, reduces the number of jobs, and only results in a net gain of a $100/month or so for the minimum wage workers lucky enough not to get fired.

  2. #1 One more in the “Russian Agent” column for Max Boot. He is a Soviet emigre, so plausibly, he and his family where sent over here to engage in sabotage, and he is still probably on a KGB, or now FSB, pay list. He can only prove his innocence if he gets a notarized note from Lubyanka (FSB HQ) that they disavow and have no relation to Boot and he is NOT, I repeat NOT a Russian agent.

  3. #2 Can we cut to the chase and make all “woke” television programming into some variation of the NPC meme, and every 5 minutes or so, all the characters can say “Orange man bad”. These type of shows will get lots of emmys, no doubt.

  4. Raising the minimum wage above the value of the marginal product of labor, when workers cost more than they produce, is a recipe for creating unemployment among the most economically vulnerable in our society. Those with the least education, experience, and time on the job will be the first to go overboard. What a great way to help the poor!

    Not to mention the loud sucking sound of employers draining out of the sate to avoid this economically ignorant, but virtue signalling, policy.

    • While I agree a sudden jump to 15/hr is a recipe for disaster, the continual influx of illegal immigrants is depressing pay for too many who only get increases when minimum goes up. Despite conservative beliefs, it is not just post adolescents near minimum wage and/or whose employers manage to avoid giving benefits by various dodges. Working diligently at a minimum wage job should not require needing SNAP and medicade to get by, as encouraged by some big business. If we don’t want the instability of too big wage hike, how would conservatives suggest helping those getting better jobs in economically depressed areas, fewer skills, or overquafied skills and cannot wait any longer, and so getting them off the hated programs? My area is just starting to have problems filling jobs since ’08, which isn’t much help for a white collar worker when the new jobs are foodserver when you’re pushing 50.

      I don’t think enough advocating the status quo consider trying to keep body and soul on 290$ a week before taxes, that’s barely enough for a cheap apartment in a cheap area, eating or electricity must be optional. If higher wages won’t help the working poor, what will? It’s not like they would send it to Zurich. Increasing it may not help as much as they hope, but people get desperate.

      • Negative Payroll Tax would help the working poor, applied to broad based taxes with impact (not incidence) on potential employers, if it’s set just below unemployment benefits and if there are effective measures to prevent capital flight from offshoring out from under.

        This is the approach of Professor Kim Swales of the University of Strathclyde and his colleagues (in the UK – see http://www.faxfn.org/feedback/03_jobs/jobs_tax.htm#23feb98a), and of Nobel winner Professor Edmund S. Phelps, McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University (in the USA – see http://www.columbia.edu/~esp2/taxcomm.pdf, or his book Rewarding Work). I myself have done a game theoretic analysis of aspects of these proposals, which I dumbed down a bit and had published in the (near Distributist) National Civic Council’s magazine News Weekly (in Australia – see http://users.beagle.com.au/peterl/publicns.html#NWKART1, and also http://users.beagle.com.au/peterl/publicns.html#LIBRESLN and following, or my Henry Tax Review submission at http://alsblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pml-on-tax-reform), and I have some other related and more recent stuff too, e.g. at http://www.spectacle.org/0112/lawrence.html.

        • That sounds good, I also have a relative who has not been able to get any job with bennies. He could get hired if he works under the table without bennies. Apparently, owners of multiple shops prefer part-time, less experienced, and under the table to maximize profit. America’$ way apparantly.

          • Thank you for your interest.

            Something recently reminded me that I have a bad habit: I am more likely to chip in with a correction or additional information when I see something I definitely know to be inaccurate or incomplete, but I let stuff I already know go by – and, by lurking, I learn stuff I didn’t already know. That helps me more, but it leaves me sounding too negative overall, as my silence does not speak.

            So I think I’m going to try boosting contributors a bit more – while I remember to do that.

      • MD: Let’s leave out the political labels, associated beliefs, and look at Bureau of Labor of statistics facts as can best be determined:

        • 6.7% of all hourly workers are paid the minimum wage
        • The above percentage is declining despite any influx of lower skilled immigrants regardless of legal status
        • 1% of minimum wage earners are 25 or older
        • 8% of minimum wage earners are ages 16-19
        • Doing the math above, it is easy to see the vast majority of minimum wage earners are teenagers
        • 59.7% of minimum wage earners have an education level of less than a high school diploma

        Now for some analysis:

        Let me ask you to consider who is being subsidized in these circumstances.

        You referenced big business, but the $15 an hour would effect all businesses in Virginia even if it technically excludes businesses under a certain size by raising pay across the board without business appropriate reasons. Sounds great, until the unemployment numbers start rising.

        Perhaps it is useful to alternatively think of business as subsidizing a failing public school system and public assistance, being left to hire people with not much to add to their enterprises, but are in some measure necessary to continue.

        You also referenced $290 a week before taxes. In my humble state of Indiana a single parent of two earning the minimum wage will likely end each year with pay and assistance exceeding $40,000 net income. (Remember this represents only 1% of income earners in this category.)

        You lamented this need for assistance as a subsidy to business. Our society via policy makers in government has determined a minimum modicum of living delivering subsidy to this level. This system is substantially supported by corporate taxes. To say business is somehow skating on this issue isn’t accurate.

        Finally, a national minimum wage has never made sense. What it costs to live in Manhattan, NYC is not nearly the same as Manhattan, KS. Any minimum wage, therefore, should be based on local, state or regional Consumer Price Indices.

        • Yes, minimum wage in NYC should be higher as it is a way more expensive area. SNAP is keyed to location. But not all things are scaled to location. My area may have lower housing cost to justify lower pay supposedly, but medical is higher with fewer options.

          Many states have the national minimum wage which is 15k/yr and change, That is not much more than housing alone even in my light rural area. If you don’t have family to lean on (i’m heading that way) Being able to earn enough for even a basic life (forget smart phones and other luxuries) is a real issue if you haven’t any way to hit 40k a year without hitting the lotto. There isn’t always an adult partner to split expenses with. People are a lot closer to the line than they think they are.

          • My son has come smack up against exactly what you are describing. After two years of college (and NOT getting his Associates Degree due to… poor planning on his part) he was forced to come home. (He pays rent, but I take a bath on what a 21 year old boy eats… 🙂 )

            1. He did not get his degree, which limits his job opportunities
            2. He does not know what he wants to do (after two years of school!) so is not going back to college until he has a goal. We are not well off enough to simply pay for college, much less for unsupervised playtime
            3. He is forced to work hourly low wage jobs, not being qualified for anything else
            4. His work ethic sucked

            Note that he makes significantly more than federal minimum wage due to the dearth of workers in Texas, yet this is still likely around ~$18k per year before taxes. We had to get VERY strong with him when he moved home, to make him realize how expensive living on his own would be. Making about $350 per week (net) might pay the rent and food (if one cooks and has roommates), but you cannot afford insurance of any type or the gas for the car you did not buy yourself (no payments… but it is still MY car). He has also found out that this type of job sucks: he is at the bottom of the ladder with little prospects.

            However, he now understands that he cannot raise a family on those wages. One must improve on skills to get better jobs: minimum wage is not intended to raise a family. He is in the demographic (lives at home, is young, healthy… and inexperienced) that those jobs are intended for. He is learning that if you gain skills or a degree, you are worth more to an employer and therefore will make more money. He sees coworkers who have never improved themselves and are working at poverty level at 30, 50 and even 60 years old!

            All that to say that raising the middle wage will not help with the unambitious. All it does is get many of them fired, which (by design) makes them dependent on Government. Progressives know this, and all the bullshit about ‘how caring progressives are’ simply feeds into totalitarian control by the state, their holy grail.

            Make yourself valuable! No jobs where you live? MOVE to where they are!

            I was raised by a single parent on a Texas school teacher’s salary (just above the poverty line at the time) and I WORKED MY ASS OFF to get ways to pay for college, earning scholarships, grants, and up to 5 part time jobs at a time. I joined the military, used the GI bill to defray the costs of an engineering degree from Texas A&M. I had no ‘white privilege;’ we were economically white trash. However, I was taught traditional conservative values, raised in a church that reinforced those values, and was taught to make things happen for myself. Hard work early in life convinced me that digging ditches was a harsh way to earn a dollar: I was motivated and ambitious to make myself more valuable to employers. I was willing to MOVE to where the opportunity was (as almost every classmate eventually did: few middle class paying jobs in ranch country) to be able to start a family.

            This work ethic is what we have lost. My son is learning it the hard way now, but at least he is learning it. Self-reliance improves your self esteem, your value to employers, and your life in general.

    • An issue to write about is that almost all current gun legislation has given up all pretense of being ‘to fight crime’. All current legislation targets only legal gun owners, not criminals who illegally own guns. The current tactic is to allow anyone to complain about a person and the police show up to strip them of all their firearms. The person has no ability to defend themselves, they are not even notified until authorities show up to seize all of their firearms. This allows anti-gun teachers to have the 2nd amendment rights of all of their children’s parents (just ask the kids if their parents own guns, file a complaint). It allows anti-gun physicians the same power. How many people can maintain their Constitutional rights under such circumstances?

      I just wish we had a red flag laws for journalists. We file a complaint that we are afraid the person might use their 1st Amendment rights dangerously, the FCC shows up to remove their credentials, their phone, gain access to and shut down all their social media accounts, and remove all internet access for them. It is OK, they can go to court in 8-10 months to get their 1st Amendment privileges restored. What could be wrong with that?

      • The biggest thing wrong with it is that the First Amendment doesn’t grant ‘privileges’, it defines a RIGHT. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

      • An issue to write about is that almost all current gun legislation has given up all pretense of being ‘to fight crime’. All current legislation targets only legal gun owners, not criminals who illegally own guns. The current tactic is to allow anyone to complain about a person and the police show up to strip them of all their firearms. The person has no ability to defend themselves, they are not even notified until authorities show up to seize all of their firearms. This allows anti-gun teachers to have the 2nd amendment rights of all of their children’s parents (just ask the kids if their parents own guns, file a complaint). It allows anti-gun physicians the same power. How many people can maintain their Constitutional rights under such circumstances?

        So what is the advertised rationale for these kind of laws?

        I wonder how many cops will be killed trying to enforce these laws?

        Will these laws be enforced in an even-handed manner?

  5. I don’t watch CNN, but maybe I should if Max Boot’s hilarity is now the common analysis.

    I could write more, but I have question for you Jack: When are you going to run screaming into the night? Rationality is lost, as is truth, justice, ethics and honesty. I don’t know how you can continue to document it regularly without your head exploding. I suppose when we miss a couple of posts we’ll know that one or both has happened.

  6. So what is more likely to push us over the edge…Trump getting, likely, unjustly impeached and the right losing civil patience with it or the resistance going mad and become more flagrant instigators if he doesn’t?

    Thanks CNN, NYT, MSNBC, WaPo, Mr. Boot, et.al.

  7. Max Boot has long since surrendered any claim to a right to be taken seriously. His sad fall from intelligent and reliable commentary would be sad and evoke pity from me except that he’s substituted that intelligent and reliable commentary with sell-out and on-the-verge-of-treachery anti-Trump ravings.

  8. Russians place ads promoting Hillary Clinton for President and explaining her policies. Democrats claim such Russian interference cost her the election.

    Which is more likely, the Russians and Trump were sooooo smart that they knew that the only people ignorant of Hillary Clinton’s positions on the issues would vote for her, so they planted fake ads truthfully promoting her positions or is it that the Russians were trying to help Clinton win, but her positions were so abhorrent to the American people that they voted for Trump instead? The answer is obvious, Clinton and her supporters are Russian agents.

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