Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 2/13/2019: Rail, Restaurants, Resignation And Reality

Yum Yum!

1. When reality meets ideology… California Gov. Gavin Newsom  announced that

[He’s] abandoning a $77 billion plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will focus instead on completing a 119-mile (190-kilometer) segment in the state’s agricultural heartland. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 calling for the linking of Northern and Southern California, a rail project initially estimated to cost $33 billion and be completed in 2020. Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost and pushed the timeline to 2033. Newsom pledged to finish the segment already under construction through California’s Central Valley. He rejected the idea critics have raised that it will be a “train to nowhere” and said it can help revitalize the economically depressed region.

We’ll see how much that part costs, if it’s ever completed. Meanwhile, Democrats are going to have to declare their fealty to the “Green New Deal,” which pledges to eliminate air travel nation-wide with “high speed rail.”

2. What part of “convenient double standards” is unclear to you? Kelli Goff writes at the Daily Beast (relayed by Ann Althouse, since I have the DB on my Ethics Alarms  Untrustworthy Black List):

“When Rachel Dolezal was unmasked as a white woman who misrepresented her racial and ethnic identity in part to bolster her professional bona fides as a voice of the disenfranchised, she was penalized—heavily. She went from rising media star to late-night punchline, unemployable and impoverished. I don’t wish poverty on Warren, but I don’t understand how her only punishment for a similar fraud seems to be that she may become president.”

Warren, a polished demagogue, got rave reviews for her recent speech throwing her war-bonnet  into the 2020 ring; like Barack Obama, skillful public speaking is the full extent of her qualifications for leadership. But wow—with the Democrats more or less trapped into nominating another woman to run against Donald Trump, what an awful field of openly unethical females they have assembled so far! Warren’s a fraud; Gillibrand is an anti-male bigot; Gabbard is running away from strong anti-gay positions, Harris has attacked the Catholic faith as a disqualifying feature for a judge, and then there’s Hillary, who looks outstanding in this field.

3. And speaking of double standards…In Virginia, two accusations by named alleged victims have not been deemed sufficient for Lieutenant Governor Justin Faifax to surrender his elected position, while in the world of animation, voice actor Vic Mignogna has lost his job because of allegations of unconsented-to hugging and kissing at a convention. [Pointer: Michael Ejercito]

I have recently been working with some corporate and organizational clients on the huggy-kissyface problem at conventions. Yes, I believe it is sexual assault; no, the culture has not been sufficiently clear on the issue of such conduct (except at its most egregious) to justify serious punishment. This is especially true in the world of show business. I HATE being hugged and kissed by colleagues in any setting, but in the theater world it is almost unavoidable, and women are the #1 enthusiasts as huggers (gay men are a close second.)

4. And speaking of Justin Fairfax...we have had a lively debate here about whether mere accusations should force an elected official like Fairfax to step down, as doing so reinforces a “guilty until proven innocent” culture regarding sexual misconduct. This is the dangerous standard #MeToo has championed (when men are the accused) as well as Democrats (when conservatives are the accused.) My position is that guilty or not, a public official is ethically obligated to step down when such accusations and their fall-out make it impossible to do his job, and renders him (or her) a liability to his party and his office.

The latest developments in the Fairfax debacle are a Washington Post editorial calling on him to resign, and the mass resignation of most of his staff. Do these factors tilt the scales toward resignation?

Here are the stages of the Fairfax scandal so far…

I. First accusation of rape (forced oral sex at a political convention).

II. Second accusation of rape (rape while a college student)

III. State elected officials call for resignation or impeachment.

IV. Party leaders call for resignation.

V. Major regional newspapers call for resignation.

VI. Staff resigns.

A poll:

5. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias,” Big Lie installment. Adrian Vermeule is the Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. At some point I should make Professor Vermeule an Ethics Hero simply because he continues to call out leftist propaganda despite being at an institution where doing so has to make him a pariah.

Meanwhile, Chris Hayes is often cited as one of the “good” journalists at MSNBC.  (Pointer: Instapundit)

As always, it’s fun to watch the Trump-haters try to spin this kind of media lie…and Hayes was lying more than once.

6. The Tragedy of the Commons strikes again. News from Eater; suprisingly, some will take advantage of an altruistic company letting people eat for voluntary donations:

Nine years after introducing pay-what-you-can restaurants to several U.S. cities, Panera Bread is admitting defeat and closing down its last remaining non-profit Panera Cares location….The chain opened its first donation-based community cafe in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2010. Under the model championed by the company’s founder Ron Shaich, the restaurant operated like a typical Panera, but offered meals at a suggested donation price, with the goal of raising awareness about food insecurity. “In many ways, this whole experiment is ultimately a test of humanity,” Shaich said in a TEDx talk later that year. “Would people pay for it? Would people come in and value it?” It appears the answer is a resounding no.

…Each restaurant was designed to sustain itself, but the restaurants weren’t financially viable. The Portland-based Panera Cares was reportedly only recouping between 60 and 70 percent of its total costs. The losses were attributed students who “mobbed” the restaurant and ate without paying, as well as homeless patrons who visited the restaurant for every meal of the week. The location eventually limited the homeless to “a few meals a week.”

“We had to help them understand that this is a café of shared responsibility and not a handout,” Shaich said in a 2011 interview about the Portland location. “It can’t serve as a shelter and we can’t have community organizations sending everybody down”…

Gee, who could have seen this coming?


Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Public Service

24 responses to “Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 2/13/2019: Rail, Restaurants, Resignation And Reality

  1. Other Bill

    6. Sounds like socialism to me.

  2. brian

    1. You left out Amy Klobuchar from the Dem women candidates, maybe the exception that proves the rule.

    6. Socialist ideology fails the econ 101 supply/demand/price test yet again. I get when politicians do this, politics is about power not policy, but when business people do it I truly scratch my head and wonder WTF. Was this just some vanity project by a deluded owner, and if so how come they don’t take on other laws of nature with nearly the same frequency, i.e. perpetual motion motions, alchemy, or paranormal activity. Why is it always economics…

  3. Aleksei

    #1 Kind of hard to imagine how a transcontinental railroad was built in America, with late 19th century tech, by private companies, with govt funding and land grants of course. But still, 1,900 miles of railroad, some of it going through very rough terrain in a course of 7 years from the 1862 Pacific Railroad Act. And they can’t build 400 miles with 21 century tech in matter of 10 years. I love they saying, give the the Sahara desert to the govt to administer, they’ll run out of sand in 10 years.

    • Other Bill

      Nice catch, Aleksei. Of course Leland Stanford and all the other Robber Barons from San Francisco went to D.C. with a 700 thousand cash dollars in a satchel and returned with the exclusive right to build said railroad.

      • Michael R.

        Yes, but it was successfully built. I really am leaning more and more to the camp that says “the left can only destroy”. What has the left built in the last 50 years? Look at how they transformed Detroit, Chicago, and California. Look at how leftist snow plowing has worked in Sweden. The left seem completely detatched from reality and seems to be governed only by ideology and emotion.

        • Other Bill

          Yes. What is this home grown desire to destroy the country? Where does this impulse come from? Where do the Bernie Sanders of the world come from? Why ruin a good thing. What is this self destructive impulse we have in the U.S? Is it just a part of any institution or organism that it always harbors a self-destructive agent within? A mystery.

          • Michael R.

            The Democratic Party has harbored it my entire life. The virtue signaling isn’t just recent. In the 1970’s and 1980’s Democrats were quick to point out the flaws of US and Western society, but slow to acknowledge any achievements. Being willing to sell out your own has been seen as a sign of moral strength rather than the sin of being a traitor for decades. Hanoi Jane firing antiaircraft guns at US planes was seen as courageous, not traitorous.

    • Rich in CT

      The primary difference is that the transcontinental railroad was profitable because it served freight traffic. The line is actually remains profitable, 150 years later (though the site of the Golden Spike was bypassed with causeway over the Great Salt Lake).

      The California project would be exclusively passenger rail (freight train high speed). Passenger rail has never been profitable for any railroad; freight and mixed service trains subsidized passenger service. Amtrak and regional commuter rail authorities were created, in fact, to remove long distance travel from private rails books to prevent mass bankruptcy.

      The expense of the California project could be justified if it produced sufficient economic activity. LA to Sacramento, for instance, is not materially different than Washington to the New York (which is the most heavily traveled passenger rail corridor in the US). The difference is that the CA project is engineered for high speeds (200 mph) along a brand new exclusive corridor. Amtrak uses existing 150 year old rights of way (and often 40+ year old physical rails and overhead wires), shared with profitable freight services that pay rent. The transcontinental railroad, similarly, was built primarily for freight, and had sections that could handle only 10 mph traffic.

      California would likely be better served by strategic upgrades to existing rails to improve speed and reliability, than attempting and immensely expensive exclusive corridor.

  4. luckyesteeyoreman

    Hlary Cnton is just getting started with her 2020 campaign. She is doing a stealth TRUMP.

    The game: get all the ambitious Democrat Party women out in front into the spotlight early, then watch them destroy themselves and each other, along with Biden and maybe a couple other token guys. Then, just when it seems all is lost, she’ll come stumping to the rescue: “Here I am – AGAIN! Now, aren’t you sorry you didn’t stand by ME? Aren’t you sorry *I* wasn’t elected to the White House in 2016? Now, GO GET ME THOSE ELECTORAL VOTES I should have won in ’16! And I promise, I will wipe out the Electoral College FOREVER!”

    I do believe that there are enough votes waiting for her to win a re-match. Not that I want that. But if I were her, given the way the field of candidates is going, I would be smiling more Nick Sandmann-ly every new day.

  5. Glenn Logan

    1 When reality meets ideology

    This falls under the rubric of “Eventually, you run out of other people’s money.” Green New Dealers, take note.

    2 Double standards

    Warren’s a fraud; Gillibrand is an anti-male bigot; Gabbard is running away from strong anti-gay positions, Harris has attacked the Catholic faith as a disqualifying feature for a judge, and then there’s Hillary, who looks outstanding in this field.

    I agree — far more qualified and at least as consistent as the rest of them.

    Hopefully, she’ll get her rematch against Trump. I suspect the same result as last time, if so.

    3 Double standards part deux

    I HATE being hugged and kissed by colleagues in any setting, but in the theater world it is almost unavoidable, and women are the #1 enthusiasts as huggers (gay men are a close second.)

    I’m with you, Jack. Whatever happened to a hearty handshake?

    Regarding the huggy-kissy-face problem — I’m not really sure what this all means. I can’t imagine what kind of idiot would want such intimate contact with total strangers at a convention, of all places. That’s asking for a case of the flu or worse.

    Never mind sexual assault — It’s a public health menace!

    4 Justin Fairfax

    My position is that guilty or not, a public official is ethically obligated to step down when such accusations and their fall-out make it impossible to do his job, and renders him (or her) a liability to his party and his office.

    I’d put party last on that list, but I agree.

    The question for me is this: When everyone but the people who elected you want you to resign, are you obligated to (assuming you take the former to mean that you are able to do the job)? I guess the “party” problem would come in there, but who gets to make that call? We never really know how people will view a party coming out of a scandal, especially at the state level.

    So I’m an “after he loses an election” for now.

    5 Big lie

    I saw that today and laughed. There is just no level to which people who despise Trump will not stoop, even to transparently beclowning themselves.

    Part of it comes from the example Trump himself sets. He plays so fast and loose with facts that I suspect some of the Left just aren’t able to keep themselves from doing the same thing in response. I guess this qualifies as part of the whole “nation of assholes” thing.

    6 Tragedy of the commons

    The Green New Deal depends upon people being willing to essentially “pay what you can.” After all, the GND purports to subsidize not only the unable, but the unwilling.

    Now we have a real-life example of the GND as a microcosmic experiment. Works just about like we’d expect, n’est ce pas?

  6. Chris Marschner

    1. Because Newsome is in technical default on the original federal grant by stopping the project except for a small segment and is unwilling to refund the portion back to federal coffers California should be barred from receiving any future federal assistance for transportation projects while Newsome is Governor.

    As for the poll I would like to see a poll on when an accuser has an ethical duty to file a report with authorities about sexual assault.

  7. Arthur in Maine

    RE #6:Given the fondness for socialism on college campuses, I find the idea that college students helped fuck up an already bad idea especially delightful.

    I know, I know. Schadenfreude is unattractive. But I daresay it looks good on me.

  8. dragin_dragon

    I chose after the second accusation, partly because I suspect that if he doesn’t resign, there will be a third, and a fourth, so on ad infinitum. He cannot do the job if this happens. Period.

  9. Other Bill

    4. When he’s indicted.

  10. Jack wrote, “My position is that guilty or not, a public official is ethically obligated to step down when such accusations and their fall-out makes it impossible to do his job, and renders him (or her) a liability to his party and his office.”

    It’s rare that I disagree with Jack, this is one of those rare times.

  11. When the people vote him out.

    All else is lunacy that will be twisted to suit progressive radicals.

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