New Week Morning Warm-Up, 3/4/19: Luck, Fairness, And Delusion

Looking forward to the best ethics week yet…

…but not really expecting it.

…Maybe I’ll get lucky.

1. A Progressive war on luck. Yesterday, NPR, which we all pay for, offered a long segment that was ostensibly about “luck,” but it actually was an extended argument for socialism and a political ad against President Trump. “One we move from talking about merit to concentrating on opportunity, then we have changed our focus from scarcity to abundance,” some Ted-talker said. “Then there is no need for walls.” The general thrust of the program, which included at least one speaker (I didn’t stay to hear all of the agitprop) who literally didn’t know what luck is, was that successful people think that hard work and talent is what got them where they are, when in reality it was all, or mostly luck. Thus the idea being pushed was that national policy should eliminate, or at least minimize, the effect of mere chance on human affairs. This means, once you read between the line, government distribution of resources, jobs and benefits to ensure the “fairness” that the random vicissitudes of cruel fate so often eschew.

As I touched on in a recent discussion of Clarence Darrow’s progressive principles, the rejection of personal responsibility and the very idea of free will has permeated progressiveness from its origins. It is, and has been, an anti-American construct that runs against the core principles the nation was founded on, but the theory has always appealed to those who welcome the opportunity to blame others, or just cruel Fate, for their own mistakes and failures.

That said, of course luck plays a massive and sometimes decisive role in our lives. That’s called “life.” Ironically, one of Clarence Darrow’s favorite poems (I know I have posted this before) makes the point:

Whist by Eugene Fitch Ware

Hour after hour the cards were fairly shuffled
And fairly dealt, but still I got no hand;
The morning came, and with a mind unruffled
I only said, “I do not understand.”

Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
The cards are shuffled and the hands are dealt;
Blind are our efforts to control the forces
That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.

I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
But yet I like the game and want to play;
And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
Play what I get until the break of day

2. Speaking of controlling “opportunity”…which usually means constraining liberty and autonomy, officials at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, New Jersey have forbidden prom goers from hiring limos or private vehicles to arrive and leave in. The boilerplate official explanation is that the change ensures safety for all students, but it also is an effort to create “equality” because not all students can afford a limousine or party bus. Of course, not all students can afford a prom gown or to rent a tux. Why not ban formal wear, and have a simple dress code that all families can afford, like jeans and a T-shirt?

The school will charge each student $15 for transportation costs.

3. Thank-you, Captain Obvious! Avner Zarmi has written an essay in which she argues that President Trump’s “style” undermines his effectiveness. Ya think? What was Avner’s first clue, I wonder?

If the President could restrain his inner jerk as effectively as his predecessors (for he is far from the biggest jerk to occupy the White House—my vote would be with JFK, but there is lots of competition) and if he wasn’t opposed by a hostile news media determined to magnify his deficits and ignore his accomplishments, he would have a 60% approval rating.

4. And this is why there is a national emergency

  • Bernie Sanders has hired a  deputy national press secretary who is an illegal alien. She’s covered by DACA,  but won’t be eligible to vote for Sanders.

Of course, most of us won’t be able to vote for Bernie, because he won’t be on the ballot next November.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Times feature a story sympathetically representing the travails of other law-breakers as they go about their law-breaking. Of course, it’s only luck that the “migrants”—that’s the latest deceitful Times euphemism for “illegal immigrants”  weren’t born in Boston, and that I’m not in Guatamala dreaming of a better life. Open borders it is, then!

[…the U.S. Senate gained the fourth and final vote needed to block Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration when Rand Paul announced that he would support a Democratic measure to overturn the president’s executive action. The bill, which has already passed in the House, would then get sent to Trump’s desk—where the president would almost certainly issue a veto.

Paul, the “libertarian-ish” senator from Kentucky, offered a candid explanation for his decision to rebuke the president’s attempt to circumvent Congress to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “In September of 2014, I had these words to say: ‘The president acts like he’s a king. He ignores the Constitution. He arrogantly says, ‘If Congress will not act, then I must,’” Paul wrote in an op-ed for Fox News, referring to his opposition to Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. “I would literally lose my political soul if I decided to treat President Trump different than President Obama.”

I respect Paul’s devotion to integrity, but he’s a doctor, not a lawyer. Obama’s EO changing immigration enforcement policy was a separation of powers breach, and there was also no “emergency.” Paul thinks the Supreme Court will strike down the border wall order, and he may be right, but it won’t be because there aren’t material distinctions between what Obama did and Trump’s order. Paul also may be grandstanding: he knows his vote will have no real impact.

Fun Fact: Grover Cleveland issued 404 vetoes in his first term. Trump hasn’t vetoed anything yet.

5. Everyone said this would happen, everyone knew it would happen, and it happened, but New York passed the minimum wage hike anyway, because Socialism Good: New York City  lost more restaurant jobs after the requirement of a $15 per hour Minimum Wage than it did in the aftermath of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Following the labor movement’s “Fight for $15” victory, New York City has experienced its sharpest decline in restaurant jobs in nearly 20 years. December’s restaurant jobs were down by almost 3,000 ( 1.64%) from the December 2017, “and the 2.5% annual decline in March 2018 was the worst since collapse in restaurant jobs following the terrorist attacks in 2001.

Well, at least Amazon may hire some of those workers who…oh. Right.

Bad luck.

(Here’s another helpful song:)


34 thoughts on “New Week Morning Warm-Up, 3/4/19: Luck, Fairness, And Delusion

    • My Dad said that once you saw a person literally next to you blown up, covering you with his blood and guts, you understood the role of luck in life, and either put it aside or resolved to go crazy. Dad accepted luck, was sometimes amused by it, never blamed it, and never let it trouble him. And “That’s life!” was one of his favorite sayings.

        • And, he would have said—despite having his father abandon him and his mother during the height of the depression, despite having had his foot blown up by an idiot playing with a hand grenade in barracks, despite that injury costing him the military career he wanted, despite resigning from or being fired from numerous jobs for refusing to do what he felt was dishonest or wrong, despite never achieving the prominence that his many talents and intellect seemed to point toward—that he was a very, very lucky man.

    • I would probably not be alive today if it had not been for the luck that, while covering the D-Day landings, H.M.S. Boadicea was torpedoed and sunk with nearly all hands, including my mother’s then boyfriend.

  1. There is a huge difference between luck and timing. If Edison were born today and someone else commercialized electrification, Edison would have commercialized something else.

    If wealth is a function of luck we should bulldoze housing projects and simply wait for their luck to turn because residents there are subject to a lot if bad luck.

    • If wealth is only dependent on luck, then perhaps we shouldn’t give money to welfare recipients, just hand them each a box containing a four-leafed clover, a rabbit’s foot, a lucky penny, a small bamboo plant, a horseshoe, a pair of fuzzy dice, and a wishbone. Bonus luck is imbued by there being a total of seven lucky charms in the box.

      Critics will ask how we can afford to buy all those lucky charms, but I say we should be asking what we’ll do with all of our new prosperity.

  2. #5 But you know who is really at fault here? It’s those god damn Republicans! All those restaurateurs are greedy money grubbing capitalists that just won’t give the little guy a fair shake. Maybe if we nationalized all the NYC food establishments, could we achieve the glorious Age of Aquarius for all employees of said establishments. I recommend, to lower confusion, all these food establishments be renamed in the following scheme “Cafeteria #XX”, or “Cafe #YY”, and “Restaurant #ZZ”. Working will be so great, though don’t ask how it would be like to eat at such place. As part of your service agreement, you will sign a gag order regarding your experience.

    • As a corollary to your sentiment, perhaps we should create a separate minimum wage for the undocumented. To offset their ineligibility for welfare we mandate that illegal immigrants be paid $22.50 per hour or 50% more than American citizens. With all the sanctuary cities everywhere the undocumented illegal immigrants would be in no fear of ICE and could lodge a wage and hour complaint with the local office.

      If this happens it will make the border wall dispute moot because the progressives will be busy digging the foundation for that big beautiful wall.

        • Jack
          I hope you know I am kidding. All those SJW’s who currently advocate for open borders would experience massive brain injuries when the train they are on tries to change direction if the relative minimum wage for illegals was higher than that of those poor oppresive Americans who are demanding $15.00 per hour.

        • Better yet, you should feel compassion for them, they are hard working and industrious, they need a leg up. For illegal immigrants and illegal immigrants only, there should be a minimum wage of $55 per hour. Then for the rest of us, since we have the benefits of citizenship, should be compelled to negotiate our own wages as the market can bear.

      • The figures used by open borders proponents claim that illegal aliens already earn MORE on average, than American citizens.

        • I would enjoy reading about it, where that is asserted. I suppose the same sources say the, er, migrants pay more in taxes on average than citizens, too.

  3. (5) Here is a nice article about New York’s $15/hour minimum wage. I like the union rep who has not sympathy at all for the people who voted to join the union and were then laid off.

  4. 4. I suppose we’ll see lawsuits, court rulings, and rumors of impeachable offenses if TRUMP ever does veto something that this Congress sends to his desk for signature. Because TRUMP BAD.

  5. I think that agreeing to luck in life is really just short hand for the part of maturity that surrenders any notion of complete control.

    There is no such thing as actual luck, which would require actual randomness (which cannot exist in a world with physical laws).

    “Luck” is ultimately just a description of forces which we do not have enough information about, in the time frame available, to accurately predict an outcome. A roll of the dice, if one knows the starting position, the exact force applied to the throw, the exact torque applied to the wrist twist, the exact weight of the dice, the exact amount of interactions between the dice and the air, the exact elasticity of the table, etc, one could predict with 100% certainty how dice would land, every single time.

    Luck is merely an easy way to admit we don’t have all that information nor can we get hung up on not having that information. The best we can do is to live our lives in a way that “hedges our bets” within the control and information we do actually have, and hope that narrows the margins of error enough.

  6. There’s only two pieces of luck that actually matters to outcome in life, and those are IQ and raw talent. Everything else comes down to hard work and discipline.

    As for Paul, he’s probably the only person voting for the measure who I believe is doing it on principle. There has to be some name for the ethical dilemma of doing something for the right reasons even though everybody else is doing it for the wrong ones and a victory will in no way address the actual point you want to make.

  7. There has to be some name for the ethical dilemma of doing something for the right reasons even though everybody else is doing it for the wrong ones and a victory will in no way address the actual point you want to make.

    ‘Grandstanding asshole?’ ‘Press seeking useful idiot?’

    In Texas we fall back on ‘dumbass’ a lot for these situations.

    No matter what form it takes, building a wall and enforcing our sovereign rights and laws is the right answer. The Democrats are playing foul with every aspect of this in the name of disenfranchising American citizens.

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