Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 4/23/19: Sanders, Warren and Steyer

Good Morning!

I don’t know about where you are, but Spring has finally arrived to stay in Alexandria, Virginia!

1.  Mea Culpa. The first post today made it up without a final proofing and edit, the result of three consecutive computer crashes and an intervening work crisis. Veteran reader Tim Levier flagged the mess, which I cleaned up on Aisle 9 after pulling the post down. This has happened a couple of times before, and makes me want to throw myself in the shredder.

2. Stop making me defend Bernie Sanders! Apparently Bernie spent $444,000 dollars in campaign money in 2015 on his own book, which, of course, put money in his pockets. Some conservative writers have compared this to the scam that has caused the Mayor of Baltimore to go on “leave,” which in her case means “I’m resigning, except that I’ll still be getting my salary.” That’s unfair to Bernie. Pugh’s self-dealing was genuine corruption, using her place on a non-profit’s board to get the organization to buy her book rather than many other options. A candidate’s book is legitimate campaign material: it’s not like the campaign can distribute another candidate’s book.

Purchases like Sanders’ should be scrutinized carefully–Were they properly discounted? Were they used, or did they sit around in warehouses?—and there need to be special election regulations governing this potentially corrupt type of campaign expense. For example, if the candidate is the author, perhaps a law should require him or her to waive royalties,  contribute them to charity, or pass them on to the party.

3. But don’t expect me to defend Elizabeth WarrenUgh, what an awful, opportunistic, intellectually dishonest demagogue she is! Has any state successively embarrassed itself with successive disgraceful Senators like my home state’s Kennedy-Kerry-Warren parade of horribles? I don’t see how it would be possible. In addition to her pathological hypocrisy (most recently having the chutzpa to condemn parents cheating to get their kids into prestigious colleges after she used her fraudulent minority status to jump ahead in line while pursuing her own academic career), she panders as a reflex, assuming that the weak or dishonest arguments she adopts will be enough to con ignorant voters.

On Monday, Warren pledged  to cancel almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans. Each former  student’s debt would get a relief of $50,000 in households making  up to $100,000. Only those households with earnings of over $250,000 would get no student debt reduction. Cost: $640 billion, but hey, can’t we find a way to cancel the National Dept, growing like a cancer in the nation’s gut?

There are just a couple of things wrong with this proposal. First, she can’t do this unilaterally, so her “pledge” is a lie. No Congress, unless they find a way to clone Ocasio-Cortez, will ever vote to shell out $640 billion to college graduates. More importantly, this is one more example of Democrats wanting to install perverse incentives to be unethical, while punishing citizens foolish enough to plan, be responsible, and meet their obligations.

How does  that ethics alarm not buzz, assuming Warren has any. Social media commentators made the simple fairness point quickly. “Do I get a refund for having chosen a cheaper public university so I wouldn’t be riddled with a ton of debt?” one commenter wrote. “I want no part in paying off everyone else’s student loans.” Others stated that equity and justice demand that those who paid back their loans would deserve a refund, if deadbeats prospered by not paying back what they owed. What’s the rebuttal to that? Warren’s proposal is infested with the fallacy of so many socialist policies: the diligent, honorable and responsible are penalized for their virtue.

Is Warren the most unethical Democratic candidate? It’s a tough field.

4.  Balanced, irresponsible, or just greedy? Fox News is running impeach Trump” ads by Trump Deranged “resistance” billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer has been advocating impeachment all along, and citing unimpeachable and fake “offenses” as justification. Essentially hsi argument is the same as Maxine Waters: impeach Trump because we can, and because he Democrats can’t be allowed to be defeated by someone like him. Steyer was counting on the Mueller investigation to bolster his cause, for which he is paying millions, and since it delivered nothing that could be used rationally and legally to justify impeachment, he’s just lying to the public and saying it is. “The Mueller report lays out a roadmap to impeachment,” he says in the ad. The report doesn’t mention impeachment once! It’s not a road map, it’s road block. Such intentional misrepresentation, however, is sufficient to deceive for the majority of Americans, who will not read the report—I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating—wouldn’t comprehend it if they did, and must depend on trustworthy interlocutors, which Steyer isn’t, along with almost all journalists and pundits.

The ad is unethical, and it is unethical for Fox News, or any network, to run it.

26 thoughts on “Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 4/23/19: Sanders, Warren and Steyer

  1. In fairness to Fox, Steyer’s ad is deemed political speech and if they denied him the ability to buy time it is probable that Steyer and his minions would claim Fox is trying to censor political speech.

    What needs to happen is some group should create a countervailing ad. That ad should show that Steyer is a hedge fund manager heavily vested in Green energy. The ad should point out that Steyer’s claims are hid opinion based on his abject hatred of Trump.

    More speech is better than censoring speech.

  2. #3 – Also, I would have to assume that anybody who believes that $640B payout represents a one-time cost would also be in the market for a bridge I’m selling. I’m pretty sure that all the young people who’ve yet to rack up student debt would see that, and understand that any debt they run up will be forgiven, provided they’re sufficiently profligate. After all, we did it for the generation before them, it’s only fair.

  3. 4. But if FOX refused to run the ad, wouldn’t Steyer and the left make hay of their refusal? Isn’t an ad different from an editorial or opinion piece?

    • Can he say, “The Holocaust is a hoax”? The report is not a road map for impeachment, based on its text. Fox wouold be within its rights to refuse it. Who cares what Steyer complains about?

  4. 3. Hey Liz, you’re the man! You’ve got my vote! Just send me a check for the 60K we spent for our daughter’s undergrad degree at Georgetown, plus twenty year’s interest, and the 15K I spent on law school plus thirty-five year’s interest. Oh, and please pay my Dad’s estate for the six or seven grand he paid for my BA, plus forty-five year’s interest. And THANKS!

  5. I’m feeling a little better about the impeach Trump mantra being a backfire.

    My two adult daughters were over for little sisters birthday last night. One is a democrat and obviously anti Trump. The other is conservative but has been a never Trumper all along.

    They’re now both saying “impeached for what? He did do anything.”. Both view it as a subversion of a lawful election.

  6. 1. Mea Culpa

    Please don’t throw yourself into the shredder. A wood chipper would do a much better job. 🙂

    And please, don’t throw yourself into a wood chipper, either.

    2. Bernie Sanders

    I agree, generally, although I think campaigns buying books from the candidate should either be banned, or royalties from such purchases declined by the author or donated to a bona fide charity of which neither the candidate nor his close connections have a paid interest or ownership stake.

    Otherwise, it should be treated like it looks — as a scheme to convert campaign funds directly into personal wealth.

    3. Elizabeth Warren

    Now, you know Warren thinks that we have not yet run out of other people’s money to use for the purchase of votes.

    Is Warren the most unethical Democratic candidate? It’s a tough field.

    Sure is.

    4. Fox’s Steyer Ads

    Weird. Fox pulled them back in 2017, but now they’re running them again?

    “Due to the strong negative reaction to their ad by our viewers, we could not in good conscience take their money,” the channel’s co-president, Jack Abernethy, said.

    What, do the viewers like the new ones better?

  7. “The report lays out a road map to impeachment” is the newest catchphrase approved by our Ministry of Truth. All sorts of media outlets and Leftist pundits are using it.

    What they mean is, “The Mueller report doesn’t say we CAN’T impeach the president, so we’re just going to go ahead and make you think it says we SHOULD.”

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