Saturday Ethics Pitch, 10/26/2019: Calvin Coolidge Was Right, Baseball is Wrong, And Other Revelations

Here it comes!

1. Oh-oh...I was worried about this. Early in the baseball post-season there were rumors flying that MLB had deadened its baseballs after a 2019 season that saw records shattered for homer frequency. I wrote (somewhere this month: I can’t find it) that if the sport really did mess with the balls at this point it would be a massive breach of ethics, changing the conditions of the game when the games mattered most.

So far, the conspiracy theorists have been bolstered by the statistics.

 Baseball researcher Rob Arthur revealed in a Baseball Prospectus report on October10 that after nearly 20 postseason games, home runs were occurring at at half the rate the 2019 season’s homer frequency would predict. Arthur allowed for the fact that better pitchers and hitters  made up  playoff teams, and still  concluded that the ball was not flying as far as it did during the regular season. “The probability that a random selection of games from the rest of the regular season would feature as much air resistance as we’ve seen so far in the postseason,” he wrote, “is about one in one thousand.” A follow-up report by Arthur again found significant variation in the flight of the ball this postseason.

This isn’t good.

2. It’s not even 2020, and the New York Times isn’t even pretending  to be objective. Two examples from today’s Times:

  • In a story about Tulsi Gabbard announcing that she would not run for re-election to the House, the Times spun for Hillary Clinton, writing, “Last Friday, Hillary Clinton suggested that Republicans were “grooming” her for “a third party run”, though Ms. Gabbard has denied any such plans.” What was notable about Clinton’s smear was that she said that Gabbard was “a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”  This is a variety of “fake news” that the Times excels at, telling only part of the story to manipulate public perception.
  • Headline (Print edition) : “Speaking at Black College, Trump Ridicules Obama For Effort on Racial Equity.”  Wow, what a racist! Attacking efforts at racial equity! In fact, the President criticized the paltry results of Obama’s efforts to advance racial equity. He in no way ridiculed Obama for making those efforts.  Again, the Times is now a master at playing to its anti-Trump readers confirmation bias.

3. A puzzlement: is the public really this stupid, are websites trying to make them stupid, or what? For giggles, I clicked on a link that said “Almost no one can pass this logic test!” In fact, if 99% of Americans can’t get almost all of these questions right, maybe we should put the Democrats in charge of our lives. In fact, the text introducing the  text said it wasn’t hard, meaning the link was a deliberate clickbait lie. The text also said that the quesions involved common sense, while the thing was labelled a “logic test.” Common sense and logic are not the same thing. Most of the questions had nothing to do with logic, and were variations on “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” The test’s creator doesn’t know what “logic” means, and now anyone who clicked on this link doesn’t know either.

4. If the choice is between incompetence and dishonesty, I’m hoping the President is being dishonest. NBC news tells us that President Trump told reporters gathered on the White House South Lawn that he will be the one fighting the Democrats’ attempted impeachment coup. “Here’s the thing. I don’t have teams, everyone’s talking about teams,” the President said. “I’m the team. I did nothing wrong.'”

NBC adds, “Trump’s allies have been imploring the White House to develop a more organized structure…. A number have suggested Trump follow the war-room model set up by the Clinton White House….”

I really don’t care how the public is informed regarding the disinformation and abuse of power and process being mounted by the Democratic Party/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance against democracy, as long as it is. but it is clearer than than clear that President Trump himself lacks the legal knowledge, historical perspective, intellectual acuity and the communication skills to do it himself.  This is hubris on a Greek tragedy scale, and the problem is that much more than Trump’s Presidency is at stake. He has an obligation to oppose the coup attempt, and that requires effective and well-planned public relations.

Ann Althouse has a trenchant observation on this:

But who knows what Trump is really doing? Why is NBC assuming Trump is telling the truth? Isn’t Trump an inveterate liar by NBC’s lights? In any case, Trump just said, “I don’t have teams, everyone’s talking about teams.” What does “team” mean? You can be the sort of person who doesn’t do teamwork and still consult with other people, perhaps in more fluid, informal ways. It’s funny that for all Trump’s importance, there’s so little knowledge of or even interest in how the man works. There are just narratives about what a genius or a screwup he is. We really are so dumb when it comes to Trump. No wonder he thinks he can beat us all singlehanded. Is that last line of mine a joke? Depends on whether you’re doing the genius or the screwup narrative.

5. For the record, the Ethics Alarms position is that teacher strikes are unethical, and ought to be illegal. The Chicago teacher’s strike drags on, meaning the union continues to hold schoolchildren and working parents hostage to their wage demands. In 1919, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge reacted to the Boston police strike by declaring,  “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”  That principle was upheld when President Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers, and it should be expanded beyond mere safety to extend to strikes against the public welfare. President Franklin Roosevelt, usually an ally of organized labor, said that, “A strike of public employees … looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”  This also should apply to the schools and their teachers. Many, many citizens are qualified to fill in for AWOL teachers, and many non union teachers would love a crack at a teaching job. Local governments should use retirees and volunteers while striking teachers are given an ultimatum.

Budgets are determined by the public’s elected representatives in the legislature.  If teachers,  police,  DMV workers, firefighters  or any other government employees feel that they are underpaid, the remedy is to persuade voters  to elect legislators or city council members who pledge to raise their wages, while cutting expenses elsewhere.

That’s the system. Giving teachers the right to strike has led to declining standards and misaligned resources, but the real ethics problem is that such strikes are aimed against the public welfare.

8 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Pitch, 10/26/2019: Calvin Coolidge Was Right, Baseball is Wrong, And Other Revelations

  1. In 1919, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge reacted to the Boston police strike by declaring, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” That principle was upheld when President Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers, and it should be expanded beyond mere safety to extend to strikes against the public welfare.

    It is important to note that despite striking and collective bargaining being protected by the First Amendment, when the government fires striking workers, it is acting as an employer, not as a sovereign. This distinction (government acting as an employer v. government acting as a sovereign) had already been established for some time by the time Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) had been decided.

    • I called it! Rodney had to throw a mid-level heater down the middle of the plate, and Bregman was finally hitting. And I could hear Jim Palmer, the only Hall of Fame pitcher never to give up a grand slam, saying “It’s always better to give up one run than four.”

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