Hurry-Up Saturday Ethics Round Up, 2/29/2020: “Happy Birthday Frederick!” Edition [Corrected And Updated]


Yes, it’s Frederick’s 41st birthday.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should. Frederick is the overly duty-conscious and somewhat dim-witted hero of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” one of the Savoy duo’s so called “Big Three,” the Victorian operettas that have been performed the most over the years. (The other two are “H.M.S Pinafore,” and the currently unfairly besieged—but arguably the best of them all—“The Mikado.”) They aren’t my three favorites, mind you, but like seven of the other G&S masterpieces, they are damned good, and have aged better than most American musicals, especially the Rogers and Hammerstein classics. Poor Frederick was apprenticed to a pirate until his 21st birthday, but due to a cruel twist of fate and legalistic nit-picking, his 21st birthday didn’t arrive until 1940, because he was born on leap year. Today is his 41st birthday, though he is 164 years old.

I apologize for the stupid subtitles in the clip from the movie. Unlike most G&S performers, the diction of Kevin Klein, Rex Smith and Angela Lansbury is excellent.

(I’m hurrying because I’ve learned from cruel experience that traffic on Saturday after 12:30 slows to crawl..)

1. Thus ends Black History Month. I do not favor tribal distinctions in our days and months. It is inherently divisive, and Black History Month smacks of honors affirmative action. The history of black Americans is American history, inextricably intertwined with the history of the rest of us. Our entire history ought to be taught and learned without bias and spin, and no race or ethnic groups should hesitate to take pride in the accomplishments of other Americans regardless of their color or ancestry.

NOTICE of CORRECTION! Item #2 below has now been shown to have been based on a hoax. More after…

2. Res ipsa loquitur:

Obviously the  note in Chuck’s tickler file came up: “Today transition from saying Trump was doing too much in response to the Corona virus to saying that he isn’t doing enough.”

What awful, awful hacks these people are.

They are still awful hacks, but I hate being caught by these hoaxes. This one was especially sinister, because the fake tweet is completely consistent with what the Democrats and the news media had been saying about the President’s move to stop travel from China. However, insisting that a faked message is still “true enough” is what Dan Rather did in the scandal that ended his career as a respectable journalist.

We now know that the tweet is a hoax because ProPoblica, a nonprofit journalism organization, maintains a database of tweets deleted by politicians called Politwoops that uses Twitter’s Streaming API to find tweets from politicians that have been deleted.  Schumer’s tweet  is  NOT in the database, thus we know it wasn’t posted.

I apologize for being caught this way, AGAIN.

3.  The rest of the story: Remember Tilli Buchanan, the Utah stepmother who paraded around the house topless in front of the kids? She was arrested and charged under Utah law with three misdemeanor counts of lewdness involving a child. Iwrote that this should be an ethics question, not a legal one:

[T]here are the Tilli Buchanans among us, who want to tear down social norms, not really knowing what the consequences will be over the long term, just for the hell of it. In addition to being irresponsible and disrespectful, they are also lousy citizens.

They are not, however, criminals. She should be able to walk around naked in front of her children, just as we allow parents to engage in all sorts of other dubious practices. That she can doesn’t mean she should, but this is part of a long, long list where we must rely on ethics rather than law.

Facing  being placed on a sex offender registry for 10 years,  Tilli agreed to a plea deal with her pleading guilty one class B misdemeanor lewdness charge and paying a $600 fine while serving probation. The charge will be dismissed if Buchanan can keep her shirt on for a year.

4. More “The rest of the story,” uber-jerk division. In 2018, Saturday Night Live performer Pete Davidson mocked GOP Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw for his eyepatch, the result of a combat wound. Davidson said that he looked like “a hitman in a porno film” and dismissed the origin of his disfiguring injury as something he got in “war or whatever.” Veterans, their families and others who don’t usually pay attention to SNL anymore since it has become partisan, shrill, and lazy protested loudly, and Davidson apologized while Crenshaw appeared on a later show, where he was funny, gracious, and forgiving

It was obvious to me (and, I’m sure, Crenshaw) that Davidson was forced to apologize, but it takes a special breed of jerk to come back after he has left the scene of his insults and say so.

In Davidson’s new stand-up special, “Alive from New York,” Davidson, says,

“So I made fun of this guy with an eyepatch and then, like, I kind of got forced to apologize. My roommate thought I should apologize so that I didn’t get shot in the face. People were like, ‘You hate America!’ And I’m like, ‘No, I just didn’t want to be incorrect about how he lost his fucking eye. Is that a crime?! The only thing I did do, which I am guilty of — and I apologize for — is I did make that guy famous and a household name for no reason, right? I did what, like, Ariana Grande did for me, right? I sucked his dick at ‘SNL.'”

This is what you lost your eye for, Dan.

5. You could show this to your Bernie Bros friends, but I doubt they could understand it.  At the Foundation for Economic Education, J. Kyle de Vries does an excellent job of explaining the Social Security cheat, and why it has to be reformed. The system no longer makes sense, but the socialist enablers refuse to consider the problem. de Vries writes in part,

Millennials and Generation Z: Do you want to fund my Social Security benefits with higher payroll taxes than I paid in the past? Especially when the likelihood is high that your benefits are not going to be as lucrative as mine?

I am lucky. My Social Security benefits will be funded by you and other workers, and I plan on living to 140. If you are younger, that should concern you. Right now, you and your employer are forced to contribute 12.4 percent of your income into a fund that goes into a black hole, financing some other guy’s retirement. Wouldn’t you rather put that 12.4 percent into a fund you manage?

…Assume a self-employed 25-year-old makes $75,000 this year. Further assume she is required to set aside 12.4 percent of her income into a protected, tax-deferred trust, just as she must do for Social Security. But this is her account, managed by her, just like a 401k plan. If she realizes a 3 percent increase in income each year and can earn 6 percent on a conservative mix of stocks and bonds during her lifetime, her trust will accumulate to over $3,500,000 at age 70. At 8 percent growth, that number will be an astounding $6,142,000.

Would you rather have accumulated these much larger sums to augment your retirement income than get the average $1,500 per month Social Security check issued today? Lesser potential income is just one of the problems with the present system.

…Contrary to popular belief, payroll taxes are not invested in a fund to secure benefits like most other pension plans. Since the beginning, payroll taxes went first to make payments to current retirees with the balance “borrowed” by the feds for spending on things other than Social Security benefits. For most of the program’s history, the amount of payroll taxes the feds received was much higher than the Social Security payments, meaning the feds had a lot of money to spend on other things. Because of demographics, that situation has changed perilously, threatening the future of the Social Security system.

…What all this means is millennials and Gen Zers will see higher taxes for Social Security across the board, perhaps many times. They will also most likely see reductions in promised benefits, especially if they accumulate a lot of money over their working lifetimes.

…Wouldn’t you rather have your own retirement fund you manage yourself instead of the flimsy promise of government IOUs? Increasing payroll taxes today only delays the day of reckoning. The current unfunded liabilities for Social Security are over $34 trillion. Let’s not double down on a failed experiment that will bankrupt our country in the future and leave millions destitute in retirement.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Donald Trump was articulate enough and organized enough to explain this in a debate, or in a national address to the public? Wouldn’t it be nice if young voters would pay attention, and if the news media could report on the issue fairly?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could fly to Disney World by flapping my arms really hard?

21 thoughts on “Hurry-Up Saturday Ethics Round Up, 2/29/2020: “Happy Birthday Frederick!” Edition [Corrected And Updated]

  1. 4. As revolting as his actions are, Pete Davidson is more to be pitied than reviled. His father, a NYFD firefighter, was killed responding to the 9/11 attacks when Pete was an adolescent. He is reportedly a chronic depressive who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has a history of drug abuse. The entertainment industry has done this troubled young man no favors by rewarding his erratic, impulsive, and often offensive behavior with fame and exposure. It is often hard to tell if his audience is laughing with him or at him. Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as they are laughing.

    • Davidson is to be pitied. After Crenshaw went on SNL Davidson had a depressive episode. Crenshaw reached out to him to make sure Davidson was okay. I cannot guarantee I would be that caring.

      The irony is that many people I know rewatched the Crenshaw SNL bit on YouTube. Uniformly they are impressed with how gracious he was. Plus he looks like a superhero or super cool spy character.

  2. On point 5
    Wouldn’t it been nice if any president since Kennedy was articulate and brave enough to explain this in a debate.

    The issue of privatizing Social Security has been debated for quite a while. Those opposing giving ownership of Social Security funded retirement accounts are the same ones that advocate for personal ownership of health care accounts instead of employer based plans.

    American retirees detest risk which is why they invest in high cost annuities. Putting aside the issue of efficiencies the real issue is whether the young are willing to assume the economic risks to protect their parents from the vagaries of future market timing.

    For near future retirees would they be willing to chance retiring during the events of the past week, or those which occured in the third quarter of 2008; many that vote won’t. Therein lies the rub. Explaining the obvious to those who will be unable to recover is a fools errand. The only way around this is to guarantee benefits to one group unable to recover sufficient time to invest and create a new private retirement account for those who do.

    Let’s put responsibility where it belongs: CONGRESS. If I recall correctly the all spending and revenue bills originate in the House. Further, members like Pelosi, the Dingle family, Schumer, Biden and so many others have had ample opportunities to correct this but did nothing. To a person the all say they wanted to protect Social Security but the only thing they are protecting their own positions.

    • I do give credit to Bush for making an attempt to reform Social Security. I didn’t really think his was the best plan, and he got savaged by the left and abandoned by his own party, but he did see the need and made the attempt.

      I have often wished, however, that after 2004 he had chosen to ‘use his political capital’ as he put it, to attempt a genuine reform of the immigration mess. We almost got there in 2007 (by Congress), but the right got fixated on ‘amnesty’ and the left wouldn’t go along. I do believe that if Bush had gotten behind this in 2005, they would’ve gotten something through Congress. Maybe not perfect, but the old saying is that perfect is the enemy of good (or good enough).

  3. As someone who was recently informed my summer teaching contract in Jinan would be voided due to the virus, reading the left’s endless posturing on this matter is amusing. Do they not realize we are being prevented from going there as well as an issue of global health.

    The left has no shame and no sense.

  4. Here is an article that you might want to blog about.

    If Trump’s lawyers and advisers fail to stop him, and the president moves ahead with a pardon for Stone, it is incumbent upon any judge asked to enforce that pardon to deny it on constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the meaning of the impeachment exception to the pardon power because such a pardon of a co-conspirator by a president who has been impeached is unprecedented. But the need to stop it is dire. Otherwise, the original purpose of the pardon power—to show mercy to others—will be turned on its head. Instead, the pardon power will be converted into a self-serving tool of an aspiring despot, precisely the danger Mason warned against.

  5. I do remember when Ronald Reagan explained Social Security that way. I remembering him taking credit for the fact that Chile reformed their government pension program into individual accounts that gave the holders regular statements of the value. The press savaged him and the financial experts mocked him for suggesting a similar change in our system. Don’t think there is anything Trump can do about it. Do you think even if Trump were perfectly eloquent that the press and financial experts would be less critical of him than Reagan? The press and the elite haven’t really changed. We just have ways to see behind the scenes now.

  6. I’m still waiting on anyone, anywhere to give me a clear distinction between social security and any other run-of-the-mill ponzi scheme. Besides the fact that when Bernie Madoff came looking for his investors, he talked them into it, rather than pointing a gun at them.

  7. 1. Unfortunately, now every non-European and non-straight male group has laid claim to a little piece of the calendar and used it to bludgeon everyone else over the head. If your town doesn’t do a black history presentation in February, or raise the pride flag outside the town hall in June (for the entire month, if you please, no grudging acceptance and one day only), then you’re insufficiently progressive and must be taught a lesson. No, we won’t raise the Irish tricolor on St. Patrick’s Day and you can’t snarl traffic with a parade or drink green beer. Raise the Italian flag on Columbus Day? Oh, you mean Indigenous People’s Day, we don’t do Columbus any more. What’s that? Why no European celebrations? It’s like when you were a kid and asked why there was a Mothers’ Day and a Fathers’ Day, but no children’s day and they told you “every day is children’s day.” Every day is Europeans’ Day, so sit down, shut up, and acknowledge your betters.

    2. Of course they are. They smell blood and see a chance to politicize this, just like Katrina.

    3. Yuk, but not criminal.

    4. Res Ipsa, unfortunately, being a jerk is now a good thing.

    5. Pearls before swine. The younger generation wants free stuff, and Bernie’s going to give it to them.

  8. 2. This does not surprise me at all. In every article critical of the President’s response to the Coronavirus issue, I’ve commented that, if the President restricted travel to China, he would be called a racist.

    4. Also no surprise. This is Hollywood. These are the people we put on a pedestal, provide millions of dollars in income to and allow to be role models to our kids.

  9. Privatizing provides no more safety for retirement. My entire retirement savings got destroyed by an illness as it was not protected and I don’t have enough years left to make up for that. I won’t be able to retire. (that’s not even including the amount lost in the recession) I made careful decisions and picked a fund that still is doing well, but privatized retirement still relies on luck. I have equal odds of winning a lottery as making up lost time- and planning on luck is not wise either.

  10. 1. Thus ends Black History Month. I do not favor tribal distinctions in our days and months. It is inherently divisive, and Black History Month smacks of honors affirmative action. The history of black Americans is American history, inextricably intertwined with the history of the rest of us. Our entire history ought to be taught and learned without bias and spin, and no race or ethnic groups should hesitate to take pride.

    But the entire Black History Month thing is really sort of comparable to a Maoist-government campaign to highlight Black American contributions which are magnificent within their categories

    [Middle English, from Old French, from magnificence, splendor, from Latin magnificentia, from magnificent- comparative and superlative stem of magnificus, magnificent; see magnific.]

    But there is another side to it as well, and if there really existed a *free and open conversation* in America (on this topic and so many other topics) the real issue and the real facts could be put out on the table.

    America could very easily have done without its primitive African imports. And America might have been better off in the long run if, as the sometimes simian President Lincoln exclaimed that he wanted, they had been set to Haiti or the Guatemalan peninsula. CG Jung wrote a good deal on the psychological effect of the primitive African placed in close proximity to the far less primitive European with 1000 years of cultural and social pressure having molded the European into what we call ‘civilization’.

    The effect of forceful incorporation of this primitive Black African population into the social structure of America — an Anglo-Saxon culture predominantly — can be described if one has clear seeing and clear eyes as not necessarily a good thing. Right at the end of the American Civil War, in the South, some plantation owner observes the Black disappearing at night to attend what they or she called ‘Devil dances’. A confused people, tremendously uncertain about what would happen to them, will resort to (or fall back on) their primitive psychological structures to hold themselves together. What I took away from this description was that these ‘Devil dances’ are not un-similar to Santaría ceremonies of Haitian Voodoo: a sort of syncretized African spiritism often expressed in musical and rhythmic terms. Black African America rage is expressed through a violent rebellious spirit and a spirit of *seduction* and undermining of ‘white categories’ (Malcolm X wrote about this extensively in his autobiography). This certainly became more visible in the early 20th century with jazz, the various underground cultural movements and then the penetration of the Devil dances into American culture with all the rhythmic force of rock’n’roll. It is a point of view worthy of consideration, especially from a Platonic perspective when the change of musical forms is brought to bear.

    The rebellion-spirit continues, in very ugly ways, within Rap music (a detestable ‘musical’ form). Now, with some of this as background, this sketch, it is also interesting to consider what is going on within the culture now, today on a wider scale. What is going on is a New Demographic is rising up and taking aim at the Former Demographic. Dispossession, displacement. Anti-whiteness is really a *thing*. And the over-all purpose, even if it is blind, is the destruction of European categories and the disruption of established hierarchies. There is no culture and no civilization (that I am aware of) that has undergone these bizarre processes as we witness today: a culture turns against itself.

    So in short, of one really had freedom to think and if real free-thinking were allowed and encouraged, a Black History Month would not be a Maoist ‘struggle session’ but an opportunity for a wide-ranging conversation on *what is really going on in America today, and why*.

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