Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/8/2010: Daylight Savings Time Edition

Well, It SHOULD still be “Good Morning!”, but it’s not…

1. The most unethical Presidential campaign in recent history.  This profile of in Wisconsin, nicely illustrates the central ethics rot at the core of the Sanders campaign and his appeal. Michelz, we learn, is desperately in debt. He is therefor banking on Sanders to solve his problems by taking money from other people and giving it to him.

This is where the hyping of “income inequality” leads, and it is the basis of Sanders’ unethical message. It is inherently unfair that other people make more money than you do, so the government should use its power to “equalize” income and wealth. We learn in the course of the piece that in last week’s California primary, 47 % who said income inequality was their most important issue picked Mr. Sanders. 13% voted for Joe Biden.

How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character?  We don’t need to ask how we came to have a Presidential contender whose strategy is to appeal to such people and exploit their unhappiness with their current state in life. That is a market-tested approach to acquiring power that has been effective around the world, with disastrous results.

2. Thank you, 1960s! From the res ipsa loquitur department: A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. From the study:

“Almost a quarter of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults (23%), more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%)….In comparison, 3% of children in China, 4% of children in Nigeria and 5% of children in India live in single-parent households. In neighboring Canada, the share is 15%”.

This is what mockery and rejection of those nasty old “family values” leads to  for a culture, as well as an entire generation’s embrace of Rationalizations #1, The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it,” #1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it,” #4,Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical,”#23 A, Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants,” #30,The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule,” and #52,The Hippie’s License, or “If it feels good, do it!” (“It’s natural”).

3. News aggregator ethics: Have you noticed how often your Facebook friends post, with great anger and indignation, links to stories that turn out to be years out of date? I’ve been caught a few times doing that on Ethics Alarms. The reason it occurs is that online news aggregators like The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller and The Blaze pad their sites with old stories, presenting them exactly as they present current stories. Here’s one that was up at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze yesterday. It’s almost two-and-a half years old. This is the ethical equivalent of a web hoax.

4. Back to life competence: Let me get this straight: your brakes fail on your truck, and the best alternative for stopping it is to crash into one of Easter Island’s iconic stone heads? Where was, say, the Rosetta Stone when this guy needed it?

Camilo Rapu, President of the Ma’u Henua community which protects the heads, locally known as  moai, suspects that the crash may have been deliberate. “As people know, the moai are sacred structures that possess a religious value for the people of Rapa Nui,” he said. “Something like this isn’t just dreadful, it’s an offense against a living culture that has spent the last few years fighting to regain its historic and archaeological heritage.”

In retrospect, he says, allowing people to drive vehicles near the sculptures appears to have been a mistake.

5. No, I’m not going to defend Bill Maher. Maher, who has always been a pig and not bashful about showing it, decided to stand up for Chris Matthews, who was recently forced out of his job at MSNBC because of a late-hit allegation of borderline sexual harassment. (But we know why he was really fired, don’t we?) As is the obnoxious comic’s wont, his approach was repulsive. He began,

“MSNBC used to run this thing: this is who we are. Well, I didn’t like who you were this week, and I don’t think a lot of people who work there liked this ether, and I think this ‘cancel culture’ is a cancer on progressivism.’ Liberals always have to fight a two-front war. Republicans only have to fight the Democrats; Democrats have to fight the Republicans, and each other.”

So far, so good. This was indeed “cancel culture” at work, and Democrats and progressives are juggling ridiculous double standards right now, trying to prop up serial harasser Joe Biden as the Great White Hope to unseat President Trump, and yet using an old episode of Matthews flirting with a female guest to punish him for comparing Bernie Sanders to Communists and Nazis. But Bill had to keep flapping those lips:

“[So Matthews] said some things that are kind of creepy to women. You know, I just, guys are married for a million years, they want to flirt for two seconds. He said to somebody, Laura Bassett, four years ago, she’s in makeup, he said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’ Yes, it is creepy. She said, ‘I was afraid to name him at the time out of fear of retaliation. I’m not afraid anymore.’ Thank you, Rosa Parks. I mean, Jesus fucking Christ! I guess my question is: Do you wonder how Democrats lose?”

This is hardly news, but Maher just doesn’t get sexual harassment law. It’s simple: the workplace isn’t a dating bar, and women (or men) should not feel that being ogled, targeted for amorous overtures, or treated like pieces of alluring meat should be a part of their professional experiences. Yes, as long as some women (and men) take advantage of hormonal-based favoritism in the workplace and cultivate it makes legal penalties especially blunt, hard to prove and often excessive. That does not excuse the men who act like Matthews did on the occasion in question,and, apparently, others.

My problems with Bassett’s complaint are 1) she should have confronted Matthews at the time 2) I doubt that his silly comments were really unwelcome until it became useful to her to call them unwelcome and 3) her timing is suspicious. Maher’s claim that married men (Bill is also anti-marriage, being a child of the Sixties) are due some kind of sexual harassment license (this was also part of his defense of Bill Clinton) is so ethically obtuse that it makes my head hurt. Why should every woman withing range have to suffer because a married man feels frisky?

And why does a pig Bill Maher still have a job while Chris Matthews doesn’t?

40 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/8/2010: Daylight Savings Time Edition

  1. How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character?

    http://www.quora.com/Whats-wrong-with-telling-people-that-they-can-avoid-poverty-if-they-just-graduate-from-high-school-get-a-job-and-postpone-having-children-until-after-marriage/answer/Israel-Ramirez

    Some people think that poverty can be cured through the success sequence:

    get at least a high school degree,
    get a full-time job, and
    get married before having any children.
    But that’s just telling people that their problems will be solved if they do the obvious. It’s like telling obese people that all they need to do is eat less and exercise more. It’s like telling people suffering from depression that all they need to do is take a more positive attitude. It’s like telling alcoholics that they should stop drinking.

    Everyone knows that a lack of education makes it hard to get a job and that children are expensive. When you tell people with problems that they should pursue the obvious solution, you are judging them instead of being helpful.

    What would be helpful is to try to understand how poor people got into their predicament and what might be done to allow them to get themselves out of it. Here’s some of what social scientists have found.

    Why don’t poor people complete their education?

    Low-Quality Schools.
    Unstable or single-parent families that don’t provide children the support they need.
    Social environment that discourages learning.
    Drug Markets lead to drug abuse or young people selling drugs.
    Violence in School.
    The previous two items make it more likely that a child will end up in jail. Even a brief period in jail makes it very hard to get a job. Realistically, the criminal justice system is more likely to convict a low-income person than a high-income person.
    Why don’t poor people wait until marriage?

    In the US, many people see marriage as what you do when your finances are finally stable; you have a good job that pays reasonably well. That’s why the average age for marriage has been increasing.[1] But sex and cohabitation before marriage are now socially acceptable.

    That works out pretty well for middle and upper-income women. Many can pursue a career during their 20s while they find a suitable husband to marry in their 30s.

    But that doesn’t work out so well for poor women. In some neighborhoods and among some ethnic groups, men with good jobs are scarce because many didn’t get a good education or went to jail. That’s an especially serious problem for African-American women.[2] “For every 100 black women age 25-50 and not in jail in America, there are just 83 black men.”[3]

    This explains why more and more poorly educated women aren’t getting married at all in the US.[4]

    Many of those women decide to have children anyway. Some get pregnant unintentionally but don’t like abortions and become mothers even though they aren’t married and might not be making very much money.

    Everyone should get at least a high school degree, a full-time job, and, and marry before having any children. But poor people face real obstacles in achieving these things. Telling them that they should just do those things, without removing the obstacles, is immoral.

    • Ahh, the old “But that only works 90% of the time, so we shouldn’t try that” excuse. Sorry, but the advice is still good advice. Refusing to tell people the obvious truth because it won’t work for every single situation gets us to where we are. Actually, isn’t this how we destroyed math education for elementary school kids?

    • My reply to the quoted answer: bullshit.

      I don’t deny there are some bad schools, bit that is not the problem. It’s culture. One that glorifies things other than a path to a stable life. The US has among the best class mobility in the world.

    • “poor people face real obstacles…”

      Those are called “excuses.”

      We already know from a variety of studies that even if you grow up in poverty a bad neighborhood, have no father, and are forced to attend horrible schools, there is a factor that cancels these risks out: church attendance. Kids of all races and incomes who regularly attend church generally avoid jail or other negative outcomes compared to those who don’t. The “church factor” is strong enough that it’s even a better predictor of good outcomes than having a father at home (dads are the second most powerful factor that help youth avoid jail.)

      This strongly suggests that a person’s outlook on life, values, and personal culture matter more than external “obstacles.”

      Obviously, being born into privilege (family wealth, raised by two good parents, good neighborhood schools, etc.) will improve your odds, but plenty of kids who grow up with all of those privileges are still colossal failures in every aspect of life. You are not simply the product of your environment.

      It doesn’t do any good for one single person to dwell on whatever disadvantages they have, which is why coddling “disadvantaged” people is such a treacherous thing to do, well-meaning or not. Disadvantaged people are the ones who MOST need to hear strong messages of personal responsibility and character, because they don’t have a safety net for personal failure. They don’t have the option of being complete louses for their entire lives and still driving around in sports cars and living in luxury apartments like Hunter Biden. If you grow up in the hood and act like Hunter Biden you’ll end up either in jail or living out of a shopping cart.

      • They don’t have the option of being complete louses for their entire lives and still driving around in sports cars and living in luxury apartments like Hunter Biden. If you grow up in the hood and act like Hunter Biden you’ll end up either in jail or living out of a shopping cart.

        There is some truth to that. It is obvious why being unwed and pregnant at the age of fifteen is easier for a girl from wealthy, two-parent family than it is for a girl from a poor single-mother family.

        But consider this.

        http://www.quora.com/Whats-wrong-with-telling-people-that-they-can-avoid-poverty-if-they-just-graduate-from-high-school-get-a-job-and-postpone-having-children-until-after-marriage/answer/Israel-Ramirez/comment/126237303

        I did all three of those things. I’m in my 30’s, and I’m still poor. I have almost always had a job and/ or been attending college. I have a gifted level IQ. My degree is a practical medical tech degree. I have had so many jobs. I was never fired from a job until I became a temp worker (they want perfection). Most of my jobs have been very low wage, not always allowing full time hours, and no benefits. My parents had no money, and when I was younger, I had to help them out financially, occasionally. They both died in my 20’s. I never learned to drive, because my parents stopped driving and told me I’m on my own for that. Luckily, I live in a city. Learning to drive opens you up to job opportunities, and even in a city, not driving limits you (or you face outright discrimination from some employers, if it isn’t NYC or Chicago when everyone takes the train). I also don’t have the best personality. I’m not rude or mean, just quiet, not the most stereotypically feminine. I look for jobs as an outsider, because I’m bad networking. It’s hard to get a foot in the door. Six months ago I found out I have Asperger’s. That might explain a lot. Many of us are great workers who just can’t get a good job because we seem “weird.” You might want to think about that possibility or other circumstances/ conditions when you sit there wondering why poor people are poor.

        • Even the person asking that question probably doesn’t think that if you just meet those 3 magical criteria you will be guaranteed to live above the poverty line. Life doesn’t make any guarantees. There is no guarantee that we won’t get a flesh-eating disease tomorrow, or end up paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident.

          I don’t wonder why people are poor, because I’m technically poor myself. It actually sounds like we have a lot in common. If you live anywhere near San Diego you should come have dinner with us. Many if not most of our friends are in circumstances roughly like you describe.

          From the cold, generalizing point-of-view of a sociologist looking at statistics, your completion of high school, lack of kids outside of marriage, and steady employment are good things because they surely have kept things from being much worse. You seem like a good person who has dealt with a lot of adversity but didn’t check out and turn to crime or drugs or anything.

      • Isaac wrote, “We already know from a variety of studies that even if you grow up in poverty a bad neighborhood, have no father, and are forced to attend horrible schools, there is a factor that cancels these risks out: church attendance. Kids of all races and incomes who regularly attend church generally avoid jail or other negative outcomes compared to those who don’t. The “church factor” is strong enough that it’s even a better predictor of good outcomes than having a father at home (dads are the second most powerful factor that help youth avoid jail.)”

        No Isaac it’s not the church that’s making a difference, you’ve missed something very important, it’s not the church that’s making the difference it’s the teaching of the values, morals, ethics that’s the difference and it doesn’t make a bit of difference if those are taught by a church, teachers, parents, or your neighbor the point is that they are taught in a way that it makes a difference in someone’s life. I know people that haven’t spent a single moment in a church in their entire life and are atheist and agnostic and they are good people that honor our values, morals and ethics.

        No church is not THE difference, it’s just one of the possible sources where teaching values, morals, and ethics exists.

        • I wasn’t offering an opinion about causation. Or even an opinion about anything. So there’s nothing to “miss.”

          Church attendance is a predictor of good outcomes in sociology. It’s actually one of the few things in sociology that you can call a “slam dunk.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t other positive predictors. Poverty, incarceration, and addiction are “multivariate” problems.

          Being born in a wealthy family is a positive predictor, too. My point was that not all positive predictors are environmental. People go to church because they believe certain things. Your point and mine are in agreement.

  2. #2 – I do not know for sure, but only suspect that the statistic is only counting the number of households with one adult and not counting those that have transient non related boyfriends or girlfriengs in the household.

    Those are often worse and I’m betting that the US is leading that category also. Some of my children’s classmates bounce between mom’s house and dad’s house. At each there is a revolving cast of children in and out. At mom’s house, they have half siblings from mom’s previous relationships that split time with their dad, mom’s boyfriend’s kids that split time with their mom, and a live kid or two. Over at dad’s house, you replace the genders of the participants, but the story is the same. Every few years you swap in a new boyfriend or girlfriend and half the cast of characters change. Since everyone has a pile of kids, they get benefits and we all get to subsidize this behavior.

    Sadly this conduct is not uncommon here. One of the consequences of HUD activity that thrusts low income housing into wealthy areas is you get to see the stark contrast. We have upper middle class families, where often both parents are professionals or one is very successful and the other stays home; they have one or rarely two kids. They are highly involved. And then we have the HUD housing families. They make up a small part of the population, but their far higher procreation rate means they . make up a larger portion of the school population.

    My oldest two have graduated, and you can see the stark difference in life outcome already.

  3. #1 Brian Michelz, etc; Poor choices on your part doesn’t constitute a national need to scrap the things that’s made the United States of America great in favor of a political revolution towards socialism.

    “The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, ‘life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement’ regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”

    In the United States of America, the land of equal opportunity, not one of the core founding documents, or any document since 1776, that defines our country actually defines individual starting points or individual outcomes in the “race” to achieve the American Dream. Our documents define the opportunity not the outcome of the race regardless of where an individual starts. If you don’t believe that then read the documents for yourself; Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Additional Amendments. If you don’t understand the documents then find a Civics teacher to help you, this is important!

    The socialist propaganda machine that supports Bernie Sanders is lying to the public and stupid irresponsible people are eating it up like it’s candy. They are targeting emotions and promoting immoral victim-hood. When these people say that some people start 50 yards behind, they are lying. No one starts 50 yards behind in their individual race for the American Dream, everyone begins at their own starting line, armed with the same individual rights as every other citizen, and each according to their ability or achievement has to fight to achieve and maintain their own individual version of the American Dream. If you want your version of the American Dream, then get off your whimpering woe-be-unto-me ass and fight for it. Invest in yourself and get the education you need to achieve whatever version of the American Dream you strive for, if you fail then get up off your ass again and do something else but don’t do it on my dime. Don’t complain that your basket weaving classes don’t get you into the school of nursing or engineering or computer programming; your choices and your own abilities make a difference in all your tomorrows. Work hard. Of course you do have the option of choosing to sit on your ass, not accept the consequences of your own choices, whine like a little snowflake that the kitchen is too hot and your outcomes aren’t equal to the CEO of General Motors, and blame everyone else for your own ignorant choices. Here’s what these socialist minded people need to understand; your lack of planning, intelligence, initiative and poor choices doesn’t constitute and emergency for the rest of us, i.e. the rest of us don’t owe Brian Michelz or anyone else a damn thing.

    Fight for your own American Dream! No more lame excuses!

    If these socialist minded people want to live in a socialist country that’s fine, they can migrate to the social utopias they have been duped into believing exist elsewhere and leave the United States of America to the freedom minded individuals that love it the way it is. I’m completely serious, leave the USA and stop trying to change the things that make our society great!

    P.S. The growing levels of support for Socialists like Bernie Sanders should be a clear warning to the freedom loving people of the United States of America that we have to do more, a lot more, to stop the spread of Socialist movement.

  4. 1. Where the hell did the whole obsession with “income inequality” come from anyway? That guy Thomas Pinketty? He writes a dubious book and the Dems glommed onto it like a life preserver. Simply preposterous.

    2. Remember Hillary and “It takes a village to raise a child?” She doesn’t want parents raising children, she wants Democrat voting government workers raising little Democrat voting children. No amount of “community” people can fill the void left by a missing parent. Sorry Hill, it takes a mother and a father to raise a child.

    • I’d agree and add that it also helps to have a grandfather, grandmother, and all sorts of aunties, uncles, and relatives to raise a child. When Hillary says “village” she means “a bunch of complete strangers who work for the State” which is how you raise storm troopers maybe, but not children.

      • I will note that the Sanders-Warren-Klobuchar call for free child care for all is meant to ensure that as many kids as possible are raised by non-parents and illegal aliens. And no, I do not think that is a good thing.

        • Comments like this is why I don’t participate fully in this blog anymore. It first assumes that both parents want to work. Even with “free childcare,” the reality is that most households need both parents working to meet bills — let alone trying to save for retirement and their kids’ college. I personally would have loved it if I could have taken a few years off. If we had, we wouldn’t even have been able to make the mortgage payment. Second, it assumes that there is something wrong with both parents working. I am a really good mom, I mean … really good. Yes, that is is conceited to say, but damn if I don’t have healthy, smart, capable, talented, loving, and well-rounded kids. And, as much as I love my mom, I am superior to her in all areas, even though she was a “stay at home” parent. I also can give my children far more than my parents ever could. If my kids are passionate about something (right now it is music and (ugh) ice skating), I get to say, “Yes, we can do that!” I was never able to do any activities or go to camps growing up. And I got to graduate with a ton of debt (which is now paid off thank goodness) because my mom stayed at home?

          Now for your “non-parents” and terrible “illegal aliens” point. No one has “raised” my kids except me and my husband. We had child care when they were young for about 6 hours every day, the other 18 hours they were with us. Similarly, the public school they go to for 8 hours Monday through Friday is not raising them either — they go there to learn, but we are the ones running point on their social, educational, and emotional needs. I don’t know where your illegal aliens comment is coming from — but a caregiver is a caregiver. My daughters attended a daycare until pre-K that was almost fully staffed by African American women. Were my daughters somehow scarred because they had people changing their diapers for 6 hours a day who didn’t look like mommy?

          • If a comment that you disagree with causes you to avoid commenting, that’s your problem, but I guess it would explain why you want to hang out only with people who kneejerk into agreement with the accepted positions. When we brought home our adopted son, both of us worked, and we had two South American nannies, one of whom robbed us, and both of whom turned out to have illegal immigrant husbands. We have a park nearby, and I would guess that 95% of the women–all women, by the way—who congregated with infants and toddlers were speaking Spanish. How many were here illegally? I don’t know, but most parents we knew weren’t scrupulous about checking.

            I wish I could find the comments about child care, especially the one from Klobuchar…it reeked of the bias that every woman with self-respect was degrading herself by choosing child-raising over the workplace. The US, I found out recently, has the highest rate of single parent households in the world. That’s not good: would you concede that? Is the responsible policy response to facilitate that, or not?

            Both my wife and I wanted to work, but we also didn’t like the dynamics of a two worker family (though the money would have helped a lot), especially regarding childcare. I said one day that one of us was going to have to quit, and I left it up to my wife which, and she had first option for a about five minutes.

            There is scant doubt in my mind that building a society where both parents work and where the children, and fewer of them is part of the plan, are raised by others except for “quality time” is and has been an ideological objective, and that it is dangerous social engineering that has already had deleterious effects on the culture.

            Finally, your comment, which is well-reasoned and stated, and certainly thought-provoking for me as well as others, is the proper and rational reaction to a comment you disagree with, not clamming up.

            • You should have done a better job screening your child care providers. We toured many facilities, and chose an accredited center.

              Being an immigrant doesn’t mean you are a criminal. You are letting bias from your experience cloud your thinking.

              Many of my friends choose licensed day care providers who speak a different language and instruct their providers to only speak to their children in that language.

              My mother was a stay at home mom, and my brother has had brushes with the law and flunked out of college. He’s on his second marriage and it is not a happy one. Having your diapers changed by a parent, day care provider, au pair, or illegal immigrant doesn’t mean squat as long as that child is held, kept clean, and fed — for the few hours a day while the parent is at work. But, perhaps if my mother worked outside the home, she would have been able to afford my brother the counseling and tutoring he needed so he could have gone down a different path. She also might have been a happier person, because she did not enjoy her role. At a minimum, unhappy parents cannot raise happy children. If your family can swing a stay at home parent and it was good for the family, then great. This is not the case for many families — either from a financial or mental health perspective.

              • You know that slyly switching in “immigrant” for “Illegal immigrant” is dishonest. A bad habit from hanging around too many open-borders advocates. Similarly, child care, as you know, involves more than changing diapers pretty quickly—if all surrogate child-givers did was change diapers, then your point would be irrefutable (though talking to infants in their native tongue seems to be beneficial.)

                You raise a complex issue regarding parents who aren’t happy parenting. One response is to hold that those who aren’t going to be happy parenting shouldn’t become parents. That’s too simple, but it’s not irrelevant. Generations of British aristocracy essentially pawned off the job of raising children to nannies and boarding schools, and the Empire seemed to thrive.

                But they did pay for it themselves…

              • Sparty, so nice to hear from you. My point was kids need a father and a mother. You and Mr. Sparty provide that to your girls. Good for you. Mrs. OB and I worked or went to school or some combination of both while our kids were little. (I stayed home with Mrs. OB’s daughter whom I subsequently adopted- long story) the summer of the Watergate hearings. I found staying at home stultifying. I got a job that fall and that was the end of that attempt. So our kids were in daycare and school until they went off to prep schools or college. They’re fine and they’re raising kids the same way, both working, as are their spouses. But my point is our kids and now our grand kids all have two parents right there at home with them. I just can’t imagine what having a missing parent does to a kid growing up. I have to say, our relationship with our daughter is fraught enough just because her paranoid schizophrenic father was run off by Mrs. OB and our daughter has always (I’m guessing?) has always viewed me as some sort of interloper or something. There are just some issues there, or so we think. But bottom line, my point was simply, HRC notwithstanding, you and Mr. Sparty are providing for your children by both being there. That’s what’s important. As was the case with you and your both-present parents.

                I think you have a lot more in common with the EA commentariat than you’re willing to admit.

                • OB — Two parents living in the same house is a good thing — if those parents are happy with each other and with their roles as parents (with or without jobs outside the home). If they are not happy and can’t make it work, it is often better for those parents to separate. That doesn’t mean that those children do not have two parents, but it can make it harder, especially in the early years, for the parent on duty to get a much needed break. If the parents get along, you can co-parent well in separate households. If they don’t, it makes it harder obviously, but sometimes it is still better for the children for their biological parents to live apart. And, if one biological parent is unable or unwilling to do the job, then it is best for the child to live with the other parent.

                  I don’t believe parents need to be the opposite gender, and I have witnessed two sets of same gender parents in my inner circle. Quite frankly, one set puts the rest of us to shame — deep, deep shame, and as I mentioned above, I think I am pretty awesome at this.

                  I do know two women who never met Mr. Right and decided to have a child (one had two) on their own. They both have larger family networks living close to help them when needed. These kids are thriving. It would have not been my choice to do it this way, but they are stronger than me and it is not my place to judge.

                  Thank you for your comment.

          • Still Spartan wrote, “Comments like this is why I don’t participate fully in this blog anymore.”

            Here you are putting your valued two cents worth in because you felt it was necessary to do so, this is exactly why I think you should rethink your limited participation choice and start participating fully in this blog again.

            We can disagree and we can be hard on each other (sometimes very hard) and in the end we might only be able to agree to disagree but the diversity of differing view points is a good thing for the blog. Intelligent challenges to the things we write are not a bad thing they can help us to be better at what we do. Please choose to fully participate again.

          • Still Spartan wrote, “Even with “free childcare,” the reality is that most households need both parents working to meet bills — let alone trying to save for retirement and their kids’ college.”

            Aren’t these things for the most part personal choices. You and your significant other chose to purchase a place to live that required you to take out a mortgage and that mortgage required both of you to be working so you could meet your bills; if you had made a different choice maybe one of you could have stayed home for a couple of years. You made a choice, why should it become my responsibility to cover your childcare costs via my taxes because of the choices you made?

            No one is forcing people to take out mortgages that require both parents to work full time. Set your priorities and make your choices based on those priorities. If your priority is to have a home that causes you to work more to make ends meet and spend less time with your children, that is your choice.

            • Still Spartan,
              About mortgages; even though our lenders told us numerous times that we could afford more, my wife and I made a choice long ago to not have the fancy home and the expensive cars, we chose to be a bit more modest so we could do the things as a family that we wanted to do. In fact I took a job that was a couple minutes from my home at a considerably a lower salary and had more flexibility so I wouldn’t have to commute 45-60 minutes one way, I didn’t have to drive to work, I could each lunch at home, I was available for my children during school hours, I could go to school events, I could leave work at a moments notice to take care of children, etc, etc. We regularly took memorable family vacations and we lived comfortably. My wife was able to cut back on her hours and do some volunteer work at the schools as our children were growing up and then went back to full time after the kids got older. We lived within our means and as the years passed we stayed where we were to increase our buying power and invest dollars in our family and home when needed. We are now close to retiring and I think we made the right choices for our priorities and our family; we found a really nice comfortable balance between the material world and family life.

              Life is about first setting priorities and goals and second making the choices that support those priorities and goals. If priorities and goals are mostly focused on the material world and they throw children in the mix, it’s very likely that the children will not have much of a family life and that can be a detriment to the children as they grow up. If priorities and goals are mostly focused on family and not the material world, people make different choices.

              • Your comment doesn’t work for a lot of people. We had a mortgage that we could afford — on top of our existing school debt. We could have waited until we were out of school debt, at which point having children would have been challenging, probably impossible. Perhaps we could have moved to an area of the country that was cheaper, but the jobs there would not have been high enough for us to live and pay off school debt (we investigated this). Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone to college and grad school, but then I wouldn’t have this high paying job. Perhaps I could have married someone with more money (I am the breadwinner), but then I wouldn’t have the children I do now.

                These “personal responsibility” posts really irk me as a general rule. I live in a 60’s split-level, not a mansion. I’ve paid off my debts. I’m raising great kids. I’ve got a great job. But no, I couldn’t have done any of this without working.

                Government spends and wastes money on many, many things. Our higher educational system is broken when it comes to cost and how it is being funded, but having a smarter and higher educated work force is a good thing generally. I don’t think the government should make every college degree free, if we did everyone would try to be an actor, but we should take some reasonable steps. No one should have to spend money to become a teacher, nurse, social worker, or engineer. This list is longer obviously, but this is off the top of my head. In return for that free degree, you have to work at least ten years in that field.

                • Still Spartan wrote, “Your comment doesn’t work for a lot of people.”

                  Since my comment was really focusing on the choice people make, what do you mean when you say it doesn’t work for a lot of people?

                  Still Spartan wrote, “We had a mortgage that we could afford — on top of our existing school debt. We could have waited until we were out of school debt, at which point having children would have been challenging, probably impossible. Perhaps we could have moved to an area of the country that was cheaper, but the jobs there would not have been high enough for us to live and pay off school debt (we investigated this). Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone to college and grad school, but then I wouldn’t have this high paying job. Perhaps I could have married someone with more money (I am the breadwinner), but then I wouldn’t have the children I do now.”

                  Those are your choices, I have no problem with you making them based on your own priorities and goals.

                  Still Spartan wrote, “These “personal responsibility” posts really irk me as a general rule. I live in a 60’s split-level, not a mansion. I’ve paid off my debts. I’m raising great kids. I’ve got a great job. But no, I couldn’t have done any of this without working.”

                  Why do personal responsibility posts irk you? You couldn’t have met your priorities and goals (your choices) without working the way you and your spouse worked, you made choices, you were responsible.

                  Still Spartan wrote, “Government spends and wastes money on many, many things. Our higher educational system is broken when it comes to cost and how it is being funded, but having a smarter and higher educated work force is a good thing generally. I don’t think the government should make every college degree free, if we did everyone would try to be an actor, but we should take some reasonable steps.”

                  How the heck did we switch to the topic of free college?

                  Still Spartan wrote, “No one should have to spend money to become a teacher, nurse, social worker, or engineer. This list is longer obviously, but this is off the top of my head. In return for that free degree, you have to work at least ten years in that field.”

                  Here is where you and I part in a very big way.

                  College is an investment in ones self; it’s not your responsibility to invest your dollars in me any more than it’s my responsibility to invest my dollars in you.

                  I’ve seen a pretty good cross section of the current crop of college students lately because I’ve been auditing come professional development classes at a local college since the beginning of the fall semester 2019 and what I’m seeing is a bunch of students wasting someone’s dollars with their blank stare oxygen breathing presence in the classrooms. A huge swath of them should be in the labor force until they understand what the hell they’re in college for. No Spartan, these students should NOT get free college up front! I have no problem if businesses choose to help them with college loans after they’re employed with them as a benefit.

  5. If people were logical (spoiler: they aren’t) they would want to see MORE income inequality. Which would, in an American context, probably be very good news for America’s poor and working classes.

    Frowning upon “income inequality” is the kind of public stupidity that is going to ruin the country. It’s exactly the wrong message.

    For those who have never thought about it:

    Suppose the economy continues to do great and the average income of every single American increased by 10%. If I was earning a mere $30,000 per year at a no-skills-required entry-level job, then the extra $3,000 per year is a serious life-changer. I can perhaps buy a better car, start saving, or pay off credit card debt. And unlike tax-time credits, this is a net gain for the economy, and doesn’t come from anyone else’s taxes. Nobody loses and I win.

    However, my boss made $300,000 per year and now he has a $30,000 raise. The income gap between us just went up by a whopping $27,000.

    That $30,000 isn’t as much of a life-saver for my boss, who was already doing fine. But it will still result in either more saving or more spending for my boss; both good outcomes for the larger economy.

    There are NO losers here unless some Bernie bro comes along and starts harping about the meaningless increase in “income inequality.” Look at this graph! Income inequality went up by thousands! The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer! (The poor are actually getting richer, and their quality of life is skyrocketing, and increasing MORE in relation to the quality-of-life increase of the rich, but the Bernie bro just wants you to look at the graph and imagine Comrade Bernie raiding your bosses money-bin and passing down all that gold to you.)

    The Bernie mentality (ignore actual living conditions and quality of life and focus on class warfare, against the actual best interests of the poor) is going to ruin the entire country. This really is a crossroads.

  6. Of central banks, Bannon said, “They’ve made you debt slaves, hamsters on the wheel.”

    Jack wrote: “How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character? We don’t need to ask how we came to have a Presidential contender whose strategy is to appeal to such people and exploit their unhappiness with their current state in life. That is a market-tested approach to acquiring power that has been effective around the world, with disastrous results.”

    Steve Bannon quotes:

    You may hate my guts and you may hate what I stand for, but if we don’t allow some way for this system to spread the wealth, we’re going to have a revolution in this country. It is coming, as night follows day.

    The permanent political class that control our country is going to stay exactly like it is until you have true disruption. It can’t be a pillow fight. You need some killers. You get some killers, you’re going to see some change. We all know what the problems are. Do you have the guts to do it? Trump had it, and that’s why he’s President of the United States.

    Bannon: You may be better fed, better clothed, in better shape than eighteenth-century Russian serfs, but you’re nothing but serfs. You’re not going to own anything. They’ve got you in this consumer environment where you’re always paying off your credit cards. They’ve destroyed thrifts so you can’t save anything. Saving doesn’t make any difference. And then digitally, they’ve taken all your rights, they’ve taken all your personhood, and they’ve written these algorithms to treat you like a hamster. You’re totally controlled. . . . You can’t fulfill your dharma. You’re nothing but a serf. You voted for that. And you’re a reflective, smart person, you actually thought about it and made a conscious decision. Why? Oh, “I fear you. I fear Trump.” It’s bullshit.

    Morris: Just to clarify, my fear is that Trump represented nothing.

    Bannon: There’s going to be a revolution in this country. It’s coming. We can’t kick the can down the road like this. We can’t. We’re going to have another financial crisis that everybody that’s smart sees is coming.

    Morris: What would revolution mean?

    Bannon: A complete rejection of the system. It’s gonna cut like a scythe through grass. It is coming.

    My view is that in order to understand the present one has to have an accurate grasp of *causal history*. You cannot only focus on one element though, you have to focus *holistically*. Here though, the focus is on economic situation. But to broach the conversation in its holistic entirety one has to carefully set the stage for a thorough analysis of what led us to this point, and what has brought us here is a long causal chain of events and choices.

    In my view, the questions that Jack asks — rhetorically — are not fleshed-out properly and fairly. He asks questions in such a way that the only way to answer them are, well, just as Steve Witherspoon has answered them: meaningless complaining barking.

    Woof! Woof! Woof! “These stupid people! You can’t cure stupid! Aaaaarrrgggh! Everything is going to hell!”

    The entire commentary that flows from barking of this sort 1) does not take into account the causal history that ledt to these conditions, 2) offers nothing at all to remediate the present situation, 3) deliberately closes its eyes to the present, developing political reality, 4) and merely perpetuates a quasi-patriotic position about *America* that is a series of tropes that are no longer sufficient for proper analysis.

    The present situation was CREATED by powerful players who have infested the nation. The present situation that millions and millions of people face cannot be blamed, not exclusively, on those people and their *personal choices*. We live within larger systems and this is not the Wild West nor is it, nor has it been for a loooonnngggg time a situation of pure individualism as it might have been at another time. So, it is unfair, and it is therefore also unethical, to exclusively blame those millions of American workers — a very large class — for the situations they are living.

    If one cannot and will not take these *real factors* into consideration, and if one will not make a better and more fair (circumspect) analysis of the present situation for the American worker, one will fail to recognize the danger in the present moment, and will thus do nothing constructive to avert it.

    The American serf, as Bannon says — and the term is accurate, poignant and illustrative — has been created by the System itself and by powerful players within the system, among the *managers*. How the American system changes, and how and if it can adapt quickly enough to the contingencies of this present crisis, and how responsible those who have tremendous power (that no private, atomized, ‘individual’ person has, has ever had or will ever have) remains to be seen.

    Some persons on this blog, in my opinion, have their heads and necks chained in such a way that all these see is the immediacy of the shadows flickering on the wall of the Perception Cave. When the *hated image* appears, they bark, as Steve Witherspoon, my favorite and preferred exemplar, merely barks. This simply is not enough. It is too shallow of analysis. In order to progress, one has to deliberately — by bringing new knowledge to bear — unlatch the locks that hold the constraining perception-chains in place, and thus free the head and shoulders and the eyes so that the Larger Picture can be seen.

    • I find Bannon so repellent that I can’t bring myself to pay attention to anything he says. I know this violates the “message over the messenger” principle, which is a rational one, but at a certain level I just can’t do it.

      • That’s interesting. I think I would have guessed that you’d feel that way about him, but I’d have thought that his vowed contempt for some in the political world would have seemed improper and destructive. . Would you say that it is mostly something repelling about him personally? or is it that you think his ideas are bad ideas? (Or an equal combination of the two).

        Bannon reminds me of an older man I got to know when I lived in California. He was very accomplished in business, mercurial as Bannon is, and operated almost entirely on *accumulated experience and common sense*. Every time I see Bannon I think of JG.

  7. What I find insulting it the excuses made by the likes of Chris and Bill are based on The presumption that all men were pigs and acted as pigs in the sixties and seventies. My parents raised five sons born between 1947-1960. None of us have acted this way to women. None of us sired and abandoned children out of wedlock. All of us have been in committed relationships for decades. We did not rob, cheat, rape, pillage, abuse substance or persons. We each, and all, work to support ourselves and our families. Two of us served in the military. I did so as a career.

    Bill, Chris, et al your pigginess is not a product of the times it is a product of your piginess.

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