Saturday Ethics Spasms, 5/15/21: Are You Reading This? I Don’t Want To Know!

Well, I’ve solved the annoying traffic problem on Ethics Alarms: I’m not checking the traffic any more. It doesn’t affect anything but my ego and enthusiasm. My ego is a lifetime problem, but my enthusiasm is important, and there’s no reason to deliberately upset myself. I kicked the traffic in the metaphorical solar plexus by being such a health-weenie the last couple of weeks, but I have to just focus on content, trying to maintain variety, and staying dedicated to the mission here. William Saroyan, with whom I have more in common than is good for me, liked to say that an artist has not lived in vain if one human being sings his song. I’ve always tried to act as if I believed him, and it’s high time that I really did.

1. President Biden and I agree on this, at least. The President put the kibosh on President Trump’s half-baked—maybe 25% baked—National Garden of America Heroes project. Good. I explained why this was bad history and a waste of time and money here.

In Trump’s defense, at least his worst ideas didn’t cost trillions of dollars…

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Most media outlets are parroting this, from NASDAQ:

“Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has unexpectedly decreased in the month of May, according to preliminary data released by the University of Michigan on Friday.The report showed the consumer sentiment index dropped to 82.8 in May from 88.3 in April. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected the index to rise to 90.4.”Consumer confidence in early May tumbled due to higher inflation–the highest expected year-ahead inflation rate as well as the highest long term inflation rate in the past decade,” said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.”

Unexpectedly? After the new administration has behaved as if the national debt was in Monopoly money,the Left slow-walking the opening up of the economy when it should never have been shut down, and the enthusiastic socialists who write the checks paying Americans not to work? Are economists that stupid, or do they just think the public is that stupid?

3. Left-leaning blogs are calling this “asinine” It’s not. It’s called “following the law.” In Mississippi, the Constitution needs 20% signatures from five congressional districts to get a voter initiative on the ballot, but the state only has had only four districts for 20 years. Thus the state Supreme Court struck down a medical marijuana initiative that voters approved last fall, because the initiative didn’t reach the ballot as the Constitution requires. The nation’s pot-lovers are blaming the Court, but it’s not up to courts to act according to what the laws should say. They are bound by what the laws are. This is emblematic of what progressives call “anti-democratic judges”—those who refuse to make up what is legal according to what they wish it was. The decision tells the legislature, “Do your damn job. Fix the Constitution,” and alerts the public to get rid of the slugs who refuse to do it.

4. Gun buy-back stunts are prime “Do something!” nonsense. The National Bureau of Economic Research just published a paper titled “Have US Gun Buyback Programs Misfired?” Authored by economists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, San Diego State University, and Montana State University, the study reviewed 339 buybacks across 277 cities, examining public records to determine the number of firearms sold in each. The data is clear: gun buybacks do nothing to reduce gun crime. “Using data from the National Incident Based Reporting System, we find no evidence that GBPs reduce gun crime,” the researchers said. “Using data from the National Vital Statistics System, we also find no evidence that GBPs reduce suicides or homicides where a firearm was involved.”

Yes, people turn in their old guns for money, and buy newer, better ones. Who would have thought it? The programs are expensive and useless, but the public loves them.

Come to think of it, maybe the economists in #2 are right about the public…

5. I love this kind of thing, and by love, I mean I hate it…A current University of Wisconsin campus policy  states

“All members of the University have a responsibility to promote and a right to expect … an environment that is free of harassment and free of insulting and demeaning comments and epithets based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, military status, socioeconomic status, family status, or political views; and consistent enforcement of federal, state, and university protections against discriminatory treatment yet is free from any official speech codes.”

My favorite example, which I have recalled before, was the statement read into the minutes by a group of competitors plotting to freeze out another competitor not invited to the meeting. It reaffirmed all attendees’ support and compliance with federal antitrust laws, which the purpose of the meeting was to violate. Thus we have a speech code that is more sinister than a speech code because it is completely subjective

The purpose of this example of speech suppression on campus is, or should be, self-evident: the university wants to stifle any criticism of “woke” politics, like, just to pick an example out of the blue, Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory.

15 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Spasms, 5/15/21: Are You Reading This? I Don’t Want To Know!

  1. There are people with Economics degrees (AOC) and Economists. The press seems to favor the former and real Economists are in short supply.

    I anticipate some real problems ahead as most credit cards and equity lines have variable interest rates. When the Fed ultimately does what it should and stop the cheap money charade to prop up expansionist government spending I expect a flood of bankruptcies after consumer demand drops off precipitously in order to have the resources to cover their rising interest cost.

    I myself am liquidating some real estate that has a variable interest mortgage and using the cash to buy other hard assets without incurring debt to acquire them. I will let inflationary pressures to increase the value of those assets which should mitigate some of the inflation risk in holding cash reserves.

    Glad to hear you are focusing on being one of the best blogs on the net.

    • We’ve secured thirty year mortgages on all our houses at ridiculously, historically and unprecedentedly low, fixed interest rates. Who is lending thirty year money at two and three percent is beyond me. When Mrs. OB and I bought our house in 1981 with a twelve percent first and a fourteen percent “carry-back” I thought I’d never in my lifetime see the four percent mortgages advertised at our S&L when I was a little kid. And here we are below those 1950s post war boom rates. Amazing.

      • People with fixed first mortgages are safe from the fluctuating interest rates. However, so many homeowners took out equity lines with variable rates that we could see another housing crash if interest rates climb . What should concern people is that the government refi’s it’s debt all the time so if interest rates climb a couple of points the interest on the debt will force the government to cut discretionary spending which is typically infrastructure spending and the military. Non-discretionary spending or entitlements will need an act of Congress to cut and no one in Congress has the courage to do that.

        • We had adjustable rate mortgages and lines of credit and saw their interest rates soar between 2005 and 2008, bringing on the crash. It was no fun but we were able to weather the storm. And it was a storm. And yes, as are homebuyers, I think members of Congress are addicted to free money right now.

  2. 2. Media bias? Nah. Not CBS, certainly.
    (Disclaimer: I almost never watch network or cable news, but the channel was on from an earlier program and the first part of Newton’s first law was in control.)
    Start with a report on a bridge over the Mississippi that has a major defect that needs immediate repair. Still closed to vehicular traffic. River traffic shut down for a few days. Follow with an egghead who pronounces that infrastructure repairs are better done sooner rather than later. See, accurate reporting.
    But, then the clincher. Mention Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, mention that there is resistance to it among Republicans. Still all true, right?
    But do not mention or even hint that almost 2/3 of Biden’s proposal is stuff completely unrelated to infrastructure.
    I know what some of you are thinking, but, no, that is not lying by omission, it simply is editing the story to fit the time available.

  3. 2–“Are economists that stupid, or do they just think the public is that stupid?”

    Taking any cue from the Lefty Media, how could they conclude otherwise?

    5–The time to turn MY DIPLOMA to the wall fast approaches!

    • Regarding gun buybacks, I read once where a firearms dealer in one city where they had several of those events actually advertised that he would either beat the police buyback price or tell the owner they would be better off accepting the police offer. Reportedly he picked up some nice older weapons that (mostly elderly) folks no longer wanted. Apparently the people running the buyback program were not happy with him (putting those EVIL guns “back on the street”) but his actions were perfectly legal (and smart).

  4. I first heard of gun buybacks on the Simpsons. “Toys for Gun’s”, anybody? Didn’t realize these were real things until much later….

    Never quite understood the theory. Why would someone who wanted to commit a violent crime with his gun give it to the authorities before the deed was done? Criminals are usually pretty stupid, but even stupid people know you need a gun to commit a gun crime (pew-pew fingers in your pocket not withstanding).

    I could see a criminal disposing of a gun used in a crime at one of these events. Maybe some combination of the criminal’s laziness, and a receiving officer’s zealousness might result in an arrest. I suspect a small amount of cleaning on the criminal’s part to remove prints/blood (maybe some scouring of the barrel to throw off ballistics analysis), and a large amount of laziness on the officer’s part mean that these are likely inadvertent laundering operations.

    • They did a buy back years ago in Phoenix and cast a really ugly sculpture out of the melted down guns. So we hit the quinella: bad public policy and really, really bad public “art.”

      • Ugh. My state has/had a 1% for the arts program. The state spent $100 for a new public health lab 20 years ago, and thus spent 1 million in art for a secure facility the public rarely sees.

        On another note, I could see value in a public gun collection event. Safely dispose of unwanted firearms, but without the perverse financial incentive. It would be similar to prescription drug collections, where drugs could be toxic to the environment if improperly disposed, and dangerous if unused drugs fell into teenager’s or other’s hands. A mere gun collection event might even pay for itself based on the scrap value of the guns. At most, a nominal gift might be provided for disposing a gun.

        • Ridiculous “public art” installed along a Phoenix freeway caused residents in the the affected neighborhood to form a group called “Citizens Revolting Against Public Art.” Of course, it’s acronym was CRAP. For years, the City of Phoenix would shake down building developers to acquire and install sculptures in front of their buildings in return for favorable zoning.

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