That Ol’ Blue Eyes classic comes to you courtesy of item #1. I am not a fan of Frank in general: despite his artistry and the pleasure he gave to so many (including, on occasion, me), he was such a loathsome individual that I can’t listen to him without the cognitive dissonance chimes sounding. But that song, by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, perfectly expressed my father’s indomitable philosophy, which he grandly passed on to his son and namesake.”That’s life!” can easily be a rationalization to justify passive inaction; indeed I have considered adding it to the Rationalization List many times. My father didn’t use it that way, however. He expressed it as a quick summary of the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Dad knew the difference, and a large part of my ethics journey is gaining as firm a grip on that difference as he had.
1. Wait, which part is unfair? The Times reviewed two documentaries about female athletes and headlined the piece, “Women, and Girls, Compete in an Unfair World.” (the online version is titled, “Review: ‘Sisters on Track,’ ‘LFG’ and the Price of Star Power.” This is a pattern with the Times: the print edition almost always has a more aggressively political, propaganda-style headline. Any theories? Of course, we all compete in an unfair world, especially if one adopts the Left’s expansive definition of “fairness.” The first documentary examined (and remember, documentaries are usually advocacy pieces, not neutral or “fair.”) is “Sisters on Track.” It follows the saga of two talented young African-American runners. The unfairness, according to the Times: “[C]ontinued track success pushes closed doors open, granting the sisters access to shelter, scholarships and private school admissions that might have otherwise been beyond their means. But as they plan ahead for college — its opportunities and its expenses — they know they have to maintain their national records if they want to translate early success into lifelong stability.” Now why is that unfair? I would argue that it’s unfair for an unproductive talent like winning track meets to bring such financial riches, while society grossly undervalues other more substantive achievements. The message of the documentary is that the athletically talented Shepard sister have to keep excelling in order to keep profiting. Yes, that’s life, and that’s capitalism, meritocracy, and the United States of America. Would the documentary-maker and the Times reviewer call this “unfair” if the speedy Shepard sister weren’t black?
The second documentary is “LPG,” which advances the argument of the national women’s soccer team that it should be paid as much as the men’s team despite being absurdly inferior. What’s unfair? We are told, “Unlike the Shepards, who are at the start of their athletic careers, the women of the national soccer team have already proven themselves as world champions. But their astronomical achievements have not translated into astronomical earnings, suggesting that a glass ceiling looms over all women in sports. Both documentaries question how much success women must achieve to attain financial stability, and both films find that it’s not enough to be very good. To translate physical ability into financial gain, you have to be the best in the country, if not the best in the world.” Really? Megan Rapinoe, the obnoxious, out-spoken anti-male leader of the women’s soccer team, has literally done nothing but play soccer since she was a child. She is 35 now, and has $3 million in the bank. That’s “financial gain,” especially in a sport that has never been a favorite with the public, for an athlete who couldn’t beat out hundreds of male soccer players to compete on the male team. It seems the “unfairness” in the case of the women’s soccer players is that nature just didn’t provide them with the natural combination of strength, size and speed that permit the level of athletic achievement that men can attain.
2. David Brooks has gall...In an op-ed last week, he intoned against “lookism,” and how the fact that attractive people are favored over “ugly” people in employment, politics, show business and life generally. Yup, that’s life, and like all biases, it is up to ethical individuals to recognize the bias while working to get past it. However, being attractive has always been an advantage, and always will be. Brooks writes,
“Daniel Hamermesh, a leading scholar in this field, observed that an American worker who is among the bottom one-seventh in looks earns about 10 to 15 percent less a year than one in the top third. An unattractive person misses out on nearly a quarter-million dollars in earnings over a lifetime.”
There are a lot of jobs, many of them high-paying, that unattractive people simply can’t do well, just as people with horrible voices can’t have radio careers. Duh. Brooks says that we have to “change the culture” so everyone is treated as if they are beautiful. Just last week, I read a Times interview where the interviewer enjoyed his subject’s referring to Donald Trump as “the orange turd.” Over the past five years, derogatory descriptions of the previous Presidents weight, hair and skin tone appeared in various forms in almost every Times edition, and, of course, throughout the rest of the news media. Brooks never took any stems to stem the culture in his own bubble, it seems.
[I have a bit of an emergency, so I’m going to post this and finish it later today. I apologize for the inconvenience.]