1. I’d make a whole post out of this, but it would be short. Conservatives are beginning to call for video cameras in classrooms. Tucker Carlson promoted the idea on his show last night. Naturally, teachers are horrified. There is no good reason not to video classrooms, from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Parents can’t take time off from work to monitor classrooms, as would be ideal, so they should have the option of reviewing videos of what transpired. Teachers were in a profession, like police, the clergy and journalists , who were once regarded as inherently trustworthy. That, we now know, was sentimental and lazy fantasy.
Carlson’s justification for the measure was to make sure Critical Race Theory wasn’t being jammed into impressionable young brains, but videos would have made sense before CRT was a twinkle in Cori Bush’s eye. I don’t want teachers pushing their political and social views about anything on kids. If they talk about current events, I want to see that they are competent, informed, and not injecting bias into education. Are they touching children inappropriately? Flirting with students? Treating boys tougher than girls? Being cruel or mean?
“Trust but verify” has few more appropriate applications than in checking the conduct of teachers.
2. Both parties do this; both parties are unethical scum. It looks like the GOP is a bit worse, though. More than half of all the online political contributions processed by WinRed in the last cycle, 56%, came from people who listed their occupation as “retired,” federal records show. So, naturally, Republican fundraisers use devices and approaches designed to fool the elderly, like fake bill notices and official-looking correspondence; bogus offers to match donations and hidden links to unsubscribe; and pre-checked boxes that automatically repeat donations. Democrats use them too, but a higher percentage of Republicans are in their Golden Years.
One useful metric for how widespread the scamming of older voters is comes from the number of donations that are refunded, which often happens when contributors feel duped.
An analysis refund data from 2020, working with the political information firm Political Data Inc., matched refunded donors to the voter rolls. In California, the average age of donors who received refunds was almost 66 on WinRed and nearly 65 on ActBlue, the equivalent Democratic processing site. Over four times as much money was refunded to donors who are 70 and older than to adults under the age of 50 for both Republicans and Democrats.
Surprise! The Trump campaign’s tactics were especially slimy, tricking donors into making their donations automatically recur weekly by using confusing text.
Daniel Marson, a clinical neuropsychologist who has studied financial decision-making among aging Americans, told the New York Times that generational lack of familiarity with technology and age-related cognitive declines make the elderly perfect marks for ruthless political fundraisers. Tricks that computer-savvy millennials would recognize as dishonest, like those donation countdown clocks, are effective with many retirees—which is why the parties use them. Another stress-inducing tactic is subject lines like “Final Notice #33716980,” which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently used, — that suggest that actual bills are at risk of defaulting. Amazingly, many older Americans (and young idiots) think that messages from “President Biden” or “Donald Trump” are truly personal contacts, when they are just cover-names for appeals from a fund-raising consultant.
Any elected official or other celebrity who allows his or her name to be signed to a message they didn’t read and approve is participating in a fraud.
Meanwhile, efforts to stem this unethical exploitation of the elderly are weak and inadequate. Senator Amy Klobuchar recently introduced legislation to ban prechecked boxes that repeat donations after the Federal Election Commission unanimously recommended outlawing the practice.
The D.C. bar had a pre-checked donation on my renewal statement.
3. And while we’re on the topic of exploiting the naive...When Amazon sells you one of its innovative tech gadgets, you are really guinea pig At any moment, the company night change the device or decide to eliminate it, and along with the product, all support for the items already sold. This would be fine and ethical if it were made crystal clear to purchasers before they handed over their cash. But it isn’t.
For four years, the company sold millions of Amazon Dash Buttons, which you could push to replenish items like toilet paper. I had one! But Amazon killed the Dash in 2019. In 2014, the company aggressively marketed the Fire, its first smartphone, and discontinued it just a year later. Most tech companies do their research and development in house before releasing products to us; only Amazon uses the marketplace to see whether or not a product works as intended. Writes consumer reporter Brian Chen,
“When Amazon fails…you, the guinea pig, lose your hard-earned cash and a product you may enjoy. There is also an environmental impact: The electronic device could end up in a landfill, and even if you recycle it, only a small portion of its materials can be reused.”
Again, as long as Amazon customers know the rules, I have no ethical problem with this model. It appears, however, that a lot of customers don’t know the rules.