Labor Day Weekend Ethics Rally [Corrected]

It’s too soon to re-post the 2012 Ethics Alarms essay about why Labor Day is important and worth celebrating, as I did so just last year. If you missed it and are interested, it is here. Today we think (or we should) of labor unions as the ultimate example of Eric Hoffer’s observation that “Every great cause begins as a movement, degenerates into a business and ends up as a racket.” (I love the quote, but what he really wrote was “What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.” Close enough….). That fate unites them with #MeToo, Time’s Up, Black Lives Matter, LBGTQ rights, environmentalism, abortion rights, anti-nuke organizations, and feminism, as well as “states’ rights,” free enterprise, the Tea Party, anti-Communist groups, the Libertarian Party and more. Like many of those movements, however, the labor unions were necessary and advanced the cause of core American principles from a place where they had been stalled.

Incidentally, the first post today began as the first item in this warm-up. This happens a lot: the topic becomes too complicated to do justice to in a multiple topic post, so I have to move it out and start all over again. Many other topics in the warm-ups, cool-downs or whatever I call them could justify whole posts, but a stand-alone post requires searching for graphics, more writing, and adding tags, making it a far more time-consuming process. I would love to have the time and financial resources to cover ethics as it needs to be covered. Somebody should. But every way I’ve considered to produce significant income here reduces access, and it would be ethically wrong to make that trade-off.

1. Before leaving the topic of ignorance-producing journalism hysteria…do read this piece of irresponsible climate change primal screaming by long-time Times Democratic Party propagandist Paul Krugman. He’s an economist of dubious quality, but he knows no more about climate science than the average greengrocer, as his column shows repeatedly. “Big business wants to prioritize low taxes over the fate of civilization,” his op-ed’s cut line reads. Nothing apocalyptic about that!

This is a guy who can’t even make reliable predictions in his own field—you recall that he famously wrote on election night 2016 that Trump’s election would mean that the markets would sink and never rise again—and yet he is allowed to make dumb scientific assumptions in the pages of the New York Times. The fact is, and it is a fact, the the U.S. can’t do anything about climate change, even assuming something can be done,without the full commitment of China, India and the developing countries, and that is just not happening. Nor is China trustworthy in any respect, but it would doubtlessly love to have the United States cripple itself economically to signal its virtue, if not its wisdom. The cancellation of the Keystone pipeline has one good point: it is the perfect symbol of climate change madness. Everyone agrees that the Obama, then Biden edict will not have any effect on rising temperatures whatsoever while costing jobs and removing an energy source, but it makes environmental hysterics happy, and that’s enough.

2. Sidewalk ethics. Were people always so rude and inconsiderate on sidewalks? Having to walk my dog three times a day for 30 minutes or more has led me to spend more time on neighborhood sidewalks than ever before, and every trip is an adventure. Spuds is too friendly for a 65-pound engine of muscle, so I avoid running into kids, unknown dogs and people coming our way by crossing the street, taking detours, and generally not taking chances. But kids come running up from behind us, startling me as well as the dog. Joggers, who have always acted entitled since they first rose out of the primordial ooze, whiz by us, at us, and from behind us like we were invisible, often requiring me to yank Spuds back from charging them. He has recently developed a phobia of wheeled vehicles, beginning with those e-scooters (if he sees an abandoned one, he approaches it like I would approach a live hand grenade). I had crossed the street to avoid an unloading bus of summer camp kids only to see an old coot on a bicycle heading right at us, so I moved Spuds onto a nearby lawn. When the bicycle began to pass us—on the sidewalk—my dog lunged at the bike, and I yanked him back. He might have come within six feet of the bike. The rider stopped and I apologized for startling him, saying that I was trying to cure my dog of his bicycle issues. “I don’t give a damn—control your dog!” the jerk shouted. “Look, I did control my dog,” I answered. “You, on the other hand, are breaking the law. Ride your bicycle on the street where it belongs, dickhead.” He was a dickhead, you know.

[Notice of Correction: It appears that I was wrong: in Virginia, bicycles can use the sidewalk, though in all of my years living here I have never seen an adult doing so. A Virginia resident so informs me, so I misinformed the old coot. But he was still violating the law, which requires sidewalk riders to yield to pedestrians and to signal their intentions audibly as they approach. He drove Spuds and me off the sidewalk onto a lawn, so he was still a dickhead, just a different kind of dickhead.]

Then there are the oblivious. Just now, Spuds and I were trapped by two sets pf parents with kids who saw us behind them and just camped out on the sidewalks on both sides of the street anyway. The father on the right side of the street was walking at a snail’s pace while one son dawdled ten yards behind and his brother meandered 15 yards behind him. On the left sidewalk, a mother with a baby carriage stopped and began a conversation shouting across the street to the guy with the two slug-like sons. There was literally nowhere for me to go. Spuds sat patiently and I stood for ten minutes waiting for one side or the other to clear.

3. Remember, we pay for this junk...The guests for NPR’s On The Media podcast episode included exclusively anti-free speech advocates: Andrew Marantz, author of an article called, “Free Speech is Killing Us”; P.E. Moskowitz, author of “The Case Against Free Speech”; Susan Benesch, director of the “Dangerous Speech Project”; and Berkeley professor John Powell, who argued that John Stuart Mill’s defense of free speech in On Liberty was “wrong.” There wasn’t an academic or political advocate for freedom of speech anywhere in the discussion: opposition to censorship was (falsely) labelled “free speech absolutism.”

This is where “progressivism” is leading: a rejection of what was formerly traditional liberal cant, and advocacy for European-style speech censorship because free speech can be “harmful.” Of course, it was Donald Trump who posed the threat to democracy…

“Rolling Stone” exile Matt Tabbai writes of the podcast,

“It was all a near-perfect distillation of the pretensions of NPR’s current target audience, which clearly feels we’ve reached the blue-state version of the End of History, where all important truths are agreed upon, and there’s no longer need to indulge empty gestures to pluralism like the “marketplace of ideas.” Mill ironically pointed out that “princes, or others who are accustomed to unlimited deference, usually feel this complete confidence in their own opinions on nearly all subjects.” Sound familiar? Yes, speech can be harmful, which is why journalists like me have always welcomed libel and incitement laws and myriad other restrictions, and why new rules will probably have to be concocted for some of the unique problems of the Internet age. But the most dangerous creatures in the speech landscape are always aristocrat know-it-alls who can’t wait to start scissoring out sections of the Bill of Rights. It’d be nice if public radio could find space for at least one voice willing to point that out.”

4. No, Joe Biden shouldn’t be impeached, but this is what the Democrats’ deliberate distortion of impeachment bought them. (Not to say I told you so, but I told you so.) Various polls are showing that a majority of the public thinks that President Biden ought to be impeached for his incompetent handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal. This is one more area where the teamwork of ruthless politicians and unethical journalists have made the public dangerously ignorant, in this case, of the Constitution and how our government is supposed to work.

It’s not a parliamentary system. Leaders don’t resign and are not thrown out of office because they make a mistake, are proven wrong, their policies don’t work or they are just lousy leaders. Impeachment is reserved for actual malevolent, criminal or corrupt conduct. The fact that much of the public has no confidence in Joe Biden—who should not have been able to inspire confidence in anyone paying attention before he was elected—is not grounds for impeachment. Much of the public doesn’t get this, and it is entirely because the Democrats, goaded by such established hyper-partisan fools as Maxine Waters, convinced their ovine supporters that just having a majority in the House and really, really disliking an elected President justified an impeachment, indeed two. This had the ironic result of reducing the political and Constitutional value of the measure to almost nothing besides a device for partisan harassment. If Republicans gain a majority in the House, I expect them to impeach Biden, and I expect that the public and Democrats will shrug it off.

Good job, everybody.

5. Uh, this is a breach of medical ethics AND democratic principles, you know…Black conservative Candace Owens was indeed denied a basic medical test (a Wuhan virus check) at an Aspen, Colorado private health facility because the director didn’t care for her political speech. PBS might approve, though:

Owen email

These are warped, misguided, anti-democracy, totalitarian-minded bullies…in Matt Tabbai’s words, people who want to live “where all important truths are agreed upon, and there’s no longer need to indulge empty gestures to pluralism like the “marketplace of ideas.” In short, they are unethical assholes.

19 thoughts on “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Rally [Corrected]

  1. Jack, I’m from Virginia and people riding bikes are allowed on the sidewalk. Although it may be different in other places. Have a good Labor Day.


    • The actual law reads “Bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control devices. While on sidewalks and shared use paths, bicyclists must always yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.”

      Thanks for the clarification: it is indeed different in “other places.” But this guy did not follow the law, and did not signal that he would yield the right of way or stop, or take any measures to avoid me and Spuds at all, forcing me to yield the right of way. Thus he was still a dickhead, just a dickhead for a different (but related) reason.

  2. Last week, as New Jersey was reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Ida, the governor took the opportunity to conclude a press conference with state and local emergency management officials with a screed against climate change. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” right?

  3. These are warped, misguided, anti-democracy, totalitarian-minded bullies…in Matt Tabbai’s words, people who want to live “where all important truths are agreed upon, and there’s no longer need to indulge empty gestures to pluralism like the “marketplace of ideas.” In short, they are unethical assholes.

    Surprisingly, this pretty much describes most of the guys I went to high school and college with. Depressing. And they’re happy as can be about it. Strange. I’m not sure what happened.

  4. 1. A very liberal friend of mine used to post links to Paul Krugman pieces with exclamations like “Krugman nails it!” and “Paul is in the zone…again!!” Yeah, the Twilight Zone. Unfortunately for Krugman, climate has been changing since climate began in the world, and will continue to do so until the world ceases exist. To think that man can control or modify climate is the height of arrogance and self-absorbed thinking.

    5. Had I not read that the refusal was directed at Candace Owens, I would have guessed Anthony Fauci, the single greatest source of Wuhan misinformation since February 2020. Does someone end up getting in trouble or fired over refusing to test for Wuhan because he/she disagrees with the person’s political view?

  5. 5. I don’t think people know what being a hypocrite is. So many people are calling Ms. Owens a hypocrite for calling the clinic out because she believes in private businesses doing whatever they want.

    She even states that she will go somewhere else. She has no problem going somewhere else. It would only be hypocritical if she had a personal belief to never criticize anyone for anything.

  6. 2. I often run along walkways that are shared amongst cyclists, walkers, runners and dog walkers. With most of the people I can easily get past with no trouble but every now and again I meet people who don’t seem to know anything about walkway ethics. Here in New Zealand as we drive on the left hand side of the road, we are supposed to keep to the left side of the walkway, as I assume in America one would keep to the right side. Some cyclists ride past and the first that I know they are there is when they fly past. If they want to ride along a shared walkway they should have and use a bell. When the lockdown first happened in March last year, walkers were expected to keep a distance from each other so some walkers would stand on opposite sides of the walkway making it difficult to keep a distance from them and still run past. I find that those who cause me the least amount of trouble when I’m running are children.
    Then there are a few dog walkers who don’t know how to control their dog. About four years ago I was running along a walkway and a small dog not on a leash got right in my way and I almost stepped on the dog’s back. I only managed to avoid doing so as I was running slow enough to hop on my other foot, so I shouted back to it’s owner “Can you control your dog please?” I was surprised that I said please but since then I have noticed that sometimes I am extra polite when someone does something wrong. Maybe being extra polite when people have a disagreement would bring about a lot less tension in the world.
    Now that we are in lockdown again, I find that all I can do to get out of the house is go to the supermarket, or get some exercise by either going for a sixteen kilometre run which I do every second day, or go for a walk along the beach. I find that because of this I am now the fittest I have ever been.

    • As soon as I finished laughing – not quite yet – I passed this on to a friend who collects one-liners. Got a free ice cream cone in return. Thanks, Errol.

      • Oh our governments lack of competence knows no bounds. When we had no Wuhan Virus in the country, they ordered that all border workers should be vaccinated and that those who didn’t want to be vaccinated would be deployed elsewhere. So they give the order but assign no-one to check to make sure it is carried out. Some months later over half were still not vaccinated. There seem to be numerous incidents like this.

  7. RE #3: I often listen to NPR, especially when doing errands on weekends, when On the Media airs hereabouts. It used to be a fairly good and interesting program, long ago, but three or four years ago it became clear that the program should have been renamed “On Why Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone Think Donald Trump Is a Poopy-Head.”

    The show has had a progressive cant for a long time, but it has become ridiculous – completely non-critical of media (except, of course, for Fox and its ilk); it’s essentially Brian Stelter for people with graduate degrees.

    I happened to be listening for a while during this show. That I disagreed with the premise of the guest was fine (as Taibbi noted, every one of the guests had an anti-First-Amendment bias). What was especially galling was Gladstone’s fawning approval and softball questions. And though she’s always been a prog, she used to be a reasonably competent interviewer. The lack of self-awareness was breathtaking; she seems incapable of understanding that the limitations on speech advanced by her guests could easily be turned on her as well.

    Thus I was delighted to read Taibbi’s takedown of the segment. There are still a few honest journalists out there, and thank God for that.

  8. The NYT as a Democrat propaganda mill? Say it ain’t so! BTW, last Thursday (2 Sep), after weeks of NYT OpEds and editorials about Afghanistan, suddenly the slate was wiped clean. Not a single editorial or OpEd about Afghanistan Guess that’s how you do “Mission Accomplished”

    #1. Here’s a good antidote to Krugman’s idiocy – a WSJ OpEd:

  9. 2–On the subject of BIKIES, one local firebrand does his level best to shine a light on/raise awareness for the spandex-clad Noblesse Oblige, AKA, the CYCLISTOCRACY.

    FWIW, Platinum is the highest award given by the League of American Bicyclists to cities that smother their landscapes with paths/lanes/trails/boulevards/bridges/etc.

  10. Bicycles don’t belong on the roads or the sidewalks in my opinion, at least on high traffic streets. They cause dangerous situations when using both. They are too slow to ride down a highway with a speed limit above 25 mph. They impede traffic. Bicyclists are also prone to ignoring traffic, cutting in front of cars without looking, weave around erratically, and are not safe. Every time I drive near one I’m afraid they are going to tip over in front of me and I will run them over. This is especially true where I currently live as most of the people riding bicycles are homeless and are often mentally ill or driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. The riders weave back and forth drunkenly across 6 lane highways, possibly in an intentional effort to get hit by a car.

    Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks either, since bicyclists seem to think they have the right to run pedestrians over.

    Honestly, bicyclists seem to be entitled idiots who think they own the entirety of the public access ways, in whatever format be it roads or sidewalks. They need their own lanes, but there are not enough of them to make that cost effective. They also need to obey traffic laws, which none of them seem to do.

    I watched a bicyclists the other day speed past a car that was trying to do a three point turn in my neighborhood. They nearly got hit, then proceeded to scream at the driver for a good 5 minutes. If you drove up in a car to a person doing a 3 point turn, you would stop and wait for them to finish, not go speeding around them like a lunatic trying to cut them off before they completed the turn. A bicyclists should do the same. Riding a bicycle does not give you cart blanche to act like an idiot.

    Bikes are either pedestrians or they are vehicles. If they are vehicles then bicyclists need to obey minimum speed limit laws, obey traffic laws, and get arrested for driving them under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If they are pedestrians, they need to stop running over their fellow pedestrians. If a person walked up and knocked someone over for not walking fast enough, that would be assault and battery. Doing it on a bike is the same thing.

    • Statutorily, BIKIES (my preferred choice of degrading reference) are vehicles in Madison/Dane County, WI and subject to the same laws and ordinances as the motorized variety.

      Yet BIKIES deem those laws and ordinances as nothing more than mere suggestions, they do here leastways, as they jaunt about bedecked in their hilariously festooned Lycra.

  11. I want to thank you for the Labor Day repost last year. My history knowledge has some large gaps and I didn’t know much about it.

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