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:
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.