Today’s Ethics Warm-Up That I Was Supposed To Put Up Yesterday, 10/20/21: All Is Not Well

Jen Psaki may not be the worst liar among the many Presidential spokespersons I have seen come and go, but she may be the biggest asshole since Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s infamous paid deceiver. Yesterday, asked about the administration’s failure to anticipate and act on the supply chain disruptions despite early warnings, Psaki snarked about “the tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed.” Friend of Ethics Alarms Joe Concha responded, “This kind of pious posturing by Psaki — who is increasingly acting this way as Biden’s numbers fall — is not helping matters. The supply chain crisis is very real [and] will impact the low/middle class the most. But…Psaki makes it about an issue for the rich.” Indeed, my son, who is an auto mechanic, says that inability to get needed auto parts is killing his business, with direct impact on his income. It is clear now that as with inflation, the border crisis and the missing Americans left behind in Afghanistan, the Democratic strategy is to pretend there is no problem, confident the the news media will do a good job hiding the facts.

1. Speaking of gaslighting…Terry McAuliffe’s new strategy as his poll numbers sink in what was supposed to be a cake-walk to a second term as Virginia Governor is to claim that he was quoted “out of context” when he said “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” In what possible context would that statement, which he made on TV during a September 28 debate with Glenn Younkin, the Republican, mean anything other than that he doesn’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach? McAuliffe’s new ad making the claim that his statement isn’t what it is (Rationalization #64) is like a holding a sign saying “I am a liar.” Yes, we know you are, Terry: that you got elected the first time disgraced the voters of Virginia.

The ex-Clinton henchman is desperate, but obvious obfuscation won’t help except with the admittedly substantial idiot vote. “As parents, Dorothy and I have always been involved in our kids’ education. We know good schools depend on involved parents. That’s why I want you to hear this from me. Glenn Youngkin is taking my words out of context. I’ve always valued the concerns of parents,” McAuliffe says in the new ad. “It’s why as governor we scaled back standardized testing, expanded pre-K, and invested a billion dollars in public schools.” But none of that addresses the issue of parent input into what is taught. So a billion dollars is being invested in having schools teach that whites are oppressing minorities and the United States of America is evil: how does that encourage parent input into the curriculum? As governor, McAuliffe vetoed legislation in 2016 and 2017 which would have notified parents of sexually explicit content in school materials and mandated that teachers offer alternative educational resources to students whose parents objected to such content. That’s the “context” of his infamous statement.

2. Huh. If you pay people not to work, they won’t see any need to work. Who would have thought? The news is full of reports that the economy is threatened by a labor shortage, and economists are not quite sure why. “COnservatives,” sniffs the Times, are sure this is because of over-generous unemployment benefits. What do they know? Nah, that’s not it…then teh same story goes on to note that Americans saved trillions during the pandemic, with lower income Americans being able to stash away enough to forgo work with the help of “the government’s trillion dollar response to the pandemic” including food aid, forbearance on mortgages and student loans, and eviction moratoriums. But not those “unemployment benefits”!

3. I told you so! In 2015, arguing that Walt Disney World removing the bust of Bill Cosby from its place of honor on the Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza was a dangerous precedent in historical air-brushing and Soviet-style cultural purging, I wrote,

“We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes, or his slaveholding….There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop… It is wrong—dishonest, incompetent, unfair, irresponsible, destructive….and so, so short-sighted and stupid. Yes, it takes courage to oppose this tidal wave of political correctness—surely some in this country still have courage, right? I know it’s scary in an environment where the immense weight of the news media, the internet and the government are constantly teaming up to smear and destroy anyone who dares to take unpopular positions—that means, “rational positions based on more nuanced analysis than the average internet meme from Move-On”—or who tries to slow  one of the  unreasoning, destructive , runaway cultural freight trains that are bearing down on American society with increasing frequency. But prominent people stood up to Joe McCarthy, opposed popular wars, fought for civil rights, and have repeatedly risked reputation, employment, friendships and even their lives to insist on sanity, proportion and rationality when it was being swept aside by coalitions of the opportunistic, the Machiavellian and the ignorant. Surely there are prominent Americans who will stand up to this? Hello? Is anybody there? Because this isn’t just airbrushing. It is bulldozing. And the culture, history and perspective it will leave the nation with will be flat, bleak, and a lie.”

This week, New York City and its communist mayor decided to remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson that has stood at city hall for nearly 200 years. Assemblymen Charles Barron and his wife, Councilwoman Inez Barron led the effort to dishonor Jefferson.“When we remove this statue, we’re making a step in the right direction for erasing honoring of those who murdered and raped us,” Charles Barron said.

4. Apparently Google and YouTube thinks animal torture porn is OK under certain circumstances, like if it makes them money….I was going to embed one of the videos that YouTube allows on its platform (which is owned by Google), but I couldn’t watch it without getting upset. It showed a python entwining itself around the neck of a puppy as the dog struggles and whimpers. It was staged: a man rushed in to rescue the poor animal, and the whole video is an ad. This is one of the hundreds or more videos currently on YouTube that is the subject of a lawsuit filed this week in California Superior Court in Santa Clara. Lady Freethinker, an animal rights nonprofit, accuses YouTube and Google of breach of contract, because the platform fails to live up to its agreement with users when it allows animal abuse videos to be uploaded and failing to take action when alerted about the content.

I doubt that the lawsuit is a winner, but the real purpose is to stir up enough public outrage that YouTube does a better job policing uploads of animal cruelty videos. That’s an abuse of process by the lawyers involved: the civil justice system isn’t there for PR, no matter how worthy the motives. It’s also the kind of abuse that is impossible to prove or punish.

5. Never mind. I have two more items I planned to include, but I’m already too depressed. Later, dude.

11 thoughts on “Today’s Ethics Warm-Up That I Was Supposed To Put Up Yesterday, 10/20/21: All Is Not Well

  1. Watching Terry McAuliffe is like having a flashback to the days when the Clintons and their enablers roamed the earth. He’s just so hopelessly out of date. “Terry, the ’90s are calling and they want their tactics back.”

  2. Meandering soliloquy to follow:

    Most humans are no better than the ethics of their time, by definition. There are many fields in which humanity can advance. An unusually great human will help humanity advance in one field, or maybe a few more if they’re particularly extraordinary. Those fields aren’t always going to be the field of ethics. If we don’t blame the artist who doesn’t advance physics, nor the physicist who doesn’t advance music, nor the musician who doesn’t advance literature, nor the author who doesn’t advance medicine, why should we blame any of them for failing to hew to an ethical standard that they would have to be extraordinary (by human standards) to even perceive? Even if they were extraordinary in the field of ethics and could perceive the ethical values that would be widely adopted in the future, it can be a severe social and economic handicap to be more ethical than the people around you. Do we ask that price of everyone who tries to do something great for humanity? Must every person who contributes some service also be a great ethicist in order for their contribution to be remembered and admired?

    Yes, it’s uncomfortable to look at historical figures who have achieved great constructive things and also see their shortcomings. But why can’t we deal with that as adults? Why can’t we take for granted that everyone knows when we celebrate a historical figure, we are not glorifying their flaws and crimes?
    I suspect it’s because humans put representations of historical humans on pedestals… literally. Instead of celebrating a thing that happened and exploring how it came to be–the thought processes and the work and the unknowns that a person had to deal with in order to cause a lasting change–they personify the change with the face of a person, as if the change had been a natural result of that person’s essence. That’s no way to treat history–humans are wasting the opportunity to educate more humans on what it takes to create lasting, constructive change.

    Furthermore, when it comes to historical humans and historical events, humans rarely create festivals or holidays or days of remembrance to call attention to nuance and ambiguity. Some humans will celebrate and some humans will mourn, and they’ll despise each other for having different feelings associated with the same history. By definition, every historical conflict had people on a losing side, even if that side is dead or disowned, so every celebration of past victories is in poor taste to someone’s ghost.

    Why is it done this way? Why do humans not simply remember and learn from history, and make their festivals and celebrations about the present and the future instead? Then a statue could just be a statue, another landmark that shows where a confluence of forces happened that shaped the world of the present.

    In other words, humans are willing to tear down history because they never understood what it meant in the first place.

  3. 2. Point of relevance: If people have generous unemployment benefits, they have a strong BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) compared to what an employer can offer. That means employers will have to offer better pay and conditions for people to return. That is good for the employees.

    However, there’s another problem that causes: small businesses would probably not be able to pay larger salaries, so they would find it harder to stay in business.

    However, if we had Universal Basic Income instead of standard unemployment benefits, the benefits might be smaller but wouldn’t go away once a person got hired, so a person would have incentive to work and would also be able to accept a smaller salary if there was a small business they wanted to work at, or they could start their own and worry less about failing.

  4. 2. Supply-chain issues and empty store shelves are ultimately the result of too much willingness on the government’s part to pay people not to work.

    One possible remedy is to reverse that: end all unemployment benefits (excepting those with known disabilities preventing work) and replace them with employment benefits. For 18 months, everyone on a 1099-able payroll gets a $100-a-month tax-exempt bonus from the government. Stay working for the full 18 months and receive a one-time $1000 bonus.

    Then the incentive ends.

    I’m sure there are some holes in that, but the idea is to incent people to work rather than paying them not to. And I have to imagine that is far cheaper than what the government is doing now.

    • The holes in that are the same ones that “incent” people like Bismark and Elizabeth I of England to provide poor relief: if you don’t have poor relief, say for people who have outlasted a window for that, you get Vagrancy Costs instead, which show up as policing costs etc. even if you attack them the way sometimes happened in Brazil.

      You may want to look at the social history embedded in nursery rhymes, say the one beginning “Hark, hark, the dogs do bark, / The beggars are coming to town”, or the one G.K.Chesterton records from his childhood, “Here comes an old soldier from Botany Bay / What have we got to give him today?”.

  5. #1. I’m no fan of Terry McAuliffe, but I do think his comment was taken out of context. In context, I took him to mean that parents shouldn’t dictate the curriculum (which is what Younkin seemed to be suggesting), not that they should have no input.
    As a lifelong educator (albeit at a different level), I agree with this position.

    • Then his explanation should be that he was misunderstood, not that the remarks were taken out of context, right? The context was parents objecting to CRT-style lessons. The context is the highly contentious school board meetings in Loudoun County here, and Merrick Garland’s ominous memo that seemed to describe parental protests as “harassment.” Terry then doubled down on his statement 6 times without clarifying it beyond what he said the first time—until, apparently, internal polling indicated that he was losing support.

      I don’t think parents should be dictating to teachers either—except when teachers and school boards abuse their discretion—which they did in Virginia enough for me to pull my son out of school.

      • But as far as I can tell, the immediate context was Younkin’s assertion that “parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” They should not (unless they’re home-schooling).
        Nor should they be able to veto books for the school library, which was apparently McAuliffe’s other objection.
        Younkin is either an unscrupulous panderer or an idiot. McAuliffe is a mendacious dirtbag. Good luck, Virginia.

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