Evening Ethics, 12/16/2021: The Holidays Ethics Avalanche Continues…

Predictably, just when I have the least time, the most ethics issues, and important ones, are flying by. I know I’m going to miss some; I’m missed some already. Yesterday, for example, I neglected to note the anniversary of the 1791 ratification of the Bill of Rights, though plenty of readers reminded me. A more ethical historical document does not exist, and the Bill of Rights continues to bolster American values as well as delineate them. I should do a full post on the status of the document and its contents, which have seldom been so besieged. A “Bill of Rights Day” holiday would make much more sense than “Juneteenth,” other than its unfortunate placement so close to Christmas.

What else did I miss? On the 15th in 1998 we saw what might well be the last legitimate impeachment in U.S. history, since the Democrats so thoroughly abused and weakened the standards for the process in their quest to bring down Donald Trump. Whether Clinton should have been convicted in the Senate is a close call for me; he certainly should have had a real trial, which he did not. On balance, I believe his obstruction of the investigation, and especially his dishonesty before the grand jury, tilts the scale to conviction.

Today, the 16th of December, marks the 248th anniversary of The Boston Tea Party, when 60 allies of Samuel Adams’ radical resistance group dumped dumped 342 chests of tea worth about $18,000 (nearly $600,000 today) into the Boston Harbor to protest British taxes. The targeted economic riot was a catalyst: Parliament retaliated against the colonies by enacting the so-called Intolerable Acts, in 1774, closing Boston to merchant shipping, establishing formal British military rule in Massachusetts, declaring British officials immune to criminal prosecution in the Colonies, and requiring the colonists to quarter British troops (hence the Third Amendment in the Bill of Rights). The colonies responded with the first Continental Congress, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just so you know what kind of public school teacher I would be, I’d assign students to compare and contrast the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol to Sam Adams’ little uprising.

1. What are schools for? The always provocative City-Journal reveals that a recent survey by YouGov and American Compass, asked 1,000 American parents with a child between the ages of 12 and 30 about what the priority for the public education system should be, phrased thusly: “Which is more important, helping students maximize their academic potential and gain admission to colleges and universities with the best possible reputations, or “helping them develop the skills and values to build decent lives in the communities where they live?” The latter prevailed by approximately a 2 to 1 margin.

As it should have…

2. Death of an Ethics Dunce. In 1958, Elfrida von Nardroff won $220,500 ( $2.1 million in today’s dollars) on the popular , and crooked, TV quiz show “Twenty-One.” She became a celebrity over several months while on her way to winning, but an investigation proved that she had been given the answers, and the show was rigged. She lied about her complicity in the scheme, and was eventually convicted of perjury. Ms. von Nardroff wrote a well-read magazine article claiming that she prepped furiously for the show, which was a fabication designed to further the hoax. Later she admitted that the article was only “impressionistically true.” Elfrida died this week at the age of 96.

3. Here’s one reason progressives want everyone to “trust the science”: shoddy and biased research. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote a risible column claiming journalists have been harder on President Joe Biden (and his policies that are imploding) than it was on President Trump (and his policies that worked). Since nobody honest and un-deranged could believe that, Milbank appealed to the authority of “artificial intelligence” that reviewed 200,000 news articles to determine the pieces’ “sentiment” based on variables like adjective placement. At substack, T. Beckett Adams does a convincing job proving that this “study” was actually artificial stupidity.

For example, Adams notes that “The raw data show a combined 514 Trump-related articles published last year by CBS News and MSNBC. However, the raw data also show exactly zero Biden-related articles published this year by the same networks. Either CBS and MSNBC plumb forgot to cover the Biden White House, or [the study] simply omitted both networks’ coverage from its research.” Not that it should be necessary to show that any research with the conclusion Milbank was selling needs to be disproved: res ipsa loquitur. If Jimmy Durante had produced an AI study “proving” that the elephant he had on the end of his rope really wasn’t there, who would believe it?

4. I bet there is also an AI study showing that Elizabeth Warren isn’t a lying demagogue. “TIME” named Musk its “Person of the Year,” this week, so Warren tweeted: “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.” Reason, the libertarian publication, explained what an outrageous lie that characterization is.

Though Musk did not pay federal income taxes back in 2018 (because he took out loans against Tesla shares), he will be on the hook to pay an extreme amount this year: potentially between $9 billion and $10 billion, if he exercises soon-to-expire stock options….

In fact, as Musk pointed out to “Senator Karen” in a tweet, he is likely to pay more in taxes this year than anyone has ever paid in taxes before him. Meanwhile, Reason notes, 61% of Americans, or about100 million households, didn’t pay federal income taxes last year. Who’s “freeloading”? In 2018, the top 2% of taxpayers paid 87% of total federal income taxes, and typically the top 1% pay roughly 40 percent of total federal income taxes. Warren is, based on her rhetoric and irresponsible employment of divisive class warfare tactics, a Marxist.

5. Stop making me defend Joe Biden! Democratic Party support from independent voters has dropped close to 40%, and almost half of all independent voters tell Gallup that they are now leaning Republican. 31% of those polled say they’re Republicans; 41% told Gallup that they’re independent voters; and only 27% admit to being Democrats. As recently as May, Democrats were at 32% and only 25%. of the public claimed to be true Red.

I know, I know, polls, and as those numbers show, these affinities can change quickly. S

till, the media and Democrats’ seem to be blaming Biden, who is a convenient scapegoat, but a false one. What is driving Americans away from the Democratic Party is the obvious fact that its policies don’t work, and all the spin, cover-ups, attempts to use Trump Terror as a distraction and Jen Psaki doubletalk can’t change what the public sees right in front of its eyes and feels in its gut.

The party has embraced anti-American values, discouraging work, enterprise, and personal responsibility; exploding the debt, sparking inflation, encouraging law-breaking; demonizing police; splitting communities and dividing the races. As much as the Left want that to be the national culture, it is not, and progressives were ignorant, reckless and foolish to assume they could make it so with their fleeting, gossamer thin majority.

Joe Biden allowed himself to be a figurehead and a patsy, and shame on him for that, but it isn’t Biden who is making American turn away from his party. It is dishonesty, incompetence, and un-American values. .

18 thoughts on “Evening Ethics, 12/16/2021: The Holidays Ethics Avalanche Continues…

  1. Re 1: The fact that skills and values are not defined makes me wonder how the parents were defining these skills and values in their minds. I can agree with you if those values and skills encourage civil debate, the ability to take disparate bits of information and arrive at a reasoned idea, and can write reasonably well and do some advanced mathematics among other things. Parroting self serving ideas is not going to build cohesive societies.

  2. Re4:
    When you point out the fact that more than half of tax filers pay no federal income tax and may even get far more back than that which was withheld the retort is that low income people pay all sorts of other taxes such as gas taxes, excise taxes and payroll taxes. What they fail to mention is that owners of the businesses that employ these people also pay the cumulative total of all payroll taxes paid by employees. So if an employer has 100 employees each earning 30k per year each employee’s payroll tax bite is about 2,300 bucks yet the employer share amounts to $230,000. Ultimately, the employee will get a cash benefit upon retirement but the employer gets nothing.
    I could go on about excise taxes but the fact remains that these taxes are absorbed by some enterprises like farmers whose products are highly price elastic or passed on to consumers by enterprises whose offerings have few substitutes such as fossil fuels, medicines, cigarettes or liquor.
    I don’t care if Musk pays mere pennies or billions in taxes as long as he follows the tax law. If Warren does not like the outcome she, not Musk, has the power to seek the changes she wants. Musk of course has the option of just closing up shop, laying off all he employees and retiring to a private island and telling Congress where to go.

    Personally, when I begin hearing politicians starting to demand people who pay no taxes contribute their fair non monetary contributions to society then I will accept them telling me what monetary contributions are fair for me to contribute.

  3. 5. I’ve say all those things are happening explodentially, so Joe has to take at least some of the blame. To the extent he’s cognizant, he has to take at least that much responsibility. And Dr. Jill and Ron Klain want us to believe it’s all Joe. So, let’s just blame Joe. The buck has to stop somewhere even if it at the desk of a demented dope. The Dems can’t have it both ways.

    • By the way, I see Hill has a new hairdo, or at least she’s gone back to washing and combing her hair. Frankly, I think she’s making noises and dropping hints and putting out feelers about running again. It’s going to be an interesting next two to three years in Dem land.

  4. #5: Many of us have been waiting to see if the left would eventually overplay its metaphorical hand. Other recent info (Polls!) indicates Latinos are now equally split between parties… and trending Republican. This shouldn’t be surprising; it should probably have been expected. The family-oriented & religious values, work ethic, etc., common to that community mesh better with the ideals of the American right than with those of the increasingly lunatic “progressives”.

    I wouldn’t bet the farm, but there may be reason to hope that pushing identity politics and promising scraps from the plantation will only take you to a political dead end rather than a civil war.

  5. 4)I hope everyone’s gotten their popcorn as this gets better. Apparently Joy Reid has accused Musk of culturally appropriation for stealing the ‘Karen’ meme.

    Musk’s response: “(Lack of) Joy Reid is a lobbyist for Sen Karen”

    🙂

    • The real take-away from his incident is that no one is safe from the Left’s scythes. Musk should be their hero. But, it shows that if you step off the Leftist Merry go round you are going to get hurt.

      jvb

  6. Re: No. 1; Polls, polls, and silly polls.

    I doubt seriously that 2-to-1 margin of critical thinking skills resulted from honest answers to that survey, considering the amount of money spent on PSAT, ACT, SAT, Iowa, and other standardized testing, along with “college counseling” businesses charging between $3,000 and $5,000 to prepare college admissions applications, plus extracurricular tutoring, sports, music, service projects, etc. We know a family that spent damn near $9,000 to prepare their son for the high school admission test, You read that right: the HIGH school admissions test. God only knows what’s they spent for the college entrance exams.

    jvb

  7. Re: No. 4; Silly Fauxahontas.

    Musk has “Fuck you, Liz” money. He can do and sat what he wants.

    Chris above and Jack beautifully point out who beats the burden of paying their fair share if taxes, and it ain’t the supposedly poor and low income workers. Warren is shilling populist bullshit again (imagine that!) and Musk shoved it back in her face. Nicely done, Elon.

    jvb

    • Yeah, on a serious note, Jack mentioned that 61% of Americans pay zero income taxes — I think that’s actually a problem rather than a good thing. If you don’t have some skin in the game, do you value the republic as much?

      Many, many of the early filers (through about mid February), probably the majority of the people who file will get large refunds. A lot of them have little or nothing withheld but qualify for refundable credits, which means their tax burden is a negative number.

      In one sense, that is national tax policy — Congress has decreed, in its infinite wisdom (/sarc), that we should be paying out this money. In that sense it’s fine.

      Here is another consequence. These returns typically are not too complicated, although there is due diligence that must be done for anyone getting Earned Income credit or child tax credit — and paid tax preparers can be held personally responsible for not doing that.
      However, in general these clients are not price sensitive, i.e. they pay a significant fee to have their return prepared and don’t blink.
      I believe that part of the reason for that is that it’s more or less play money until it actually hits their bank account. They’ve paid nothing in, the government is paying them.

      Jack, on the other hand, is (I assume) self-employed. Any refund he gets is because he has actually paid too much to the government already. Any fee he pays to get his taxes done (which I imagine are more complex), comes out of his pocket.

      It’s one of the strange features of the way our world works these days.

      • Exactly. How can a society survive that pays out more to its citizens than they pay in? If you pay $5,0000 in yearly income taxes but you receive $8,000 in a refund, because of tax credits, etc., the system has to collapse.

        jvb

        • It survives because a) the rich and middle class pay their fair share along with everyone else’s fair share, and b)We’re running a Ponzi scheme with the federal government. We pay for today’s expenses by taxing our grandkids. So far that hasn’t collapsed.

          But the question still remains about the 61%. I think we should be getting more of them on the tax rolls and not giving them (and others) more and more out of the infinite federal purse (see b above).

          Progressives apparently still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

      • “I think that’s actually a problem rather than a good thing. If you don’t have some skin in the game, do you value the republic as much?”

        I have previously suggested here that every citizen should have to pay a minimum tax at least, for exactly the reason you cite, as a matter of ethical obligation.

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