One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck was the ugly spectacle of once esteemed professions deciding en masse to ditch their integrity in order to join the “Get Trump!” mob with the cool kids. Historians, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, scholars, civil libertarians, journalists, educators…yes, and ethicists—all these groups disgraced themselves and breached the one, overarching mandate for those who supposedly labor for the public good: be trustworthy. Then came The Great Stupid, compounding the damage to society and the culture by showing “experts” to be equally unreliable, burdened as they were by crippling bias, political agendas, and flawed skills and assumptions.
Two recent examples highlighted this trend. First up, the ethicist.
Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a professor at Duke Law School, is co-director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. She authored a jaw-droppingly lame op-ed for the Washington Post headlined, “Yes, Kamila Valieva should be skating in Beijing.” There isn’t a single valid ethical principle behind her entire, constructed-for-sentimentalists argument.
Her first sentence would normally make me quit reading any opinion piece: “Russian Kamila Valieva is the best figure skater on the planet, she is gorgeous to watch perform and she should be skating in Beijing.” This is the equivalent of “Barry Bonds is a great player and we should ignore the fact that’s he’s a steroid cheat.” An ethicist is openly elevating the most obvious non-ethical consideration seasoned with personal bias, that the author thinks she is “gorgeous” on the ice, over the clear ethical consideration that the skater broke the rules, and had they been enforced, she wouldn’t be at the Olympics at all.
Then Coleman defaults to the certifiably absurd “she’s a child.” “Valieva is a world-class competitor but also a child who should be safeguarded by the adults and organizations charged with her care,” the ethics dunce writes. She’s a child competing in a competition with adults, and the exact same rules should apply to all competitors. My position has long been that children shouldn’t be permitted in the Olympics at all, and this fiasco is one of many reasons why. If a child competes in an event, then the child must be held to exactly the same standards as the other athletes in that event.
If the Olympics want a kiddie Olympics, fine. In those mini-Games, where Gold, Silver and Bronze teddy bears are awarded, children and younger adolescents can be considered “protected persons” with rule violation claims against them adjudicated leniently
Coleman managed to discredit three institutions with a single op-ed.
Now for the economist. Where Coleman’s op-ed is depressing in its ineptitude, Nobel Prize-winning economist turned-pundit Paul Krugman’s “expert analysis” is funny. We know by now that Krugman’s level of integrity makes Newt Gingrich look like Sir Thomas More, but “Mr. Biden, Your Good Economy Won’t Sell Itself” is a hilariously extreme example of the “It isn’t what it is” strategy of terrified progressives fearing that the public may actually figure out what a botch of things their favorite party has made, and with lightning speed. Krugman’s essay argues that President Biden’s economy really is swell, and the public is just too ignorant to understand it. It rapidly deteriorates into a welter of spun statistics and cherry-picked studies gathered for the purpose of his being able to argue, “Who are you going to believe, a Nobel Prize-winning expert, or your lying eyes?” Never mind that inflation is wiping out any salary gains, that the supply chain remains broken, that large stretches of shelves in supermarkets are empty, that a trip to almost any store takes longer than before because of under-staffing, and that whole sectors are being crippled by mask and vaccine mandates as well as media-seeded pandemic panic—the economy is really good, and that’s what Biden and the media should be telling the public over and over and over until they believe it. After all, Krugman says, “[A]s Greg Sargent of The Washington Post points out, recent polling finds that when voters are presented with information about the good news on jobs, growth and unemployment, their assessment of the economy — and of Democrats — improves substantially.”
That’s what we need: more propaganda! “A good economy,” says the expert, “won’t sell itself.”