Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/26/2022: “Cheer Up! Things Could Be Worse…”

Time for my favorite way to greet the morning: it’s been a while...

My father had small cards that he handed out, sparingly, that read,

“One day as I sat musing, sad and lonely without a friend, a voice came to me from out of the gloom saying, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.’ So I cheered up and sure enough—things got worse.”

On the web, this quote is attributed to the author of a 1988 book, which is obviously wrong: my father had those cards in the Fifties. He liked the quote, first, because he liked the joke, but also because it expressed his philosophy of life in a sly way. He did not believe in feeling sorry for himself, and my father lived what was in many ways a traumatic life. Because he knew that things could always be worse than they were for him at the time—surviving battles in WWII will drive that point home forever– he never despaired, adopted the belief that it was great to be alive, and advised his son and daughter, when they faced setbacks and disappointments, not to wallow, weep or regret, but to move on, look ahead, and, as Winston Churchill, a depressive, would say, “Keep buggering on” without fear or hesitation.

There is always plenty to feel good about, even if, as it is for me today, all that comes to mind is a glorious moment in a movie musical when Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynold and Gene Kelly were all young, at the peak of their talents, and given the perfect vehicle to express in dance and song, for all time, what it feels like to be happy just to be alive.

1. “Linked” and our nasty, untrustworthy journalists. This headline—“Napping regularly linked to high blood pressure and stroke, study finds”-–was quickly picked up by other news sources that reported research showing that naps might kill you. That’s not what the study concluded. The study found that people who had various health maladies needed to nap because in many cases their issues caused them not to get enough sleep at night. “Although taking a nap itself is not harmful, many people who take naps may do so because of poor sleep at night. Poor sleep at night is associated with poorer health, and naps are not enough to make up for that,” one of the researchers, Michael Grandner, said in a statement.

Ah, yes, “linked.” Guilt by association. Our corrupt journalists gave “linked” a workout when it was trying every day to show that Donald Trump and his associates had conspired with Putin and Russia to steal the 2016 election. Any time you see “linked” in a headline about anything, your ethics alarms should start pinging.

2. This is disappointing...Justice Kagan, by far the better of Barack Obama’s two SCOTUS selections, made a comment recently more worthy of the other Obama Justice, Sotomayor. Kagan said, “I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for democracy.” She’s smarter than that, but maybe she’s not more non-partisan that that, because it’s a basic post-Dobbs Democratic Party talking point: the Supreme Court’s opinions should follow public opinion. Even though the Supreme Court makes its decisions based on the Constitution, which the vast, vast majority of the public hasn’t read, and the law, which an even vaster majority knows nothing about besides what they’ve seen on TV. Even though SCOTUS was designed by the Founders to be the fail-safe on democracy, the mob, and misguided popular passions. The remedy for the problem Kagan is concerned about is a better educated, more literate public; for example, being able to read SCOTUS opinions would probably help build more “connection.”

Political blogger Don Surber makes a good point: some of the worst, misguided and destructive decisions made by the Supreme Court were popular at the time. You don’t even have to include Roe v. Wade on the list. Surber mentions…

  • Dred Scot, the worst Supreme Court decision ever, which held that blacks, whether free or slaves, were not American citizens. The ruling undid the Missouri Compromise, barred laws that freed slaves, and pretty much put the United States on a one-way road to the Civil War. But the opinion seemed sensible to most white Americans at the time.
  • Buck v. Bell (1927), the infamous decision cited by the defense in the Nazi war crimes trials, in which SCOTUS approved the forced sterilization of “imbeciles.”
  • Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 Supreme Court case that upheld (unanimously!) FDR’s  internment of Japanese Americans during World War II because of their race and ancestry, and,
  • Plessy v. Ferguson(1896), the separate but equal” ruling upholding state segregation laws until Brown v. Board of Education overturned it six decades later.  Plessy was still far more in line with public sentiment than Brown when it was overturned.

This was an irresponsible statement by Kagan, and because she knows better, dishonest as well.

3. He’s right, but somehow this seems unethical coming from a bishop…Bishop Lamor Whitehead was live-streamed while speaking at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in Canarsie, Brooklyn when three masked gunmen burst in. The armed robbers stole $400,000 worth of jewelry from Whitehead, his wife, and some churchgoers as well. In a Facebook video later, Whitehead defended having so much expensive jewelry (as well as other luxuries that weren’t stolen), saying, “A lot of people are going to say, ‘Why are you so flashy?’ It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase if I work hard for it.”

4. Baseball ethics, also business ethics… MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has received a letter from Congress asking him to defend baseball’s antitrust exemption—which is indefensible– as it applies to minor leaguers, many of whom are paid below minimum wage. Manfred replied to reporters, “I kind of reject the premise of the question that minor-league players are not paid a living wage.”

Minor-league players are not paid a living wage. Here are  minor-league minimum salaries, and remember, these have been recently increased substantially:

  • Rookie ball: $400 per week

  • Single-A: $500 per week

  • Double-A: $600 per week

  • Triple-A: $700 per week

Minor leaguers are also only paid during the season, or six months in a year. True, they are gambling that they will reach the Majors, where the minimum yearly salary is a half-million dollars, but most don’t. [Pointer and Facts: Craig Calcaterra]

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/26/2022: “Cheer Up! Things Could Be Worse…”

  1. 3–“It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase if I work hard for it.”

    Hmm; makes me think of Jimmy Bakker’s…um…explanation for a profligate lifestyle:

    God doesn’t want his people to go second-class.”

    • He evidently tools around the Big Apple in a Rolls Royce. I wonder whether this “robbery” is in fact an insurance scam.

      Clearly, this guy is nor real big on any of the Beatitudes.

      • I suspect the proper ’70s response to this guy would be “different strokes for different folks.” After all, I’m pretty sure according to Herr Kendi understated attire is white supremacist oppression of the black body.

  2. 1. Regarding X being linked to Y, https://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations is a great site to drive home correlation vs. cause. It’s a shame it’s not updated.

    3. It seems Mr Whitehead was previously convicted for involvement in around two million dollars of identity theft fraud. For some grade-A ick, read how he compares himself to the Apostle Paul on this subject.

    He also endorses politicians which I thought was a big no-no for religious organizations if they want to maintain tax-exempt status. I’m sure some selectively-enforced tax fraud is here. Another example of how the IRS is weaponized to violate free speech.

    • “He also endorses politicians which I thought was a big no-no for religious organizations if they want to maintain tax-exempt status. I’m sure some selectively-enforced tax fraud is here. Another example of how the IRS is weaponized to violate free speech.”

      You are correct. Churches cannot endorse any particular candidate. They can encourage people to vote and provide neutral ballot pamphlets with all the candidates on them, but cannot favor one candidate over another.

    • “He also endorses politicians which I thought was a big no-no for religious organizations if they want to maintain tax-exempt status.”
      Politicians spreading “walking around money” to (usually black) pastors to influence them to show support has been around for quite some time, and goes largely uninvestigated and unprosecuted:
      https://thesmithslant.com/walking-around-money/

  3. 1) Many things can be linked, but again, correlation does not imply causation. The general rubric that people SHOULD have been taught in at least high school, if not earlier, is that if A is correlated to B, then either A causes B, B causes A, or there is some C which causes them both.

    2) And in trying to express my thoughts on following the majority opinion of the masses, I instead spent too much time going down the rabbit-hole trying to find who actually said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” It has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but apparently that isn’t the case, and the phrase only appears in writing in the 1980’s. Still, my point is that the majority of people can be wrong on something, and there should be a check in place to ensure the majority can’t overwhelm the rights of the minority.

    It is exceedingly frustrating watching the left seeking to rewrite the rules of the game when the game isn’t going their way. Don’t like the minority blocking court appointees? Get rid of the filibuster for those cases. Don’t like the results of a presidential election? Clamor to get rid of the electoral college! Don’t like Congress being unwilling to enact your agenda? Rule by executive orders, no matter how many of them are ruled unconstitutional! In fact, try to enforce them after they’ve been declared unconstitutional! Can’t get your agenda through Congress when you have majorities in both Houses? End the filibuster altogether! I know there are examples on the Republican side, but they are in general weenies who will only do something audacious if Democrats already led the way.

    And the issue is, didn’t Democrats see what happened when they took the nuclear option? That paved the way for Republicans to appoint 3 Supreme Court Justices with only a majority vote in the Senate. If Democrats do abolish the filibuster, do they think that won’t come back to haunt them when Republicans retake the Senate? Don’t they see that issuing executive orders leaves the whole system they are trying to build open to being torn down by the next Republican administration? What, then, do they think will happen if the SCOTUS does start listening to the clamoring of the majority, and the majority doesn’t want what the Democrats want?

  4. #4 If they only get paid that for half the year, and don’t have any other work, they can totally sign up for food stamps and medicaid. Even if they got that paid for the whole year, they probably still qualify. If that is what a living wage existence looks like, Mr. Manfred is a no good dirty rotten bastard.

    • Don’t many minor leaguers get signing bonuses early on. The Diamondbacks’ first round draft pick, Andru Jones’ son, just signed a contract and received an eight million dollar signing bonus. Does he care what his per diem is? Sure, he’s a first rounder, but …

      • Yes, they do. Apparently everyone picked in the first 10 rounds (about 300 players) is assigned a ‘slot value’, which theoretically will be his signing bonus. I looked at an article in the Sporting News, and I was a bit surprised to see that even players picked in the 10th round have a slot value of over $100k.

        That is the stated slot value, which is basically the maximum bonus a team can pay — teams will, if they can, sign players for less than that amount (which I believe then leaves more for their other picks). Each team will have a set amount of signing bonus in total they can spend. Likewise, I believe, for players signed internationally.

        Baseball is also a sport where a significant number of those high round draft picks never make the majors. When you’re drafting teenagers, it’s hard to know for sure which of them will grow up to be stars. Tom Brady’s story would be ho hum news in MLB.

  5. #3: Don’t read too much into the title “Bishop” as used in some traditionally black churches. It’s a pretty fluid designation, and not universally accepted. Sometimes it seems to be just another piece of bling. Here are a couple of quotes from : THIS ARTICLE :
    “If you feel your leader deserves to be a bishop, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Baptist, Methodist or whatever – he deserves that title, to be called bishop,”.
    “My fear is that we would become title-seekers and position-seekers, where we want to possess power and perks.”

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