Suppertime Ethics Chow-Down, 8/24/2022: Ethics Dog Food

I’m Charlie Brown in this analogy, not Snoopy.

1. There was a depressing question to the New York Times’ “The Ethicist Column.” What is depressing is that anyone would need to ask it. “The Ethicist,” Kwame Anthony Appiah, gave the right (and obvious) answer, but it shouldn’t take an ethicist to know this. The inquirer wrote,

Nearly nine years ago, I befriended a woman at work who, as I learned over the years of our now strong friendship, is staunchly pro-life. For her, the argument is both scientific and religious: Life starts at conception, and abortion is murder (no exceptions). She is morally consistent, though, in also being against the death penalty and in seeking out stronger social programs for families, like paid parental leave. We no longer work together, but we remain close friends and frequently discuss our views on abortion (I am pro-choice). Having a stronger understanding of one pro-life ideology has, I feel, expanded my thinking. I believe she is a good person who cares about the world immensely.

Especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, though, I struggle with having a friend who supports what I think is a restriction of my rights to make my own choices about my body. I struggle, too, with what I think of as duplicitousness: She actively restricts who she tells about her pro-life views, because she fears it will hurt her advancement prospects and could end friendships. She hopes people will see her as a good person and not judge her first on her anti-abortion views. I cannot decide if this is lying. And while I disagree with her views, it is the potential lying that is most questionable to me.

Maybe it’s like being queer and choosing to stay in the closet, but there’s the issue of what is a choice and what is inherent. Is it right for her to withhold the truth, or even lie, to protect herself, for the sake of her reputation and friendships? Is it OK if people do not want to be friends with or work with someone who has views like hers? I struggle with the idea that she is able to protect herself from the fallout of people knowing she is anti-abortion when implementing her views would take away rights that many people see as vital to living a life with dignity.

What a biased, self-satisfied, arrogant, undemocratic and unethical person “Name Withheld is.” And more like this are being churned out by the Woke Factory every minute.2. It’s called “reasonable doubt.” The Democrats and the Biden administration don’t care so much if they succeed in convicting Donald Trump of anything; it will be enough if they can sideline him through an indictment and trial. However, enough astute and objective lawyers question the legality of the Mar-A-Largo raid and the theories behind it that an ethical prosecutor would never bring charges related to the disputed documents. (Of course, that last point may be completely irrelevant.) It doesn’t matter if the argument in this Wall Street Journal essay D.C. lawyers David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey  is correct. The fact that so many lawyers not allied with Trump are making it or similar ones should be a red flag that there is no winnable case here, even though Larry Tribe thinks one is a “slam-dunk.”

3. Question: will the obvious unfairness and unethical penalization of those who sacrificed to pay back their student loans prevail in pubic opinion, or the unethical impulse of the average human being to be grateful for free stuff and windfalls, fair or not? The Biden $300 billion give-away to forgive student loans among those making less than $125,000 annually is irresponsible, regressive, and at its core, blatant vote-buying. What’s wrong with this looting of the Treasury is easy to lay out. but the simplest ethical objection to it is bared in this exchange today between Fox News’ Peter Doocy and the Secretary of Education:


4. Is The Great Stupid moving faster in the public health sector? It looks like it. The Times answers, it thinks, the question of “Why Experts Want to Rename Monkeypox.” (“Public health researchers say the term evokes racist stereotypes, reinforces offensive tropes about Africa and abets stigmatization that can prevent people from seeking care.”). The real reason is that progressives are obsessed with race and see racial issues in shadows and mist; that the entire political left, which dominates the health community, thinks the solution to every problem, including imaginary ones, is to manipulate the language; and all of this is based on the Left’s presumption that everyone is stupid.

Did anyone ever worry that “chickenpox” was stigmatizing, since in other contexts being chicken evokes cowardice? Did those stricken with smallpox avoid seeking treatment if they were short? I don’t care what they call the damn disease, but the obsession with finding “dog-whistles” everywhere is the symptom of a malady a lot more dangerous than monkeypox.

5. Facts Finally Matter...More than two years after Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a white police officer in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy’s, a special prosecutor has held that the officer as well as another officer on the scene “committed no crimes.” This was obvious from the beginning based on the facts and photos of the incident, but never mind: Brooks was black, his killer was a white cop, so a black mob burned down the Wendy’s (Bad Wendy’s! Bad!). Naturally, there were riots. Stacey Abrams, the current Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, called the incident a “murder.” A real murder occurred on July 4, 2020, when 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, was fatally shot while being driven through the roiling area in an SUV.

Brooks resisted a lawful arrest, struggled with an officer, grabbed his taser, and tried to fire it at the officer as he fled. Are the activists, Black Lives Matter, Abrams and others who willfully ignored facts and law to create violent unrest going to be accountable now and admit their wrongful conduct?


39 thoughts on “Suppertime Ethics Chow-Down, 8/24/2022: Ethics Dog Food

  1. I wonder what will happen when the IRS comes a callin’. When debts are cancelled the amount is treated as realized income. So if a person gets the max benefitamount the tax bite will be more than $5k payable immediately and unless they can cough up that amount there is a good bet that the bill will just get bigger with interest and penalties. I bet good ole Working man Joe isn’t telling these folks that part of the equation. Maybe that’s why he needs 87,000 new IRS agents.

    If truth telling was so important a value why did the writer sign her letter “name withheld”.

    • I forget where the authority for it came from, but I’ve read that student loans that are cancelled are not, in fact, income for that person.

      If it were, that would indeed be a tidy sum for the IRS (and your state) to collect.

  2. Doocy is being entirely too kind in characterizing it as a “deal”. There’s been no agreement here, no vote in Congress, no consent from those paying for it. There is no deal, just a decree.

  3. 3) In my younger years I never spent money I saved and saved and saved. I got married. My wife had student loans. I used my savings to pay my wife’s loans and it wasn’t trivial.

    I’m the dummy in this scenario.

    Democrats are a menace that need to be wiped off the face of this nation. They have been since their inception.

    Great nations are brought to destruction by profligate spending especially profligate spending coupled to a political party that also hates the nation is ostensibly belongs to.

    • I am beginning to believe that the government is trying to train people to overextend themselves then claim hardship and cannot fulfill their obligation, so that the benevolent government (headed by democrats) will swoop in and save the day using other people’s money. At least until the other people’s money lasts.

      I looked at the fact sheet from the link Jon posted and the Government laid out all sorts of stats regarding college tuition increases. Nowhere in that document does the government accept any responsibility for driving the prices up. Price is a function of demand and demand requires the ability to pay. Historically, as Stafford loans became easier to acquire by increasing income levels, prices at colleges started to escalate and more student debt was needed to cover the rising costs. The student debt issue is the equivalent of sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2008. The government pushes lenders to make loans they would not have otherwise made because of guarantees by the government.

      At the Community College I worked for, faculty and staff routinely got 4% or better raises each year on top of system wide salary study increases that occurred from time to time. In addition, the number of non-faculty administrative positions increased but little money was available for materials of instruction. Capital improvements came from a separate pot of money so the improvements to the physical plant do not affect tuition and fees. Even when the board limited tuition increases, new fees were implemented or increased. Each year the percentage of cost attributed to tuition paid by students went up but was easily covered by more student debt. The president of the college used to boast about how much financial aid was being used by students.

      I would suggest that if we are going to pay for higher education, we do so through legislative actions in which the state and local governments determine how much revenue the school will have available. Students who make the grades will get an opportunity to advance. Those who don’t initially will get other opportunities to prove themselves worthy of getting added education at no cost to them. Get the feds out of it and let the private schools raise its own financial aid.

      • It’s increasingly apparent (and has been so for about 20 years) that the Democrat’s method is to push us towards a totalitarian nanny state via any of three routes:

        1) incrementally getting us there

        2) provoking a violent response by those who don’t want it and therefore justifying “emergency action” which will subsequently not be given up

        3) causing the whole system to collapse under the weight of onerous policy and spending that they will also have to engage in “emergency actions” – which they will not subsequently surrender.

  4. Since this is obviously a vote buying scam, would have made considerably more sense on multiple levels to bail out all those who were royally screwed by how the China Virus was handled.
    This administration is truly an evil scourge upon the land.
    They have no shame.

    • Yeah, I knew I’d seen that somewhere. The American Rescue Plan, otherwise known as the 3rd stimulus bill didn’t cancel any debt, but it did provide that discharged student loan debt was not included in taxable income. This applies to tax years 2021 through 2025.

      Since most states use federal AGI or taxable income as their starting point, it won’t be taxable by your state either, unless the state has specifically chosen to be non-compliant with this clause (many states did not comply with the charitable adjustment or unemployment exclusion).

      I have long said that the 3rd stimulus bill cut down money trees left and right. This is yet another one that only now is being felled.

  5. Sorry, I’m writing on my phone.

    That was supposed to be a reply to Chris Marschner’s comment above. I can’t tell if it worked out that way or not.

    • Jon
      I understood you were responding to my comment. I wonder how he got the authorization to make this tax-exempt income. Bailouts for homeowners are not treated that way. Perhaps we just need to do away with Congress if they are not going to be involved in these spending decisions.

      None of this relieves the borrower from state income tax obligations though. I am just wondering when the authorization and allocation of the funds for covering interest payments done or is he moving money from one unspent account in the ARP to this new initiative. Seems to me that this administration simply wants Congress to vote him trillions to spend as he pleases for political purposes.

  6. 1. The answer is pretty obvious if you are at all objective. Of course you don’t go around “outing” co-workers’ or anyone else’s views, beliefs, or whatever. You certainly don’t do so with the intention of destroying their social lives. It’s people’s own business what they choose to disclose or not, for whatever reason and to whom. The fact that this other person took the writer into her confidence apparently appears to hold absolutely no weight. The fact that this other person would even consider betraying that confidence would be a reason to avoid her as a potential friend or to tell her much of anything.

    2. I think too many people are blinded by politics to at all allow the former president anything like a fair trial, I’m just like with the Russian collusion probe, there is no “there” there. This is a political prosecution, and the other side should not complain if it comes back and bites them in the ass later when the situation is reversed. Maybe Hunter Biden can finagle a pass to go visit his dad in the geriatric ward somewhere.

    3. Of course it’s vote buying, again, it pays to be the king. I paid off some of my loans a while back and I’m pretty close to the end on the rest, but they are not Federal loans, so I’m out of luck. I’m certainly not going to get a check for the amount of the loans that I paid off. Once again those who play by the rules get screwed, while those who ignore the rules profit handsomely.

    4. It’s been moving faster among the healthcare community ever since GRID became AIDS.

    5. That’s nice, but now watch the feds bring civil rights charges against the same officer. Whoever it was shot that little girl will get away clean, though. Welcome to America. Or is this the antimatter universe of Qward, well the highest goal is evil, and justice is a crime?

    • 3) The only slight silver lining of all of this Republic-rotting vote buying scheme is that a lot of the “beneficiaries” are equally pissed at Biden and the Democrats for not going far enough. It’s not good that they think this way of course – it’s just good that many of them may be disillusioned enough in November to counterbalance Republican attempts to lose in November.

  7. 3. We have a few thousand dollars of student-loan debt left that we picked up for our son when he was in college. I don’t yet know if it qualifies for forgiveness, but we have already made our decision. If any money arrives from the government, it’s going back with a note to the effect of, “President Biden can use this for a one-way ticket to Mars.”

  8. Item 1- the inquirer apparently has difficulty with comprehension of diversity of thought. The left speaks of phobias everywhere. A phobia by definition is an unrealistic fear. However, the fear of the pro-life friend is not unrealistic, there is a real threat, and documented actions meted out toward the pro-life adherents by the proabortionists.
    Item 2- The raid was a fishing expedition timed for maximum political damage to a potential opponent. The plain language reading of the 4th amendment clearly states warrants must be particular. “All” documents stemming from the entire of the past president’s tenure are not particularly particular.
    Item 3- The President’s illicit cancellation of student debt is not a cancellation, but a transfer of the debt to others who were not and are not part of the initial contract. What is forgotten is that the monies lent did not come from the federal treasury but from private loaning institutions.
    Item 4-The obvious answer is yes, the great stupid is advancing quickly in health care and elsewhere. We have allowed the client to make the diagnosis and plan the treatment without properly applying the art, science, and methodologies of medicine.No where is this more obvious than the great lie about transgenderism. All this began when we changed from doctor-patient modality to client-provider modes. The nomenclature of diseases has long been mnemonic. Asian flu, Spanish flu, yellow fever, African sleeping sickness, cowpox, Avian flu, Legionnaires disease, the list continues.

  9. 3) This is as good a place as any to inventory some of the more asinine analogies and arguments put forward to defend the great rob-from-the-poor-to-pay-the-rich Democrat vote purchasing scheme:

    • The tracks we should switch the trolley too mysteriously have no one on it… yet it should. In fact some of the people already run over by this trolley should be moved over to the empty tracks to be run over again.

      I wonder why the already-run-over guys didn’t know they could keep moving further down the track instead of painfully untying themselves?

    • Humble’s response isn’t the subject of the list – but his response is correct – the tweet he’s quoted is the subject of this list of bad arguments.

    • Here’s another false analogy. No one would have a problem with the price of education lowering over time. In fact – one of the geniuses of free market capitalism is that over time things (when not interfered with) tend to “democratize”. That is, they become even easier for the less well to do to obtain them. Think of television sets – an RCA 15″ color console in 1954 was $1,000 or a whopping $11,000 in today’s money. *a 15″ color console* which you’d have to get up and change the channel manually and the screen would never be truly sharp. $11,000. Today you can get a 50″ super sharp HDTV LED screen fed by wifi signals for $1,000.

      Average 1st Class tickets on the Titanic were $400 or about $12,000 in today’s money for a 5-6 day passage from Europe to America. Amenities included a bath (that wasn’t part of your state room but rather one of several located periodically throughout the ship and available upon request after a steward made sure the schedule could accommodate. “1st class” tickets nowadays (or a good balcony room on the side of the ship) are like $2,000 for a *10* day pleasure cruise. Oh and even “3rd class” gets their own showers and all the fun things available to all passengers.

      Capitalism MAKES things less expensive in the long run for everyone.

      No one would complain about this if modern kids got to pay less than previous generations.

      But that’s not what is happening is it? College has *exploded* in cost. Which is what happens to everything the government hyper-regulates or hyper-imposes on. It also happens to everything the government starts throwing tons of money at in an uneven manner.

      No – no one is complaining about what the false analogy implies.

  10. Randal Rauser isn’t the originator of this argument but I can’t find the first person who made this vacuous comparison.

    The owner of the Vineyard was dispensing *his own funds* how he see’s fit.

    A more apt analogy would be laborers paying off a debt and long since freed of the vineyard being called back in to work alongside debtors who didn’t work off their debt to finish paying it off for them.

    No, this one is particularly irritating as progressives (and even progressive Christians) are often the first to scream “separation of Church and State” when they even remotely think a conservative supports a particular policy based on their religious belief.

    It doubles down in irritancy when it doesn’t even interpret the biblical passage correctly when they then attempt to use it to justify a political policy.

    • Someone posted on Facebook this morning how “Conservative” Christians are so mad about a debt being cancelled and yet they worship a God who canceled their debt of sin.
      It’s as if the Christians don’t get their own theology.

      I commented that Conservative Christians get their theology very well. The debt of sin was not canceled at all. It was paid by someone else – Jesus Christ – who was innocent of creating it. By the same token, the debt of student loans are not being canceled either. They’ll be paid by people who didn’t cause the debt either, the taxpayers.

      • A.M. Golden,

        Perfectly stated. All of Scripture…all of true Christian theology is predicated on one humongous dilemma: If God is just and if He’s righteous, He CANNOT pardon us…we CANNOT be forgiven. The notion of pardons and forgiveness is the cancellation of debt, and you are precisely right…that isn’t what happened. If any of you have an interest, do a quick interwebz search on “John Flavel” and “the Father’s Bargain”. It’s a short piece of Flavel’s writings from – I think – the 1700s.

        There the Father tells the Son, “Thou must pay the last mite. Expect no abatements. If I spare them, my Son, I will NOT spare you.”

        It’s an incredibly powerful concept. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  11. The “boomer” advice given to children about “life not being fair” is typically teaching their children that some unpleasant things happen that is completely out of their control and while we work to stop those things sometimes we have to learn to deal with those things while fighting them. I’d love to see the parent who takes away from one of their children and gives that to the other child with no other explanation than “tough, life isn’t fair”.

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