I took a wild guess that Neil had to have done this parody of his biggest hit because it was so obvious, and sure enough, I was right!
It’s not exactly an ethics story, but it does involve my home town of Arlington, Massachusetts: on September 7, 1813, a local newspaper in Troy, New York wrote about how Troy’s Samuel Wilson, a meat packer who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812, was being facetiously called “Uncle Sam” by soldiers because he stamped the barrels of meat “U.S.” The trivial story caught on and the nickname persisted. Decades later, brilliant 19th Century political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began using a character called Uncle Sam as the personification of the nation, giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that he still wears today. Troy, quite reasonably, later dubbed itself “The Home of Uncle Sam.” But Wilson was born in Arlington, Mass., and the town management, frustrated with its relative obscurity despite being in the midst of other Greater Boston tourist destinations like Concord, Lexington and Cambridge, decided a few decades ago to promote Arlington as “The Birthplace of Uncle Sam,” essentially horning in on Troy’s historical territory (Troy was not pleased). Arlington even paid to have a statue of Nast’s Sam designed, cast and erected.
1. More on “quiet quitting”: Gallup estimates that at least half the workforce is “quiet quitting,” meaning that it does the bare minimum required to keep jobs rather than working to do their best. Gallup’s analysis blames management, which is certainly part of the problem. It does not address the serious cultural ethics issue of workers seeking to be excellent because it is beneficial for society as a whole and an embodiment of the Golden Rule, as well as a life habit that develops good character and justifies trust. Quiet quitters are just a few degrees better than freeloaders, an anchor on the nation, the economy and the quality of life.2. “The Ethicist” on another variation of the cognitive dissonance conflict. In a post last month I mused about a personal quandary in which a valued colleague and trusted expert resource was revealed as having once engaged in horribly unethical conduct. At the end of last month “The Ethicist,”
I don’t think The Ethicist answered the question, saying in essence, 1) You have no obligation to keep helping the man; 2) But it’s not as if his opinions have any impact, so by continuing to help him, you wouldn’t be aiding and abetting racism. 3) “The situation would be more complicated if he were in serious need and had become reliant upon you, with nobody else to take up the slack,” but as it is, you can do what you want.
It seems to me that Appiah is endorsing the concept that it is ethical to make kindness, compassion, generosity and charity conditional on whether we like or agree with a needy person’s beliefs.
3. Digging deep to denigrate Dr. Oz…Hard Left feminist website Jezebel informs its readers that Dr. Mehmet Oz, now running as a Republican against a barely recovered stroke victim for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, disqualified himself in an interview on the morning radio show The Breakfast Club in February 2014. A questioner asked if it was “okay” to have sex with a second cousin, and Oz, speaking as a doctor, said “If you’re more than a first cousin away, it’s not a big problem.” Well, that’s an accurate response from a genetic point of view. Ethically, it’s an “Ick” issue, not an ethical one. The taboo on incestuous relationships exists because they confound family hierarchies, which were crucial to survival in earlier civilizations. Incest in the core family also raises issues of child abuse and abuse of power. Between second cousins? That isn’t exactly “Chiantown.” I barely know my second cousins. FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were distant cousins. I have an old friend well past child-bearing age who married her first cousin—and the harm is…what?
4. I don’t think she quite understands the “babysitting” principle. In Adventura, Florida, 18-year-old Elizabeth Leon was hired to babysit a four-year-old from 1:45 pm until midnight. The mother texted Leon at 11:14 pm to say she was on her way home and should arrive by midnight. The babysitter texted back that she was leaving the house early because her mother paid for an Uber to take her back home and it arrived ahead of time. But not to worry: Leon said she had locked the doors and that the toddler was asleep. She reminded the mother that she was owed $168. (Holy cow! Is that what babysitters get paid now?)
Yet the home’s security camera showed Leon leaving at 9:45 p.m. Confronted by the mother, she admitted to leaving early and generously said she would only have to be paid $141.
Police have charged the AWOL babysitter with child neglect.
5. Is anyone going to do anything about the obvious partisan political vengeance and intimidation represented by the excessive prosecutions and punishment being inflicted on members of the January 6 mob? Take this guy: Richard Michetti of Pennsylvania was sentenced to nine months in federal prison yesterday, as well as 24 months of supervised release while being required to pay $2,000 of restitution. Way back in May he had pleaded guilty to a felony count of “aiding and abetting obstruction of an official proceeding.” He was part of the mob. That was it.
The contrast between the treatment of the George Floyd rioters and people like Michetti is disgusting and indefensible. The more I think about it, the more I conclude that Donald Trump’s pledge to pardon the January 6 political prisoners is ethically correct.
Michetti also was victim of an unethical motive elsewhere: he was turned in by his girlfriend in retaliation for his calling her a “moron” for not believing the 2020 election was “stolen.”