Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020′” (Economic Data Thread)

This Comment Of The Day covers a wealth of ethics issues, including the ancient ethics debates over what is a fair share on societal wealth and who decides when someone has “enough” wealth. It also is an Ethics Alarms first: Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day is on his own Comment of the Day!

And here it is, his Comment of the Day on his previous Comment of the Day on the post, “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

The point I was making was that people use economic data to illustrate all kinds of things. Typically they use charts and graphs to illustrate a point THEY want to make. The values within those charts and graphs need full examination before drawing a conclusion. For example, Reagan dropped the unemployment rate overnight by including the military in the labor force. In that case the number employed went up and the labor force went up as well. Given that the unemployment rate is the number unemployed/labor force if the denominator rises the UE rate falls.

Conversely, between 2008 and 2012 the unemployment rate showed a downward trend because the Labor force participation rate (LFPR) shrank and not because more people got jobs. People gave up looking for work so they were no longer treated as unemployed and the number of people working grew relative to the LFPR. Since 2016 the LFPR has been growing and the UE rate is dropping. That means that there are more people are working. That is a good thing because it puts upward pressure on wages.

For some, higher wages have overtaken what is known as an individual’s reservation wage. The reservation wage is the minimum amount needed to get a person to accept the offered job. Unfortunately, we have a great number of people whose true reservation wage has been distorted in both psychological and real terms. Reservation wages have been growing because of the growth in governmental income maintenance programs. Imagine how many will decide to live only on Yang’s guaranteed $12K a year. Couple that $1000 a month with housing assistance, food stamps, childcare, Medicare, and WIC you can live quite well on the dole. Oh I know, Yang says he would replace all those other programs to fund his guaranteed minimum income. Name a program that ever went away. We just layer one atop another.

These are not my opinions but well established facts and fundamental economic theory that is taught in first year Econ classes. I know because I taught those courses for 20 years. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And ‘Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”’

For today’s “Economics for Dummies” lecture, and we can only hope those in thrall to the “income inequality” hucksters running for President will somehow hear it, we have Chris Marschner. What inspired his discourse was this chart,

from #3 in the 1/12 Warm-Up, regarding Michael Bloomberg’s deliberately dishonest statement, “The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me. But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans.”

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

One of the great fictions of economics lies in how data is portrayed. Growth rates are one of my favorite methods of telling lies. The wage growth rate above requires a bit of basic math and economics understanding to fully capture its relevance.

The lowest quartile or quintile will have substantially higher rates of growth even if all incomes rise at exactly the same amount. For example if someone making the highest limit of the lowest quartile (say $25,000) gets a $5000 raise that earners wage growth is 20%. As we move up the line, if the highest limit of the second quartile is $50,000 and a  $5,000 raise, that rate of increase is a mere 10%. As we move up the ladder the basis or denominator gets progressively larger and if the numerator – the raise – remains constant, the rate of growth falls. Most people know this or should know this. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “First Open Forum Of 2020!”…Gift Unwrapping Usurpers

In today’s Open Forum, A.M. Golden raised an ethics issue that had never crossed my mind. I had never experienced it, and never heard or read anyone else mentioning it. My recently departed Jack Russell terrier Rugby occasionally opened a Christmas present that wasn’t his, but I don’t think that counts.

Here’s A.M.’s Comment of the Day:

Today’s Miss Manners features a letter regarding one of my pet peeves:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/01/10/miss-manners-they-call-cute-i-call-bad-manners/

In a nutshell, the letter writer is tired of bringing presents for her three-year old niece only to watch the child’s six-year old sister open them for her and hand her the opened presents. She believes each child should have the joy of opening her own presents. She has been told the three-year old is now doing the same to her younger sister. The mother of the children doesn’t see anything wrong with it. When the letter writer asked the six-year old to allow her sister to open the present the letter writer brought herself, she was told the child was later upset and crying over why she couldn’t open her sister’s presents for her.

I have been in the letter writer’s shoes more times than I care to have been. It’s frustrating to attend a young relative’s party and watch some random kid plaster himself to the birthday child, getting in every photo and “helping” the child open his presents. Inevitably, the Birthday Mooch, as I’ve dubbed him, will be half-heartedly cautioned by his parent (think, “No…stop…don’t” a la Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) only to have the Birthday Kid’s Mom jump in to say, “It’s alright!”

No, it’s not. Look at your child’s face and see how excited he is to have his presents opened by someone else, Mom, before you give another kid free reign to usurp the Guest of Honor. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020 [Item #2, Climate Change Hype]”

Just to prove that an Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day need not be a magnum opus, here is Humble Talent’s concise, trenchant, tough COTD on the climate change segment of the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020: Oh, Great, A Red Sox Ethics Scandal”:

It’s not just climate change. Progressives are really bad at defining their terms and holding their own to a reasonable, consistent interpretation. So labels that describe a thing in reality, and might to an extent have a point (see: climate change or corporatism), are almost immediately gobbled up by a population interested in pidgeonholing those theories into personal narratives, no matter how different their narrative is from the actual intent of the label. And then, out of the myriad of misunderstandings of their own damn terms, these labels grow into monolithic, all encompassing, god of the gaps theories that end up being unfalsifiable because you can’t even pin down what it is you’re trying to falsify.

Worse, they have a healthy tradition of labeling things in the most bombastic way possible, almost designed to foster those misunderstandings (see: toxic masculinity, privilege theory). The answer to questions about patriarchy is the patriarchy, the answer to questions about communism is communism, the answers to questions about racial issues is racism, and anyone who disagrees with the current iteration of their catechisms is a heretical racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc. etc. etc.

The very worst part about this, in my opinion, is that these adherents will claim that the people who disagree with them are somehow rejecting science, having wrapped themselves in the armor of disbelief, armed with terms they only tenuously understand, not terribly wanting to be confused by facts.

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Because Facebook won’t allow links from Ethics Alarms, you have to use the Twitter link: https://twitter.com/CaptCompliance/status/1214633456656891910

Comment Of The Day: “’Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!’ As Chuck Todd Drops The Mask”

This fierce Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in NJ is one more think-piece in a slowly  completing jigsaw puzzle that promises to reveal an ugly, ugly picture.

I can’t quite make sense out of it yet, but I see other pieces; the attacks on Jews by blacks in New York, the rise of anti-Semistsm on the Left, Rep. Omar’s open mourning of an anti-American, murderous Iranian terrorist, Pete Buttigieg’s cynical use of God to make his partisan arguments, Joe Biden’s neon hypocrisy (Joe says he is a devout Catholic who adheres to his religion’s teachings, but he strongly supports abortion because he won’t “impose” his beliefs on others), the concerted efforts of LGTBG activists to bend small businesses owned by Christian to their will rather than leave them to their beliefs—the liberal contempt for religion and the religious is of long standing, and the Democrats have paid discounted prices for their arrogance.

I’m not sure how the pieces fit together yet, or how ugly the final picture will be.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day, taking off from a quote in the post, “‘Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!’ As Chuck Todd Drops The Mask”

“If you’re religious, you’re a dope, and you’re the problem. That’s what he thinks. That’s what most of them think.”

I wish it were that simple. Non-believers and nominal believers are pretty much the same as the rest of us. Militant atheists (the ones who constantly attack the beliefs of others) are usually miserable souls and relatively easily dismissed or walked away from. Chuck Todd is one of the insidious liberal elite who see religion as just one more item in the locker of things that can be weaponized against those he doesn’t agree with and wants to see gone. The liberal are happy to have the boost of black churches and ministers. They are happy to portray them as pillars of the community who bravely stand up to the oppressor and defy the racist system. They are happy to have the moral boost that synagogues can provide, whether it’s from the progressive ones for whom Judaism isn’t much more than spiritualized leftism, or the black-clad Orthodox who still count a few tattooed Holocaust survivors among them, both for themselves and because they are one more means to remind everyone that They Are Different And Must Be Respected, so no saying “Merry Christmas” or singing “Silent Night.” They are also happy to have whatever boost they can get from the mosques, and weaponize them to remind us that Not All Muslims Are Terrorists, in fact very few are, and most of them are SUCH warm people of faith, and don’t you feel stupid and cruel for not trusting them?

At the same time they weaponize Catholicism against its adherents, and say how dare you support a church that treats women as brood mares and acts as a procurer for pedophiles? They weaponize evangelical Christianity too, saying how dare you support a church that tells you how to think and supports those icky conservative values? Maybe they’re ok, just ok, mind you, with squishy Episcopalian churches that just exist to wave at the liberal agenda as it goes by, and Unitarian churches that just shrug and say “follow your journey and live your truth,” but probably more than half of them are actively hostile to Christianity in any form, and look down their noses at its adherents. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Leroy Schumacher, Grieving Grandfather”

“I usually tone down the “prophet Jeremiah” flavor notes when I reread these,” wrote Benjamin after I told him that his previous comment was the COTD. I’m glad he didn’t. I prefer strong assertions of ideas and principles ( as you might have noticed ) because they encourage strong reactions.

I  decided to write about a two-year-old story about a grandfather who opined that it was “unfair” for a man in a home his grandson was breaking into to shoot the teen and his two fellow home invaders with an AR-15, because they only were carrying a knife and brass knuckles. His absurd lament  crystallized nicely the “logic” of anti-gun zealots, who now are about to ban that semiautomatic weapon (among other anti-gun ownership  measures) in Virginia, where I live. Benjamin, however, saw larger significance in the the episode.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Dunce: Leroy Schumacher, Grieving Grandfather,” which takes off from a quote by another commenter:

“I’m sorry he lost his grandson.”

I’m not. Such are the grandsons who ought to be lost. Mercy would be best, of course, but his survival would’ve necessitated the death of the innocent as a direct consequence of his direct intentions. Mercy is an elevated form of justice, so no unjust intention can ever be merciful. But, going one further, this grandfather’s response to losing his grandson belies a total abandonment of principle for the sake of immediate self-interest. No doubt, these are “values” he instilled in his children and they in his grandchildren. If we’re going to move for the mutilation of our laws, for the sake of bargaining, we could at least make a far less ridiculous mistake in steering the public support to seeking to penalize this grandfather for his not-totally indirect involvement in (and perpetuation of) the crime.

Such are the grandfathers who ought to be lost. At the very least it would be an effort (maybe the first I’ve seen in my life) to reverse the engineered-and-enforced public tolerance for addictive ideas corrosive to public decency. It would be better to instill in society (rather than the laws) an intense rejection of ideas like this and the people who hold them, but politics takes place in the realm of the possible, as they frequently tell me. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From ‘The Ethicist’: Revealing The Real Bigots Among Us”

A.M. Golden asks, in his Comment of the Day, “When did Americans start thinking that destroying someone and/or that person’s livelihood is acceptable behavior when it comes to a difference in opinion?” It is an issue also raised in the previous COTD, considering the mall Santa fired after someone complained about his Facebook post showing him as the Jolly Old Elf, but wearing a red MAGA cap. A.M. understands that this is not an idle question, but an important one that raises vital concerns about the erosion of core American values, the public’s belief in our founding documents, and the acceptance of the ethical standard of reciprocity.

Here is A.M.’s Comment of the Day on the post, “From The Ethicist: Revealing The Real Bigots Among Us.”

When did Americans start thinking that destroying someone and/or that person’s livelihood is acceptable behavior when it comes to a difference in opinion?

This goes far beyond boycotts to allow blacks to sit at the front of the bus or at lunch counters. This goes well beyond punishing companies for dangerous or illegal practices that have harmed customers. It goes against the heart of what it means to be an American. Too often, we are told that opinions have consequences. Sure, they do. They always have. Doesn’t it seem, though, that the consequences have become far more ominous than they used to be?

I have never understood ideological boycotts. I remember the Disney boycotts of the ’90s when people with too much time on their hands began seeing obscene Easter Eggs in the new animated films. When gays started congregating at Disney parks on certain days, the company was castigated for not warning people ahead of time that it was Gay Day, despite its protests that Disney had no sponsored days for any groups at its parks.

I thought the whole thing was silly then and it’s still silly.

While in college, I worked at a McDonald’s restaurant. One day, sitting in church, a woman pressed a news article into my hands that reported on health benefits being extended to same-sex partners at McDonald’s corporate offices (I didn’t have health benefits myself at the store where I worked).

I gave her a funny look as if to say, “What am I supposed to do with this?”. She whispered, “Well, you WORK there!” Continue reading