Ethics Workout, “Get In Ethics Shape For 2022 Edition,” 12/27/21: No Pain, No Gain!

1. On second thought, who needs work? The United States has been a nation that embraced work as a value and a mark of character as no other. Naturally, this core value has been under assault from the Left as part of its cultural overhaul strategy. The pandemic created an opining that has been brilliantly exploited politically, leading to a large part of the work force now unwilling to work. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the biggest bloc of liberal lawmakers in Congress, has endorsed a bill proposed by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., which would seek to implement a four-day workweek. Americans work far more than people in most other affluent countries, and we also produce more without using, as some countries do that I might mention, slave labor. But the work ethic is weakening.

The anti-work ethic is the goal on one of Reddit’s fastest growing sites — r/antiwork. The subreddit is “for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, [and] want to get the most out of a work-free life.” It is up to 1.4 million members, ranking among the top subscribed-to subreddits.

Members discuss tactics workers can use to slack off, cheat, sabotage, and steal from their employers. You would learn there, for example, that April 15th is “Steal Something From Work Day.” [Pointer and source: Linking and Thinking on Education]

2. Observations on the Gallup Poll on public approval of Federal leaders (You can find the poll here).

  • Yes, I know, polls. But Gallup is straighter than most, and while the specific numbers should be ignored, the relative values are interesting.
  • The big finding, and what has been attracting all the headlines, is that Chief Justice John Roberts is way ahead of anyone else on the list, with a bipartisan 60-40 favorability split. This undercuts the pro-abortion strategy of warning that the Supreme Court can’t afford to make its decision on Roe v. Wade cases without considering the potential harm to the Court’s legitimacy. The Court seems to have the most trust of any of the branches, which means that it can (and should) be courageous if legal principles require.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is second. How many Americans know who he is or what he does? 20%? Less? What is it they approve of?
  • Dr. Fauci is third at 52% approval, which shows you can fool a lot of the people all of the time.
  • Mitch McConnell is dead last, even behind Nancy Pelosi. Good.

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Democratic Party Trump Derangement Actually Does Some Good, Including A Tacit Confession

Trump Derangement

The House last week passed the so-called “Protecting Our Democracy Act” by a near strict party-line margin of 220 to 208. The bill seeks to impose new limits on Presidential power, many of which bi-partisan critics of “the Imperial Presidency” have advocated in the past (including me). Amazingly for anything coming out of the House of Pelosi, it’s a mostly good and reasonable bill….but there’s a catch.

“Disturbingly, the last administration saw our democracy in crisis with a rogue president who trampled over the guardrails protecting our Republic,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, framing the proposed law as one more partisan slap at the previous President. “Now, Congress has the solemn responsibility and opportunity to safeguard our democracy, ensuring that past abuses can never be perpetrated by any president of any party.”

Uh, but laws are the “guardrails of democracy,” not “norms,” which are merely what most Presidents have done but didn’t have to. The “norms” trope was one of the most transparently false of the Democratic Party phony Big Lies, and frankly I’m sick of explaining why. Here was one exposition on the topic (Big Lie #6), in which I quoted an earlier EA discussion of the topic:

This deliberately misleading talking point comes from the quieter Siamese Twin of Fake News, Fake History. Every President defies previous norms, or makes up new ones, and the stronger the Presidents involved are, the more norms they shatter. This doesn’t automatically threaten democracy…What threatens democracy is efforts to de-legitimize presidential power as an alternative to winning elections…

The bill passed by the Democrats includes,

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Comment Of The Day: “On Climate Change Fearmongering”

Climate hysteria

Sarah B. graced Ethics Alarms with a thorough and valuable discussion of the practical weaknesses of the climate change religion, or cult, or whatever it is. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “On Climate Change Fearmongering”…

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There is a massive problem with climate change solutions proposed by this summit and many others, and they all come down to an attitude that electricity is as magic. All solutions to climate change seem to ride on the attitude that if we can just get everyone on perfect electricity and have them drive a Tesla, that we can get rid of nasty coal, natural gas, and oil. There are better options (nuclear) and worse options (wind and solar) for that approach, and while I could point out why replacing all fossil fuel electric production with nuclear, wind, or solar would fail to provide adequate electricity at all times from a technical standpoint, that is really unimportant to the discussion, as they all have one existential problem. Electricity cannot replace fossil fuels.

When it comes to replacing fossil fuels as the energy source of transportation, there are several obstacles that have to be overcome, and currently we don’t have any ideas of how to overcome them. Climate change activists are depending on revolutions that may or may not materialize. But something would have to dramatically change to address the fuel needs of heavy machinery, supply chain vehicles, and long-distance travel.

First, we can look at farming equipment. Tractors and combines cannot run long enough or far enough on battery capacity. Batteries just do not have the adequate power to mass ratio to allow these big machines to do their job.

Next, we can look at semis. A group ran a test by driving an unloaded electric semi truck across 1-80 in Wyoming in the summer. That stretch of road is known for three major troublesome spots: the Summit between Cheyenne and Laramie, the greater Elk Mountain Area, and the Three Sisters close to Evanston. These sections are especially difficult for traditional semis in the winter, so a summer trial without a load is somewhat of a joke. However, the report exuberantly exclaimed how well the semi did on the Summit (going down that steep grade, not up it) and the Elk Mountain area was handled with ease (coincidentally without the 60+ mph winds that make that region well known in energy circles for its wind farms on the day in question as they are found mostly in the winter time), but the desperation of the authors was clear when they discussed how the semi completely failed going up and down the mountains referred to as the Three Sisters. The truck struggled up the hills at a maximum of 5 miles an hour, draining the battery and blocking traffic as it dropped an entire lane out of service from a supply chain artery of our nation.

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Not Science, Not Journalism, But Advocacy, And Bad Advocacy At That: Res Ipsa Loquitur And The New York Times’ “The Science of Climate Change Explained”

Climate change propaganda

Last month, the New York Times devoted an entire section of its weekly “Science Times” section to an extensive brief for climate change and the policies to undo it, reverse it, mitigate stop it—choose your favorite words. Like virtually everything the Times does now, this was political advocacy, cleverly (cough!) placed in a section that expressly denies its bias and politics. Many things were notable about the section nonetheless; for example, it was written in a style that would be more appropriate for fourth graders, telling us how dumb the Times and their political allies think the public is, and not even the general public, but the portion of the public that reads the New York Times. Furthermore, the piece signals repeatedly its failure by promising more than it can deliver. It begins by promising “facts, evidence, and proof,” but much of what the Times’ reporter, Julia Rosen, calls “proof” is nothing of the kind, and what she calls evidence is subject to other interpretations. She makes it clear on the way that she has made up her mind, calling anyone who questions her conclusions “denialists.” Because she is in the throes of confirmation bias, she can write something like this without either ethics alarms or logic alarms sounding:

“There’s no denying that scientists love a good, old-fashioned argument. But when it comes to climate change, there is virtually no debate: Numerous studies have found that more than 90 percent of scientists who study Earth’s climate agree that the planet is warming and that humans are the primary cause. Most major scientific bodies, from NASA to the World Meteorological Organization, endorse this view. That’s an astounding level of consensus given the contrarian, competitive nature of the scientific enterprise, where questions like what killed the dinosaurs remain bitterly contested.”

But science isn’t determined by a popular vote. The number of scientific questions through the centuries that the majority of scientists had spectacularly wrong and the minority of contrarians had right are too numerous to list. Nor is it an “astounding” level of consensus in a field now overwhelmingly weighted on one side of the political spectrum, in a topic in which dissenters are intimidated, denigrated, and punished academically, professionally, and financially. We are also treated to irrelevancies like this by Rosen: “[Frank] Luntz, the Republican pollster, has also reversed his position on climate change and now advises politicians on how to motivate climate action.”

Oh! A pollster now supports climate change! That certainly settles the issue. Wasn’t this supposed to be about science?

Read the whole piece, which is begging for a thorough fisking. It would be a useful classroom project in critical thinking, if schools taught critical thinking any more. The last section, however, “What will it cost to do something about climate change, versus doing nothing?” is the smoking gun. All of the certainly and “proof” Rosen promises evaporates in desperate double talk, intentional vagaries and contradictions. For example,

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KABOOM! From The “NOW You Tell Us???” Files: There Are Huge Environmental Problems With Electric Cars

jackheadexplosion

I think what really made my head explode this time was that I was so stupid as to not see this one coming. I so, so want to be able to trust scientists, the news media and the government. They got me again.

From the New York Times, not Fox News or Breitbart:

Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy. But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste….Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.But production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people…Mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there.That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come….

“Our new clean-energy demands could be creating greater harm, even though its intention is to do good,” said Aimee Boulanger, executive director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a group that vets mines for companies like BMW and Ford Motor. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

Because it is the Times, and it will always do its utmost to bury a lede if it might harm the agenda of its Dark Leftist Masters, the headline is “The Lithium Gold Rush: Inside the Race to Power Electric Vehicles” and the story is buried in the arcane Business section. If the newspaper were fair and honest, the headline would be, “The Frightening Truth About Electric Cars And How We Have Been Lied to About Their Environmental Effects.”

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Of COURSE The United States Has To Spend Trillions On Infrastructure Renewal, And Of Course Ignorance, Incompetence And Dishonesty Will Screw It Up. Again.

Welcome to the first Russian doll Ethics Alarms post, in which a series of essentially identical essays are nested to shout out a truth that hasn’t changed in decades. That truth is that the infrastructure of the United States is getting progressively worse.

Sub-truths nested in that one include these:

  • This was an urgent crisis 40 years ago, and has only been getting worse since.
  • Both parties and all Presidents since—Nixon? Johnson?—are equally responsible, because they all  participated in “kicking the can” down the rotting road for political gain. This was and is political cowardice. Maintaining the infrastructure is one basic function of government, like national defense and law enforcement, that both Big Government and limited government advocates can agree on. However, since infrastructure rot is only a headline matter when bridges collapse, airliners crash or sewer pipes burst spreading disease and death, it’s a long term expense with benefits that the public won’t see immediately, if at all. Their grandchildren, however, will have better lives.
  • Politicians prefer short-term benefits, like sending checks directly to potential voters (and favored interest groups) under the fantasy of “economic stimulus.” This is a bi-partisan breach of duty and ethics.
  • As with everything else, the news media is stunningly incompetent in explaining the facts. I just heard two Fox News talking empty-heads arguing about whether sewer and water pipes were “infrastructure.” This is because much of the partisan attacks on Biden’s proposal has focused on the relatively small proportion of the financial requirements that will pay for  “roads and bridges.'” Of course sewer and water pipes are infrastructure, and indeed among the most dangerous parts of a nation’s infrastructure to let deteriorate, as ours have in too many major cities to count. You people (Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer in this case) are incompetent idiots, and should be working at a 7-11. Also included in the “infrastructure,” in case you care: canals, airports, railways, public transportation, barges, ferries, waterways, traffic signals, the power grid, and more. You are making the public even more ignorant than they already are. You’re a disgrace. I hate you.
  • Jobs are not infrastructure, but to listen to the advocates of renewal,  you would think that creating jobs is the main reason to undertake the effort. This is disinformation, and also unforgivable.
  • A rotting infrastructure hurts the economy in thousands of incremental, sinister, unavoidable ways, making goods more expensive, people poorer, limiting economic growth, and yes, costing jobs, with all of these effects getting worse over time.
  • No, the nation can’t afford to do what needs to be done–which is what will lead to national disaster if it is not done. That is because we have allowed the national debt to reach the red zone, and again, both parties are to blame, Republicans for irresponsible tax cuts, and Democrats for creating out-of-control social programs. However, whether we can afford it or not, we have to do it, spend the money, raise the taxes, be responsible…or we are dooming the nation. That is the situation cowardly, incompetent, venal and dishonest leadership has created.
  • I see little hope that President Biden’s efforts are any more serious or that they will be any more successful than the proposals that have gone before. It is true that even some infrastructure repair is better than none, but Democrats and progressives have painted themselves, and the nation, into a corner.

For example, the Biden administration has blocked a major highway expansion in Houston, Texas, claiming that the project is racially discriminatory and harmful to the environment. The state was about to begin a proposed widening of certain sections of Interstate 45 that has been years in planning when the Department of Transportation invoked the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to temporarily shut it down pending further review, Politico reported.

The department’s intervention is supposedly  a “test case” for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, has claimed  “racial injustice” in highway construction and vowed to make “righting these wrongs an imperative” under his leadership. Local activists say that the highway expansion would disproportionately harm black and Hispanic communities by displacing more than 1,000 homes, hundreds of businesses, five houses of worship, and two schools along the stretch of highway.

If race, class and the environment are going to be the priorities, then essential infrastructure maintenance is impossible. It is that simple.

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Inauguration Day Ethics Warm-Up, 1/20/2021: Welcome And Good Luck, President Biden!

Biden P

1. Too late! Fox News fired Chris Stirewalt yesterday. He is the veteran politics editor who was the prime onscreen face of the supposedly conservative-tilting network’s election night projections that Joseph Biden . had defeated President Trump in Arizona. Arnon Mishkin, a long-time Democratic Party pollster, was Fox News decision desk chief for the 2020 presidential election. He called the state of Arizona and its 11 electoral votes for Joe Biden at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time on election night, not long after the polls closed. Fox news anchor Bill Hemmer, standing at the Fox News election map, expressed surprise. “What is happening here? Why is Arizona blue?” he asked. “Did we just call it? Did we just make a call in Arizona?”

Stirewalt quickly came onscreen to defend the network’s decision, explaining that vote margins were too great in Arizona for the Republican candidate to overcome. He assured viewers that “We’re going to be careful, cautious, and earnest,” adding that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine. He dismissed voter fraud claims, “Lawsuits, schmawsuits — we haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong.” Mishkin also came on camera later to defend the call. I found him supercilious and obnoxious.

Reflecting on the decision to fire Stirewalt, the usual media suspects are pointing out that in the end, Fox’s call was correct. That’s pure moral luck. Fox News was the first news outlet to call Arizona for Biden, anmd when your brand is the news network that balances the hard progressive, Democratic, anti-Trump bias of 95% of the news media, that’s a stupid unforced error. Stirewalt has to be aware of the company’s brand and best interests. Why jump the gun to call a state Trump probably needed to win? Furthermore, Stirewalt’s “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do” sounded like spin, because it was. The polls, including Fox’s, had already been proven wildly off, and the voting “expectations” were based on polling.

It would not have cost Fox anything to wait to call Arizona, especially since networks declaring winners in states is subjective, unnecessary, and arguably manipulative. Regular Fox viewers were alienated, and this was predictable. President Trump denounced the networkand urged supporters to watch Newsmax and One America News instead. He should not have done that, but it was also predictable. Stirewalt was substantially responsible for losing Fox News viewers and revenue, and accomplished nothing.

He deserved to be fired. I would have fired him too.

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Sunday Ethics Reflections, 9/13/2020: “Hold On To Your Butts!”

1. Our aspiring leaders:

  • A 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy were shot while sitting in their patrol car at a Metro rail station in Compton, California. Protesters gathered outside the emergency room at the hospital where they were treated. The sheriff’s department found it necessary to tweet:  “To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling “We hope they die” referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL,. People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through.” President Trump tweeted in response to the shooting:

Incredible: flat learning curve. After all the uproar about calling people “animals.” And if the shooters are minorities…The only one who can lose this election for President Trump is President Trump.

  • The Times of Israel reports, based on a recording of a virtual fundraiser, that Joe Biden said that the recent development of Arab states normalizing relations with Israel was “something positive” President Trump is doing “accidentally.”

Stay classy, Joe. To be fair, that has been the narrative of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/news media alliance for four years: if something goes wrong, it is the President’s fault; if something goes right, it’s either wrong anyway because Trump is responsible, or it’s just luck or an accident.

2. And now, from the world of sports! Continue reading

Open Forum On Zoom Day!

Ugh. I have a Zoom seminar  on legal ethics to give today, which means dry runs, tech checks, and anxiety. I’ve concluded that I detest Zoom programs. You can’t read your audience, and for all I know they are doing crossword puzzles. Managing notes is awkward, graphics don’t look very good, and neither do I.

I  intend to be pantless as my silent protest against the whole fiasco.

Since I have no idea how and when posts will be emanating from 2707 Westminster Place, I’m opening up another Open Forum. As always, keep your commentary on topic (ethics and leadership), civil, witty, and substantive.

Now I’m going to review my notes…

Ethics Quiz: The Doomsday Projection

From: EcoWatch:

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades, as VICE reported.

The research by the two physicists, one from Chile and the other from the UK, was published last week inNature Scientific Reports. The researchers used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up with a fairly bleak assessment of society’s chance of surviving the climate crisis.

“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse,” the authors write in the study abstract.

From all the issues that the climate crisis raises like rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather, drought, flooding, and crop failures, scientists zeroed in on deforestation since it is more measurable right now. They argue that forest density, or its current scarcity, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine, according to the report, as The New York Post reported.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quizto conclude this weekend pf nonsense and frustration:

Is this story responsible to report as news without a lot more context? Continue reading