Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate”

Joel Mundt picks up his second Comment of the Day opining on the ever-green and always perplexing ethics controversy of slavery reparations, which was again broached in the recent Democratic candidates debate in New Hampshire.  The topic has had  a resurgence in recent years due to the advocacy of the current rock star of race-baiting , Ta Nihisi Coates, who regards the mass white to black wealth transfer as a the only way to solve America’s persistent economic gap among the races.

It has also had a long record of debate on Ethics Alarms, notably in the commentary on this 2019 post, where I admitted that I had momentarily lost my mind  in this one from 2016, in which I made…

“….no sense whatsoever. While again rejecting the concept of reparations (“the hell with that. [The idea is] to punish [whites] for the sins of slavery committed by their ancestors by arranging a massive transfer of wealth based on principles of tort law and damages. This has always been a pipe dream of civil rights extremists, couched in the language of revenge, as if the nation and the nation’s white citizens have made no efforts, sacrificed nothing, expended no resources or wealth, to try to undo the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Reparations are not going to happen, as the concept itself is unjust….”), I proposed a solution….that was indistinguishable from reparations…”

I concluded that mea culpa post by writing,

I’m better now. I am also, unfortunately, also back at Square One, my “Do something!” phase regarding race in America having accomplished nothing, as “Do something!’ arguments always do, and I still see no solution on the horizon.

I still don’t. Joel’s perspective can’t address that.

Here is Joel Mundt’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate:

The issue of reparations has tied numerous candidates up in knots. Now it’s Steyer’s turn, though I think he’s a knot-head regardless. I firmly believe that reparations have already been paid. If the practice of slavery had been cut off solely by Presidential decree or Executive Order, or because the South simply decided to halt it, one could make an argument, however painful and convoluted, that financial reparations had a place at the table of discussion.

But I believe that slavery was ended with bloodshed. Those who supported slavery and secession from the Union paid dearly for it. Hundreds of thousands of Confederate soldiers died for their cause, cities were razed and burned, and their newly-formed government was terminated. And the North paid, too, with the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men who fought to save the Union and ultimately, to end slavery.

And now, 160 years later, people like Steyer (and Buttigieg, and others) say that’s not enough. They are, in effect, telling those soldiers, “Thanks for the sacrifice, but this is more about money than you getting eviscerated by cannon shot and having your body eaten by gangrene.” I’m not sure spitting on their graves is worse.

But it does get worse. Continue reading

The Integrity Void That Is Joe Biden…and His Progressive Supporters

Since announcing his candidacy for the Presidency, Joe Biden has obliterated whatever small respect I had for him—it was small indeed—and established himself as the official expediency candidate of the Democratic Party.

There was a time in 2016 when I had resolved that if Biden threw his hat in the ring, I would hold my nose and vote for him. He was less offensive to my ethical values and priorities than Donald Trump— few would not be—and less cynical, manipulative and untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton (see interjected comment above.)

If he had been the Democratic nominee, would I have still concluded, as I did late in the campaign, that the Democratic Party was as unsupportable as an institution as Trump was as an individual, being so corrupt that it was increasingly willing to abandon core American rights and principles in its pursuit of power? I wonder. As it has turned out, I was more right than I knew. Now Joe is proving it, and leading Democrats to prove it as well.

Astoundingly, he is the runaway leader in all polls of the contenders for the nomination, though not all are really “contenders.” In part this is the predictable consequence of being Vice President for 8 years: the order of the top  candidates tracks almost exactly with the national awareness of who the candidates are, with the exception of Elizabeth Warren, and thank God for that. Most Americans still aren’t paying close attention to Presidential politics, meaning that they can’t pronounce Buttigieg, don’t know that he’s gay, couldn’t pick Amy  Klobuchar out of a line-up, and get Cory Booker confused with Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Another reason Biden may be ahead is that he’s the only recognizable candidate who  doesn’t sound like he’s running for President of Venezuela, although he has also made it crystal clear that if sounding like a socialist is what it tales to get the nomination, he’ll sound like a socialist.

In other words, Biden displays the exact opposite of what is arguably Donald Trump’s best trait. The President is consistent in presenting himself as who is is, and takes positions that many disagree with, perhaps violently. In contrast, if Joe Biden has any integrity at all at this point in his career, please point me to it.  More disturbingly, no progressive who supports Biden can plausibly regards integrity as an important ethical virtue (It may be the most important ethical virtue, especially for leaders.)

Listen to this classic late stage Trump Derangement rant that Joe was confronted with by a woman  at a campaign stop: Continue reading

Reparations Again.

Almost all of the Democratic Presidential wannabes are claiming that they support reparations for slavery. This is signature significance for shameless pandering and dishonesty, of course, and pretty redolent, in my assessment, of buying black votes. There are many, many things coming out of the mouths of the various demagogues, empty suits and crypto-socialists aspiring to unseat Donald Trump that are impossible–banning combustion engines, free college for all, ending the Electoral College, and many more—but reparations is a special species of fantasy, wrong in every way.

I have been periodically reading scholarly and not so scholarly debates about the feasibility  and justification for reparations for decades, and I have come to see this as less of a policy debate than a confession of defeat. Of course, every year that the timeline retreats from the end of slavery, the more logically untenable the mass hand-out of massive amounts of money that the nation cannot afford  to the descendants of slaves becomes. Ethically it was always untenable, and guaranteed, if such an irresponsible thing actually happened, to exacerbate racial divisions while creating endless demands for similar programs to benefit other groups, especially Native Americans. And why shouldn’t women receive reparations for all those centuries of forced labor and childbearing without civil rights, if the United States is going into the retroactive damages business?

Polling is a bad way to conduct a nation’s business, but sometimes the public can detect a true stinker when it sees one:. Reparations are unpopular with about 80% of the population, and I sense that even progressives just pretend to tolerate politicians who blather on about it because they know it’s all for show, and designed to harvest naive votes for more practical crazy leftist proposals.

Many of these proposals involve trying to somehow solve the gaps between black and white success and achievement in America, and mostly consist of rigging the system in various ways, especially now that Affirmative Action’s days are numbered, (and didn’t work that well anyway). Are a disproportionate number of blacks getting tossed out of school? Stop holding blacks to disciplinary standards—better yet, stop holding any students to disciplinary standards. Bad test scores making it more difficult to justify discriminating against Asian-Americans with better test scores? Eliminate testing as part of the college admission process!  Are too many African-Americans incarcerated? Legalize as many of the crimes as possible, and then  stop sending non-violent law-breakers to prison. These and other measures are no more fair of logical than reparations, just cheaper and easier to con or guilt Americans into accepting.

Back in March of 2016, I temporarily lost my mind in the wake of our first black President’s utter failure to address our race problems, despite his soaring rhetoric.  Charts from the Brookings Institution’s Social Mobility Memos blog were posted to the web, and starkly indicated that the  apparently intractable problems of American blacks that I studied in college had failed to improve in 50 years. I wrote this post, in which I  concluded, after a number of depressing observations, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/9/19: “Nothing Can Bother Me Because It’s Opening Day At Fenway Park” Edition

All’s right with the world..

…despite all evidence to the contrary!

At least for today…

1. Psst! HLN! It’s called “stealing,” you morons. According to a recent survey, 14% of Netflix users share their passwords to the streaming service. That’s about 8 million people. I just watched giggling news-bimbo Robin Meade on HLN and her sidekick Jennifer Westhoven go on about how they hoped Netflix didn’t “crack down” and how this was like “ride-sharing.” No, it’s not like ride-sharing at all. If you want your friend to have  Netflix and they can’t afford it, pay for their subscription. This is theft. Talking heads that rationalize dishonest behavior on TV is one of many cultural factors that incapacitates the ethics alarms of a critical mass of Americans.

And Robin? Being beautiful doesn’t excuse everything.

2.  The Alternate Reality solution to race relations! Professor Chad Shomura of the University of Colorado at Denver has  banned discussions of any white men in his course on American political thought. No Locke,  no Jefferson,  no Rousseau, no Madison, no Hamilton, and  no President before Obama .  Such an irresponsible approach to his course’s topic can’t be prevented by the university because of academic freedom, of course: if a professor thinks he or she can teach physics by playing with puppies, that’s up to them. I would suggest, however, that any student incapable of figuring out that such a course is an extended con is a fool and a dupe. What’s the equivalent of this? Teaching the history of baseball without mentioning Babe Ruth?

3.  Pop Ethics Quiz: Is this fair? After legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ” will forever be known as the ‘woman who put children in cages,” conservative pundit and ex-Justice Department lawyer T Beckett Adams tweeted, “I doubt it. People have short memories. There’s a reason we don’t call Toobin the “married man who knocked up a former colleague’s daughter and had to be taken to court to pay child support.”  Adams’ description is fair, but is using it in this context ethical?

I tend to think not, but it’s a close call. [Pointer: Althouse] Continue reading