Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/20: Seven Items, Five Pandemic Related, Plus Boston Sports And New York City Schools

…feeling like the last living cell in a dead body…

1. I don’t know about you, but I’m just reaching out to random friends to see how they are doing. Some aren’t doing that well, but they appreciate the contact.

2. More of the name game: From a PR release from two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gail Heriot and Peter N. Kirsanow…

The Commission makes the ill-advised suggestion that referring to COVID-19 with terms like “Chinese coronavirus” is somehow fueling “[t]his latest wave of xenophobic animosity toward Asian Americans.” It is common to refer to infectious diseases by their geographic origin. Examples include Asian flu, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Brazilian hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, German measles, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, Marburg virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Pontiac fever, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Spanish flu, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever, and West Nile virus…It is counter-productive to hector the American people (or its leaders) about describing the COVID-19 as “Chinese” or as having originated in China. It did originate there. Ordinary Americans—of all races and ethnicities—who harbor no ill will toward anyone don’t like to have the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights imply that that they are fueling the flames of xenophobic animosity.   We can’t blame them. It is insulting.

Our colleagues on the Commission close their statement by writing under the current circumstances no American should be “ostracized solely because of their race or national origin.” That is certainly sensible enough. We would add that Americans should not be ostracized on account of false accusations that their conduct has been racist, xenophobic and hateful. The promiscuous use of those terms needs to stop.

That’s fine and well stated. My position is even more basic. I refuse to participate in mind-control based on the assertion that a factual statement is “racist,” or that someone is the cause of unethical conduct because others choose to behave unethically. Any more Alyssa Milano comments or complaints about Kung Flu jokes, and I’ll be calling the damn thing the Wuhan Virus from the Capital of the Hubai Province in That Big Asian Nation Called China That Endangered The Entire World By The  Dishonest, Paranoid Manner In Which It Withheld Crucial Information.

Back off. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel ‘IQ 83’ Is Coming True—”

(I enlarged the two Fenway Park stops for your convenience…)

I grew up rising the buses and  subways in Boston, and later oversaw a huge U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on transportation infrastructure funding problem (hopeless then, much worse now) , so the Boston Councilwoman’s fascinating theories about how making public transit in Beantown free to riders immediately interested me…since I knew it was crap.

I probably should delve into this issue more frequently, so I was pleased and relieved that fellow New Englander Rich in CT gave us this Comment of the Day on the post, “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel “IQ 83” Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is”:

The economics of public transportation are counter intuitive, and this plan is not as insane as it sounds. However, for a city like Boston, it would be absurd to eliminate ridership fare.

Let’s look at my hometown. We have one bus hourly from 7 AM to 10 AM, and 2 PM to 6 PM, that connects to a neighboring city. The farebox recovery ratio is about 15%: For every dollar spent on the service, customer fares return $0.15 – 15 cents on the dollar.

The bus is provided as a bare bones courtesy for those who need it. If the bus company raises the fare, ridership will go down, because people cannot afford to use it anymore (they then cannot get to work…). Fare recovery goes down with an increase in fare, but the cost of running the shuttle remains the same. The very population it is meant to serve is not served. We’d be running an empty bus back and forth.

In all truth, my town subsidizes 100% the cost of the shuttle under its contract with the city; the $2.00 fare effectively pays for the transfer to a city bus. Eliminating the bus fare only modestly increases the necessary public subsidy; any expansion of hours or geographic distance would also require an increase in subsidy.

If we look at a city like Boston, the economics are very different. The service is still provided for those who need it, but a great many more need it. The fare box recovery is closer to 30%-50%. The cost of the service is the same whether people are on it or not, so the city offers discounts for bulk purchases to attract people who would otherwise use a car. This has the positive effect of increasing ridership and improving the fare box recovery slightly; it also has the perverse effect that the people who need it the most pay the most for it. Continue reading

More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel “IQ 83” Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is

It’s not exactly “Is We Getting Dummer?” the New York Times headline in the prescient science fiction novel, “IQ 83,” by Science fiction author Arthur Herzog in which a man-made virus begins reducing the intelligence of Americans to idiot levels, but its close enough to cause concern. The NBC News headline is “Cities weigh free public transit amid rising costs.” Wait. what? Public transit is getting too hard to pay for, so the solution being considered is to make it free?

I assumed that this was just another example of incompetent headline writing, but no: if anything, the headline makes more sense than the rest of the article, in which we learn that:

  • Michelle Wu, a Democratic City Council member in Boston,  says that because  use of the  crumbling public transportation infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dropping and rush-hour traffic is increasing,  and the solution is to let everyone ride buses and subways for free.

The article doesn’t say Wu is a Democrat, and I didn’t bother to check. Trust me: she’s a Democrat.

  • Desperately in need of money for repairs,  local transit shouldn’t raise fates, but eliminate them, Wu and other progressives argue, because public transportation “is a human right, like health care and education.”

In “IQ 83,” Patient Zero is the brilliant scientist who goofed while trying to invent a cure for mental retardation. In the real ife case of Wu and others, Patient Zero is obviously Bernie Sanders.

  • We are told, that “some experts warn that free rides wouldn’t solve the issues besetting many public transit systems, including crumbling infrastructure, infrequent and unreliable service, and routes that take workers nowhere near their jobs.”

Really? “Some” experts warn that? Boy, what spoil-sports. Debbie Downers, I’d call them. Continue reading

99% Of Protests Are Unethical, And Yesterday’s “Straight Pride Parade” In Boston Was A Perfect Example Of Why

 

As Buffalo Springfield noted in its 1966 hit “For What It’s Worth”…

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side.

That pretty much sums up most demonstrations and protests, making them a destructive waste of time, emotion, and city budgets. In the Ethics Alarms Rule Book to your right (there is a lot of good stuff on your right, and I would estimate that almost no one bothers to check it out) is the 12 Question Protest Ethics Checklist. Studies say most people don’t click on links, either, so here is what you would find if you did:

Protesters, no matter what they are protesting, have an ethical duty to ask themselves these ten questions before they stop traffic, jam networks, take over buildings or otherwise make life miserable for people who have little or nothing to do with what is being protested:

1. Is this protest just and necessary?

2.Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad, or narrow?

3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?

4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so?

5. What will this protest cost, and who will have to pay the bill?

6. Will the individuals or organizations that are the targets of the protest also be the ones who will most powerfully feel its effects?

7. Will innocent people be adversely affected by this action? (If so, how many?)

8. Is there a significant possibility that anyone will be hurt or harmed? (if so, how seriously? How many people?)

9. Are you and your group prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of the protest?

10. Would an objective person feel that the protest is fair, reasonable, and proportional to its goal?

11. What is the likelihood that the protest will be remembered as important, coherent, useful, effective and influential?

12. Could the same resources, energy and time be more productively used toward achieving the same goals, or better ones?

Protesters  or demonstrating groups seldom consider these questions, but if they did, they would have to answer the majority of them, and probably all in most cases, with a response that suggests that they should be doing something else. There have been a few exceptions in my lifetime—very few—but yesterday’s fiasco in Boston, my old stomping grounds, is sadly typical.

This dork…

…organized a “Straight Pride” parade in downtown Boston, the equivalent of trolling-by-demonstration. I get it: if Gay Pride parades are not considered anti-straight, then there is no reason why a Straight Pride parade should be considered as anti-LGBTQ.  If, however, one already knows that such a demonstration will be received as such (double standards being the order of the day)  then the Second Niggardly Principle applies… Continue reading

Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2019: Here, There, And Everywhere, With Hugs

Good morning…

Reflections: In D.C., today is being treated like a Friday, as it is assumed that everyone is taking off tomorrow for an extended 4-day weekend. It is irrelevant to ProEthics since we don’t take vacations, and ethics never sleeps, but impactful to Ethics Alarms, which means that I will be blogging for a handful of stalwarts—thank you all—and otherwise talking to myself.

This has me already thinking about Memorial Day, which in turn causes me to think about my father, who will be spending the holiday, now and forever, with my mother at Arlington National Cemetery. Being a World War II veteran was second only to being a father and husband in my father’s view of his life’s priorities. In his final years, he often drove down to the Mall and the World War II Memorial, wearing his vest with his medals, and served as kind of a volunteer exhibit himself, a real, live Word War II veteran for visitors, especially students and your tourist, to take photos with and interview. Many of his encounters that began with, “Excuse me, are you a real soldier from the war?” ended with him being hugged and even getting gifts. Now I regret I never accompanied him in some of those weekly excursions into old memories and personal pride. I only found out about them after his death in 2009.

A about a week after my dad died, I was at my parent’s condo with my mother. A knock on the door brought another resident of Fairlington South ( an Arlington, VA development converted from Army barracks during World War II) into the room. He was an active Vietnam vet, about my age, who had engaged my father to speak to his veterans’ group a few times, and who obviously admired Dad a great deal. He entered cheerily and asked, “Where’s Jack?” When I told him that Dad had died, the expression on his face melted into abject shock and grief so quickly and vividly that the image haunts me to this day.

I don’t think I fully appreciated how much my father was respected and loved by even casual acquaintances who knew about his service and character until that moment.

1. Theory: If you can’t win under the rules, change the rules. Nevada has joined the states attempting to by-pass the Constitution with the scheme of directing its electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote regardless of which candidate the state’s residents favored. I think that means 15 states, all with Democratric Party-dominated legislatures, are trying this stunt so far in frustration over Al Gore and Hillary Clinton joining Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden and Grover Cleveland on the list of Presidential candidates defeated by the Electoral College.

This is grandstanding: the device is unconstitutional on its face, and sinister mischief: the idea is to pander to civic ignorance (“Of course the popular vote winner should become President!” is an easy call if you don’t know anything about history or why the Electoral College was installed) and almost guarantees a Constitutional crisis and maybe violence in the streets the next time a Democrat loses despite a popular vote edge. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Boston Bank Ad

Yes, Dorchester is a community dominated by exactly the people you think it is. The ad says to the public, “If you bank with us, we know you’re white, and if you get robbed, we both know the thief is black.”

Nice.

Social media was on this like a shot, and TD Bank apologized, saying

“We are sorry that an ad that appeared in one of our stores was insensitive to the Dorchester community.The ad, which was removed today, does not reflect our core values around diversity and inclusion.”

This is a lie, and an obvious one. If the bank really had such core values, someone at the bank who saw the ad in production would have said, “Wait, are you out of your mind? We’re insulting Dorchester with this, and the message implies that our customers are likely to be robbed by blacks!”

What made it worse for the bank is that Samsung got burned in Boston just two years ago by trying an almost identical ad, which was also condemned as racist.

Yes, Mattapan has demographics similar to Dorchester.

Ethics Hero: Bob Cousy

I was thinking of adding “Boston Celtics and pro basketball legend” to the title, but I depressed myself thinking it was necessary, which of course it is. When Bob Cousy retired, in 1962, there wasn’t a more famous NBA star alive. Now, not only is the play-making wizard who led the Boston Celtics through the beginning of their unparalleled dynasty unrecognizable to most Americans, so is the kind of basketball he played, before it was all dunking and styling by pituitary cases.

But I digress.

In the newly published book “Last Pass” by Gary Pomeranz,  Cousy, the Hall of Fame Boston Celtics captain who led the team to its first six championships, opened up about his relationship with Bill Russell, the great, enigmatic, difficult, defensive genius  who was the center on Cousy’s teams, and on many Celtics championship teams thereafter. Russell was the first back superstar in sports-crazy, perpetually racist Boston,  and as he reaches 90, Cousy is reflecting on what he did, and what he didn’t do, as the white superstar on a team whose brilliant black center was often the target of racists. In the Boston suburb of Reading, vandals once broke into Russell’s home, spray-painted racist graffiti on walls and defecated on his bed. The Cooz, as he was called, is remembered as being  ahead of his time as an NBA player in his sensitivity to race and civil rights. Still, Cousy blames himself for not having done enough, and for not having understood the depth of prejudice Russell faced as an African-American in Boston. Cousy told the historian that he wants to make amends. Continue reading