Comment Of The Day: “’Side hustle?’ SIDE HUSTLE?”

Let’s begin the new year with a Comment of the Day.

It’s appropriate.

One of the important things I have learned since beginning this blog in 2009—in addition to the apparent fact that trying to elaborate on the topic of blackface and dark make-up in the arts will get one’s blog banned on Facebook and there is literally nothing one can do about it—is that the commenters enrich, define, and advance the mission of the blog beyond anything I could have anticipated.

Pennagain’s comment on the topic of the so-called “gig economy” and California’s efforts to smother it is an excellent example. (One of the joys of any Pennagain COTD is that I know I won’t have to check for typos, since Pennagain regularly checks MY posts for typos…). Behold the Comment of Day on the post, “Side hustle?” SIDE HUSTLE?”:

I hardly know where to start. It’s the so called “gigs” that people learn most from. It’s those with the widest experience who can not only make the most of their job (main gig), whatever it turns out to be, but who will accommodate to change, go with the flow and roll with the punches, get a kick out of learning new things from different people, be comfortable experimenting with ideas and opinions.

Retirement – grandpa M. was 54 when he found, as the British put it so accurately, to be “redundant” to his own business when one of his sons took it over. He’d been good at his job, learning the trade from his father and practicing it in one form or another since he was a child, bringing his expertise (and, necessarily, a wife) to the New World at the turn of the century. He had never done anything else in his life. Building and running his business was his whole world, full of customers, many of whom had become close friends. The job kept him active, on his feet, reaching, stooping, sorting, lifting, dealing with salesmen and stock deliveries. He appraised and bargained, bought and sold. He had fierce competition that excited him, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

On the day he (was) retired, he sat down in a red plush chair in his living room and spent nearly every day for the rest of his life sitting there, having nothing else to do. No interests, no radio—no hobbies, no friends, not even any acquaintances. He’d never bothered to get to know his neighbors or attend any social functions at his house of worship. He had nothing in common with his family (the son who inherited the business never came to visit; too busy at work). The second-generation Americans who came religiously to visit, at least one group each weekend, didn’t speak either his original or his business language, nor he theirs.

He died just after his 55th birthday. In the red chair. Continue reading

The Last Ethics Warm-Up of 2019…And I Finally Figured Out How To Get Ethics Alarms Links On Facebook

Ethical New Year!

1. Boy, am I slow. You can link to an Ethics Alarms article by using the Twitter link that every post has. This link works on Facebook, where EA has been banned with no explanation: I just tested it. So an interested reader clicks on that link, and is taken to a tweet that contains the Ethics Alarms link.

From now on, all posts will include the Twitter link to the post at the end.

2. Don Imus. The infamous “I-man,” Don Imus, died last week. He was one more example of the inherently unfair standard that shadows “shock jocks,” who are paid to be improvisational, outrageous, irreverent, and brave, but if they make one miscalculation and go too far (and what “too far” is changes quickly), their careers can end overnight. So it was that Imus and his on-air acolytes made demeaning and racially inflammatory comments mocking a college women’s basketball team, and Imus never recovered. That was even before social media mobs had reached their current strength. Imus was on AM radio and simulcast on TV; no shock jocks dare to do his act under such conditions now.  They wouldn’t last a week. From his Times obituary: Continue reading

“Side hustle?” SIDE HUSTLE? 

Apparently Democrats think this is me

 “The Side Hustle is Increasingly a Fact of American Life” says the New York Times,  and progressives want to restrict them.  Of course, being a versatile guy who can do a lot of things people will pay to have done, I resent the “hustle” term, which makes me sound like “Seinfeld'”s Kramer with a law degree….and that, making what people like me do sound cheesy and even a little bit shady, is the idea. Legislators and Presidential candidates—guess which party!– have expressed great concerns about the so-called “gig economy,’ arguing that it is proof of  unhealthy capitalism.  (Amusingly, this is exactly what Elizabeth Warren did when she was litigating appeals while serving as a Harvard law professor, but that’s different.) The data does not support the latest argument for controlling your life and mine, however.

A recent poll of those who have more than one way of making money shows that 33% of them take on more than one paying job because they have to, while 48% so it because they want to.

Naturally, those who want to must be stifled for the greater good, and need to get with the program. California’s recently passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), set to take effect on January 1, 2020,  will make it illegal for contractors who reside in California to create more than 35 pieces of content in a year for a single company, unless the business hires them as an employee. Continue reading

Flashback: For Your Use When “Resistance” Relatives Attack At Thanksgiving Dinner

It all began here. How quickly we forget—or how quickly they hope we’ll  forget.

In two December 20, 2016 posts, “The Electoral College’s Day Of  Reckoning I and II,” Ethics Alarms covered the first attack on American democracy in what came to called here the “2016 post-election Ethics Train Wreck.” This has culminated in the current House Democrats’ impeachment fiasco. Make no mistake: it is a single plot, one that I never suspected would have continued this long, and caused as much damage to the nation as it has.

When your relatives start spouting talking points that they have  neither researched, thought critically about nor understand, consider reminding them where it all started, and who has really been responsible for bringing the United States of America to this sorry and thoroughly avoidable place. Most of the villains of the coup attempts to come outed themselves here: Democrats, the news media, academics, Hollywood, professionals, especially lawyers. Most had outed themselves earlier, of course, but still had plausible deniability. Not after this.

As you can see, they had decided, way back in 2016, right after the election after thaye had wept, and cursed, and rended their garments, that because they didn’t want Donald Trump to be President, they had a right to prevent him from taking office, and if that failed, then to interfere with his right to fulfill the duties of the office until they could come up with some way remove him. This is where it began, and this is what has been going on ever since.

Your resistance family members and friends have been been responsible because they enabled this. Don’t let them get away with it.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations

After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.

Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single  electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California.  Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.

The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his  intention  not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.

George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.

Three Ethics Observations on one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history:

1. Ironically, the Electoral College functioned exactly the way the Founders intended it to, and rescued the nation from a regional candidate. Trump won the nation, and Hillary was elected Queen of California. The country wanted radical change, while the huddled socialists, crypto-Marxists, radical college students, illegal immigration fans and nanny state addicts were happy with things as they are.

California is a complete outlier, virtually a one-party state. As an analysis by Investor’s Business Daily points out, between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californians who registered as Democrats increased  by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000. Republicans in the state stayed away from the polling places because they had nobody to vote for in many places. Two Democrats, and no Republican, were on the ballot to replace Senator Barbara Boxer. Nor were there Republicans on the ballots for House seats in nine of California’s congressional districts. At the state level, six districts had no Republicans running for the state senate, and 16 districts had no Republicans running for state assembly seats:

Such Republicans as there were knew Clinton was going to win the state  and its 55 electoral votes,  so there was little motivation to cast a ballot.Clinton was getting all 55 votes, no matter what. Thus Trump received 11% fewer California votes than John McCain did in 2008, as  the number of registered Democrats in the state climbed by 13% since then. If California had voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5% wins — Clinton and Trump would have ended up in a virtual popular vote tie. Laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.

If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump won the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes.  The Founders installed a system that favors a candidate with broad-based appeal over all the diverse regions and cultures of a large nation, and that isn’t going to be easily dominated by a large voting bloc that is atypical of the rest of the population—like California in 2016.

2. Writer Daniel Brezenoff, the originator of the Change.Org  Electoral College Petition , appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to collect his Andy Warhol Fifteen Minutes of Fame chip. He repeated his undemocratic logic for overturning the election. Carlson accused Brezenoff of “resorting to less democratic means, putting the decision in the hands of even fewer people,” to which Brezenoff, who initially filed his petition using a fake name, responded, “That’s right, to protect the Constitution from an unfit President!”

The answer is smoking gun evidence of what was really afoot here.  Brezenoff thought Trump was unfit,just as I thought Trump was unfit, but the election showed that millions of citizens felt differently. We can’t ethically, logically, fairly, reasonably and Constitutionally come back after the election and say that a handful of not-especially-qualified electors are going to reverse the election result because our view is the right one.

We lost. The fact that we don’t like the result and are positive the winners just don’t understand is not sufficient to justify what the Democrats and progressives like Brezenoff were advocating.

3. It is disturbing and shocking—maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am— that no prominent Democratic leader publicly condemned the organized efforts to turn electors faithless. This, as much as anything else, validates my late decision  that the Democrats were too corrupt and untrustworthy to get my vote. Silence, as the legal maxim goes, implies consent, and the petitioners, historical frauds, harassers and intimidators all did their worst on behalf of the Democratic Party. Nothing but harm could come to the party and its member progressives from such an arrogant, defiant and  futile scheme, and nothing but further division could have come from a success, which basic civic literacy should have informed party leaders was impossible. Nonetheless, they said nothing–Obama, Michelle, Pelosi, Reid, Shumer, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, the President. Nothing.

Was it cowardice, and the fear of tempting the rabid, angry Left from coming after them, mouths foaming? Or was it that they were willing to benefit from a Hail Mary pass, even one that destabilized the government and society? Bernie Sanders was especially cynical, telling interviewers before yesterday that he thought the Electoral College was beneficial, then calling for its elimination after the voting was over.

The worst, of course, was Hillary Clinton. Had integrity meant anything to her (we know it never has) she would have known that her unequivocal condemnation of Donald Trump for suggesting that he might not “accept the results” if he lost the election mandated a “Stop this nonsense now” message to her traumatized and infantile supporters (see photo above). She couldn’t mount the guts and principle to do it. A miniscule-to-the-vanishing-point chance that somehow, through some combination of luck and cosmic intervention, an elector uprising would give her the power she craves was sufficient to inspire Hillary to even surpass the hypocrisy she had displayed by joining in Jill Stein’s ridiculous recount efforts.

It was said of Hubert Humphrey that in his passion to attain the Presidency, he proved himself unworthy of it. Hillary Clinton has made Hubert Humphrey look wonderful in retrospect.

To be fair, so has Donald Trump.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools

The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not. Continue reading

Two For The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files (Or Maybe “Mine Detectors” Is The More Appropriate Metaphor) [CORRECTED]

HEY! Don’t you see that? IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!”

These two recent stories puzzle me. There are some aspects of civil conduct and societal norms that every cognitively functioning human being who lives in this society and culture cannot possibly have failed to notice. Nonetheless, these events keep happening. Quite part from the specifics of the incidents, they represent a failure of basic life competence.

1. California: Another Teacher Uses Blackface

I have, much to my sorrow—it was one reason Ethics Alarms is censored on Facebook—defended the use of dark make-up when its objective is not to denigrate and mock a race, but to play a dramatic role in a context where such make-up is necessary. White actors should be able to play the Moor Othello. In a saner society, white kids should also be able to dress up as Barack Obama or Beyoncé for Halloween, but interpreting any use of dark make-up as a deliberate reference to minstrel show “blackface” is now part of the victim lobby’s power tool kit, and one has to be aware of and understand the risks of bucking a treasured narrative.

How could any teacher not know, following the travails of Governor Northam in Virginia and Justin Trudeau in Canada, about this cultural landmine? If these elected officials, among others, were threatened by the cancellation culture for having used black makeup as students years ago, wouldn’t it be screamingly obvious that using blackface today, before a classroom, would be professional hari-kari? (Oops! Cultural appropriation there!)

Yet a white high school teacher in Milpitas, California wore blackface in his class on Halloween  to do an imitation of the rapper Common. Of course one of the students made a viseo, of course it came to the school board’s attention, of course it created an irresistible opportunity for members to grandstand and engage in virtue-signalling, and of course such opportunities must not be wasted.

Thus Chris Norwood, the president of the school board in solemnly intoned that the behavior was “inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive” and called for an investigation, adding,

“As an African-American man, the history of blackface reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world. Unfortunately, blackface still permeates global society today through social media, comedy and fashion.”

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/4/2019: Mass Shootings, Teddy’s Grace, Skaters’ Peril, California’s Cheat

“Never on a Sunday” just doesn’t apply to the ethics biz.

Historical note: in 1960, the English language version of the title song from the hist Greek comedy “Never on a Sunday” was constantly on the radio. My friends were singing it; the song won the Oscar for Best Song. Nobody seemed to mind, or bothered to tell all the kids singing the cheerful earworm, that the song was about a prostitute who wouldn’t accept payment to be boinked on a Sunday. The translated song’s word “kiss” was a euphemism.

1. That bastion of ethics, California! Senator Kamala Harris has come under fire for pursuing aggressive prosecution policies while California Attorney General, in stark contrast to he campaign rhetoric regarding mass incarceration of minorities.  Now the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has removed many of the more controversial arrest records during her term in office. from the  Washington Free Beacon:

The department removed public access to a number of reports on incarceration in the state, including when presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D.) was California’s attorney general. Twice a year, the CDCR releases information about the number of new individuals incarcerated in the California prison system as part of its “Offender Data Points” series. These reports provide important information on demographics, sentence length, offense type, and other figures relevant to criminal justice and incarceration.Until recently, these reports were publicly available at the CDCR’s websiteA search using archive.org’s Wayback Machine reveals that as of April 25, 2019—the most recent indexed date—ODP reports were available dating back to the spring of 2009. As of August 2019, the same web page now serves only a single ODP report, the one for Spring 2019. The pre-2019 reports have been removed….the reports contain information about Harris’s entire time as state A.G., 2011 to 2017.

As John Travolta memorably says in “Face-Off”: “What a coinky-dink!”

Is this a partisan abuse of power designed to keep information away from the public and the media in support of favored candidate? It is. An ethical recipient of this assistance would condemn it and demand the State records be restored.  In this case, however, it would be more in character for Harris to have requested the purge.

2. Another shooting, another misleading stat. Today’s shooting in Dayton, coming right on top of last week’s El Paso Walmart massacre, has revived the “mass shooting a day” trope that was used repeatedly in 2018. Thus USA Today wrote today that there have been 250 “mass shootings” in 216 days this year. That’s deliberately misleading and deceitful.

The trick seems to be based on the non-partisan Mass Shooting Tracker, which uses the definition of “mass shooting” that includes any time four or more individuals are shot, excluding the shooter. Thus the number is inflated with gang shoot-outs, domestic violence, and incidents like this one, from a high-crime section of President Trump’s favorite city, Baltimore, last month:

“Police responded to a triple shooting in Northwest Baltimore late Saturday that left two males with serious injuries. Shortly before 10:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2800 block of Boarman Avenue for a shooting. They found three males with gunshot wounds. One victim was shot in the leg, an injury that was not life-threatening.”

Do you think of the Gunfight at the OK Corral as a mass shooting?  It was by the USA Today standard, though only three men were killed. Two of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday were shot, so it was a “mass shooting.”

When media outlets and politicians point to a true mass shooting like the one in El Paso, where 20 died and many were wounded by a madman, and say “this is the 250th Mass shooting this year,” that sounds like “we have had 250 shootings like this in 2019.”

And that’s what you are supposed to think. All the better to scare you into giving up your right to personal protection.

3. Teddy Roosevelt and “Mr. Dooley.” In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit,” she tells the story of how Finley Peter Dunne, the social critic, pundit and humorist who wrote in the voice of the fictional Irish barfly, “Mr. Dooley,” wrote a scathing review of then New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt’s account of his exploits in the Spanish American War, “The Rough Riders.” Dunne mocked Teddy as representing the war as a virtual one-man triumph, and suggested that the book would be better titled, “Alone in Cuba.”

Roosevelt wrote him soon after, saying, “I regret to state that my family and intimate friends are delighted with your review of my book. Now I think you owe me one; and I shall expect that when you next come east you pay me a visit. I have long wanted the chance of making your acquaintance.” They eventually met at the Republican Convention in 1900, and Roosevelt handed him a news scoop:  he would accept the nomination as President McKinley’s running mate.

They remained friends and correspondents even though Dunne, as Dooley, continued to lampoon Teddy. Dunne wrote later, “I never knew a man with a keener humor or one who could take a joke on himself with better grace.”

This is the mark of both a secure and a wise leader, as well as one with a sense of humor and proportion. We have had few such leaders, and fewer such Presidents. Imagine how much better off President Trump would be if he had treated critics like Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee the way Teddy treated Dunne.  Imagine how much better off we all would be.

4. What? Young female athletes handed off by their parents to adult coaches and into unsupervised interaction with older male athletes are often sexually abused? How could that be?  Three-time United States skating champion and Olympic meal winner Ashley Wagner said  this week  John Coughlin, a male figure skater who commited suicide in January,  had sexually assaulted her when she was 17. (Wagner is  28 now.) Writes the Times, “The accusations have further raised concerns that the dynamics of figure skating feed a culture in which young women are all too vulnerable.”

Gee, ya think? It is, has been and will always be irresponsible parenting to send young athletes out of parental oversight into the clutches of strangers because the parents lust for vicarious fame and direct fortune.  At best, even if they avoid the molestation that is too common to ignore, they have been deposited into an unhealthy life path. Today’s Times recounts the story of how young Natalie Wood, being showcased to Hollywood studios by her aggressive stage-mother, was raped twice at an audition when she was 16. Her mother never reported it, lest Natalie be blackballed by the many Harvey Weinsteins in the industry. Women’s sports are no different.

As child star activist Paul Petersen wrote in the only guest post ever to appear here,

“In the Common Law, children are the property of their parents who, in law, “are entitled to the custody, income and services” of the child. The presumption is that parents will not willfully take advantage of their child’s vulnerability, and their inability to disobey. Sadly, the reality faced by children in today’s world is at odds with this presumption.”

This is a much a child endangerment problem as a sexual predator problem.

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2019: The More Edition

 

More anti-gun posturing, more diversity deceit, more sympathy for parents who kill their kids in hot cars….more.

1. Leadership Ethics: California Gov. Gavin Newsom shows how not to respond to a tragedy. It has been apparent for some time that Newsom’s objective is to make Jerry Brown look like a thorough and moderate professional by contrast. His reaction to the fatal shooting in Gilroy, California, over the weekend, which took the lives of three people (including two children)  was a) to immediately politicize the tragedy; b) blame Trump, which is pandering gold; c) engage in outrageous hyperbole; d) recycle the silliest of anti-gun tropes, and e) do so while lacing his comments with profanity, because cursing makes bad arguments more persuasive, or something.

Most of his statement before the cameras was inarticulate, stuttering and emotional. Forget about the competent leader’s duty to show calm and professional demeanor so the public knows a capable adult is in control. This is how you signal virtue, and that you care. Once  the honorable Governor of California began talking in complete sentences, this was his approach:

“It’s just an outrage. I can’t put borders up — speaking of borders — in a neighboring state where you can buy this damn stuff legally. How the hell is that possible? [ Comment: How is it possible that states make their own laws, and California doesn’t get to dictate to Nevada? Let’s have a show of state hands to see how many states appreciate Gavin’s state creating a magnet for illegal immigrants, who then can proceed to travel where they wish.] I have no problem with the Second Amendment. [Note: That’s an obvious lie, but we can assume Newsom would say that he supports “sensible gun control,” which in eventually means “no guns.”] You have a right to bear arms but not weapons of goddamned mass destruction. [Note: No rifle, much less single shot rifle, is a weapon of mass destruction, and certainly not a goddamned weapon of mass destruction. This is disinformation, but hey, the governor is hysterical, so give him a break.] You need these damn things for hunting? Give me a break. [Note: The argument that the Second Amendment exists for the benefit of hunters is false, and dishonest, but anti-gun demagogues, especially Democratic governors—New York’s Governor Cuomo has made similar statements—keep recycling it. It convinces ignorant people, you see.] It’s just sickening… the leadership today that just turns a blind eye and won’t do a damn thing to address these issues. [ Translation: “Do something!”] What’s goddamned absent in this country right now is moral authority. [Comment: Whatever that means coming from an official of a party that ridicules and marginalizes religious faith.] California’s doing its part, but Jesus, these guys, the folks in the White House have been supporting the kinds of policies that roll back the work that we’re doing,. [Note: the “policies” Newsom refers to are known as the Bill of Rights.] It keeps happening, over and over and over again, on their damned watch. [Clarification: The shootings happened on Newsom’s watch as well, and before 2017, President Obama’s watch. Newsom didn’t make the “watch” argument then, for some reason]

This was pure, irresponsible demagoguery. As usual, the news media didn’t help by refusing to clarify that the “assault-type weapon” used in the shooting was not the  automatic, military  version of the AK-47 which is illegal, but the legal, single shot version. (“Assault-type” and “assualt-style” mean that the gun looks like an automatic, but isn’t. It is pure deceit. )That would require, however, exposing how ridiculous and dishonest the “weapons of mass destruction” line was. Continue reading