Comment Of The Day: “The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate”

Zoe Brain weighs in with a typical (for her) carefully researched and detailed comment—two, actually, that function as one— regarding border walls as a matter of science and practicality, an obviously deserving Comment of the Day. Even if Zoe’s quoted experts were 100% correct on a factual basis, and they might be, it does not necessarily mean that a wall/fence/some kind of barrier would not have value. I particularly object to this statement from the first of the experts:

The whole situation needs to be addressed, and building a wall is a feel-good solution that is being pushed more because it pisses off Democrats than because it is a practical solution.

That’s anti-Trump bias, flat-out and undeniable, and untrue. President Trump did not propose a wall while running for President to piss off Democrats. He obviously believes a wall is necessary, and if Democrats showed that they would support a wall, he would not suddenly declare that he didn’t want a wall. At this point, he wants a wall because he promised one, and because he believes that he must fulfill that promise to keep faith with the people who elected him. There is no question, however, that the reverse is true. Democrats are willing to cause all sorts of collateral damage to deny the President a political victory and to signal to their open-borders base that they really don’t want the flow of illegals into the U.S. to stop. They could trace DACA for the wall, which would be effective, pragmatic, traditional politics. Trump would agree to that. A biased statement like the above makes me doubt the starting point of any analysis.

I also object to what follows this statement,  a random list of alternative ways to spend the same amount of money. Playing that game with 5 billion dollars is intellectually dishonest, because one could easily find that amount by cutting all sorts of wasteful expenditures. NPR and PBS cost about a a half billion dollars, for example, and there is no excuse whatsoever for taxpayers to pay for commercial television and radio. It also assumes that it will be any easier getting more practical or realistic measures funded, because, again, Democrats only talk about “comprehensive immigration reform” so people can imagine whatever they want. The last time they seriously discussed stemming illegal immigration, they were talking about fences and walls. What that party has been promoting since is a “path to citizenship” for anyone who illegally enters or stays in the country and who doesn’t break other laws, and sometimes even for the ones who do. This is a message has the effect of increasing illegal immigrants, of course. 

It doesn’t take a genius, an expert, an engineering degree or a lot of thought to conclude that there is a lot wrong with a border wall as long as the one proposed. However, at this point, a giant sign in multiple languages that reads, “To those who are tempted to enter the United States without following the appropriate procedures and laws, STAY OUT. You are not welcome. Your children are not welcome. We mean it.” The Government of the United States of America.

Sending that message alone is worth 5 billion dollars.

Finally, this statement (By Zoe’s Expert 1) is fatuous and dishonest:

At the same time, set up a program to accept people as economic refugees under temporary visas contingent on locating a job and keeping out of trouble. Spend some time on outreach in Central and South America to counteract rumors and misinformation about immigration to the United States. This comes back to the point about simplifying the immigration system. If you can’t explain it to a Guatemalan peasant, then saying “obey the law” is meaningless because he cannot understand the law. For that matter, you can’t understand immigration law. Immigration lawyers don’t understand immigration law. The f*cking INS doesn’t understand immigration law – ask any immigrant.

Illegal immigrants can understand THIS much: There are procedures and laws governing who is eligible to enter the United States, and if you are tying to storm the border, sneak across the border, get into the country on false pretenses and scatter, or get a temporary visa and then violate it, you’re breaking the law. I don’t think that’s too hard to “understand.”

Here is Zoe Brain’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/4/18: The Good And The Bad, And If Janus Had A Third Face, It Would be Ugly

Good morning!

1. Looking for biased but reliable progressive news aggregators! I have a long secret list of story sources, but my online leftist news aggregator supply is drying up. That’s where I can find the stories that reflect badly on the Right but that the conservative news sources choose to ignore. The key problem is “reliable.” Sites like Raw Story, ThinkProgress, the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos have all violated Ethics Alarms standards of basic honesty, fairness and trustworthiness—much like Breitbart, Red State and the Gateway Pundit, none of which I will  read or cite unless directed to a particular post, from the other side of the spectrum. The Daily Beast was long my favorite online leftist source, but now it requires a subscription, and I’m certainly not going to pay for biased analysis—beyond what I already get from the Washington Post and New York Times.

Memeorandum remains the most balanced and non-partisan online news aggregator, by far.

2. Retire, Pat. It isn’t just Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein who try to hold on to power long after their advancing age makes it unethical to do so. The GOP has its irresponsible geezers too. Today Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ks) will announce whether he plans to end his political career or run for another term in 2020, which would take him to his 90th year if he survived it. The man is 82: he should not have run for his current term.

Of course, it doesn’t help that 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is providing an unethical role model for all elected officials and judges by ostentatiously refusing to retire and obviously resolving to leave the Supreme Court feet first.

3. Slapping down Big Brother in Oregon.U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman issued a permanent injunction against the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying that tried to fine Mats Järlström, who has a degree in engineering and years of experience in the field, $500 for describing himself as “an engineer.”

The judge ruled that this was a violation of the First Amendment, which it clearly was. This wasn’t a case where the First Amendment right to lie came into play, because Järlström wasn’t lying. He was fined for going on television to talk about public policy issues while describing himself as an “electronics engineer” and writing the phrase “I am an engineer” in a letter. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying claimed he was practicing engineering without a license.

As government regulations proliferate without end,  they inevitably strangle individual liberty, expression and enterprise. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/29/2018: Codes, Cars, Carter And The Caravan

Boy, this really IS a good morning!

(The warm-up may rely a bit more on links and quotes than usual…as Bob Cratchit tells Scrooge, “I was making rather merry yesterday.”)

1. Breaking News: Jimmy Carter is right! Former President Jimmy Carter, now 94, has injected himself into the Georgia governor’s race by asking Republican candidate Brian Kemp to resign as secretary of state. Carter’s argument is that there is an appearance of impropriety in his being officially responsible for an election in which he is a candidate, and that his resignation is essential  to preserve public confidence in the outcome of Kemp’s race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Carter’s made the request in an Oct. 22 letter .

“One of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be a nonbiased supervision of the electoral process,” Carter wrote, explaining that stepping aside “would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.”

When he’s right, he’s right. Kemp should resign, and his lamer than lame rationalization for not doing so, that it isn’t really he who supervises the election but his staff, would be sufficient reason not to vote for him in the gubernatorial election.

2. Ethics Dunce: Red Sox owner John Henry. You would think the progressive owner of the Boston Globe could restrain himself from blatant virtue-signaling while his team was celebrating its historic season and World Series victory, but no. Henry saluted his team for being “diverse” in his post-game remarks. Nobody sane cares how diverse, whatever that means (Where were the women, John? Where were the Asians? The differently-abled? Muslims? LGBT representatives?), a pro sports team is as long as it wins, and if it doesn’t win, its check-offs on an EEOC form won’t make it any better or its losing more palatable. The 2018 Red Sox were assembled according to the skills and talents of its personnel, with race and ethnicity a non-factor. What mattered is that the team’s manager (he’s Puerto Rican, and I don’t care) proved himself a natural leader who created a selfless, courageous, professional culture on his team, none of whom mentioned race, religion or creed all season, and properly so.

The compulsion to spurt progressive cant at every opportunity is pathological. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Viral Google Diversity Memo”

The perspective Ethics Alarms readers often add to topics based on their personal experiences is a often great enhancement to the discussions here. This Comment of the Day by Alex is a perfect example, as he clarifies the context of the Google diversity memo through his own observations as an employee of another large tech company.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “The Viral Google Diversity Memo”:

Rather than rehash the memo or analyze it or say what is right or wrong with its reasoning, I’ll instead add my experience dealing with internal policies and “requests for comment” at a large tech (software) company – this is a direct competitor of Google, based in the Pacific NW and employing ~100,000 people (you can figure out who they are with that). My background is in Electrical Engineering with a strong focus on Computer Science, and I was hired by my previous employer just out of college after spending a summer internship with them. I worked there for 12 years, until the summer of 2016 (actually today is my one year anniversary at my new job). In my time there I can only describe diversity and HR policies around race and gender are schizophrenic, even if well-intentioned. These are my stories [insert Law and Order opening notes].

The official harassment/discrimination policy as stated in the employee handbook (which was updated every year) is incredibly vague, and this is intentional (although no one will come out and accept it publicly). We are in an at-will state, so you can be easily dismissed based on that one vague rule; and it has been used as a negotiation tactic on borderline performance dismissals to settle for a lower severance package. (“Do you really want us to state that you’re leaving for violations of the harassment policy? No? Ok, how about you settle for 2 weeks instead of 4?”) But I also have to state that the cases where I saw this section being arguably misused can be counted with the fingers of one hand. Also, I am certain that there are good intentions behind this policy, but as is the case with many well-intentioned rules, it is when the rubber meets the road that things get messy.

Every year we had to take Standards of Conduct training. Every year we had a new edition, and every year there was at least one case study dealing with gender or racial discrimination. Some years were better than others, but in general the training was terrible. If you had the cognitive abilities of a 7-year-old you could figure out what were the right responses without watching the videos or reading the policies. (The Saturday morning cartoons I watched in the 80s – G.I. Joe, He-Man, Transformers – had more complex moral dilemmas). I remember one year around the middle of my tenure when the videos and cases were actually interesting and engaging. A case that I still remember from that time is about an ambiguous situation between a male manager and a female engineer not in the same chain of command. There was a big internal debate about that one, and the next year we had the blandest possible training to avoid controversies.

The above two points are to set the stage: corporate policies are clear, you should toe the line, do not do anything that might be misconstrued, you can be dismissed for very small transgressions.

And then… well… tech companies are rebels, they thrive in chaos, and you’re expected to rock the boat. In many (may be even all) groups you can only grow so much by being a technical expert, you are expected to influence larger and larger teams as you get promoted to keep getting good performance reviews. You can be the only expert on a certain software component, but unless other people know about you and have been “influenced” by you, you are not considered good enough. This has the effect of incentivizing “visibility”. Other people and other teams should know you exist and be willing to state that you’ve had a positive impact for the company. Continue reading

Well, Let’s Kill All The Lawyers, Then!

One reason why democracy doesn’t seem to be working very well is that the public is becoming increasingly ignorant about what makes it work at all. Evidence of this trend comes by way of a provocative study by the Pew Research Center, which polled the public regarding which professions it believes contribute the most to society.

The results can be found in this press release, this summary, and this article in The Careerist, but here is a snapshot:

Worth study

Continue reading