Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/8/2010: Daylight Savings Time Edition

Well, It SHOULD still be “Good Morning!”, but it’s not…

1. The most unethical Presidential campaign in recent history.  This profile of in Wisconsin, nicely illustrates the central ethics rot at the core of the Sanders campaign and his appeal. Michelz, we learn, is desperately in debt. He is therefor banking on Sanders to solve his problems by taking money from other people and giving it to him.

This is where the hyping of “income inequality” leads, and it is the basis of Sanders’ unethical message. It is inherently unfair that other people make more money than you do, so the government should use its power to “equalize” income and wealth. We learn in the course of the piece that in last week’s California primary, 47 % who said income inequality was their most important issue picked Mr. Sanders. 13% voted for Joe Biden.

How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character?  We don’t need to ask how we came to have a Presidential contender whose strategy is to appeal to such people and exploit their unhappiness with their current state in life. That is a market-tested approach to acquiring power that has been effective around the world, with disastrous results.

2. Thank you, 1960s! From the res ipsa loquitur department: A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. From the study:
Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020′” (Economic Data Thread)

This Comment Of The Day covers a wealth of ethics issues, including the ancient ethics debates over what is a fair share on societal wealth and who decides when someone has “enough” wealth. It also is an Ethics Alarms first: Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day is on his own Comment of the Day!

And here it is, his Comment of the Day on his previous Comment of the Day on the post, “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

The point I was making was that people use economic data to illustrate all kinds of things. Typically they use charts and graphs to illustrate a point THEY want to make. The values within those charts and graphs need full examination before drawing a conclusion. For example, Reagan dropped the unemployment rate overnight by including the military in the labor force. In that case the number employed went up and the labor force went up as well. Given that the unemployment rate is the number unemployed/labor force if the denominator rises the UE rate falls.

Conversely, between 2008 and 2012 the unemployment rate showed a downward trend because the Labor force participation rate (LFPR) shrank and not because more people got jobs. People gave up looking for work so they were no longer treated as unemployed and the number of people working grew relative to the LFPR. Since 2016 the LFPR has been growing and the UE rate is dropping. That means that there are more people are working. That is a good thing because it puts upward pressure on wages.

For some, higher wages have overtaken what is known as an individual’s reservation wage. The reservation wage is the minimum amount needed to get a person to accept the offered job. Unfortunately, we have a great number of people whose true reservation wage has been distorted in both psychological and real terms. Reservation wages have been growing because of the growth in governmental income maintenance programs. Imagine how many will decide to live only on Yang’s guaranteed $12K a year. Couple that $1000 a month with housing assistance, food stamps, childcare, Medicare, and WIC you can live quite well on the dole. Oh I know, Yang says he would replace all those other programs to fund his guaranteed minimum income. Name a program that ever went away. We just layer one atop another.

These are not my opinions but well established facts and fundamental economic theory that is taught in first year Econ classes. I know because I taught those courses for 20 years. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And ‘Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”’

For today’s “Economics for Dummies” lecture, and we can only hope those in thrall to the “income inequality” hucksters running for President will somehow hear it, we have Chris Marschner. What inspired his discourse was this chart,

from #3 in the 1/12 Warm-Up, regarding Michael Bloomberg’s deliberately dishonest statement, “The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me. But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans.”

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

One of the great fictions of economics lies in how data is portrayed. Growth rates are one of my favorite methods of telling lies. The wage growth rate above requires a bit of basic math and economics understanding to fully capture its relevance.

The lowest quartile or quintile will have substantially higher rates of growth even if all incomes rise at exactly the same amount. For example if someone making the highest limit of the lowest quartile (say $25,000) gets a $5000 raise that earners wage growth is 20%. As we move up the line, if the highest limit of the second quartile is $50,000 and a  $5,000 raise, that rate of increase is a mere 10%. As we move up the ladder the basis or denominator gets progressively larger and if the numerator – the raise – remains constant, the rate of growth falls. Most people know this or should know this. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/29/19: A Meme, A Sub-Heading, And A Risky Tradition

Let’s pray for a more ethical culture…

1. Unethical meme of the last couple hours or so...Esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter Curmie (Where have you gone Curmie? Ethics Alarms turns its lonely eyes to you… Oo-oo-oo…) posted this on Facebook, I assume in a tongue in cheek mood, since I know that he has a brain:

Sadly, it was greeted with cheers from the Facebook Borg as if the message was profound. This is a good illustration, however, of the intellectual rigor of the open borders crowd, which, please note, includes almost all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. How can you argue seriously with people this silly and shallow?

2. And an unethical sub-heading! Socialist propaganda turns up where you least expect it, which I guess is the idea. It’s insidious, and works on young brains like that bug Ricardo Montalban put in Chekhov’s ear in “The Wrath of Kahn.”

In this Sunday’s “Social Q’s” column, a weekly trove of ethics insight and blunders, a teacher complains about moving to a region where teacher salaries are much lower than what he is used to.  The culture shock was required in order to accommodate his wife’s career opportunity to achieve her “dream job.” He says that he is obsessing about earning so much less, and even though he says he did not get into teaching for the money, and that his wife has the primary income in the family, he’s wondering if he will still be motivated to do his job at the drastically reduced salary.

Columnist Phillip Gallane’s answer is far too kind. What I would have said is that if your motivation to do the job you have contracted to do in your chosen profession is based on your compensation,  you are in the wrong field, and you are letting non-ethical considerations dominate ethical ones to te detriment of those who have to trust you.

There’s nothing quite like making a sacrifice for a loved one and then being bitter about it afterwards. Gallanes does point out that since the teacher’s salary clearly isn’t crucial, he shouldn’t “stress about it” and should take satisfaction from allowing his wife to get her “dream job.”

The sub-heading for this segment in column: “It’s almost as if Capitalism is…broken?” Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Hillary Clinton

hedge funds

Among her almost infinite flaws, Hillary Clinton is stunningly lacking in self awareness, and her statements often—astoundingly often—point to her own misconduct and ethical bankruptcy without her comprehending the self-indictment. She has tweeted, more than once, this sentiment, for example:

“To every survivor of sexual assault…You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you.”

…though Hillary was emphatically not “with” the women who credibly accused her husband of sexual assault, and still do. She will make statements to one group that are the exact opposite of what she recently said to another group, without batting an eye. Hillary actually committed the meta-lie of saying she never has lied, which is manifestly unbelievable. Then there was this Titanic-style gaffe…

“There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail.”

…coming from someone who is, many legal experts believe, not already under indictment purely because she is “too big to jail.” (and then there is hubby Bill, who engaged in flat-out illegal election conduct in Massachusetts that you or I would have been arrested for, and didn’t even get a rap on the wrists.) Neither Clinton has any integrity at all, or shame either. It’s really quite stunning.

Last week, Hillary tweeted this howler:

Hillary Tweet 1

This is an example of a politician intentionally playing to class divisions, ignorance and bias, and worse, encouraging them. It is exactly like saying that it is “unacceptable” that Jimmy Fallon, who only hosts a silly late night show, makes more money than any cancer surgeon, special needs teacher or EMT alive. In some ways it is worse, because most people understand what those jobs are, and may  sort of comprehend the economic principles at work: if Jimmy Fallon drops dead, there is no replacement who will bring to the job exactly what Jimmy Fallon did. He is a unique commodity, and EMT’s are not. The statement is just an emotional attack on the fact that people value laughing over things that are objectively more practical, and entertainment salaries reflect that. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Garry Kasparov, Former Russian Chess Champion And Dissident, And While I’m Thinking Of It, Is It Too Late To Draft HIM For President?

Checkmate Strategy

“I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd.”

—-Former chess grandmaster and Soviet dissident Garry Kasparov on Facebook, explaining to  clueless  U.S. citizens what they don’t appreciate about their own system, from the perspective of an immigrant who has seen where socialist fantasies lead.

Of course, Kasparov isn’t remotely eligible to be President, since he was born in Russia and is now a Croatian citizen. Yet if I could, I would vote for him over any of the leading candidates in both parties even if he couldn’t speak English and had to commute from Croatia.

Kasperov, who is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and the author of Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, elaborated on his theme at the Daily Beast, giving an American history lesson in the process (Does Donald Trump know any of this stuff? No chance!) and saying in part… Continue reading