Officially Kicking Off The Holidays: The Complete “It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics Guide, Updated And With A New Introduction For 2019

 

The Ethics Alarms Ethics Guide to Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece It’s A Wonderful Life,” perhaps the greatest ethics movies of all time, has become this blog’s official welcome to the holiday season.  Once again, I have reviewed the post after another viewing of the film. It is a mark of the movie’s vitality that I always find something else of interest from an ethics perspective.

The movie is an important shared cultural touch-point,and exemplifies the reasons why I harp on cultural literacy  as so vital to maintaining our nation’s connective tissue. The film teaches about values, family, sacrifice and human failings unlike any other. I hope its power and uniqueness disproves the assertion, made in one online debate here this year, that new cultural creations inevitably and effectively supersede older ones, which, like copies of copies, eventually the cultural values conveyed get fainter and less influential.

Last year I wrote with confidence, “No, they really don’t,” but now I am not so sure. In , I learned that my druggist, about 35, married and with children, had never seen the movie. I gave him a DVD over the summer, and suggested that he watch it with his whole family, which he said he would: he moved on to another CVS branch, so I have no idea if he did or will. I used to be  amazed at how many people haven’t seen the movie; now I am not. Last year I wrote that my son’s girlfriend admitted that she hadn’t; this year he has a new girlfriend,  and she hasn’t either.

The movie is in black and white, and many Gen Xers and Millennials disdain uncolored films the way I once avoided silent movies.  Will anyone be watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” 20 years from now? I wonder. The movie begins in heaven, and has a strong religious undercurrent. Religion is increasingly mocked and marginalized today, and  I see no signs that the trend is reversing. Aside from the nauseating Hallmark Christmas movies, most of this century’s holiday fair is openly cynical about Christmas and everything connected to it.

Here’s an example of how rapidly  cultural touchpoints vanish: I’m going to poll how many readers remember this:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker ‘n’ too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, ‘lope with you!

Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly,
Gaggin’ on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

Now just answer the poll, don’t go giving away the answer. Nobody knows all the lyrics that I just posted, nobody but the author ever did. The first verse, however, was once familiar.

Maybe there is hope: it was recently announced that a new musical adaptation of  the movie may be coming to Broadway as early as next year. The songs will be written by Sir Paul McCartney, and interest in The Beatles is surging.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” would be an excellent basis for a middle school ethics course. I haven’t seen a better, richer film for that purpose come along since, and I’ve been looking. Despite the many ethics complexities and nuances that the film glosses over or distorts, its basic, core message is crucial to all human beings, and needs to be hammered into our skulls at regular intervals, far more often than once a year.

What is this message?  In an earlier posting of The Guide I described it like this:

Everyone’s life does touch many others, and everyone has played a part in the chaotic ordering of random occurrences for good. Think about the children who have been born because you somehow were involved in the chain of events that linked their parents. And if you can’t think of something in your life that has a positive impact on someone–although there has to have been one, and probably many—then do something now. It doesn’t take much; sometimes a smile and a kind word is enough. Remembering the lessons of “It’s a Wonderful Life” really can make life more wonderful, and not just for you

Finally, I hope you all have a terrific Thanksgiving, and that the holiday season is joyous for all.

And now, heeeeeere’s GEORGE BAILEY!
Continue reading

Fairness To Pete Buttigieg

Yeah, this kind of thing does not engender trust…

Yikes. Just as he is surging in the Iowa polls, “It” guy Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign organization made an epic botch of sufficient scope as to raise competence, honesty and responsibility questions.

On October 24, Buttigieg released an op-ed claiming more than 400 South Carolinians had endorsed his “Douglass Plan for Black America.”  The mayor of South Bend  has a strained relationship with African Americans, so this was obviously an important initiative. The problem: the three black politicians listed at the top of his press release never endorsed his him, and while the campaign had implied otherwise, 40 % of the endorsement names listed were not black but white. “There is one presidential candidate who has proven to have intentional policies designed to make a difference in the Black experience, and that’s Pete Buttigieg. We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate,” the press release read.

The Intercept interviewed the three black politicians and determined that none of them endorsed Buttigieg. Only one of the three endorsed his plan, which includes reparations for slavery.

Incredibly,  Buttigieg’s campaign sent out an email telling black politicians they needed to opt out if they did not want their name on the endorsement list. That’s outrageous. No candidate can assume an affirmative endorsement because an individual doesn’t explicitly deny one. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week And Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young

Sure, be happy and proud, Mr. Mayor! After all, you didn’t commit those murders, and better still, you weren’t the victim of any of them!

“I’m not committing the murders. And that’s what people need to understand. I’m not committing the murders. The police commissioner is not committing it. The council is not committing it. So how can you fault leadership? You know this has been five years of 300-plus murders, and I don’t see it as a lack of leadership.”

—Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, responding to criticism over another year of violent crime in the city, with the number of murders about to reach 300.

Any elected official foolish enough to make such a statement should just resign in disgrace. He is incapable of competent leadership, because he doesn’t understand what it is that leaders do. They are responsible for the welfare of those who follow them, depend on them, trust them. Because they have taken on this responsibility, they are accountable to everyone in the organization—in his case, a municipality—for a deterioration in conditions there. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Excursion, 11/17/2019: This Crazy, Unpredictable, Untrustworthy World

Greetings!

1.  So we can’t trust Intel, either. Good to know. Last May, Intel released a patch for a group of security vulnerabilities researchers had found in the company’s computer processors.  Intel implied that all the problems were solved. The official public message from Intel was “everything is fixed,” said Cristiano Giuffrida, a professor of computer science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and one of the researchers who first reported the vulnerabilities. “And we knew that was not accurate.”

Indeed, the software patch meant to fix the processor problem addressed only some of the issues the researchers had identified.  A second patch, publicly disclosed by the company last week, finally fixed all of the vulnerabilities Intel had said were fixed in May…six months after the company said that all was well.

2. So they finally bullied the NFL into re-considering Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, the mediocre NFL quarterback whose political grandstanding before games made him an albatross for the league and any team foolish enough to employ him, has had woke “fans,” who couldn’t care less about football but who loved his race-bating and police-bashing protests, claiming that he was “blackballed” from pro football for exercising his right of free speech.

This was never true—let a grocery store clerk try that argument when he’s fired for making political demonstrations during store hours—but never mind: Kaepernick was styled as a martyr anyway.  Why the NFL capitulated to bogus complaints and gave the player a showcase for NFL scouts, I cannot fathom. He’s 36, hasn’t played for three years, and wasn’t that good in 2016. If no team signs him, the NFL will be told again that it is racist and oppressive. If a team does sign him, the message will be that enough agitation can force an organization to elevate politics above its legitimate priorities.

3. This is why our politician aren’t civil, collaborative, respectful and ethical: the public doesn’t want them to be.  Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Minority Leader,praised Representative Peter King, the long time Long Island Republican House member who announced his retirement this week, by tweeting  warm words on Twitter.  “I will miss him in Congress & value his friendship,” the effusive message concluded.

For this once-standard professional reaction to a fellow Congress member’s retirement, Schumer was roundly attacked by Democrats and progressives on social media. To his credit, despite more than 10,000 mostly negative replies and even calls for his resignation, Schumer neither apologized for his tribute to a colleague nor took down the tweet. Continue reading

Two Ethics Dunce University Presidents Who Should Be Fired

Hateful!!!!

They are…

Western Connecticut State University  President John Clark, who asked for the community’s help identifying students—if they were students— who distributed what he called “hate filled flyers and inscriptions on our university property.” These were more of the 4Chan-inspired “It’s OK to be white” and “Islam is right about women” trolling devices.

“I wanted to assure you that a full scale police investigation is underway,” Clark wrote, stating that the FBI, state police and municipal police were reviewing surveillance footage iand grilling those  “who may have witnessed any of this despicable and utterly unacceptable behavior.” In full grandstanding and virtue-signalling mode, Clark declared that any WCSU community members identified as responsible for  the flyers  “will be subject to the severest disciplinary actions, including dismissal as well as possible civil and criminal actions.”  He described the flyers’ message as “disgusting,” “hateful,” “virulent,” “sick and outrageous.”

“It’s OK to be white.”

The Horror. Continue reading

Wait, WHAT? Somebody’s Incompetent Here, And I Don’t Think It’s Me.

According to Breitbart, A USA TODAY/Suffolk poll found that only 36 % of those polled support the House voting to impeach the President, with 22%  telling pollsters that  Congress should continue with its impeachment inquiry but should not vote to remove him. Thirty-seven per cent say lawmakers should end their impeachment probe, while four percent remain undecided on the matter.

Regarding a Senate impeachment trial, however, 46 % are in favor of convicting President Trump and 47% are against. The pollsters  used telephone to contact 1,000 registered voters and was taken between October 23rd and 26th.

How is this possible? Saying that you don’t want the House to impeach but want the Senate to convict is like saying you don’t want someone arrested and charged with a crime, but you want him to be convicted and jailed. It makes no sense. Continue reading

Ethics Lessons From An Ethics Dunce, Ed Stack, Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO

Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, is profiled in Sunday’s New York Times. He reveals himself as a thorough Ethics Dunce on many fronts, but in doing so performs a valuable service by showing vividly why the world doesn’t work, or at least the United States.

  • Stack had an epiphany, we learn, after the shooting murders of 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “As Mr. Stack watched the news, he decided to drastically curtail Dick’s gun sales,” we learn.

This is management incompetence, and life incompetence as well. Stack employed pure emotion to make a business decision with unknown impact. Such business practices make an executive untrustworthy by definition.

  • Quote: “But I sat there hearing about the kids who were killed, and I hadn’t cried that much since my mother passed away. We need to do something. This has got to stop.”

More incompetence, and irresponsible as well. More than two years after deciding, based on a single unusual tragedy, that guns are bad, Stack’s level of criticism remains stuck at the “Do something!” stage. Of course, so is the anti-gun movement generally, making Stack an excellent symbol of its lack of policy seriousness and willingness to deal openly with reality. Continue reading