Saturday Night Ethics Dump, 8/31/2019.

Still trying to clear the ethics Augean stables…

1. Fox News headline: “The Dangers of Vaping.” Fake news! The story following that headline explained that teens were falling ill of serious lung difficulties after using what we once called “electronic cigarettes” to inhale THC. There is little convincing evidence that using e-cigarettes as they were designed to be used causes any lung problems. Thus the headline is as accurate as leading off a story about tainted beef with “The Dangers of Eating.”

2.  Another old ethics question comes around again. In 2017 I questioned the wisdom of the Miami Marlins baseball team loudly honoring the memory of Jose Fernandez, a rising pitching star who got himself and others killed by driving his speed boat while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. died July 1 in his hotel room

There is a level of recklessness, irresponsible conduct, arrogance and stupidity that cannot be excused, and whatever the level is, Fernandez exceeded it. The fact that he was killed himself was moral luck: imagine if only he had survived. Fernandez would be facing homicide charges and serious prison time….and would deserve it all. He had a family, a child, a city, a baseball team, and a sport all relying on him, and he decided to risk it all for coke, booze, and a speed boat ride, killing not only himself but two other human beings, who had families and responsibilities of their own. He was  no hero. He was a deadly, selfish, asshole.

No other message should be sent to the kids who once admired him that that one. Honoring Fernandez now would be a particularly ugly example of The King’s Pass or The Star Syndrome, Rationalization #11 on the list. A non-celebrity did what Fernandez did would be guaranteed posthumous infamy. The fact that the pitcher was a baseball star doesn’t make him better than that; if anything, it makes him worse.

Now we learn that Anaheim Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old Angels pitcher who died on July 1 in his hotel room,  perished because he had mixed multiple opioids with alcohol. The Red Sox are playing in Anaheim, and the Angels players are all wearing tributes to Skaggs on their uniform, a prominent “45.” True, Skaggs didn’t get others killed by his irresponsible behavior, but his death was still the result of conduct that needs to be discouraged, condemned, and certainly not romanticized. The Angels can honor their dead team mate privately, but a public display that suggests that Skaggs’ death was anything but a self-made tragedy send a dangerous and irresponsible message. Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/24/2019: More Wild Animal Ethics, And Wild Al Franken Follies

Good Morning!

That’s called “morning rush hour” in Yellowstone…

1. Child services, please! Recalling the scofflaw fool who was kicked in the cajones by a wild horse he was supposed to avoid touching, we have this story in the Washington Post, about a bunch of tourists who defied Yellowstone National Park rules until this happened…

Wow! That’s the gold medal in the Bison Olympics “Little Girl Toss” for sure. She was treated and released, but her parents should be prosecuted. In the category of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things,” here’s a comment on the Post story, flagged by Ann Althouse:

I grew up about an hour outside of Yellowstone and have spent many happy years in the park. I now live on the east coast, but try to go back every few years. Every single time I’m in the park, I see people doing the stupidest, most dangerous things. The last time, I was leaving the Old Faithful Inn after supper and noticed a small herd of bison hanging around. (A very common sight) Not being a complete idiot, I decided to take a different path back to our campground, a path and would not take me near the bison. Then I noticed a man with his small child heading toward the herd. I stopped him and warned that he might want to stay away, particularly with his child. He told me to f-off and kept walking. I watched as he got very close to the first bison and then saw him pick up his child and start to try to put the kid on the back of the bison. A bunch of other people started shouting and I ran for a ranger. Thankfully, the ranger managed to stop the idiot before tragedy. Unusual? Not really!

2.  Can #MeToo survive progressive hypocrisy? Personally, I hope so. Sexual harassment is a massive problem; I keep telling my legal ethics audienbces that the legal profession’s Harvey Weinstein will be exposed any time now, and probably will lead to many Harveys-at-Law. However, the more the movement is weaponized for political expediency, the less credibility it has. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

The solo performer is the immortal Doodles Weaver, Sigourney’s uncle.

1.  This is indefensible, and—I hate to keep using this word, but don’t blame me, blame prevailing political winds—totalitarian. Carl Malamud believes that there should be open access to government records, and he has a group that has been  putting them online for years. When his group  posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, however, the state sued for copyright infringement claiming that giving the public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials without the state’s authorization is the “strategy of terrorism.”

No, having laws that the public has no way to see or understand without paying for them is the strategy of dictators. A federal appeals court has ruled against the state, and now Georgia wants the Supreme Court to step in. So does Public.Resource.Org, Malamud’s group, which also wants SCOTUS to resolve the issue,  since the question of who owns the law is  current in  20 other states that have copyrighted their  annotated codes. The issue is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

I think Georgia is going to lose and lose ugly, though I have given up prediction 9-0 Supreme Court rulings. That’s what this one should be, though.

2. More on “the best people” front. One awful aspect of the Trump Administration that cannot be defended is the President’s irresponsible appointments, which are too numerous to list. In the case of Dr. Ben Carson, whom Ethics Alarms assessed as some kind of idiot savant based on his embarrassing performance in the debates, we knew, or should have known, that Trump appointing him Secretary of HUD was a guaranteed fiasco in the making. Continue reading