Tag Archives: materialism

An Ethics Alarms Audit: Who Or What Is At Fault For The Rise Of Donald Trump?

I have intentionally avoided most of the many articles that have used the unsettling rise of Donald Trump as a Presidential contender to attack their favorite targets—talk radio, Republicans, Obama, the Tea Party, the “elites,” the news media, reality TV…it’s a long list. One of the few I did read was this one, by Peggy Noonan. Its main thesis:

“The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance. Mr. Trump came from that…What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better….This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens. And a country really can’t continue this way.”

Yup. That’s how populist uprisings always start, and Noonan properly diagnosed this one. Still, it was neither pre-ordained nor necessary that the individual such a movement would unite around had to be such a dangerous, unstable and unworthy one, or that the citizens supporting him would display such complete absence of logic and responsibility.

Reading the debates between Trump supporters and detractors on various websites, I am reminded of the classic “Simpsons” episode where Springfield split into two warring factions, the Mensa group, and the anti-Mensa group. The latter was characterized by angry stupidity, and if a member made a logical and coherent argument against the astute and educated opposition, he would be instantly ejected with the cry, “You’re one of them!”

Herman Kahn, the futurist, used to say that even the best plans, organizations, and systems could be unsettled by “the 2% contingency of bad management or bad luck.” The United States has been very fortunate in its approximately 250 years’ experiment. Bismarck famously said that “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America,” and at times it has seemed that way. When the nation’s management failed, the U.S. has been astoundingly lucky. When it has been unlucky, brilliant leaders have been on hand to manage the problem. The Trump phenomenon illustrates the fact of existence that luck eventually runs out: so far, bad luck and bad management have joined forces to produce the threat of a Donald Trump presidency.

There are many people, groups and institutions responsible for Trump getting this far, and it is dishonest, incompetent and unfair to blame one without identifying the rest. Each was arguably essential to the chaotic mix, and thus nothing and no one deserves to be cited as “the” cause.

Here, in rough but not definitive particular order, are the main miscreants. I’ve limited myself to eleven, but the list could easily be longer.
Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Me, On the Presidential Candidacy Of Donald Trump

uncle-sam-suicide

From my post in 2011 titled, Unethical U.S. Presidential Candidacies: Is Trump’s the All-Time Worst?, which suddenly became green again in the wake of the horrifying news that The Donald is running for Presient again, for real, this time, or as close to real as Trump ever gets. I wrote:

“Donald Trump is perfectly happy to make a mockery of the presidential nomination and election processes while distorting them too. If he manages to convince enough fools to vote for him, hell, sure…he’d have a blast running for President. If his run peters out, it’s still worth lots of publicity, and increases the value of the Trump “brand.” Even the most unethical of the previous candidacies were based on a sincere, if misguided belief that the country’s welfare would be served by it. Does Trump have that belief? I wonder. No, his can’t be called the most unethical candidacy. But it is reckless, and it is intentionally appealing to the worst in 21st Century American character: fear, celebrity worship, ignorance, and materialism. Meanwhile, every second of attention his candidacy distracts from serious consideration of our nation’s leadership reduces the chances of the public doing its hardest and most important job carefully and competently.”

More heartfelt and truer words have never been composed in my brain.

You can read some selected examples of Trump’s miserable character here, and I have only scratched the surface. Every other candidate for President, including Hillary Clinton, was just elevated in stature by Trump’s announcement.

Anyone, indeed anything, looks good compared to him.

13 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership

Jerk of the Year: Donald Trump

Where Donald Trump is King

I know it’s only May, and I know that Rev. Jones is still out there somewhere, planning on burning a picture of Mohammad or making confetti out of the Quran or some other offensive stunt designed to attract the attention of Fox News and sell some tee shirts. I know Allan Grayson can surface at any time, and that Michael Moore is joining forces with Keith Olbermann, which is a good bet to make both of them more obnoxious. And I know Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michele Bachman and some other GOP candidates for president can be counted on to say or tweet outrageous things in the coming weeks and months. Yes, and Harry Reid is still running amuck, and there are plenty of athletes, singers and actors who will be embarrassing themselves, their profession and their species before the year is out.

Never mind all that. I’m ready to declare Donald Trump the Jerk of the Year.

I’ll admit my bias up front: I think Trump has been a contender for Jerk of the Year every year for at least two decades. Even I, however, never thought he was a big enough jerk to use the developing 2012 campaign for President of the United States—at a critical juncture in the nation’s history, with literally life-and death crises in the nation’s economy, housing market, and job markets, with the Middle East erupting and America involved in three armed conflicts, with a leadership vacuum at the highest levels of the government and with American trust and hope for the future at a record low—for personal ego gratification and to promote his cheesy, freak-show reality program “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But that’s what he did, soiling the news and  political discourse along the way by giving aid and support to the assortment of paranoids, wackos and racists who had been denying that Obama was a natural born citizen. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society

Unethical U.S. Presidential Candidacies: Is Trump’s the All-Time Worst?

There have been many unethical candidacies for U.S. President in American history, and some of them have been successful.

I am not referring to unethical candidates for the job, for there have been too many of them to count. An unethical candidacy occurs when a candidate’s purpose for seeking the job, method of doing so, and/or the effect on the nation of his or her campaign is especially reckless, harmful, or irresponsible. Perhaps the first unethical candidacy was that of Aaron Burr, who attempted to exploit a flaw in the election process to steal the presidency from his position as a vice-presidential candidate. Rutherford B. Hayes allowed himself to be put in office by an undemocratic back-room deal when his opponent, Samuel Tilden should have won both the popular and electoral vote.

Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to oppose his old friend, President Taft, in 1912, splitting his party, breaking his word (he had earlier refused to run for what was in essence a third term, agreeing it was best to hold to George Washington’s tradition), and all-but-insuring Woodrow Wilson a victory, was an exercise in ego and hubris. Eight years later, Sen. Warren G. Harding, who privately expressed doubts about his ability to fill the highest post in the land, may have allowed himself to be manipulated and used by corrupt political operatives for their own purposes. Franklin Roosevelt recklessly ran for his fourth term knowing that he was seriously and perhaps terminally ill, and didn’t take care to ensure that he had a competent Vice-President. (He, and the U.S., were lucky in that regard.)

Gov. George Wallace’s third party presidential run in 1968 was explicitly racist. The beneficiary of that candidacy, President Richard Nixon infamously pursued re-election with a new low of unethical and even illegal tactics against the Democrats. There have been others.

Donald Trump’s revolting candidacy, as yet unannounced, cannot fairly be called the most unethical presidential candidacy, but it is early yet. It may well prove to be one of the most harmful. As the United States faces some of the most difficult challenges in its history, Trump has chosen to use the nation’s process of deciding on its leader for his own ego gratification and self-promotion, without  preparation for the job, deference to fair campaign rhetoric, or acknowledgment of his own fatal flaws as a candidate. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, War and the Military

“Books for Christmas?!” A Christmas YouTube Ethics Lesson…For Parents

Last year, a three-year old opened a Christmas present and told off his parents when he discovered a book instead of a toy. So amuses were the parents at their offspring’s absence of gratitude and manners that they put the video of his disappointed response on YouTube. This Christmas, the video has gone suddenly viral, and there are dozens of web posts all over cyberspace holding the little ingrate up as an exemplar of all that’s wrong with Christmas, children, America, materialism, and more. Many commenters are suggesting just desserts for this budding illiterate, like no Christmas presents at all, nothing but books as presents from now until puberty, or nothing but books by Dean Koonzt, Sarah Palin, or  Marcel Proust. That’ll teach him. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Family, Literature, The Internet, U.S. Society

The Kardashian Kard Saga: Proof That We Are Doomed?

In “Terminator II,” there is  a scene in which young John Connor–desperately trying, along with his mother and the android killing machine sent from the future to protect the boy, to prevent the apocalyptic future that waits for him—sees young children gleefully pretending to murder each other with toy guns.  “We’re not going to make it, are we?” he asks the Terminator. “People, I mean.” The fact that a bank has chosen the Trashy Kardashian Sisters to promote a credit card aimed at teenagers prompts approximately the same sense of futility. At a time of crisis in which our culture that desperately needs to encourage responsible fiscal conduct led by financial institutions we can trust, this is what we get.

We’re doomed. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, U.S. Society