Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2021: Shots

This morning served as a perfect example of how the news is now automatically politicized and prioritized for partisan ends. On CNN, a panel was discussing the mass shooting in Boulder. Colorado, and instantly transforming the segment into gun-control mass rant. On Fox, the crisis of the day was the chaos at the border, where the virtual open-borders policies everyone—including those planning to be illegal immigrants—knew would come in along with the Biden administration is having the predictable effects. That segment was a diatribe against the wink-wink, nudge-nudge Democratic enabling of uncontrolled immigration.

CNN wins in the closely contested dubious ethics category by having “contributor” Andrew McCabe on the panel. McCabe epitomized the FBI’s corrupt and partisan efforts to injure the Trump Administration from within; he leaked information to the media and lied about it; he was fired, and deserved to be. McCabe’s high-profile anti-Trump conduct was sufficient to get him a gig on CNN, where being part of “the resistance” is all one needs to endear oneself to the Trump Deranged.

McCabe should have lost his law license, as any attorney who leaks confidential information should, and personally, I wouldn’t trust him to walk my dog.

1. You want to be paid $15 an hour for doing a job this poorly? This morning, having been forced to get up and move my car at 7 am, I decided to drive to the local McDoanld’s for my favorite guilty morning pleasure, a sausage biscuit and some hash browns. For once I could understand the heavily accented woman on the intercom, and I made a clear and distinct order. But given false security by this unusual development, for the first time in a long while I didn’t check the bag—this McDonald’s bats about .500 in getting orders right—and sure enough, when I arrived home, I found an Egg McMuffin instead of a sausage biscuit. I hate Egg McMuffins.

This isn’t brain surgery. I know it’s a crummy job, but it is what they are being paid for. Don’t tell me someone who is that inattentive deserves “a living wage.” Pay them for not working, if you foolishly want to treat them as charity cases; at least then they aren’t getting rewarded for doing a job badly.

2. Why can’t McDonald’s work this efficiently? My experience getting my first Wuhan virus vaccination (in Alexandria, Virginia) was excellent. The elaborate process, staged at a middle school about five minutes from my home, was well-planned, cheerful, and quick, even on a Saturday with long lines. I must have personally thanked ten volunteers.

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Self-Checkout Ethics

Self-Checkout-Loss

I am embarrassed to admit that this issue never occurred to me begore a friend sent me an article about it. Or maybe I should be proud.

Voucher Codes Pro is a company that offers coupons to internet shoppers. It surveyed 2,634 people, and almost 20% said they had cheated while using a grocery store self-checkout. Over half of the cheaters said they took advantage of the system because they realized being apprehended was unlikely. A 2015 study of self-checkouts with handheld scanners conducted at the University of Leicester audited a million self-checkout transactions over a year’s time.Out of $21 million in sales, goods worth nearly $850,000 left stores without being scanned and paid for.

How does this happen? There are several techniques:

  • Ringing up a T-bone ($13.99/lb) with a code for a cheap ($0.49/lb) variety of produce is known as “the banana trick.”
  • When a pricey item leaves the conveyor belt without being scanned, it’s “the pass around.”
  • Then there is “the switcheroo,” where you peel the sticker off something inexpensive and place it over the bar code of something pricey. You do have to make certain that the two items are about the same weight to avoid triggering the “unexpected item” alert on some machines.

“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” reads a comment in a Reddit discussion on the subject. Another one says, “There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.”

I guess this would apply to gas stations too.

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Friday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/23/2020: Oh, Might As Well Talk About The Debate…

Debate2

If you are going to have a bad and a good debate performance, is it better to have the better showing in the last debate? That was certainly the case for Barack Obama in 2012, after Romney aced him in the previous one. Allowing early voting makes the calculation uncertain—one more reason it’s a terrible policy that undermines responsible, informed elections.

(The debate transcript is here.)

1. By recent, horrible standards, the moderator, Kristen Welker on NBC, was relatively competent, fair and unbiased. How hard was that? Even so, she interrupted the President repeatedly while mostly letting Biden finish his answers, which was not necessarily in Joe’s best interests. The mains thing was that her questions to both candidates were pointed and tough, and she did not seem hostile to one or the other. Nor did she bail out the Democratic candidate—you know, the one she’s almost certainly voted for already, a la Candy Crowley in 2012.

Welker did not ask Biden about #MeToo and his repeated sexual harassment as VP, never mind the accusation from his former staffer. That topic has been verboten during the campaign, and of course Trump wasn’t going to bring it up. Astounding, really, that Biden sailed through the primaries and this campaign without anyone prominent officially raising the question of how the party of #MeToo could have an open sexual harasser as its standard bearer.

2. Joe Biden’s appeals to trust based on the public knowing good ol’ Joe were either audacious, cynical or stupid, depending on your degree of tolerance. I found them nauseating, and for me they raised the question of whether Biden really thinks the public is that inattentive. Biden has spent his entire run for the White House rejecting the positions and values he promoted during his career; how can he keep saying, “You know me! You know what I stand for!”?

3. As always, the President’s inability to be verbally precise was infuriating, as in the exchange about “catch and release.” The basic fact is that the policy is irresponsible, since there is no reason to trust someone who would illegally enter our country to appear voluntarily in court. Trump said that almost no illegals appear, which is a typical exaggeration; Biden, absurdly, said almost all of them do, which is flat out false.

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Ethics May Day, 2020: Biden, Reade, Planned Parenthood, A Renegade Times Pundit, And The Democrats Get Their Way.

It’s May! It’s May!

1. So Joe Biden went on “Morning Joe” and denied that Tara Reade was telling the truth. So what? What does this tell us? Was there any chance whatsoever that he was going to say, “Yup, I finger-fucked her. I don’t know what came over me!”? No. This is like the Kurt Gödel conundrum about the island where there are only truth-tellers and liars, and there are some questions where they will give exactly the same answers. He picked a screamingly partisan journalist, Mika  Brzezinski, to ensure soft-ball treatment (she actually was a bit tougher than expected), and, to some eyes, looked as if he had rehearsed his statement. Ann Althouse does an extensive analysis here.

I don’t see the point. It’s a pro forma denial, and Biden was pressured into it.

I do think the Post article used some unfortunate phrasing..

“The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was rebutting Tara Reade’s accusation that he reached under her skirt to penetrate her with his fingers somewhere in the Capitol in 1993. This denial requires him to thread a thin needle.”

2. Showing it has more integrity than most women’s groups, Planned Parenthood, the Daily Beast reports, was the only one among  the major pro-abortion groups in the nation that responded directly to the progressive site’s request for a comment regarding Tara Reade’s allegations. The “Democrat-aligned” groups either “did not respond” or ” replied and did not provide a statement”…except Planned Parenthood.

Its president released a statement saying in part, “We believe survivors—and saying we believe survivors doesn’t mean only when it’s politically convenient…Joe Biden must address this allegation directly.'” Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/4/20: Abortion, Ann Althouse, A Big Lie And The Big Stupid

Good morning!

We’ve started a year without a dog enriching each day for the first time in over three decades. Don’t like it much.

1 . Lobbying the Supreme Court against abortion.  207 members of Congress — 39 senators and 168 House members from 38 states — filed  an amicus  brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana anti-abortion law when it hears the case in March, stating they “have a special interest in the correct interpretation, application and enforcement of health and safety standards for elective abortion by the people of the states they represent.” In the brief, the mostly GOP legislators (two Democrats also signed on) implore  the Supreme Court to uphold a lower court’s decision to let stand a Louisiana statute that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is being performed. SCOTUS declared virtually the same law unconstitutional in Texas; the argument for this law is that Texas is bigger than Louisiana.

I’m serious.

The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that the Louisiana law is really an effort to “regulate abortion out of existence,” claiming that only one physician in the state would be able to  provide abortions if the law is allowed to stand.

Oh, I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on.

2. Another Big Lie. When I went to a local cineplex to see “Ford vs. Ferrari,” I was stunned at how few employees were in evidence at a movie house with 18 screens and hundreds of people buying tickets. There was one human being selling tickets, the rest were dispensed by automated kiosks. There were no ticket-takers at all; we figured out that we could have just walked into any of the theaters without showing a ticket to anyone. To buy drinks and snacks, I  had to stand in a line for over 20 minutes, because only one person was filling orders. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2019: Smears, Excuses And Betrayals

Ethics Alarms wishes you the best this morning…

1. How low can they go? NBC News published a 1768-word article this week examining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s slave-holding  ancestors.

The 1850 and 1860 censuses reveal that between them, two of the Kentucky Senators’ great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama.The article’s apparent objective is to suggest that  Sen. McConnell’s ancestors may have influenced his policy positions, implying that he is racist by blood.

Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias!

Asked about his ancestors in a press conference, McConnell pointed out that Barack Obama also has slave-holding  relatives in his family tree. Mitch was nicer than I would have been. I yield to no one in my dislike for the Senate Leader, but this is a self-evident smear ny NBC, a blatant “guilt by association” ploy with the damning associations being with people McConnell never knew.

Have you no sense of decency, NBC, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

In full disclosure, my father’s mother’s family, also from Kentucky, owned slaves. One of them, a housekeeper, continued to be employed by the family, and my grandmother cared for her in the woman’s old age, as a permanent guest and companion until she died.

Amazingly, this did not make me a fan of Mitch McConnell.

2. I’m STUNNED! Well, no, actually I knew this more than 30 years ago, when I oversaw a non-partisan study on the issue. From NPR:

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase the pay of at least 17 million people, but also put 1.3 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.

The increased federal minimum could also raise the wages of another 10 million workers and lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and last increased a decade ago.

The budget watchdog’s report comes ahead of next week’s vote in the House of Representatives on a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2024.

The minimum wage is an example of the Left’s “Don’t confuse us with facts, our minds are made up!” orientation when it comes to thoroughly debunked socialist cant. It’s pretty simple: when the compensation required for  certain jobs outweigh the value of those jobs, the jobs disappear. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the author of  the Raise the Wage Act, argued that the benefits in CBO’s forecast far outweighed the costs. Tell that to the restaurant owners who will have to close up shop, and the 1.3 million who lose their jobs, Bobby. All for the greater good!

Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who push a massive minimum wage increase are counting on the public’s ignorance, as in other issues. Continue reading

New Week Morning Warm-Up, 3/4/19: Luck, Fairness, And Delusion

Looking forward to the best ethics week yet…

…but not really expecting it.

…Maybe I’ll get lucky.

1. A Progressive war on luck. Yesterday, NPR, which we all pay for, offered a long segment that was ostensibly about “luck,” but it actually was an extended argument for socialism and a political ad against President Trump. “One we move from talking about merit to concentrating on opportunity, then we have changed our focus from scarcity to abundance,” some Ted-talker said. “Then there is no need for walls.” The general thrust of the program, which included at least one speaker (I didn’t stay to hear all of the agitprop) who literally didn’t know what luck is, was that successful people think that hard work and talent is what got them where they are, when in reality it was all, or mostly luck. Thus the idea being pushed was that national policy should eliminate, or at least minimize, the effect of mere chance on human affairs. This means, once you read between the line, government distribution of resources, jobs and benefits to ensure the “fairness” that the random vicissitudes of cruel fate so often eschew.

As I touched on in a recent discussion of Clarence Darrow’s progressive principles, the rejection of personal responsibility and the very idea of free will has permeated progressiveness from its origins. It is, and has been, an anti-American construct that runs against the core principles the nation was founded on, but the theory has always appealed to those who welcome the opportunity to blame others, or just cruel Fate, for their own mistakes and failures.

That said, of course luck plays a massive and sometimes decisive role in our lives. That’s called “life.” Ironically, one of Clarence Darrow’s favorite poems (I know I have posted this before) makes the point:

Whist by Eugene Fitch Ware

Hour after hour the cards were fairly shuffled
And fairly dealt, but still I got no hand;
The morning came, and with a mind unruffled
I only said, “I do not understand.”

Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
The cards are shuffled and the hands are dealt;
Blind are our efforts to control the forces
That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.

I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
But yet I like the game and want to play;
And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
Play what I get until the break of day

2. Speaking of controlling “opportunity”…which usually means constraining liberty and autonomy, officials at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, New Jersey have forbidden prom goers from hiring limos or private vehicles to arrive and leave in. The boilerplate official explanation is that the change ensures safety for all students, but it also is an effort to create “equality” because not all students can afford a limousine or party bus. Of course, not all students can afford a prom gown or to rent a tux. Why not ban formal wear, and have a simple dress code that all families can afford, like jeans and a T-shirt?

The school will charge each student $15 for transportation costs.

3. Thank-you, Captain Obvious! Avner Zarmi has written an essay in which she argues that President Trump’s “style” undermines his effectiveness. Ya think? What was Avner’s first clue, I wonder?

If the President could restrain his inner jerk as effectively as his predecessors (for he is far from the biggest jerk to occupy the White House—my vote would be with JFK, but there is lots of competition) and if he wasn’t opposed by a hostile news media determined to magnify his deficits and ignore his accomplishments, he would have a 60% approval rating.

4. And this is why there is a national emergencyContinue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/20/2019: MAGA Cap Day Edition

Good Morning!

No, I’m not going to wear a MAGA cap today, though I am sorely tempted. The Second Niggardly Principle inveighs against it: just because some people are offended by something based on ignorance or bias doesn’t mean its right to intentionally trigger them, much as they may deserve it.

“Make America Great Again” had, and has, many legitimate and defensible interpretations, and it could have been adopted by either party at many times in our history. Democrats put a racist spin on Trump’s slogan in 2016 because that was how they had responded to all criticism of the Barack Obama Presidency for 8 years, and the tactic was effective, if divisive and despicable. The current tactic is to attcahe racism to any supporter of the President who wears the hat, thorough narrative-supporting fake news like the “racist smile” of a Catholic teen at the Lincoln Memorial and the recent Jussie Smullett hoax, which led the news media to accept the fantasy that MAGA hat wearing thugs were roaming Chicago looking for minorities to assault.

The idea that electing someone with the personality, qualifications and character of Donald Trump could possibly make America greater seemed ridiculous to me during the campaign, and still does. That still does not mean that Barack Obama and his administration did not make the nation significantly worse: weaker, less financially stable, more divided, and less committed to democracy, individual initiative, free enterprise, the rule of law, and civil rights. Under President Trump, despite himself, many of those trends have begun to reverse themselves. Good. I would not say that this has made America greater, not with an ongoing effort on the Left to overthrow Trump’s Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, and not with racial, ethnic and gender divisions being deliberately widened by Democrats for perceived political gain.

I also wouldn’t wear a MAGA cap because the “again” rankles me, and always has. The United States is great, which does not mean it is perfect, or that it should not constantly strive to meet the dauntingly high ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg Address. Ironically, it is those who seek to demonize the slogan who really don’t think America is great, and who want to deconstruct it. They have to be fought, and rebutted, and exposed. Wearing a cap, however, is not the way to do it.

1. Unfortunately, these MAGA cap hate stories aren’t fake. An employee at Van’s, a clothing store in Kansas demanded that a teenage boy take off his MAGA hat, and when the boy refused—good for him— didn’t, the employee said “Fuck you!” according to the boy’s mother, who witnessed the exchange.

“He did nothing to you,” the mother says she told the employee. “What did you say to my son, to my 14-year-old?”

“I’m sure he’s heard it before,” the employee responded. You know: “everybody does it.” And besides, Democrats say its the right thing to do.

She complained, and Van’s fired the jerk.

The episode in Tennessee was scarier: A  man was arrested over the weekend after pulling a gun on a Sam’s Club customer who was wearing a MAGA cap, WBKO 13 News reported.  Eventually the media and Democratic narrative about what the hat means—it’s like KKK hood, you know— is going to get someone killed. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

Got up on the wrong side of the bed today..

…and trying to recover.

1. Finally! The Ultimate Trump Derangement Home Test! This is wonderful, and we owe a debt to CNN for making this available. NeverTrump neocon Max Boot, who has been a “rseistance” ally since the 2016 election and who also writes op-eds for the Washington Post, presented this hilarious—but don’t tell anyone you are using the to test hilarious—visual aid to his recent Post screed:

Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.

Once again, I miss the fevered passion of the self-exiled Trump Deranged commenters on Ethics Alarms, to see exactly how far gone they are, if they are. Hilarity was bound to ensue.

I was tempted to do a whole post showing how every one of Boot’s “reasons” are strained circumstantial evidence at best or utter nonsense at worst, but two words, “confirmation bias,” pretty much covers it, along with a third, “desperation.” Meanwhile, just as self-amusement, I’m working on the list of reasons why Max Boot might be a Russian agent. So far I have Dilbert’s Scott Adams’ observation that while the pitiful Russian fake news on social media couldn’t divide the country, hysterical anti-Trump conspiracy theorists are doing a good job serving Russian interests by undermining the Presidency; Max’s “Boot” code name, which evokes George Orwell’s’ famous metaphor for Communist totalitarianism; and that Curly Howard hair cut, the choice of international anti-democracy villains in James Bond films,  “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” TV’s “The Black List” and everything in between.

That’s only three, though. Suggestions welcome.

2. Is this good news or bad news? “Family Guy,” Seth McFarland’s nastier, cheaper, uglier rip-off of “The Simpsons,” has announced that it will be “phasing out” homophobic jokes. It’s certainly good news if this includes the disgusting and unfunny running gag about the old man next door to “The Family Guy” who has sexual designs on Peter’s idiot son, I guess. The problem is that the only feature of “The Family Guy” that made its intentionally tasteless and offensive humor excusable was that the show was cruel and unfair to everyone, pretty much equally. If the show is now bowing to victim-group pressure, how long will it be before its only targets are white men, conservatives, Fox News and Donald Trump?

If McFarland and the show are now afraid of being politically incorrect when political incorrectness is a career death sentence for everyone else, then it should just kill the show, rather than wander the airwaves hollowed out and submissive like the brainwashed Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”

Oh-oh. Second Orwell reference already today… Continue reading

Satchel Paige Would Approve: From The Ethics Alarms Slippery Slope Files

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” said Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher of them all, and —who knows?—maybe the  greatest pitcher of all time, in any league. Imagine: Paige wasn’t allowed to play against white players in the Major Leagues until 1948 when he was over 40, and he still was hard to hit. Satch is a great symbol for the ageless and those of us in denial: he pitched in his last Major League game in his 60’s, throwing three scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. Paige’s whimsical  idea that age is just a state of mind has now been carried to its illogical conclusion by Dutch citizen Emile Ratelband, a “positivity trainer” who  calls himself a “young god,” and who has asked a local court to legally change his birthday from March 11, 1949 to March 11,1969, the BBC reports.

Heck, why not? If someone with a Y chromosome and all of their original external organs can say they “identify” as a female and use the ladies room, join the Girl Scouts, and have the protection and support of the law and the woke, why not declare age simply a matter of attitude and mind over matter? It’s just the next frontier in the politically correct realm of reality denial, and I would say, and I know Satchel Paige would say, if  how someone feels is sufficient to legitimize that defiance of concrete reality, treating age as similarly flexible is more than reasonable. Just a stroke of a pen by a judge, and poof! You’re as young as you feel. Continue reading