Merry Christmas Ethics Present, 12/25/2019: On Critics, Climate Change, And…



1. Critic Ethics. A new book about iconic “New Yorker” film critic Pauline Kael reinforces the question that kept coming to mind when she was savaging movies monthly: why would anyone care what she thought about anything? The woman hated “The Sound of Music.” She panned every John Wayne movie because his personal political views were too conservative for her. If someone’s tastes and values are that different from yours, her judgment about just about anything doesn’t provide guidance or perspective.  Pauline Kael thought that the Charles Grodin-Jessica Lange version of “King Kong”—you know, the one where Kong was played by a man in a gorilla suit?—was better than the original.  What good was she? Why would anyone want to read a book about her? Why would anyone write one?  In fact, why am I even wasting a section of a “warm-up” on her?

2. Follow-up on the Democratic debate climate change segment. What is now obvious is that none of the candidates plan on ever telling voters specific facts indicating why they should want to gut the economy and surrender personal freedoms to government mandates. That climate change is a certainty is “settled science,” it’s an “existential crisis,” and anyone who questions the accuracy of apocalyptic models and projections is a science denier. Events like the California wildfires are irrefutable proof that all the projections are correct.  Of course, few of the climate change hysterics could read and translate a climate model, or understand the science involved sufficiently to either critique it or agree with it. (But I agree that it would be lots of fun to hear Joe Biden try.) Meanwhile, they are all telling the public that fossile fuels need to be banned, and with them the industries and jobs they support. All of this depends on the public being ignorant, gullible, and so stupid that they shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a chaperone.  For example, is the public aware of this—is the news media reporting it, and are any of the candidates capable of it should be ignored in favor of crushing the economy for speculative benefits? From Axios: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: How Do We React Ethically To THIS?

"Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

“Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

Today,the Congressional Budget Office made this announcement, as reported by The Hill:

“The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday. The nonpartisan agency found the healthcare law’s negative effects on the economy would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated. It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate — and that declining economic growth would add $1 trillion more to deficits.”

Well, of course. We, and by we I mean intelligent, objective people who pay attention to history and know how government programs work, knew this revelation, or some version of it, was coming along sooner or later. And yet, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated and railroaded through Congress–and that is a fair description of the strong-arm, gimmick-driven, dishonest and anti-Democratic manner in which  it was passed—critics who said the law would increase the deficit and the debt, not reduce them; that it would lose jobs, not create them, and that it would retard economic growth, not boost it were savaged by the media, commentators and Democrats, called obstructionists, cruel, liars and worse.

I particularly remember MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, arguably the most credible of her far left colleagues, furiously railing, while serving as a reporter at the Republican National Convention, about the utter dishonesty of GOP speakers who kept saying—in defiance of the CBO projections, mind you!—that the AFA would increase the deficit, not reduce it. Chris Matthews, to give credit where it’s due, intervened and said, in essence, ‘Well, now Rachel, you have to admit that the record of big federal programs has not been good in this respect.’ No, she wouldn’t admit it. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Rush Limbaugh

“Speaking of global warming…which has now been proven to be a hoax”…”

—-Rush Limbaugh, riffing today on his radio show regarding the evils of liberals from Obama to Bloomberg.

No, actually, Newsweek is now a hoax.

Actually, Newsweek was the hoax.

This an outright ethics foul, even if Rush believes it. If he doesn’t believe it, it’s a lie. If he does believe it, it is still a reckless, incompetent and irresponsible thing to say to millions of listeners who trust him to tell them the truth.

Global warming, or climate change, is not a hoax. Its exact extent may not be known, or as conclusively known as some scientists and commentators claim. It may be difficult to measure, and the historical data it is being measured against may be flawed. Its researchers may have biases, and have strayed too far over the line into advocacy. They may also have been too willing to stifle dissenting voices in the scientific community. How serious global warming will be, when its effects will be fully felt and how long it will last are all matters of projection and speculation, subject to error. Projections have been, and will continue to be, unreliable, and arguably, too unreliable to justify costly public policy measures. Remedies are speculative, and cost-benefit ratios are in doubt.

It is also true that many of the most vocal and visible supporters of the most dire projections by climate change researchers, as well as the most vociferous attacker of climate change skeptics, literally don’t know what they are talking about. Their fervor is driven by ideology and faith rather than actual expertise and scholarship, and anything they say on the subject should be given no weight whatsoever. This groups includes journalists, columnists, bloggers, celebrities, academics not in the sciences, public officials and leaders, including, depressingly, Barack Obama, whose State of the Union speech comments on climate change were outrageous and irresponsible: Continue reading