Comment Of The Day: “Dispatch From ‘The Great Stupid'”

nixon-tweet

I had a long list of topics I wanted to write about today, but I have been rendered mostly unproductive due to some malady or another. Luckily, and not for the first time, readers have come through with content at least as valuable as anything I could have generated. I already have backlog from the last two Open Forums, and some delayed Comment of the Day as well. I am very grateful.

This Comment of the Day is another from the frequently history-minded (and often pessimistic) Steve-O-in-NJ, and his subject is the bad ideas, an evergreen topic, focusing on the tweet above, which is more representative of the current drift of progressive thought (it one is generous enough to call it that). Only one previous post had the “bad ideas” tag: this one, on “fertility equality.” I bet there are a hundred more that should have it, like anything about making Kamala Harris Vice-President.

Here’s Steve:

The U.S. and the world have hosted some pretty bad ideas over time.

The tulip bulb bubble, the ancient astronauts theory (remember “Chariots of the Gods?”), phrenology, New Coke, the XFL, and Boston selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees were some of the more benign ones. John Maxwell’s execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and the National Guard opening fire at Kent State were some of the ones that were not so harmless. The Reign of Terror, where the Committee on Public Safety sent who knows how many to the guillotine for any reason or no reason, Pol Pot’s Year Zero, in which towns, money, religion, and private property were abolished and execution by clubbing to death by a pick or a hoe, also for any reason or no reason,, Petrograd Order No. 1 (mostly now forgotten) which de facto stripped military officers of disciplinary authority, causing the Russian military to collapse like a deflated balloon in the face of renewed German offensives, and Hitler’s crackpot racial theories were examples of instant disasters.

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Dispatch From “The Great Stupid”

Few revolting developments on the political scene justify the last words in “Bridge Over The River Kwai” more than this:

Nixon tweet

However, if such crack-brained reasoning ever progressed to widespread public policy, the iconic end of another film classic would be a better diagnosis. Take it, Marlon:

Criticism of Nixon’s insane tweet will be brushed off by progressives and Democrats (who, if honest, would own it) on the grounds that Nixon, who ran for mayor of New York not too long ago (though it seems like eons) is an uber-woke socialist, and therefore not representative of “real” progressives. There are two problems with that dodge, however. Several Democrat-run cities are barely enforcing laws against shoplifting as it is, notably Great Stupid Central, San Francisco (or is GSC Portland? Or Seattle?), where, reports the New York Times, shoplifting is out of control because law enforcement isn’t controlling it:

“The mundane crime of shoplifting has spun out of control in San Francisco, forcing some chain stores to close. Walgreens said that thefts at its stores in San Francisco were four times the chain’s national average, and that it had closed 17 stores, largely because the scale of thefts had made business untenable.”

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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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The War On Dollar Stores

The problem–well, one of them—with trying to control how other people choose to live their lives is that nobody’s smart enough to do it without making things worse. Still,a lot of sociologists and politicians think they are smart enough.

Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Fort Worth, Birmingham, and Georgia’s DeKalb County have passed restrictions on dollar stores, and other communities are debating whether to follow their example, where laws and zoning regulations limit how many of these small stores can open within a particular area. Other laws dictate what they can and can’t sell, most notably fresh food. You see, the antipathy to dollar stores is based on the narrative pushed by activists that they saturate poor neighborhoods with cheap, over-processed food, squeezing out other retailers and lowering the quality of nutrition in poor communities. An analyst for the Center for Science in the Public Interest makes the argument, “When you have so many dollar stores in one neighborhood, there’s no incentive for a full-service grocery store to come in.” Dollar stores, like Dollar Tree and Dollar General, the researchers say, make neighborhoods seem poor, and scare away better stores,  “locking in poverty rather than reducing it,” as one told the Washington Post.

Ah! Poor nutrition  is the fault of dollar stores!

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The Last Ethics Warm-Up of 2019…And I Finally Figured Out How To Get Ethics Alarms Links On Facebook

Ethical New Year!

1. Boy, am I slow. You can link to an Ethics Alarms article by using the Twitter link that every post has. This link works on Facebook, where EA has been banned with no explanation: I just tested it. So an interested reader clicks on that link, and is taken to a tweet that contains the Ethics Alarms link.

From now on, all posts will include the Twitter link to the post at the end.

2. Don Imus. The infamous “I-man,” Don Imus, died last week. He was one more example of the inherently unfair standard that shadows “shock jocks,” who are paid to be improvisational, outrageous, irreverent, and brave, but if they make one miscalculation and go too far (and what “too far” is changes quickly), their careers can end overnight. So it was that Imus and his on-air acolytes made demeaning and racially inflammatory comments mocking a college women’s basketball team, and Imus never recovered. That was even before social media mobs had reached their current strength. Imus was on AM radio and simulcast on TV; no shock jocks dare to do his act under such conditions now.  They wouldn’t last a week. From his Times obituary: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Sort-of Veterans Day, 2017:

Good Morning!

1 I had to fix the title: today is being observed as Veterans Day by banks and other institutions, but it isn’t Veterans Day. Phooey. If a holiday is observed on a certain date, then in my terms, that is the holiday. No wonder the country is fatally confused all the time.

2. Well that was fast! I see that I have to write a “Stop Making Me Defend Roy Moore!” post. Yechhh.  The Left’s shameless virtue signalers are out in force representing a slug who repeatedly failed in efforts to date teens 40 years ago as a menace to womankind. Oddly, many of these same white knights dismissed Bill Clinton using an intern half his age as a sex toy in the Oval Office as “just sex.”  How can these people stand to be in the same room with themselves?

3. Former Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he believes he was the most qualified person to be president in 2016.

Yechhh. This is right up there with a losing team saying it was really the best team, but even worse. It’s like defaulting the decisive game because it’;s chilly outside, and making that claim.

“Oprah, no woman or man should announce they’re running for president unless they can answer two questions,” Biden told O. “One, do you truly believe you’re the most qualified person at the moment — I believed I was.” He did? That in itself disqualifies him. Joe Biden has never held an executive position in his life. Being Vice-President is relevant experience, for sure, although Biden hardly covered himself with glory during his tenure. Joe is also not the sharpest knife in the cutlery set, to be nice about it. He’s been caught plagiarizing speeches. He says jaw-droppingly dumb things almost daily. Is self-delusion a qualification?

Sure, Joe was preferable to Trump or Hillary: I would have held my nose and voted for him. He’s right to say he was better qualified than those two, simply because he’s not corrupt and has at least a rudimentary concept of right and wrong. Being better than those too doesn’t make him “the most qualified” that’s Biden’s weak mind at work. Jim Webb, to name one of many, had (and has) far stronger leadership qualifications. One of those qualifications is courage, which in Biden’s case meant having the guts to step in a try to take the nomination from Hillary Clinton. Biden had a duty to do this, but when it came down to action, he ducked.

Disqualified.

4.  Can there be any more blatant Ethics Dunces than LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, the three freshmen on the UCLA men’s basketball team who apparently shoplifted Louis Vuitton sunglasses  in the Chinese city of Hangzhou? UCLA is in China for a week-long visit as it was scheduled to open its season in Shanghai this weekend against Georgia Tech. The three players are now out of that game, and it is even in doubt whether the game will take place at all, since the UCLA team is confined to its hotel. The Three Dunces could be months away from returning home as the legal process in their case plays out. If they were Chinese citizens, they would be facing prison.

<gag!><ACK!><arghhh!> This is embarrassing to the whole country, not to mention UCLA and its basketball program. Of course, Big Time college sports breed and nurture such  arrogant, entitled, sociopathic conduct. Is it possible that all the players were not instructed in the dos and don’ts of traveling in not just a foreign nation, but in a Communist power looking for ammunition to wield against the U.S. in the diplomacy wars? Oh, sure it’s possible. I wonder if the players were also told not to take a knee when they played the Chinese national anthem.

Shoplifting? Do the players shoplift at home, or is this just something they think is appropriate in China? My guess is that there will be some deal-making to get the players home, and then let’s watch carefully what happens to Ball, Riley and Hill. This will be an integrity test for the NCAA and the school.

If they don’t flunk it, I will be stunned. Continue reading

The Cost Of Rationalizations

Employee Theft

According to The Global Retail Theft Barometer released this month by Checkpoint Systems,  employees in the U.S. steal from their employers at significantly higher rates than workers in other countries. The direct cost to businesses, as you can see in the diagram above: a staggering 16.6 billion dollars.

Most of this is taken in incremental amounts, by people who would be shocked if you questioned their character. Why is this number is so high? As far as comparing to other countries are concerned, it’s the same factor that anti-gun zealots refuse to acknowledge, and that Bernie Sanders can’t seem to grasp. Our country is not like other countries; we guarantee our citizens more freedom, for one thing, and freedom unavoidably means more freedom to do bad things as well as good.  Our national character is not like other countries. Americans are not like other people.

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Introducing “The Marmion Award” and Its 2012 Honorees, Lavera Irene Hammond-Jackson and Stella Hammond-Jackson

Don't be so gloomy, Sir Walter! Here, let me cheer you up by telling you about the tangled web woven by the

Don’t be so gloomy, Sir Walter! Here, let me cheer you up by telling you about the tangled web woven by the Hammond-Jacksons!

I may never award this particular prize again, but a spectacular episode of incompetent mendacity like this needs to be immortalized. The Marmion Award is named in honor of “Marmion,” the long epic poem by novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). The work is best known for its lines:

Oh! what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!

A Palmer too! No wonder why.

I felt rebuked beneath his eye.

I don’t know what Palmer has to do with it, but the reasons for the award will be immediately apparent when one reads the hilarious and deadpan Oconee County Sheriff’s Office account of the shoplifting arrest of a mother-daughter team at a Walmart’s in Oconee County, South Carolina. While it is refreshing, in an era when so many teens are estranged from their parents and reject their values, to see a mother and daughter so close in interests and ambitions, I cannot help reflect on how the daughter in this case never had a fighting chance to join the ranks of honest, respectable, productive members of society, since her mother has obviously raised her to be a shameless thief and a liar, and by the evidence of this report, succeeded in her goal. The report also shows, unfortunately, that a proud mentor’s offspring is unlikely to become a convincing liar if her mother and teacher is this inept at it herself.

Here is the report, reprinted in the Oconee Patch. I want to thank the patch, Fark, which flagged it, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, which preserved it for posterity, and especially the Hammond-Jacksons for giving me, in my depressed holiday state, the best laugh I’ve had in a long, long time.  Continue reading

Unethical Crime Victim of the Month: Kamofie & Co.

Next time, Lindsay, pick a classier store to rob.

Lindsay Lohan, in addition to having stunningly bad judgment, multiple addictions, lousy parents, sycophantic friends, and an army of paid enablers, also has rotten luck. When she walked out of a jewelry store wearing a $2,500 necklace, she picked an ethically dubious enterprise, Kamofie & Co., that may have  grossly over-priced the necklace, turning the shoplifting into grand theft. But that’s just the beginning.

Lohan, who is on probation and facing jail time for the incident, was caught on a surveillance tape in January as she strolled out of the store, with the unpurchased jewelry around her neck. Some establishments, recognizing the alleged thief as someone who is famous, troubled, and in need of some kindness, would have privately contacted the actress, accepted her (probably) false excuse that the act was inadvertent, and allowed her to return the item with involving the police.

Not Kamofie, however, which apparently saw the incident as an opportunity to make itself a household word. Continue reading

Desperate Lie of the Week

A Connecticut television station traffic reporter, Desiree Fontaine was caught by security personnel as she apparently tried to shoplift a Hawaiian shirt, a bottle of cologne, two pairs of earrings and a necklace from a Sears store. When she was apprehended, Fontaine explained that she was shoplifting as part of a freelance reporting project she was doing “on the side.” Presumably this will set up a First Amendment defense at her trial, with her lawyer arguing that shoplifting is protected by Freedom of the Press. Continue reading