Category Archives: moral values

Death Panels

Pearls of wisdom from our corporate overlords at Koch Industries the American Enterprise Institute. You can’t make this shit up:

In a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals — including more cash for other programs, such as those that help the poor; less government coercion and more individual liberty; more health-care choice for consumers, allowing them to find plans that better fit their needs; more money for taxpayers to spend themselves; and less federal health-care spending. This opinion is not immoral. Such choices are inevitable. They are made all the time.

Consider, for example, speed limits. By allowing people to drive their cars at speeds at which collisions result in death, our government has decided that the socially optimal number of traffic fatalities is not zero. Some poor souls die: There were more than 30,000 traffic fatalities on America’s roads in 2013. If we didn’t accept that risk, we’d lower the speed limit to a rate at which accidents simply don’t kill, such as 10 mph. Instead, we’ve raised it periodically over the years, and you can now go as fast as 85 mph on a few highways.

Collateral damage, y’all. Well, I suppose if you overlook the fact that we do lower speed limits all the damn time (in places like school zones, neighborhoods, construction zones, high-density pedestrian areas, etc.) AND if you blithely avoid acknowledging that the auto industry spends bazillions (and the government mandates) safety measures like air bags and seat belts etc. etc., not to mention mandatory insurance coverage for when accidents do happen, if you ignore all these and dozens of other things you might have a point. But since I won’t, you don’t.

You, sir, win the Failed Analogy Award of the year. You’re also an asshole. And a sociopath.

God these corporate idiots and their free market fairy tales. And yet, they’re always the first ones to go whining to the courthouse when something happens to them and their precious darlings. Just Go Galt on your freedom island already and leave running the country to the rest of us who have some common sense.

BTW, no discussion of the American Enterprise Institute is complete without providing a list of who they represent.

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Filed under conservatives, moral values

McMegan’s Misplaced Empathy

Can someone please tell me why Megan McArdle has a job?

I know, it’s a question we on the left perpetually ask. But here she puts the “ass” in morass while wading into the Jerry Sandusky swamp:

McQueary grew up in State College; his family was friends with Sandusky, and of course, Sandusky had coached him. Paterno had worked with Sandusky closely for years. And if you think about what you would have done in a situation where you caught someone you love and respect in that position, is it really so obvious, as the chest thumping punditariat proclaims, that you would have leaped into the shower, beaten the snot out of him, and frog marched him to the police station after you rescued the kid? Really? You’d have done that to your father, your favorite uncle, your best friend, a beloved mentor?

Yes. Hell yes. Raping a 10-year-old boy in a shower? Oh my GOD, yes. This isn’t a moral gray area. This is assault on a child.

She goes on:

Think about what that really entails: overcoming all the shock and horror, the defensive mechanisms that make you question what you’re really seeing. The total destruction of a long relationship as soon as you name it out loud and accuse him to his face. The actual physical logistics of grabbing a naked sixty year old man, detaching him from that child, and then pounding on him for a while as a ten year old you don’t know watches. The fact that the minute you go to the police, you will have utterly ruined this man’s life: he will be jobless, friendless, and branded as the worst sort of pervert by everyone in the country–oh, and also, in protective custody so that the other inmates in jail don’t, like, kill him.

That’s a pretty huge emotional hurdle to leap in the ten seconds or so that McQueary had to do the right thing. Isn’t it quite understandable that your instinct might be to get away? To look for some way that didn’t have to involve jail? Wouldn’t it be a huge relief to tell your superiors and let someone else take care of it?

What fucking world do you live in, lady? This just explains so much about McArgleBargle. That something as clear-cut and flat-out-wrong as anally raping a child should somehow become morally ambiguous as she tries to place herself in Mike McQueary’s shoes… I’m just dumbfounded that she’d even go there.

I guess we should give McMegan some props for at least giving empathy a shot, I’m just shocked that it’s for Mike McQueary. It’s not like we’ve seen her walk a mile in the shoes of someone who’s been unemployed for months, or was sold a crap mortgage by CountryWide, or has gone 10 rounds with their insurance company and still denied benefits, or any of the other people I personally hold empathy for. Weren’t we just reading that conservatives are sociopaths? I’m starting to think it’s true.

Look, maybe it’s how I was raised, but when I see a crime in progress, I’m going to try to stop it. And if I catch my coworker in the act of something like raping a kid, I’m not going back out of the room, tell a superior, and then be all like “bygones!” when I still see the guy around the office. I’m going to stop the act and then I’m blowing the whistle.

Maybe it’s just me.

And then McMegan plays the “Nazi Jews in Germany” card. Only 1% of Germans sheltered Jews in danger, she says, which just proves that everyone claiming they’d stop Jerry Sandusky in the act is lying. She goes on:

Oh, well, that’s an extreme example, you may say; McQueary was at no risk of life and limb. Fair enough, but one can name dozens of less dangerous situations where only a small minority actually does the right thing, but everyone believes that they woulda.

[…]

When you find out that someone you know is a pedophile, that doesn’t erase your knowledge that they’re also a human being. It does in the public mind, of course, but it’s very different when you know them.

Oh, wow.

As Edmund Burke famously said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And for columnists like Megan McArdle to sympathize with those who stood by with their hands over their ears and eyes.

Here’s a deep thought: despite all of our flaws, human society is actually getting better. Take the long view — long in human terms, at least — and you will see that for the most part, we’ve been on a long march from brutality towards enlightenment. Less than 150 years ago, fellow human beings were held as property in this country. Just a few hundred years ago, watching two men beat each other to the death was considered entertainment — the equivalent of going to the multiplex or catching a football game. When I get depressed about the human condition I remind myself that if you take the long view, things are actually getting better. We still have a long way to go, but we have come a long way. The arc of history is long, but it tilts toward justice.

And I guess this is the difference between someone like Megan McArdle and me. By justifying the inaction of those people who let evil triumph, she stands on the wrong side of human evolution, the wrong side of humanity, and the wrong side of morality.

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Filed under Media, moral values

My Last (I Hope) Gene Cranick Post

I’ve been really impressed with the discussion on my Gene Cranick threads here and here. You guys have raised some really good issues, and it’s stuff like this which makes me glad I have a blog.

I really haven’t focused much on the moral issues at play here but I do have something to say about that. To me, focusing on why Cranick didn’t pay that $75 fee is almost — almost — as mean and heartless as focusing on how the fire started. Fires get put out whether they were caused by a lightning strike or a kid playing with matches or someone burning their trash in the backyard despite a statewide fire advisory (and let me say, this is the first I’ve heard there is a statewide fire advisory. The governor’s office might need to do a better job of getting the word out.)

Sure, if the family were indigent and couldn’t afford the $75 fee then that would reveal yet another flaw in the county services. But really to say “he’s a freeloader and loser trying to get something for nothing” the way Glenn Beck and a few anonymous folks over here did is just another way of piling on someone who obviously made a mistake.

What, you people never made a mistake? Ever? You’re the only ones, then. It’s safe to say Mr. Cranick has learned his lesson the hard way, and has paid a terrible price for it. So shut your yaps.

On second thought, don’t shut your yaps. The Glenn Becks of the world who sanctimoniously (though accurately) claim that Mr. Cranick should have known better and whatnot prove the point we Dirty Hippies have always made: yes. There will always be people who don’t do what they’re supposed to do. That’s correct. Thank you for admitting that. Now the question is, what do we do about it?

Is it best for the community as a whole to let the man’s house burn down, possibly spreading the fire to the homes of neighbors who did do what they were supposed to do? And add a homeless family to the community’s burdens? I mean yeah you can feel all self-righteous that you were right and they were wrong and perhaps that makes you feel better but then what? Does you feeling better benefit the community more than making sure everyone has a home?

And we can take this example across a wide array of social problems. Food stamps, education, you name it. Yes it annoys the hell out of me when people come over here and blithely say “those people should just get a job!” when in case you haven’t noticed, there are no jobs. But that’s really irrelevant. There will always be people who don’t work, even as there are people who can’t. It doesn’t matter, because it’s still an issue we need to deal with.

One of my more clueless commenters claimed that, “there was a time when if you were hungry, you went out and worked to get food. Fish, plant, forage. If you didn’t, you starved.” Actually, as any student of anthropology knows, that’s utter bullshit. Every culture around the globe, modern to prehistoric, has developed a way of dealing with those in the community who aren’t doing their fair share. Even those people who inhabit harsh environments — the Inuit and the !Kung bushmen, for example — do not let their people starve. They deal with their freeloaders in other ways: public shaming, for example. And perhaps our right-wing commenters like Glenn Beck are serving a valuable community role in this respect as being the public voice of scorn. They sure seem to have that shaming thing down. So, there’s that.

Tough noogies might make some people feel better and it might have a role to play in keeping a big chunk of the population in line but it’s not the basis for an effective social policy nor does it build community. There needs to be something else in place, too.

The silver lining in all of this is that we are at least having a national debate about an issue that gets at the heart of what ails America today. Taxes, infrastructure, the role of government, privatized services, etc. I had hoped we could talk about this a little more but our media appears happy to just hit the highlights. Oh well, it seems the conversation has continued on blogs and in other media. This is a good thing.

I’m actually feeling pretty positive about all of this. And I’d like to thank Gene Cranick for — no pun intended — sparking a serious conversation about an important issue.

For those of you who don’t lack a cooperative gene a fund has been set up for the Cranicks. Keith Olbermann spread the word about it here.

For those of you who lack that cooperative gene, you can feel all warm and toasty that you did the right thing by paying your bills (you have, right?) and the Cranicks did not and nyah nyah nyah.

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Filed under Glenn Beck, moral values, taxes, Tennessee

>Some People Need To Find Another Career

>I heard about this on Air America this morning and couldn’t believe my ears.

Yesterday I picked on fundamentalist Christian pharmacists for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. Today it’s Muslim med school students in the UK:

Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.

Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.

A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. One male student was prepared to fail his final exams rather than carry out a basic examination of a female patient.

Oh for crying out loud. There’s a difference between religious discrimination and WATBs demanding special treatment. I think this crosses the line.

This is news in the UK because recently a large grocery chain agreed to let Muslim check-out clerks refrain from selling alcohol:

MUSLIM supermarket checkout staff who refuse to sell alcohol are being allowed to opt out of handling customers’ bottles and cans of drink.

Islamic workers at Sainsbury’s who object to alcohol on religious grounds are told to raise their hands when encountering any drink at their till so that a colleague can temporarily take their place or scan items for them.

Other staff have refused to work stacking shelves with wine, beer and spirits and have been found alternative roles in the company.

Sainsbury’s said this weekend it was keen to accommodate the religious beliefs of all staff but some Islamic scholars condemned the practice, saying Muslims who refused to sell alcohol were reneging on their agreements with the store.

This is pretty funny to me because one of the stereotypes of American Muslims is that they own all of the liquor and tobacco stores.

So, how would that work here: would Mormons refuse to sell liquor, cigarettes, coffee and tea bags? Mitt Romney didn’t have any problem bringing porn and alcohol into Marriott Hotels. But what if a member of the hotel housekeeping staff refused to restock the mini-bar for religious reasons? Or wouldn’t rent a room to a gay couple? I mean, we could go on and on with this.

On the other hand, is it really that big of a deal for someone who objects to selling alcohol on religious grounds to turn the cash register over to someone who doesn’t? After all, that’s how beer sales are handled when a checkout clerk is underage. What’s the difference?

I think it’s one of those slippery-slope issues. If you tell someone they don’t have to scan a six-pack of Budweiser then you’re also saying it’s OK for someone else to not dispense birth control pills. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s someone else in the store who can handle the sale, because there will come a time or place or situation where someone is denied the healthcare or prescription medicine they need because of someone else’s religious beliefs. No one needs a six-pack of beer, but someone with an STD does need medical treatment–for themselves, and for the health and welfare of the general population. And I don’t see any religious justification for denying that treatment.

I think we getting into cuckoo-bananas territory here. Everyone wants their special needs catered to, and it’s time for it to stop.

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Filed under culture wars, moral values, religious fundamentalism