Simple Honor

Some years ago two friends made an agreement, a pact so to speak, that if either won the lottery, they would share it equally.

Their names are Joe Feeney and Tom Cook.

A few days ago, Tom Cook won the lottery. He called up his friend and told him he was sharing the money.

And so they have.

Both the philosophies of Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Party celebrate greed and self interest. By their standards these men are fools to be pitied.

I beg to differ. I believe that these men are what makes America worthy and great. Doing what you don’t have to do because it is right has been, is and should continue to be an American value.

It is the cumulative actions of millions of Americans that establishes the moral posture of our nation. And that is important.

But the battle of doing what’s right takes place individual by individual. It would be so nice that every time an ethical dilemma we had an opportunity to think and search the internet and maybe get some good advice before we acted. Most ethical decisions take place in seconds or with out any thought at all based on our previous decisions.

So, in my opinion, Tom Cook made his decision thirty years ago to do what he thought was right and never varied from it.

I am so proud to live in a country with human beings like Tom Cook.

James Pilant

The One Percent Manifesto (Tongue in Cheek)

The One Percent judge a member of the 47% percent.

The One Percent Manifesto (Tongue in Cheek)

I read with delight the article, “I am a job creator: a manifesto for the entitled.” Steven Pearlstein has a talent for satire. The article was wonderful. The piece lampooned the bizarre beliefs of many of the one percenters, the guys who believe the 47% are a raggedy band of freeloaders who need some Ayn Randian discipline. These are my favorite paragraphs below but I really think you should read the whole article to get the flavor of the writing.

James Pilant

I am entitled to a healthy and well-educated workforce, a modern and efficient transportation system and protection for my person and property, just as I am entitled to demonize the government workers who provide them.

I am entitled to complain bitterly about taxes that are always too high, even when they are at record lows.

I am entitled to a judicial system that efficiently enforces contracts and legal obligations on customers, suppliers and employees but does not afford them the same right in return.

I am entitled to complain about the poor quality of service provided by government agencies even as I leave my own customers on hold for 35 minutes while repeatedly telling them how important their call is.

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Re-Occupy Wall Street?

The Radical Rich: Moving From Romney to Re-Occupy | OurFuture.org

David Frum, a conservative and former George W. Bush speechwriter, gets it. Frum writes that “what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey’s army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer’s fields.”

Beautifully said. Frum’s batting average dips slightly as he continues: “Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.”

Occupy didn’t “fizzle.” It attracted massive support almost overnight. Within weeks it had dramatically transformed the national conversation. Democrats from the president on down were forced to address issues of economic injustice, at least rhetorically, instead of negotiating destructive (and pro-wealthy) austerity deals with the Republican counterparts.

But the powers arrayed against Occupy – in the media, in politics, and elsewhere – combined with the winter winds to force it into hibernation.

Frum’s absolutely right, however, when he says there’s “no protest party of the political left” – although I’d drop the word “protest” and make it simply a party, one that can win rather than just siphon off votes. That won’t happen without a mass movement.

That’s why it’s time to re-Occupy our country. In fact, maybe it should’ve been called “Re-Occupy” all along. It was, and it remains, a re-occupation – of our privatized public spaces and our privatized political discourse. Occupy, or something like it, is the only force that has a chance against the power of the Radical Rich.

The Radical Rich: Moving From Romney to Re-Occupy | OurFuture.org

 

The 1% Get Richer

Occupy Wall Street isn’t dead. Is it morphing into something new, Re-occupy Wall Street? What that is, I am not able to clearly define. No one can. A collection of individuals determined not to be co-opted by the existing political parties is bound to seek an independent course.

I like this piece by Richard (RJ) Eskow. I have seen it quoted many times in the blogs I read but I am using a part  seldom quoted. I have spoken to wealthy individuals on a few occasions and Eskow is quite right, they are enraged at a nation in which their money goes to support the “entitled.” They go to enormous lengths to remain uninformed and their resentment can even fall on their employees (and the occasional waitress.) They burn with disgust at how others are not like them. They see themselves as virtuous, hard working and vital to the nation. The others they see as parasites. Whether or not, they follow Ayn Rand, they have the John Galt thing down perfectly.

This is a pretty incredible amount of hubris. The Classical Greeks would have been appalled. I am appalled. To whom so much has been given and so little asked, there is so little perception of being fortunate just persecuted.

Whether justice in this matter will be settled in this world or the next, is not something I am given to know.

James Pilant

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What’s Hot on the Web! (as far as I’m concerned)

Debt talks collapse, Republicans walk out over taxes

From CRISISJONES (who I hope considers me a friend)

 

NEXT – From American politics to the sublime world of philosophy – JP

Proving an Argument Is Logically Valid

From the web site Ethical Realism. This post is by James Grey.

 

Dark Side of Chinese Capitalism

Reverse Mergers, Improper Accounting, a Lack of Transparency and Poor Governance Threaten the Recent Success of Capitalism Chinese Style

From my associate, The Ethics Sage.  (You should subscribe!!)

 

Radioactive Dust From Japan Hit North America Days After Disaster … But Governments “Lied” About Meltdowns and Radiation

 I started warning the day after the Japanese earthquake that radiation from Fukushima could reach North America. See this, this and this.

Mainichi Daily reports today:

Radioactive materials spewed out from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant reached North America soon after the meltdown and were carried all the way to Europe, according to a simulation by university researchers.

The computer simulation by researchers at Kyushu University and the University of Tokyo, among other institutions, calculated dispersal of radioactive dust from the Fukushima plant beginning at 9 p.m. on March 14, when radiation levels around the plant spiked.

The team found that radioactive dust was likely caught by the jet stream and carried across the Pacific Ocean, its concentration dropping as it spread. According to the computer model, radioactive materials at a concentration just one-one hundred millionth of that found around the Fukushima plant hit the west coast of North America three days later, and reached the skies over much of Europe about a week later.

According to the research team, updrafts in a low-pressure system passing over the disaster-stricken Tohoku region on March 14-15 carried some of the radioactive dust that had collected about 1.5 kilometers above the plant to an altitude of about 5 kilometers. The jet stream then caught the dust and diffused it over the Pacific Ocean and beyond.
In the article above I am including the first part of a quite long and well written article. As I have written many times the crisis at the Fukushima plants does not stop no matter how little coverage it gets in the media of the United States.  James Pilant

This next article is from a writer who I very much admire. He writes from the web site: Rogue Columnist, A Pen Warmed Up In Hell. I like it. Please read it. James Pilant (P.S. If you are wondering why this is indented like the article above. It just is. WordPress offers me no button to fix it but it will let me indent it some more!)

Rules of engagement

Last night, I finished the late Alan Bullock’s magnificent book, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. It’s a reminder that no matter how much one has studied a topic, he or she can have vast new landscapes opened by the best historians as tour-guides. The book was completed just as the Soviet empire that Stalin built was falling apart, and the moment was marked by the greatest hope. Yet Bullock also reminded us of the bloody paths that contingency can create, particularly when broad social, economic and cultural forces and destabilization (“history from below”) are harnessed by evil genius (“history from above”). The book ends with a deeply moving coda of promise. But that comes after a thousand pages examining the two greatest mass murderers in history; worse, men who could move nations to do their killing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethics and Education: the beginning (via Just a Word)

This is a good article and I always enjoy essays where the author struggles with difficult moral conundrums.

I teach college classes and I lean heavily on opinion writing because it’s difficult for students to speak in anything but their own voice. I have observed a great deal of teaching and while it varies in quality, I doubt if the principal blame lies there.

I believe the problem is the bleed of toxic philosophy from Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand. Isn’t buying a term paper an economic choice (Friedman) that maximizes shareholder worth while following the “rules of the game?” If productivity is the only measure of morality(Rand), shouldn’t our modern John Gaults enhance their productivity? Aren’t the unproductive sheep, the dead weight of society, the helpless proles, the creators of these rules designed to limit the productivity of the great minds, the only real producers of value in our society?

If rules are designed to create a level field and you don’t believe in a level playing field, you are not going to play by the rules. I am sure that many of these students are unaware of the origins of their philosophy about rules and choices but that does not make the connection any less real. Obviously there have always been rule-breakers. But have we ever lived in a time where the public ethos is so accepting of this kind of behavior?

I tell you it is always a weird experience to meet the prototypical John Gault, an individual who has discovered their own specialness and that humanity, kindness, compassion and brotherhood are limits placed on their success by the common herd. Or the weirdness of the Friedman follower who believes if only we gave people free choice about seat belts, air bags, food, drugs and inoculations, our lives would be enhanced.

You see, in their world, it is perfectly obvious that brotherhood is the enemy, common rules a bacteria weakening the human specie, and compassion, a tragedy, binding people to their own lack of success.

What is the rule on buying term papers but an annoyance to the superman, the new man?

Well, I await patiently for the John Gaults to ascend the mountain and leave the rest of begging, pleading our our knees, crawling on our insignificant bellies, that if only these paragons of production, the new successful breed of humanity, would only return to make society work and, in return, we would swear to no longer limit them by taxes and rules from their proper and obvious role in society. (Read Atlas Shrugged.)

I’m sure it fills the longing in my students to be special, kings and queens under the flesh. Humanity is hard. Being productive and resilient is difficult. Sharing and caring is a burden. But those are the things that make us significant, not a Nietzschean philosophy of destiny and specialness.

There are other philosophies in our nation: virtue ethics, several hundred variations of Christianity, citizenship, and the doctrines of honor, responsibility and chivalry.

When these are in place, we will solve many of our problems with obeying the rules.

James Pilant

Ethics and Education: the beginning I call this “the beginning” because I have a feeling that this will prompt several posts on the subject, but I am not promising that yet. This actually coincides well with my post on Friday regarding a University’s attempt to eliminate cheating by allowing collaboration and internet use on exams. This post however, follows a slightly different vein. I was reading an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education this morning called The Shadow Sch … Read More

via Just a Word

The Undead: Life Sciences and Pulp Fiction (via Science. Technology. Ethics. Art. Media. Culture)

The idea that humankind could take control of evolution at this point in history is one I find compelling. The idea of the transhuman, a composite human of flesh and technology is soon to be a reality although the idea of cybernetic Koch Brothers reminds me of Dawn of the Dead without the comedy.

In the future, the mad billionaire will have incredible power to physically self manipulate while the proles will live brief painful lives of servitude to the technological demi-gods. I would hope for better but our society is a road map for the wealthy to manipulate and cheat their way out of social responsibility.

The world of the transhuman self proclaimed John Gaults may be our future, –

Ayn Rand’s cult of selfishness enshrined is a technological hell of demi-gods and worshipers.

James Pilant

The Undead: Life Sciences and Pulp Fiction cf. Director Prof Andy Miah will make two interventions at this remarkable event in Hamburg from May 12-14. The congress is unlike any other and will take place in film sets, which will be shot as scenarios, as though in a movie. Produced by the remarkable Mobile Academy, funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation in cooperation with Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik and Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 12 May TRAN … Read More

via Science. Technology. Ethics. Art. Media. Culture

Rep. Sean Duffy Complains About His $174,000 Salary: ‘I Drive A Used Minivan’ (via ThinkProgress)

I have seen this kind of talk from people who make much more than this. Frankly, I don’t understand how tone deaf you have to be to say these things. It’s very clear that most Americans make much less than half of his salary. But to hear him  tell it, he’s working in a salt mine for pennies.

There is one line I hear most often and this is it from this article – I walked into this job 6 weeks ago..um that I worked incredibly hard for. There is always some version of it in the diatribe the person making large sums of money and it goes like this – “I work very hard for my money.” It has countless perambulations but it always boils down the same thing: “I work hard for my money and I deserve every penny of it.”And that would be okay, if it stopped right there, but it always has the implication usually directly stated “unlike you lazy freeloaders” or in this case, “unlike you lazy teachers, etc.”

I’ve seen it over and over again. These individuals making hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, have it rough. That’s right. The world through their eyes is trying to tear them down. If you only knew the suffering they go through. My favorite suffering, heard not once but twice, is how difficult it is to get a good nanny. I almost cried for the poor guy.

They think they are some kind Randian heroes and if the world had to live without another half talented political doctrinaire hack, we would all cry and wonder what to do – finally begging them on our knees to only come back and we’ll be good boys, pay all their taxes and give them the love and respect their rich mummy forgot to lavish on them.

They bore me.

James Pilant

From ThinkProgress

At a townhall meeting in Amery, Wisconsin last week, the “Real World’s” Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) exposed just how out of touch with ordinary Americans he is. According to progressive blog Rightguardia, one constituent — an underemployed construction worker — explained that his wife, a teacher, may have to take a cut in wages if Wisconsin’s draconian budget bill goes through. “I’m just wondering what your wage is and if you guys would be willing to take a cut,” he asked Duffy.

Displaying that delicate sense of empathy characteristic of conservatives, Duffy whined about his $174,000 congressional salary and his “used minivan.” When the man pointed out his salary was “three times what I make,” Duffy reassured him that “I have more debt than you.” “I’m not living high off the hog,” he added:

Constituent: But a hundred and seventy-four thousand, that’s three times — that’s three of my family’s — three times what I make.

Duffy: Well our budget…I moved to cut by 5 percent. I did. You know what, I have no problem..let’s have a movement afoot. I walked into this job 6 weeks ago..um that I worked incredibly hard for. And I can guarantee you or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you.

With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high off the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I..I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high off the hog.