Archive for the ‘Ethics and Morality’ Category

Yesterday, May 1, 2014, a Seattle mayor’s committee approved a phased in $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle. The details are complicated by a compromise that included input from businesses and workers’ groups.

The one proposal offered by a business owner is a lower training wage, usually paid for a determinate period of time. The way this is wrong is too many businesses just fire workers at the end of the training period because it is so easy to train new people and take advantage of the lower wage. Sears, which is following Montgomery Wards into oblivion, is famous for doing that to escape paying health benefits in Washington State.
I will grant that any job with a modicum of complexity that takes a good period of time to learn won’t fall prey to this scam. So anyone who isn’t cleaver enough to learn the more complicated job would just have to live with the training wage. Fortunately, this is not a part of the proposal in Seattle and, with vigilance, activists can keep it from happening.

Here is the challenge for activist groups. Don’t waste time trying to get a $15 an hour now. Keep your eyes on the sparrow, and make sure the proposal doesn’t get messed up with bad parts.

This whole debacle about the “false(?)” arrest of the part time Elvis imitator, Paul Kevin Curtis, leaves a bad taste in my mouth (mind). In an article from Los Angeles Times and Associated Press and printed in today’s Seattle Times, it appears the only evidence the authorities had against this suspect was some letters (contents not divulged) and social media postings. Entering “Paul Curtis” and “Paul Kevin Curtis” both in the search window of facebook, and google turns up many hits. All of these sources taken together give us a good picture of the whole mess.

What bothers me the most is the way authorities use even the most innocuous leads to try to build a case for reasonable suspicion… or whatever criteria they use to arrest somebody. This leads to a precautionary admonition. Be careful what you post! If that sounds paranoid… welll… as the pundit once said, “Even the paranoid have enemies”.

Reading about the millions of dollars provided to ex presidents for benefits above and beyond what is made available by law evokes a sense of disparagement. But, why do perks to former presidents bother me? Is it a sense of moral outrage? Is it because of the principle of federal austerity that is prevalent in today’s economy? A case could be made for the latter. But I don’t get upset at the millions of dollars spent for “worthy” causes. Yes, I am (in the words of a former ship-mate) a “bleeding heart liberal”. I believe in the general principle articulated by President Obama, of helping those (only) if they are unable to help themselves. Ok, that’s not original, but appropriate when seeking to explain the expenditures for entitlements. Am I bothered by expenditures of billions for other ex-public officials? I would wax philosophical about them worth every penny given to them. I have another possible explanation. It is consistent with my state in life. I just wonder if it is a common position with other harsh critics of what seems to be excessive spending for those who can help themselves. That state is of continuous financial difficulties. I admit I am a poor handler of money and spend what I have rather than save it; even when I should be saving some towards a looming charge.

Perhaps those who squawk the loudest are those who just want more for themselves… let’s call it for what it is, greed. They would deny others what is given to them. I have to believe that, according to the news item, the amounts seem excessive… until you rationalize the expenditures. The most questionable expenditure, in my view, is $442,000 for office space. Isn’t that office used mostly, if not all, for his foundation? Could somebody make the case that it is unfair for the tax payers to shell out public funds for a private operation? Welll, maybe it would be; but how about all the taxpayers dollars spent for facilities for the wealthy. Or are airplane owners (for which public funds are expended for supporting their hobbies) due the moneys spent? There are lots of rationalizing involved when you get into public spending. Unless somebody raises an objection (the only way for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing) a lot of public money goes for causes better financed by private sources.

The item that caught my eye this morning was about a man who was freed after 20 years in jail. The link: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51281108. I also posted some of my thoughts with the other link to the story on facebook.

It seems the D. A.’s office had instituted a “conviction integrity unit” to look into convictions that look wrong after new evidence is discovered. The story (as reported and its link posted on my facebook page) is pretty interesting. In my view it shows a challenge to a prosecutor’s office to be diligent in deciding when a case should go to trial. The evidence was apparently not available to the prosecutor’s office when the case was sent to trial, according to reports. It appears the witness that picked Ranta out in a line-up said he did not recognize Ranta but selected him after a detective told him to “pick the guy with the big nose.” Harrumph!

What I find equally abhorrent is how “A jail house snitch and his girlfriend, both of whom fingered Ranta as the shooter, also admitted to prosecutors that they made up their story to secure a favorable plea deal.” This kind of plea bargaining might save time and money but it surely seems to go against the interests of justice. With only what I read in news accounts of a trial I am usually skeptical of cases that hinge on a witness who testifies to get a better deal in their case. I expect corroborating evidence would be necessary for a good case. One might ask if the corroborating evidence is strong, then why use the “snitch”. All that is for a jury to decide, I guess.

“12 Angry Men” is another great study in jurisprudence. My feeling is “art imitates life”; and sometimes the reverse. That’s why the liberal arts part of my college days has become more important ,in my retirement years, than what I learned more directly useful to get (and keep) a job.

The prosecutor in the news story should be lauded for instituting the “conviction integrity unit” at the risk of losing his job. He is up for reelection. He belongs in Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” or Kennedy’s daughter’s sequel “Profiles in Courage for Our Times”.

Oops! I just read certain cogent parts of the Wikipedia article about the book and, as the woman TV reporter in “Hero” (played by Gena Davis) stated with such great articulation in the acceptance speech for the “silver Microphone” award, there is more to the story than what we read. I will have to stop now before this extends into a major digression.

Thinking about how demeanor can influence people to do what you want I am reflecting on how my older daughter became associated with a large Catholic family. They, through their friendship, got her engaged in praying the rosary. I asked her how this activity made her feel. She told me it made her feel good. I could draw the conclusion that she was on her way to embracing the Catholic faith.

The next piece of back-ground information will lend further understanding to this. When her boy-friend (when she was a senior in high school just short of graduating 10th in a class of about 250) and she became intimate, he decided “Catholic roulette” was the best way to practice birth control. Well, that failed. She became pregnant (I don’t recall it “showing” when she actually graduated) and she had two choices: she could have gotten an abortion or not. She chose not to; which is one more reason for me to hold her in very high regard (i. e. I am that much more proud of her).

But, her path to Catholicism was cut short by a young woman who could have been branded as a zealot. These people will bring extreme views to arguments (like abortion is murder). It was this proclamation that turned my daughter off to the Catholic religion (the budding romance with the Catholic church was killed by the frost of a cold wind of an extreme view) and she ceased being involved. I believe she would have become a model Catholic; like so many ways she makes me proud of her.

These twin entities are partners in the crime of destroying the cohesive fiber of our society. These sinister elements can penetrate institutions that purport to the betterment of society. Inasmuch as conservative mind-sets fall into traditional quagmires and use the twin perps to try to vanquish both liberal and progressive movements, they stifle goodness that should be allowed to thrive.

Before I googled fire in a crowded theater I was ranting about the awful video that went viral and created a fire storm in the Muslim world because it was disrespectful to The Profit. I likened the video to this over used metaphor that has become descriptive of free speech that has catastrophic results. The rant would go something like this:

“People, we live in a crowded theater! Mass communications have evolved to the point that almost everybody in the world immediately hears an utterance that any fool can make that has resonance. That being the case the person who produced the video and the person who posted a clip of that video made a statement that so enraged the Muslim world that (like a tinder box) a firestorm of protest ensued. Those who blasted our administration for saying that we considered the video awful because we “apologized” for a citizen’s exercise of his free speech are employing such convoluted logic that it boggles the imagination. I suppose it would be an unwise political move to arrest the s. o. b. who created this piece of shit; but there could be precedence when you consider the fire in a crowded theater metaphor.”

Then I did a bit of research and decided I really needed to change my approach to better use the metaphor. The first citation I followed was via Wikipedia. Its short history of the phrase was useful. Then I went to: is it legal to shout “fire” in a crowded theater? Yoexpert.com yields:

“Answer
Though the image often represents illegal speech, “shouting fire in a crowded theater” refers to an outdated legal standard. At one point, the law criminalized such speech, which created a “clear and present danger.” But since 1969, for speech to break the law, it can’t merely lead others to dangerous situations. It must directly encourage others to commit specific criminal actions of their own.”

This answers the very important question which answered would make us aware that inhibiting, or sanctioning, the video’s distribution would be outside our legal system. Some in the Arab world would have us publicly execute the perpetrator of such a dastardly deed. Of course that brings us to one of the main distinctions between our and the radical Muslim world.

An article by Patrick Condon of the Associated Press printed on page 9A of today’s print edition of the Kitsap Sun entitled “Strategist is central figure against gay marriage” gets my creative juices flowing… big time!
I will take the points I observe in order.
First, “…he jokingly calls `the forces of evil’” I would say, this is not a joke, and is not funny. It is tragic that a political shill enjoys credibility on the issues because of his success in persuasion. His strategy is employing academic arguments that sound good. These arguments only succeed if the person persuaded closes his/her mind and refuses to listen more reasoning. The other factor that leads to his success is the dearth of reasonable arguments with persuasive clout. This winning strategy does not make his argument right. It is a classic error of “might makes right”. I can only hope this writing can be a good weapon against the evil extant.
Being part Carl Rove is another factor that makes his quest a decent into hell. Carl Rove successfully got George W. Bush elected and reelected by appealing to the worst instincts of people. One of his strategies that typifies his wrongful way was the whisper campaign in the state that eliminated John McCain from the Republican primary in 2000. The campaign pushed a lie that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child because of the child McCain and his wife adopted who happened to have dark skin. That will live in infamy in the history of politics. This kind of strategy is successful in furthering all manner of evil. The Pat Robertson part of his persona just confirms how religion can be misused to further evil.
“Five thousand years have shown that marriage between a man and a woman serves us well” is a really poor argument because it eliminates the possibility that including gay marriage could have served us just as well. Using a successful institution to argue against another is just wrong. It proves nothing to use the color red to argue that the color green is wrong.
What I find most amusing is the rest of that statement … it (heterosexual marriage) is “fundamental to our nature as people.” The alternative, he said, is a culture based on personal desires. Really? So, let’s adopt arranged marriages because most marriages are based on personal desires. And to enforce that let’s bring societal force to parents to do their duty in arranging marriages for their children.
“Gay rights organizers begrudgingly admire Schubert’s ability as much as they detest what he’s doing” is like arguing that allies admire Hitler’s ability to bring his country together ignoring the evils he spawned in the process. Don’t forget the German word for “great” is “gross”. Gross has become an expression of bad to the extreme. In that sense Hitler was gross. So is this Frank Schubert.
Schubert’s convoluted reasoning rises to the front in his feelings for his sister who is raising children with her lesbian partner. “I love my sister very much, and I want her to know that my working on this issue was not a reflection of me seeing her as a less valuable person” is at the center of the heartless campaign to eliminate a rightful joy from gay and lesbian couples and relegating them to a less valuable existance.
Schubert’s twice winning the MVP award bestowed by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants reduces the battle to that of two competing sports teams with no regard of whether one or the other is right. In fact neither sports team is more right than the other unless competing elements like money vs. love of sport is taken into consideration. In non-commercial sports neither team is more right than the other.
My attitude on his other effort to make divorce more difficult has definitely matured from the days when my first marriage fell apart. I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly then. But in retrospect I see all kinds of evils surfacing in a marriage forced to endure because of artificial strictures that only prolong the misery and inevitability of the break up. Viewing the movie “War of the Roses” can illuminate the tragedy of a marriage breaking up without a speedy enough resolution.
Schubert’s attending an all male Jesuit high school could very well have caused him to adopt a warped attitude towards homosexuality having probably witnessed it first hand in an era when it was considered evil and the prevailing doctrine was that it was sinful. He failed to mature past that failed policy.
Finally, I hope the trend towards tolerance continues against these efforts to enshrine outmoded doctrine based on emotion rather than reason.

Of a Conservative Perspective

I just read a column in today’s edition of The Kitsap Sun that compelled me to write to some of my dearest friends who have expressed a desire to stifle progress towards equal rights for those who have an orientation of personal physical tendencies. The column is by Leonard Pitts; and is accessible via the link to the Detroit Free Press’ on line edition, opinion. Other avenues are available via Google; this is the one that seems to be the most direct to this column.

I am always trying to enjoin my fellow citizens in a civil and thoughtful dialog on a number of issues. Many of the issues I am interested are somewhat academic because they are removed from my personal life. I have only an interest in matters of civil rights for various minorities as a caring citizen.

Mr. Pitts’ column should awaken those minds that are not too far asleep to reason that challenges their preconceived notions. I have to interject that I often revisit my long-held ideas and notions to grow in knowledge and wisdom.

Another friend who is serving in the Washington State legislature would probably find this column and its sources interesting because he has shown a very much lively intellectual quest for more knowledge and wisdom. If he reads this he knows who he is. For the rest of you his name is Drew.

For him and any other of my friends who don’t agree with my progressive views I would relish a response.

Thomas Sowell’s column in today’s Kitsap Sun has 12 points; one of which is sensible. So, as one might pan for gold one can read a column like this and find a truth that, while having some profundity, cries for clarification. The paragraph:

“The real egalitarians are not the people who want to redistribute wealth to the poor, but those who want to extend to the poor the ability to create their own wealth, to lift themselves up, instead of trying to tear others down. Earning respect, including self-respect, is better than being a parasite.”

I would add that corporate America is all about efficiencies at the expense of employing those whose talents are meager; but who deserve a living wage. I wouldn’t do away with incentives to better oneself. Certainly a better material life and/or more leisure to pursue mind improving activities is/are (a) laudable goal(s). If the educational community would quit trying to tie every learning experience to job pursuit and promote bettering students’ minds they might get those who perceive the false hope of riches if you learn more, rather to concentrate on achieving a truly liberal arts curriculum.
Yes, liberal arts have earned a negative connotation by the giggling masses. If you would read (reread) Newman’s “Idea of a University” you might realize a more perfect goal for getting a degree. Follow this link for the complete text.
Oops! I started reading the preface and I find this startling message, “…that Knowledge and Reason are sure ministers to Faith.” Could I, by a careful reading of this treatise, be sucked (uh, I mean drawn) back into the fold?
So, my journey to add to Mr. Sowell’s nugget has taken me far afield. Maybe the simple addition of the concept of making more jobs available should be the supreme goal of corporate America. After all, it was Henry Ford’s wise idea to make his workers’ wages high enough to enable them to purchase the product of their labors that should be the supporting concept that would rationalize that supreme goal. The antithesis of that mindset is Walmart’s keeping workers’ wages low so they can only afford Walmart’s products.