Redistributing Income For “Social Justice”, but Claiming to be Against “Legislating Morality”?

Seizing  Money  from  Criminals

If someone has income, we must initially assume that it was earned legally.  If proven otherwise, then there are a multitude of laws which can be applied and a sentence imposed which may include the confiscation of part of his wealth.

Taking  Money  from  Non-Criminals

If no crime has been committed, but those in power still wish to take away part of the person’s earnings, then it’s done in the interest of “fairness” or to support “social justice” programs.  These actions arise from a sense of “morality.”Those in favor of this say that, while the wealth was obtained legitimately, in their opinion the individual needs to share more with others than what he has already donated to good causes.

Thus, legal ways of taking some of this person’s income are created.  This is usually done in the form of “taxes.” Sometimes the money is used for very good causes which go beyond the routine funding of the government’s operation and for infrastructure projects.  These funds are collected and sent to agencies which redistribute the money to designated recipients.  These agencies may or may not be strictly governmental in origin.

Prudential  Issues

Redistributing income to others deemed to be in need is “morality in action.”2  It must be noted that these programs are “prudential” issues – or as Wikipedia describes, they are “often associated with wisdom, insight and knowledge. In this case, the virtue is the ability to judge between virtuous and vicious actions, not only in a general sense, but with regard to appropriate actions at a given time and place.”  The words “at a given time and place” are critical because this means that these tax laws are not inherently “virtuous” or “vicious.”  There are degrees of goodness and badness.

Non-Prudential  (Intrinsically  Evil  or  Good)  Issues

On the other hand, there are other moral issues which are not prudential because they are intrinsically evil or good.  These are the “black and white” (no racial connotation) issues which require the enactment of complete legal abolishment or protection.

Intrinsically evils include murder, slavery and abortion.  There can be no degree of murder, slavery or abortion which is acceptable in a just society.

Intrinsically good actions include the protection of voting rights for all persons of legal age, freedom of speech and religion, etc.  Any amount of infringement must not be tolerated in a just society.

A stumbling block for many is the religious institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  It is essential for a civilized society and; therefore, it is also a non-prudential issue.  No earthly entity (religious or secular) has the authority to change its definition for any reason.

In a civilized society, morality influences laws/rules.  The intrinsically good or evil issues must be “set in stone.”  They are the foundational basics which separate human societies from merely becoming a group of intelligent animals.

Proponents  of  “Morality  in  Action”  Sometimes  Contradict  Themselves

Income redistribution is a prudential issue because it is not inherently good or evil.  A society can function well with it in varying degrees or without it altogether.  Its proponents tend to be found among the “progressives”, and most reside in the Democratic Party.  They are driven by a sense of what they believe is fair or just; thus, they use a moral basis for discussion and implementation.

However, they somehow have difficulty with the foundational aspects of society (the non-prudential) which are really the easiest to recognize and to put into law.  These are the issues which a civilized society cannot compromise and still survive.  When it is suggested to protect the unborn or to respect the timeless institution of marriage, they are quick to recoil and say, “You can’t legislate morality! — even though that is where they get the inspiration for their social projects.  Yes, contradiction in action.

1 – “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior, the degree to which something is right and good, from www.merriam-webster.com
2 — “Morality in action” does not mean legislating church practices into public law.  Recognizing that morality impacts decisions on legislation does not mean that specific church practices are being enacted.

“ALT” (Appreciating the Little Things) #2: Ted Koppel Responds to Pushiness With Dignity

Last evening, Fox News aired a Bill O’Reilly interview with Ted Koppel.  It began with the question, “What do you have against Fox News and me (Bill O’Reilly)?”  Koppel easily defused the potentially volatile question in his signature non-flustered style.

First of all, he said he had nothing against the news organization or his host.  He did point out, however, that Bill O’Reilly has a tendency to cut off his guests’ answers!  🙂 O’Reilly tried to defend his actions, but was unsuccessful as Koppel maintained a polite, yet unshakable opposition.

He expressed his concern at the level of politicization which the news media has turned to.  He said that it had made “reaching across the aisle in Congress” for compromise almost impossible.  O’Reilly accurately asserted that members of Congress should be competent enough to carry out their responsibilities in spite of this.  Still, it became clear that the mood of the public does indeed influence the legislative process through voting and activism.

Koppel brought up how it was different in the generation of Walter Cronkite.  Back then, Cronkite’s political leanings were not known.  O’Reilly interjected that “the viewer in Iowa” didn’t know his views, but that everyone at CBS (where he had worked) knew his political beliefs and that it impacted the daily decision-making there.

Even so, Koppel maintained that it was generally accepted that a news anchor should not make it obvious that he was liberal or conservative.  After some give-and-take, Koppel was able to have O’Reilly admit that news broadcasting has become a business where ratings come more from the emotion it invokes than from unvarnished facts.  After which, Koppel concluded with “at one time, we thought it (journalism) was a calling.”

Ted Koppel is so right.  News objectivity has faded severely since Walter Cronkite Era ended when he retired in 1981.  So has an overriding sense of civility, not just with many journalists, but in the social media which have evolved since.  Mr. Koppel, you certainly deserve your retirement, but we miss you more with each passing year.

Cincinnati Streetcar: City Council Bows to “Too Big to Fail” Instead of Following “Luck Factor #4”

WLW (AM 700) radio announced at 2:00 PM that newly elected mayor John Cranley said that the streetcar project will go forward and, despite his opposition to the project, he will respect the vote of council.  This comes as a result of a third councilman, Kevin Flynn, changing his mind since the campaign trail.  His vote gives proponents of the project a 6-3 veto-proof advantage.

Background

For those unfamiliar with the Queen City, the streetcar issue has evoked more passion than almost anything else in recent memory.  The previous city council thought up and promoted this fairy tale project amidst a plethora of concern from realistic cost overruns and operating loss projections.  Not only that, but as mentioned by WLW talk show host Bill Cunningham today, the route is not one which will be used by work commuters but is limited to recreational travel (and not tracking a sensible path either).

But, Council won by getting the public to reject a 2011 ballot item which would have prevented this and the possibility of any related projects through 2020!1  Fear of hamstringing the city for nine years may have been the tipping point in the 51.5% decision.

Project’s  Beginnings,  New  Council  and  New  Money

Lo and behold! Projected cost overruns and other problems began to appear as opponents of the project had predicted.  Enter a new city council, and the first one to be elected for four-year terms instead of two-year terms.  Several new members were elected, many on the promise to stop the project and its fiscal bleeding.  Then, proponents scrambled to keep the streetcar project from being halted.  They succeeded in obtaining the promise of private support to cover operational losses and thus, prevent adding to the city’s expanding and perennial budget headaches.

Today’s  Result:  “Too  Big  to  Fail”  Wins

The build-up for today’s vote revolved around choosing an immediate loss or a long-term loss.  Proponents won on the basis that stopping the project would throw away the $30 million already spent and penalties which could up the total loss to $80 million.  In addition, they claimed it would damage the city’s reputation and cause it to fall out of favor with the federal government.

City’s reputation? With cities like Detroit, Stockton, CA and San Bernardino, CA having gone bankrupt and others with horrendous other problems, we’re worried about our reputation?  Cincinnati’s vanity might suffer initially, but in the long run, the wisdom of a change-of-heart would have been respected.

Lose favor with the federal government?  Come on, be serious.  Why would anyone be reluctant to offend a government whose recent trademarks have been lying, mounting fiscal irresponsibility and penalizing those who live by their consciences?  Have a nice day, NSA and IRS.

Financial losses?  Yes, there would be a significant short-term hit.  It would be a combination of no return for an investment, financial penalties and loss of jobs related to the project.  This cannot be trivialized.  HOWEVER, it must not be a reason to invoke the “too big to fail” philosophy which has caused our federal government to spend billions foolishly on bail-outs just to garner votes.

OK, so private backing will underwrite the projected annual loss of $1.5 to $2+ million.  First question, what business starts a project with the understanding that it will lose money continuously?  Oh, but we don’t run cities like we do businesses.  But if we did, we would avoid many of these crises!

Finally, how reliable is that projected loss?  If it’s like all of the other estimates calculated by those who want it to continue at all costs (pun intended), these losses will prove to be underestimated.  Even if that does not happen, what is the guarantee that the underwriters will continue indefinitely?  Suppose they face financial hardships or even bankruptcy?  I forgot, the city can raise property taxes – which is why the local real estate board has been against this trolley folly.

What  is  “Luck  Factor  #4”  and  Why  is  it  Important?

Luck Factor #4 was part of an article written by Max Gunther who studied why some people were unusually lucky while others always seemed to be bitten by bad luck.He found five reasons which separated the lucky from the unlucky.  The fourth was called “The Ratchet Effect.”  About it, he wrote:

“A ratchet is a device that preserves gains.  It allows a wheel to turn forward but prevents it from slipping backward.”

“Lucky people seem to organize their lives in an analogous way.  They know that almost any venture can lead to either loss or gain.  At the outset it is impossible to know which way the wheel will turn.  But if it starts to turn the wrong way, the lucky are prepared to stop it.  They have the capacity to get out of deteriorating situations quickly.  They know how to discard bad luck before it becomes worse luck.”

He went on to say that people refrain from baling out when they should because “It’s too hard to say ‘I was wrong’” and their investment in a project “is a cherished thing” and abandoning it “hurts at least as much as admitting you were wrong.”

Cincinnati  City  Council  has  Chosen  to  be  Unlucky

There you have it:  1) “too big to fail”  2) “it’s hard to admit to the outside world that we were wrong”  and the ever-present 3) “now our terms are for four years instead of two, they’ll forget”

Sorry, but four years of money continuously going down the drain will keep us from forgetting!… (By the way, since federal money is involved, this losing project could be called “Obamafare.”)

 

1 – “This proposed Ballot Issue would amend the Charter of the City of Cincinnati by adding a new Article XVI… The new Charter article would prohibit the City from the spending or appropriation of any money or any indebtedness or contractual obligations for purposes of financing the design, engineering, construction or operation of any portion of a Streetcar System through December 31, 2020.”  From www.smartvoter.org on 11/8/2011

2 – “The Luck Factor,” by Max Gunther, Macmillan, Inc., 1977

“ALT” (Appreciating the Little Things): TWC and Music for “Local Weather on the 8’s”

Why  This  New   Series?

News travels so much faster because emerging technologies can “take you there” in almost an instant.  And since “news” tends to be of the tragic or negative varieties, it’s easy for anyone to get caught up in the avalanche and unwittingly begin to contribute to the negative with our own communications.

With that in mind, I have made a pre-New Year’s resolution to look for and report on some of the positives occurring in everyday life.  They don’t have to be considered major events because a bunch of little positives can add up to lift the spirits of many.  We all know that we can accomplish more good when our outlook is on the plus side, opposite to apathy or being downcast.

Kudos  to  The  Weather  Channel

This first one may seem quite trivial to most, but I want to express my thanks to The Weather Channel for settling on a very pleasant theme for their “local weather on the 8’s” or at least as they did for the Cincinnati area.

For the last couple of years, they were digressing with an ever-increasing variety of styles and extremes bordering on cacophony.  If you were in another room waiting for the periodic forecast, you couldn’t tell if they were running a commercial for a sponsor or one of their reality series.  The subject of weather was the last thing it could be.  It was as if they wanted to appeal to every age group with a tag name (Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generations X-Y-Z-AA-BB-just kidding).  About the only group they ignored was the “Greatest Generation.”  This was unfortunate because a little Big Band would have been a great relief.  In addition, the quasi-heavy metal themes at 2AM were a shock to the peace of that hour!

But, now, they have settled on a fantastic, single music theme which goes well at any hour of the day or night.  It’s a simple, light-hearted instrumental in an optimistic key, if you’ll pardon my non-musically trained description.  And, because it’s always the same music, you know what’s coming—your local forecast, which is probably why you turned to that channel in the first place.  Thank you, Weather Channel!

P.S.  After posting this article, another thought occurred.  We are familiar with the “CTRL-ALT-Del” sequence on our p.c.’s.  Attempting to control or delete things in our lives may be a necessary evil, but conveys a negative emotion.  Thus, the “ALT” or alternative approach of this series may be a positive in its name alone.

Obamacare’s Maternity Requirement Was Betrayed by Kagan’s Comment During Proposition 8 Case!

“’I can just assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage,’ Kagan shot back.”Thus said Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan when the Court was hearing arguments regarding the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage as being solely between one man and one woman.

Obamacare was not the issue before the Court that day.  She was using that moment to embarrass the attorney representing Proposition 8 who offered a poorly stated reason for defending traditional marriage.2

Granted, she does not understand that no referendum or lawmaker has the authority to redefine marriage, but that is not the focus of this article.

The point is that Justice Kagan, nominated by President Obama and certainly one of his followers, was stating the obvious that children are very unlikely to be born to older couples.3

…With this is mind, why is Obamacare requiring maternity benefits for millions of policies, for all ages, where it is unnecessary and unfairly raises their premiums?

How is this “cost-effective” as the President has been claiming?

 

1 – quoted in an earlier CartaRemi article, 3/29/2013, and taken from from “Supreme Court Prop. 8 Arguments Focus on Sex, Science,” by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience senior writer, 3/26/2013

2 – And, like many, she confuses the position that a “true marriage must be open to children at any age” as being the same that “children are likely to happen at any age.”

3 – and also a “single male, age 32, does not need maternity coverage,” (Representative Renee) Ellmers said.” taken from Why Is Maternity Care Such an Issue for Obamacare Opponents? by Garance Franke-Ruta, www.atlantic.com, 11/22/2013