It’s going to be a few days.

I have an ear infection. The doctor says my eardrum is close to bursting and it could still happen. The pain has been pretty good and I’m not able to even do something as watch television for more than a few minutes at a time. So, it’s going to be the weekend before I begin writing again at least.

Best Wishes to my kind readers!

James Pilant

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

The Ethics Sage and the Ethics of Affirmative Action

Ethics of Affirmative Action

(A Guest Blog by My Colleague, Steven Mintz. Visit his site here!)

University of Texas Affirmative-Action Program is upheld by a Federal Appeals Court

Are considerations of affirmative action ethical policies for a university to follow? This is the overriding question to be addressed in evaluating race-based decisions about admission to colleges and universities. I raise the issue because a federal appeals-court panel handed at least a temporary setback to critics of affirmative action last Tuesday by ruling that a race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin had passed a strict-scrutiny analysis ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Critics of the ruling might believe that the ethical principles of justice and fairness work against race-based policies because people should not be treated differently because of race. The ethical support for this kind of opinion holds that equals should be treated equally and unequals should be treated unequally. In other words if there are legitimate reasons to treat one group differently than another, then such treatment is justified.
The problem with this argument is by saying one group (i.e. minorities) should be given preference over another group (i.e. whites) we give credence to the idea that certain groups are inferior because we then assume that the favored groups cannot reach the required level of achievement through their own efforts. Moreover, affirmative action policies lead to lower standards since some less qualified candidates will be admitted if race is allowed to override general standards applied to all.

Opponents of race-based policies hold such views because they value the equal treatment of every person on the basis of common standards. It’s hard to argue this position from a fairness point of view. On the other hand, I believe a diverse population in colleges and universities add to all students’ experiences as they learn in their classes how some groups historically have been discriminated against. I believe the motivation for affirmative action is to right a past wrong and not to give one group preference over another in admissions decisions.

The federal appeals court decision that brought to the fore the affirmative action policies of the University of Texas means that consideration of some applicants’ race are necessary to achieve sufficiently diverse enrollments there. In a 2-to-1 decision revealing continued disagreement among the judges over the appropriate standard for evaluating such policies, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit In response to an overwhelming Supreme Court decision Supreme Court decision that faulted the Fifth Circuit’s previous endorsement previous endorsement of the undergraduate admissions policy as too deferential to the university, the two judges in the majority said the policy withstood stricter scrutiny than applied before.

The appeals-court panel affirmed, for a second time, a 2009 summary judgment by a U.S. District Court dismissing the lawsuit brought by Abigail Noel Fisher, a white applicant who had accused the Austin campus of illegal discrimination after being denied admission as a freshman the previous year.

The ruling Tuesday’s ruling in the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, almost certainly does not mark an end to the legal battle over the policy. the legal battle over the policy. The Project on Fair Representation, an advocacy group that brought the lawsuit on Ms. Fisher’s behalf, said it expected to appeal the decision all the way back to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

“This panel was proven wrong last year by the Supreme Court, and we believe it will be proven wrong once again on appeal,” said Edward Blum, the organization’s director.

Judge Emilio M. Garza, the dissenting member of the Fifth Circuit panel appeared to lay some of the groundwork for an appeal with an opinion arguing that the majority had again failed to treat the university’s assertions with sufficient skepticism.

“By holding that the university’s use of racial classifications is narrowly tailored, the majority continues to defer impermissibly to the university’s claims,” he wrote, adding that such deference “is squarely at odds with the central lesson” of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the case.

In that ruling the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 6-2, that Michigan voters have a right to amend their state Constitution to ban racial preferences in admissions at public universities. In so doing, the court affirmed laws in eight states that have 29 percent of America’s high-school population and more than 40 percent of its Hispanic residents.

In the case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the court’s only Hispanic member, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, wrote a widely acclaimed dissent, in which she challenged Chief Justice John Roberts’s colorblind approach to college admissions as “out of touch with reality.”

A new report by the Century Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, suggests, however, that the concerns of both justices can be met: Alternatives to race-conscious affirmative-action, if properly structured, would produce more diversity than just concentrating on race.

According to a chapter by Anthony P. Carnevale and his colleagues at Georgetown University in the new report, The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education Diversity After Fisher v. University of Texas, using socioeconomic preferences and/or plans that admit a top percentage of students from every high school, if structured properly, could produce even higher levels of black and Hispanic representation at the most selective colleges than racial preferences now achieve. That approach would work because it reflects economic disadvantages that are often shaped by racial discrimination.

Sotomayor’s dissent in Schuette is a strong reminder of the importance of race. “Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up,” she wrote. “Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’ ”
In Schuette, Sotomayor wrote that preferences provide the only realistic path to racial inclusion in higher education, correctly noting that race-neutral alternatives have failed to produce adequate diversity at three high-profile institutions—the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The question of whether affirmative action policies, whether based on racial differences, to right past wrongs, or socio-economic considerations, is a complicated issue from an ethical perspective. Like most contentious issues each position can be argued from different points of view in part, I believe, because the motivation for such preferences underlies the issue of ethical ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness.’

In virtue ethics, motivations are an integral part of the ethical equation. If we can say the motivation for race-based decisions is the inherent goodness of such policies, then the Fisher ruling is ethically supportable. On the other hand, doesn’t Fisher have an ethical right to be given preference based on higher achievement of admissions criteria (i.e. SAT scores)? Doesn’t the University of Texas have an obligation to Fisher to admit her because she was more qualified and denied admission based on socio-economic factors that enabled less qualified candidates to be admitted?

These are difficult questions to answer. I am conflicted because each argument has some merit. As a college professor I have seen first-hand how having a diverse population in my ethics class adds value to the learning experience of all students. On the other hand I can understand the position of a student denied admission because other considerations allowed another student to be given preference for whatever reason.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 22, 2014. Dr. Mintz is a professor in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: www.workplaceethicsadvice.com.

 

Is Vitamin E Beneficial?

Is Vitamin E Beneficial?

Is Vitamin E Beneficial?

Is Vitamin E Beneficial?

Whether or not vitamin E should be taken or avoided is a continuing discussion. From what I see, there is no clear answer. Below I have listed three articles, one a study and two news articles reporting studies, that report negatively on the effects of vitamin E.

Vitamins E and C in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Trial

This study found no long term benefits to vitamin C or E in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin E Supplements Raise Risk of Prostate Cancer

This AARP newsletter references research showing that 400 I.U. of vitamin E increased the chance of prostate cancer.

Taking vitamin E linked to osteoporosis: research

This article from Yahoo news discusses a Japanese study showing vitamin E increased the rate of osteoporosis in mice.

Are Vitamins Useless?

In my last post – Are Vitamins Useless? – I discussed whether or not selling a product like vitamins whose main effect seems to some authorities as being nothing more than a placebo is ethical. My primary interest was in the business ethics implications. I freely admit that it is obvious that well supported arguments can be made for and against vitamins. There are countless studies on the subject.

However, supplements are a 12 billion dollar a year industry. They sponsor research and buy enormous ad time and quantity. There is little incentive to study from the opposite angle and no money at all in any commercial sense in opposing the sales. If this were a sponsored site with paid advertising, it might well have been a subject I would have been advised to avoid.

Under these circumstances, I am going to lean toward the skeptics. When there is an incredible amount of profit to be realized, I become suspicious. I am also well aware that selling a good and effective product is difficult, and by implication a useless and ineffective product is much easier to generate a profit from as long as you can keep the science confused and governmental regulators at a safe distance.

None of these products should be on the market without proof of their usefulness, their safety and their contents. The very sad tale of the young man dead of a caffeine overdose is a case in point.

Taking supplements is dangerous. You can overdose many vitamins with health effects ranging from discomfort to death. But at least vitamins have a long track record (however varied). The other supplements can be placed on the market without pre-clearance by any agency. Generally speaking, if they don’t cause harm, they don’t get investigated. So, how do you tell which one works and which one doesn’t? You could use yourself or your family as guinea pigs, and hope you can reason out the placebo effect. And since there are thousands of these product, it will take you several lifetimes and careful record keeping to come to some conclusions – although your sample size is too small to count as scientific evidence.

We should not be buying products based on the chance that the seller is telling us the truth about its contents and effects. We should buy products where there is some proof offered of usefulness and safety.

Vitamins and other supplements should be pre-cleared by the Food and Drug Administration before they can be sold.

James Pilant

Are Vitamins Useless?

Are Vitamins Useless?

Are Vitamins Useless?

Are Vitamins Useless?

Are vitamin pills even necessary? – The Week

A recent long-term study of more than 400,000 people concluded that “most vitamin supplements [have] no clear benefit” and warned that excess vitamin E and beta-carotene may actually weaken the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells. “The case is closed,” the study authors wrote. “Enough is enough.”

via Are vitamin pills even necessary? – The Week.

Is it ethical to sell a product which is in general a simple placebo?

In the Wizard of Oz, the fake wizard gives the Cowardly Lion, a horrible tasting concoction. He tells the lion that this “formula” will give him courage. The lion drinks the horrible drink and the wizard asks him how he feels. The lion replies, “Full of courage.”

So, we who spend from a few to hundreds of dollars on vitamins may also be said to be full of it.

How did a literate modern population fall into the same black hole of ignorance that afflicted Americans during the golden age of patent medicine, when laudanum and alcohol laden brews were sold to the masses for incredible profits?

During the nineteenth century, “entrepeneurs” like Lidya E. Pinkham sold millions of dollars of a useless product and established the science of  modern advertising. And she was just one of countless thousands of sellers. In the first half of the twentieth century, John R. Brinkley, Medical Charlatan, sold vials of colored water apparently to boost virility. He had other means of increasing virility which I will happily pass on discussing but if you want to look it up, I can’t stop you. How about “Dr. Isaac Thompson’s Celebrated Eye Water?” It sold for almost two hundred years. When the Food and Drug Act was passed, it was discovered what was in it – opium, alcohol and zinc sulphate. 

But did we learn anything from this as a culture? How come we still hope that some spurious product will make us all better? Is the need for medicine, in a real sense, magic, a human craving?

I’m uncomfortable writing about this. So many people have bragged to me about the vitamins they take and the benefits they experienced. How do you argue with people who experienced real progress because they believed? Placebo effects are in a sense real, in that confidence often has us acting in our own behalf when otherwise we might not.

But is encouraging a placebo effect, a ethical rationale for selling an otherwise useless product?

The Rational Consumer?

In economics, we have the idea of the rational buyer, the human who bases his purchases on knowledge, facts. The idea is that this paragon will always choose the best product. I make fun of this concept all the time since it disregards the very real irrationality that afflicts humanity. But assuming the theory has validity how does the rational human choose the best product when there is an absence of knowledge? – A deliberate absence of knowledge in this case.

The FDA’s permission is not required for the sale of supplements. The Food and Drug Administration can and does regulate the products after they have entered the market. However, the agency has limited resources and is essentially playing the game of “whack a mole” with the sellers.

Let me give you an idea of the problems the FDA uncovers with these products -

FDA Warning on Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss

U.S. Marshals seize unapproved and misbranded drug products at Missouri distributor

Standard Process Recalls Cataplex ACP, Cataplex C, Pancreatrophin PMG (Product number 6650) Lot 114

How is a consumer supposed to understand the dangers of these products when there are literally thousands of them and the regulators can only react to problems?

The vitamin industry sells 12 billion dollars worth of product to Americans each year. The advertisements are everywhere. But no matter how clever the ads, the claims of benefits so convincing, and the assurances of “science,” the majority of these products are useless.

It is wrong to sell products that do not live up to their claims. It’s lying and fraud.

Let’s regulate the industry fully and find out what few items work and throw the rest to the wind.

James Pilant

Justin Lookadoo Found Drunk

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Justin Lookadoo Found Drunk

Justin Lookadoo Found Drunk

Justin Lookadoo Found Drunk

Humiliated Sexist Conservative ‘Christian’ Gets Arrested For Being Drunk In Public On Same Day He Was Supposed To Speak To Teens

via – Humiliated Sexist Conservative ‘Christian’ Gets Arrested For Being Drunk In Public On Same Day He Was Supposed To Speak To Teens.

What Was He Selling?

My perception is that a good number of people get drunk all the time and generally, it’s not worth much discussion. Hopefully, they do it privately and avoid harming themselves or others. But there are circumstances when my business ethics radar senses a blip.

What is Justin Lookadoo’s job? What does he sell? He sells morality and a particularly twisted sort of “Christian” morality. Lookadoo lectures on males being wild and untamed while females should be as domesticated as possible. Having read some of the content, that he believes women should be subservient would be an accurate summation. He goes to high schools and explains to the students such nuggets of wisdom as – “Dateable girls know how to shut up.” Schools pay him for this. From what I can ascertain he makes a living from tax money that was given to schools for abstinence programs. You might assume that he is a Texas phenomenon because of the recent press. Don’t believe that. He sells his “motivational message” all over the United States. His web site suggests thousands of presentations.

A major idea in American culture is usually phrased, “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk.” Hypocrisy is a common malady. We all have beliefs that we are not able to always live up to. But most of the time our hypocrisy is limited. Few of us are willing to sell things that we would not use ourselves. Few of us practice a profession out of alignment with our own beliefs. And it’s not so much that he was drunk but that he was scheduled to speak. His hypocrisy directly affected his performance.

Where’s the Business Ethics?

Justin Lookadoo advertises himself as a Christian motivational speaker whose presentations are designed to reinforce the importance of high moral values and character for teens. He sells a form or morality which he is unable to maintain in his own life.

But that’s not the big issue here. This man is hired to give messages to teens in schools across the country. It would appear that his “Christian” misogynistic presentations of powerful males and dutiful females are much approved by school boards and administrators.

I have no objection to Christians or motivational speakers in school. Nevertheless, a school system has a responsibility to vet these people before they hire them. Where was the process in this case? There were already red flags raised about this man on the internet before the drinking incident. And yet he was scheduled to speak to middle school students on that same day. I find it hard to think of a more impressionable group of young people than middle school students being told by the adults that this is an important speaker with an important message.

How hard would it have been to check him out online? It took me according to my computer, .28 seconds to Google him and it pulled up such cautionary tales as this one back in 2013.

But the thing that troubles me most is the labeling here. Put the word, Christian, in front of a speaker or high school presenter and for thousands of school administrators and school boards, that is all they need to hear. That’s wrong. You vet all the speakers. You check out the internet and call the schools where whoever it was gave their last presentation. Because using the adjective, Christian, does not make it so.

Our children deserve the same basic precautions for every speaker advertised as Christian or not.

James Pilant

On The Same Subject

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/11/the_6_creepiest_things_about_r.php

The school hasn’t yet said how it paid Lookadoo’s speaking fees, but a PDF on his Web site offers the following helpful advice.

Justin has a variety of programs suitable for all age groups and all kinds of schools.He is covered under many federal programs, including Safe and Drug Free Schools, Campus Improvement, Title I, Title IV, Character Education, Abstinence Education, Pregnancy Prevention, Tobacco Prevention, and many others.

http://wordofawoman.com/tag/justin-lookadoo/

Why in the world would any public school have a man in to teach the students about dating and relationships whose book comes down to, men are the architects of their own lives and women are the furnishings. Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

http://rebeccahains.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/an-open-letter-to-justin-lookadoo/

As mothers, university professors, specialists in the field of psychology, mental health, sexuality and gender for almost 20 years, and yes, Christians, we are taken aback by and incredibly disappointed in your message.

Massachusetts Police Form Private Corporations

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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Insist They’re Private Corporations With No Public Accountability

At a time where our police force is better armed than the actual armies of small countries, the idea of a “corporate” police force that has the ability to arrest, detain or kill American citizens with no oversight is absolutely horrifying.

via – Massachusetts SWAT Teams Insist They’re Private Corporations With No Public Accountability.

Massachusetts Police Form Private Corporations

SWAT teams in Massachusetts are claiming that because they are incorporated, they’re immune to the state’s open records law. “The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.”
Some departments in Massachusetts are not able to form their own SWAT teams so several departments would get together and organize a “law enforcement council.” This organization can be incorporated as a non-profit.
One such organization is NEMLEC, the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, it claim 3975 members: 3275 sworn officers and 700+ Sheriff’s officers. According to their web site, they cover 930 square miles and a population of 1.6 million people.

These organizations have existed for many years. Their original purpose was to promote cooperation among police and sheriff’s departments. That role has expanded over time. They now apply for government grans, maintain military vehicles, run SWAT teams and other kinds of rapid response units.

Let’s be clear. These are public agencies, government employees, and clearly by the current rules, any LEC acts under color of state law.

Is this a Business Ethics Issue?

Yes, by organizing supra- corporations over their individual law enforcement agencies have clearly moved from the public to the private. By denying access to their records on the ground of their incorporation, they are exerting corporate rights. When Massachusetts Police form private corporations, they are taking a step away from public control.

As a 501C’s, they are incorporated non-profits. This transforms these law enforcement agencies into hybrid public/private organizations able to act as public agencies, for instance, in exerting their immunities while acting under state authority and as a private corporation when wishing to evade their responsibilities as servants of the public interest. For the agencies, it is an ideal situation. For a democratic society, it has definite downsides. A large organization composed of thousands of armed personnel, equipped with armored cars, automatic weapons and secure bases are claiming the right to escape state supervision.

And if their claim to immunity from the state open meetings law is upheld, what other rights can they claim? What keeps them from making policy both formal and informal? What stops them from collecting revenue or “encouraging” the cooperation of public officials, other state agencies or the citizens? What about shared information, Internet, city and municipal surveillance cameras as well as license plate scanners?

There is nothing inherently wrong with police departments sharing information, building common resources or perform civic activities like annual golf tournaments. But we expect in a government by the people that public organizations be subject to the rule of law. A private police force has a different set of goals than a public one.

It is to be hoped in this country that those who serve in the defense of the public have the interest of the public in mind.

James Pilant

On The Same Subject

http://barrenews.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/ma-police-state-wrapped-in-nonprofits-say-what/

Like the Post’s Radley Balko and the ACLU I do not soley blame LEC’s like the one in Central Mass; an army of so-called honest and impartial public officials  in the Commonwealth, from Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley to lawmakers, who make the policy and direct taxpayer money to these bogus nonprofit entities must be held accountable.

http://mediachecker.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/swat-team-refuses-public-records-request-says-were-not-a-government-agency/

“NEMLEC can’t have it both ways,” said Jessie Rossman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Either it is a public entity subject to public records laws, or what it is doing is illegal.”

Luis Guillermo Solis Gives Up Vanity

Luis Guillermo Solis Gives Up Vanity

Costa Rica president ends ‘worship’ of his office | Al Jazeera America

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, a month into his first tem in office, doesn’t want his name on plaques at public works or his portrait hung in public offices.

In a decree, Solis prohibited his name from being used on plaques inaugurating bridges, roads and buildings, as had been the custom in previous administrations. From now on, plaques will carry only the year the project was inaugurated, according to the BBC.

via Costa Rica president ends ‘worship’ of his office | Al Jazeera America.

They are everywhere, in public buildings, state offices and any other public edifice. The pictures and the plaques of the men and women “responsible” for their construction and continuation. They are a muted form of immortality, at least as long as our civilization continues.

And yet, Luis Guillermo Solis, the President of Costa Rico, has dispensed with this. He says, “The works are from the country and not from a government or a particular official.” In this he is very much correct, yet his stand against such things is very much the exception.

Vanity or vainglory or self-idolatry has been recognized as a fault for much of history. However, we in the United States are very much taken with it. We like to think of ourselves in grandiose ways. We tell ourselves that our electronic devices make us more than human and many look forward to cyborgs and trans-humanity.

Is vanity a business ethics problem?

Absolutely. The CEO who buys with company money a $6,000 dollar shower curtain or a one million dollar birthday party for his wife, has got a problem with vanity. How many billions of dollars are spent each year out of money invested by or due others in every kind of business on frivolities, on bizarre perks or just spent because they can?

The Greeks believed that hubris or overweening pride was a major fault but not us. We put chief executive officers on magazine covers and lionize them as “job creators.” I have watched in astonishment as disgraced CEO’s are showered with attention and allowed to recover their reputations. Jordan Belfort is now a motivational speaker. After a disastrous tenure at Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina has been appointed to numerous corporate boards and travels the country dispensing advice. Corporate predators who destroyed thousands of jobs are consulted about issues of public important, as if their very notoriety meant expertise.

We would do better in this nation and practice virtue ethics and exalt in public the characteristics that make for good and great citizens, leaders and Americans. And not just exalt the good but diminish the bad, we should be cruel to the corrupt and incompetent. They be publicly shamed for their crimes whether prosecuted or not. How much virtue can you have if wickedness is not punished?

James Pilant

On The Same Subject

http://blog.startupiceland.com/2014/05/21/hubris-and-learning/

Hubris according to Merriam Webster is a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence. I meet and talk to a number of entrepreneurs and investors, I am always on the lookout for characteristics of Hubris. I am not being judgemental, but what hubris does is it gets in the way of learning.

http://professorianrobertson.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/hubris-power-and-the-correct-way-to-topple-dictators-an-interview-with-david-owen/

Owen, who trained as a neurologist/psychiatrist before going into politics, coined the term “Hubris Syndrome” to describe how power can change the personality of power-holders, not just in politics, but in every realm of life ranging from business to the media.

Mother Dies in Jail

Have You Ever Been in Jail?

Read the headline below.

Impoverished Mother Dies In Jail Cell Over Unpaid Fines For Her Kids Missing School

Have you ever been in jail? I have. No, I didn’t do anything. I’ve worked in criminal justice. I was an intern in a U.S. Probation office and I worked with juvenile delinquents. I’ve visited jails. I didn’t mind the little town jails. They seem almost friendly. But the city jails, especially the big cities. They were awful. I always wanted to leave as quickly as humanly possible.

The big city jails are crowded. The clientele varies from next to nothing in terms of offenses (not being able to pay a fine) to people who can’t make bail for major offenses like murder. There are always prostitutes. And they don’t look like the ones on television. They aren’t pretty and they don’t have hearts of gold. They look beat up and worn. They talk nasty and think it’s funny. The atmosphere is oppressive and the facilities limited.

People used to tell me about how they wish they could live the life of the jailed or the inmate of a prison – free medical care, free dental, three squares a day and you don’t have to work – paradise. It takes an incredible absence of knowledge and poor judgment to believe that about one of these places. In one big city jail I visited, the cells housed twenty four prisoners each. That’s 24 beds and two steel toilets out in the open. (The seasoned professional I was with told me to keep my eyes open. Sometimes the inmates throw excrement at you.) There’s a television posted out of reach at the end of the cell. If you’re not in the bed nearest it, it’s a little difficult to see and hear, and if you are at the far end, it’s about the size of a postage stamp. And that was a brand new model installation that was not overcrowded and run down.

They took a mother of seven away from her children and put her in one of these places for non-payment of a fine. She didn’t commit a crime and they put her in there. She owned money and they locked her up – debtor’s prison – you know, those things we abolished in the United States.

She was scared. She was stripped and cavity searched. It’s not in the article but that’s what happened. It’s standard procedure. It should only happen to people who committed crimes. It’s demeaning and humiliating.

They put her in there with real criminals. Being a mother of seven is probably not a good preparation for jail. She had high blood pressure. She was middle aged. She was a law abiding citizen trying hard to raise her children.

She had 55 truancys that she owed thousands of dollars for. That sounds like a lot. But it’s not. The offenses date from 1999. That’s fifteen years. For one child that is an average of three and one half offenses per year. For seven children, that’s an average of one-half a truancy a year. I’m not sensing Al Capone here.

She’s dead. End of story. A county in Pennsylvania has criminalized non-attendance in school and chosen to punish the parents with thousands of dollars of fines. And when they don’t pay, they go to jail.

But the story gets better. You see, if you read the article, it’s obvious the court knew she was on welfare and had no money. She didn’t bring her paperwork showing her lack of income. The court was punishing her for not having proof of what was obvious.

Obviously, that’s justice. Well, in Pennsylvania.

Where’s the business ethics?

This isn’t a business? The city uses the truancy law to impose thousands of dollars of fines which it extracts under fear of imprisonment. Isn’t that policing for profit? More and more cities and counties are using these kinds of fines to generate revenue. It’s deliberate policy. It’s a recent development historically and my understanding is that it is increasing in use across the nation.

If a city or a county uses fines for a revenue stream, justice is not a real consideration. Getting the money is. They’re using the jail to make money.

I appeal to your judgment – are fifty-five truancys over fifteen years worth thousands of dollars of fines? And isn’t it obvious that these fines and the penalties for non-payment are going to fall most heavily on the poor?

Jails and prisons are supposed to be for criminals. They are not supposed to be tools for cash strapped municipalities to balance the budge on the backs of the poor.

When the courts are no longer dealing justice but making money for the government, the central purpose of the criminal justice system is perverted and forgotten. The inmates are people being punished for committing crimes. They are living, breathing revenue streams who must be subject to fines and stacked penalties to squeeze out that last dime.

Justice is the goal we should aim at as a society, as a nation and as individuals. There are other ways to raise money. There have to be.

James Pilant

On the Same Subject.

http://antzinpantz.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/mom-dies-in-jail-for-not-paying-school-fines/

More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone – two-thirds of them women – over truancy fines since 2000 …

http://mybraincage.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/mother-dies-in-jail-cell-where-she-was-serving-a-two-day-sentence-for-her-childrens-absence-from-school/

 

George Will Crosses the Line

George Will Crosses the Line of Decency

I had pondered for a number of days whether or not to discuss the Will column on campus rape and his claim that Progressivism had transformed rape into a “coveted status.” I was upset, but he has said many foolish things as have many other writers on the Washington Post. So, I was leaning toward skipping the topic and discussing the oligarchy of internet providers. But today, the Washington Post responded to criticism, and it was a remarkable response.

According to Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt he welcomed the column and it “was well within the bounds of legitimate debate.” Really, that’s what he said.

What are the facts?

George Will downplayed the seriousness of campus rape, suggested that women claimed rape when it was not an appropriate charge and out of political correctness. I am familiar with the studies done on campus rape.  Here is one from the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the United States Justice Department. It indicates that on a campus of 10,000 female students, there will be an average of 350 rapes a year. The report indicates that five percent of the women in college are likely to experience rape in any given year (page 11). I can go on and tell you more findings, but does it appear to you that campus rape is a made up crisis? or that it was brought about by Progressivism run amok?

The Business Ethics of the Situation

The Washington Post is a newspaper, a business. It is supposed to provide news and commentary. Many things are debatable and a good newspaper provides a platform for vigorous debate over the great issues of the day.

But some things are facts. And trivializing facts about the nature of rape and suggesting that women are willing to decide later that it wasn’t consensual and that being raped is a positive status would seem in my mind to be in a real way a defense of the rapist, the poor misunderstood male who interpreted a woman’s “No” as part of a twisted game, who may have felt that if a woman dresses suggestively, drinks or invites him into her living quarter, she’s just asking for it.

It was to be hoped that these few men, for the statistics are clear – only a small proportion of the male population rape, could be deterred by more vigorous administrative action or at the very least they could be subject to more vigorous punishment. But this is now rendered more unlikely by George Will and defenders of a status quo which celebrates past custom and male aggression. For the poor, much put upon males, it was in his mind one indignity too much.

This issue brought forward by the commentary page of the newspaper is about crime. I firmly believe that if Will had trivialized armed robbery or shoplifting, he would have been fired yesterday. A great newspaper does not ignore facts or imply that a crime is okay because it has been the custom in the past – so was slavery and wife beating. Times have changed and George Will likes the old way.

But crime is crime, and the newspapers twisted ideas on what constitutes fair comment distorts a horrible act into a matter of dispute. That’s not responsible commentary.

James Pilant

On the same subject:

https://fishershannon.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/a-letter-to-george-will-in-response-to-his-june-6-2014-opinion-piece/

http://tpfleming.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/george-will-lashes-out-at-rape-victims/

http://barrystuartlevy.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/george-will-being-a-victim-of-sexual-assault-is-a-coveted-status-that-confers-privileges/

Obama Lied About Net Neutrality

Obama Lied About Net Neutrality

Obama Lied About Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a business ethics issue. Are a handful of cable companies able by skillful lobbying and enormous campaign contributions going to be able to end the open internet? The question is one of basic fairness. Will the government allow the regulations to be changed so that small players on the internet (like me) can be placed on the slow track to oblivion while large companies like Netflix have priority for internet use? If the regulations are changed as planned, my tiny voice and millions of others will probably disappear because who wants to wait around while our content loads?

This problem was not supposed to happen. In fact this situation is supposed to be impossible because the President of the United States said it wouldn’t happen.

Many people in the United States, literally millions of them, believed that they elected as President, a man committed to net neutrality. For he did not imply that he was in favor of an open internet, he loudly proclaimed his support and said he would not appoint an FCC commissioner opposed to net neutrality. You can hear that direct statement in one of the You Tube video’s below.

If Obama had been defeated in 2008 or 2012, I would have expected a challenge to net neutrality. It is appalling that after all his honeyed words, his dramatic phrases, net neutrality is on the chopping block.

James Pilant

 

Watch Obama Lie About Net Neutrality Three Times Below

(I can get you more – do you really need them?)

In the one below he says he is a big believer in net neutrality.

In this one, in 2007, the President says he will take a back seat to no one when it come to net neutrality.

In this one, an interview on MTV, he is asked if he will support net neutrality and pledge not to appoint someone to the FCC who will oppose it.

On the same subject.

http://wp-cron.com/2014/05/17/obama-backs-away-from-net-neutrality-campaign-promises-after-fcc-vote/

http://deusnexus.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/war-net-neutrality/

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