Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Rape of Morality and the Morality of Rape

There was a note-worthy article mentioned today in Breakpoint.  It is titled “The Wheels Are Coming Off the Sexual Revolution.”  This article is from National Review Online, and while I am not a conservative in the most common sense of that word today, the author makes some good points in reflecting on the recent discussions about rape on college campuses.

Part of the author’s point is that many colleges and universities have created conditions that, in the end, encourage rape.  It is worth a look to see just how that has happened.  In essence, the set of pet projects pursued by many universities today have created moral conditions is which rape (and many other things, for that matter) should not be a surprising event.

I don’t think many if any university officials who have helped put these conditions in place had any thought of encouraging rape.  But their commitment to promoting certain attitudes and views among students made them at least unwitting participants in the problem.  It’s as though they scattered weed seeds and then hoped that the weeds would not grow – and then they became alarmed when the weeds did grow and produce more weeds.

The problem behind all such symptoms at universities today can be traced to the broad failure to examine moral foundations.  If there are no moral foundations, then why should rape, or anything else, bother anyone?  But if there are things, like rape, ought to disturb us all morally, what is the basis of that ought, why does it apply to us all, and how can we know what it is?

University officials, especially the higher ones who make policy, don’t like to answer those questions.  Most of them operate as though there are ‘oughts’ that apply to us all.  Some of these they are very busy imposing on students in various ways.

But when you ask them things like “Why is your policy on moral matters correct?  How do you know it is true?  What is your ultimate basis for all this?” the answers are never intellectually satisfying.  There is simply the assumption that something or other about human beings and society justifies it all.  But, in my experience (and I have a bit of it) the answers to the question “What makes this right?” are often shallow or pointless – if indeed an answer is even offered.

It is time for those who make policies about moral matters at universities tell us the basis of their policies.  If they cannot or will not, they reveal part of the cause for problems like rape on campus.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The other day I received a mass email greeting from the president of the university where I direct a campus ministry.  It was a Thanksgiving greeting.  In it the president thanked the recipients for their “friendship and support” of the university.

That’s nice.  It is good to thank those who have done things for us, or for groups or causes of which we are a part.  But it impoverishes and even bastardizes the American tradition of Thanksgiving.

The point of the day is to focus on expressing thanks to God.  I know university presidents probably cannot officially endorse that today.  But it might be better, if you cannot participate officially in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to just ignore it and let it pass.

In fact, there is very little reason to thank other people for things if there is no God.  If God does not exist, then all things are morally permissible, including ingratitude to other people.  Why are other people important at all, except for your own purposes, if there is no Creator to Whom we owe thanks?

One of the tragic and ironic things about modern higher education is the attempt to pursue learning in an atmosphere of pretended religious neutrality.  In the end, everything is “religious.”  Until we understand that, we will understand nothing.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LGBT Consistency

Reading the news this morning in the digital way that I now do, I came across the headline in the business section of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Who are the most gay-friendly employers in Cincinnati?

My attention was drawn to the opening words:

Who are the most gay-friendly major employers in Cincinnati? Washington, D.C.-based The Human Rights Campaign is naming names.

In its annual report, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization graded Fortune 1000 companies and other employers across the nation in five general areas: nondiscrimination policies; employment benefits; demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion; public commitment to LGBT equality; and responsible citizenship.

The problem I have with this intense campaign currently underway in our society is not that some people have a problem with the ethics of sexual activity.  People have problems with ethics in many areas.  We often know what we should do but fail to do it.  The problem is that the LGBT lobby, of which The Human Rights Campaign is clearly a part, will not recognize that there can be problems with the ethics of sexual activity.  And clearly, the Cincinnati Enquirer is to some extent promoting this lobby.

My problem is that the LGBT lobby is inconsistent in what they advocate.  They demand “diversity and inclusion” – but only for themselves.  If they truly believed in diversity and inclusion, they would not, and could not, object if some Fortune 1000 company decided to hire a CEO who believed, and made public, her view that homosexual activity is ethically impermissible.  We don’t even have to investigate to know that such a move would be met by the LGBT lobby.

And I doubt that, even now, most of the LGBT lobby would accept another “B” in their collection of letters:  one that stands for “bestiality.”  And would the Cincinnati Enquirer run the headline “Who are the most bestiality-friendly employers in Cincinnati?”?  Not next year, perhaps, but soon, very soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Comic Book the World Awaited

Remember Jonathan Gruber?  Who can forget him?  In the little listening to broadcast news I have done lately, I have heard Barrack Obama and Nancy Pelosi (among others) emphatically declare “We don’t know him!”

So it was with no little amusement that I read today that good old J.G. – the man nobody knows – wrote a comic book in 2011.  This little gem, sure to become a collector’s item for reasons never intended by its author, is titled Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works.

The back of the book carries a little blurb explaining Gruber’s credentials to write this comic book.  Here is what is says in part:

Dr. Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics . . . He was a key architect of Massachusetts’s ambitious health reform effort and consulted extensively with the Obama administration and congress during the development of the Affordable Care Act.  The Washington Post called him “possible the [Democratic] Party’s most influential health-care expert.

A bit of looking around Amazon reveals that this book is now out of print, so be sure to get yours now for all those “stupid American voters” (according to Gruber) on your Christmas list.  I must say that I at first want to agree with Gruber on that point about American voters.  After all, they did elect Obama twice.  On the other hand, what choice did they have the second time?  The “health care Obama of Massachusetts” named Romney?

And while you are picking up copies of this comic book for friends and family at Christmas, why not be nice enough to get a copy for Barrack, Nancy, and perhaps Hillary.  If they haven’t read it yet, they probably should.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Immorality of False Claims of Immorality

From a recent article in The Freeman:


Pure markets enhance good behavior, because in such arrangements, voluntary acts are rewarded and involuntary acts are punished. A pure market, as we define it, consists only of voluntary human action. That’s because a truly free market includes governance structures that penalize coercive harm, and such pure markets do not impose any restrictions or costs on honest and peaceful human activity.

Critics of markets think otherwise. They point to slave markets or a market for stolen goods as examples of market immorality.

More recently, Professor Dr. Armin Falk (University of Bonn) and Professor Dr. Nora Szech (University of Bamberg) conducted experiments in which people were offered a choice between receiving 10 euros versus letting a laboratory mouse get killed. If a subject decided to save a mouse, the experimenters bought the animal, according to the study authors writing in the journal Science.

But in the experimental market with buyers and sellers, more people were willing to accept the killing of a mouse than when individuals were simply offered an isolated choice. Therefore, the researchers concluded, markets erode moral values. Guilt is shared with other traders who are also involved in transactions that kill mice. If a person refused a transaction to save a mouse, somebody else would step in, so the mouse would be killed anyway.

Do Falk and Szech’s analysis prove that markets erode morals?

The author of The Freeman article makes several good points, among which he points out briefly that it is not universally agreed that allowing a mouse to be killed is immoral.  As far as the study he is talking about here is concerned, the rebuttal can end with that point.  Mice have no moral standing.  You can’t murder a mouse.  The fact that professors Falk and Szech do not understand that simply demonstrates their moral ineptitude.  And the fact that they appeal to something many people will incorrectly accept as immoral points to another level of problems with this study.

Because here is something that is immoral:  the attempt to claim that something is immoral which is not, with a view to controlling other people’s behavior with false “morality.”  What Falk and Szech are attempting to do can be illustrated in a more “down home” fashion.  Perhaps I don’t like the fact that my neighbor sits on his front porch and reads his morning paper.  So I travel around the neighborhood telling people that every morning my neighbor is doing something horribly immoral on his front porch – that something being reading the paper – in the hope that I can get them to join me in imposing my will on my paper-reading neighbor.  Since reading the paper is not immoral, I am simply lying about my neighbor in an attempt to have control over his life.


Control over people freely trading with one another is exactly what studies like that done by Falk and Szech are after.  They are not just descriptive, no matter how much they pretend to be.  They are covert attempts to limit freedom.  And they are attempts based on falsehoods.  Falsehoods such as the claim that allowing a mouse to be killed is immoral.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Problem with Kentucky

I am a long-time infiltrator of Kentucky who grew up in Indiana.  As much as we like to tease our neighbors about this, there is not really enough difference culturally to make a difference.  In Kentucky, you have hillbillies.  In Indiana, we had hicks.  At least that is how I think of it.

But I have lived for so many decades in Kentucky that I now think of it as my place.  It is a pleasant place, geographically, for me – mostly because it is not very different from Indiana.  There are many nice people here.  But Kentucky has its problems when it comes to the area of fiscal responsibility.

Kentucky does poorly economically because Kentucky continues to be a “tax and spend” state, or ‘commonwealth’ to be more precise.  That last term, in a certain invented sense, should be true in Kentucky.  More people should have more wealth than they do.  The fact that they do not is due to the fact that the policies of Kentucky, ever since I have lived here, have tended toward the “tax everything possible” approach.  When that does not work out well, the usual remedy is “tax everything some more and hope that solves the problem.”  It is as though Kentuckians are just stupid enough to hit themselves in the head, and then, feeling pain, hit themselves in the head again supposing it will alleviate the pain.

One of an unending stream of examples of this came up recently in some interesting information about the announced closing of the Toyota headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky – very near where live.  As Eric Hermes put it – rather amusingly, I thought:

Why are they leaving?

Because they wanted employees to pay Brent Spence Bridge Tolls?  NO
Because there is no local option sales tax?  DOUBTFUL
Because they wanted to pay higher library and real estate taxes?  WRONG AGAIN
Because the city of Erlanger hasn't raised payroll taxes enough (50% under current administration)   Don't make me laugh

It seems that TRI-ED and the NKY Chamber have lost their focus.  Maybe they have been too busy promoting bridge tolls.

This is what Plano is offering them:

Occupation tax = 0
Local wage tax = 0
Corporate Income tax = 0
Personal Income tax = 0

Plano TX understands REAL business incentives.

See for yourself at the following link

Northern Kentucky will continue to lose jobs with the current tax rates.  It isn't due to bridge traffic, or that we need more bike paths, boat ramps, and parks. Businesses need real incentive to locate or stay in Northern Kentucky.  We need less wasteful government spending and lower taxes.

Being a hillbilly is fine.  But it is pathetic to watch hillbillies tax themselves into poverty, as is the pattern in Kentucky.  Even the hicks over in Indiana have wised up about this to some extent recently.  Whatever we should call Texans, perhaps the hillbillies of Kentucky need to pay some positive attention to their superior fiscal policies.  Otherwise, there might end up being many more Texans, and many fewer Kentuckians.  And most of those Kentuckians who remain will remain dirt poor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Correct Temperature

There is an interesting recent article in The Freeman arguing that it makes sense, from an economic standpoint, to stop worrying about “climate change” and simply create more wealth.  It is worth reading.

But as I listen to certain elements in our culture engage in hand-wringing, preaching, exhorting, and condemning people, especially people in the U.S., on the urgent need to do something about “climate change” I have a nagging question that no one seems to bother answering.  I’ll come to that question in a moment.

In an article previously online (2009) at NOVA online, Kirk A. Maasch writes:

During the past billion years, the Earth's climate has fluctuated between warm periods - sometimes even completely ice-free - and cold periods, when glaciers scoured the continents. The cold periods - or ice ages - are times when the entire Earth experiences notably colder climatic conditions. During an ice age, the polar regions are cold, there are large differences in temperature from the equator to the pole, and large, continental-size glaciers can cover enormous regions of the earth.

In a related article, this same author says:

During the present ice age, glaciers have advanced and retreated over 20 times, often blanketing North America with ice. Our climate today is actually a warm interval between these many periods of glaciation. The most recent period of glaciation, which many people think of as the "Ice Age," was at its height approximately 20,000 years ago.

That NOVA is certainly not in the camp of those some would call climate “deniers” should be conceded by all.  But even this bit of information from outside the debate about “climate change” leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the earth’s thermostat is always changing.

This is not difficult information to discover.  So why is our societal din about climate change continuing?  Why have so many ordinary people been convinced to feel guilty about turning on a light for fear of creating some carbon dioxide?  Why does everyone keep harping about “carbon footprints”?  I have my suspicions about this, but that is not the point here.

The point is to finally ask my question, the one no seems to ask, let alone answer, in all this hubbub.  Here it is:  What is the “correct” temperature for planet earth?  And if you think you know what that is, tell us how you know this.

Earth cannot be too warm or too cool unless we know what the correct temperature is.  When politicians yap on and on about the need to do something about “climate change” because the earth is getting warmer, they owe us an explanation as to how they know what temperature the earth ought to be.  As Maasch points out, earth’s temperature has varied greatly in the past, both far above and far below what it is now.  Which of these many temperatures was “correct”?

And if you don’t know an answer to that question, an answer for which you can offer substantial proof, why are you still flapping your lips about the dangers of global warming?