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Hsieh PJM OpEd: Why the ‘Unexpected’ Keeps Happening
If an irresponsible teenager repeatedly crashed his car into a tree whenever he had a few beers, we would never say his accidents were “unexpected.” Rather, they would be foreseeable consequences of driving while drinking. Similarly, we shouldn’t let journalists get away with describing as “unexpected” the foreseeable negative consequences of bad government policies.
Blogger Glenn Reynolds recently highlighted numerous examples of the media’s increasingly frequent use of “unexpected” to describe bad economic news. Unemployment “unexpectedly” rose despite federal “stimulus.” Home sales “unexpectedly” fell despite taxpayer bailouts. ER visits unexpectedly rose in Massachusetts despite RomneyCare. Similarly, the Pundit Press blog has rounded-up dozens of examples of such “unexpected” developments since January 2011…
In case you missed the e-mail announcement, I wanted to remind you that today — meaning Thursday, June 30th — at midnight is the deadline for pledging to open OPeople @ OList.com to general off-topic discussion.
Right now, the list is serving just its core function of disseminating announcements about OList social events. However, as I said in the original announcement, I’d like to open the OPeople list to friendly, off-topic chatter, such as movie and art recommendations, discussions of work and hobbies, requests for information and advice, and more.
At present, $120 has been pledged. $200 is required. If the difference of $80 isn’t pledged in time, that’s fine: the list will simply forever remain an announcement-only list. However, if you’d like to help open it to discussion, you can do so by pledging with this form.
For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.
Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?
As I’ve blogged before, I’ve had a subscription with Audible for many years. I listen to audiobooks in my car, as well as while doing mindless chores and gardening. I’ve found that I much prefer to listen to fiction than to read it, because a good reader adds a rich layer of color to the text.
With my super-fancy “Platinum Annual Membership,” I receive 24 books per year for just under $10 per book. For the less devoted, you can try Audible for free, then choose your preferred type of subscription.
Audible is part of the advertising network to which I belong. By using any of these links to purchase a subscription, you support my work without costing yourself an extra cent.
Here are the audiobooks that I’ve read lately:
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Painfully naturalistic and malevolent, yet also epic and unforgettable.
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather: Also naturalistic, although more benevolent, but ultimately lacking in needed psychological depth.
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Compelling dystopia written for young adults, with shining and complex heroes.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: Compelling but heart-wrenching, definitely recommended to fellow fans of Jane Austen.
Calling the theological giant’s stranglehold on the religion industry “blatantly anti-competitive,” a U.S. district judge ruled Monday that God is in violation of anti-monopoly laws and ordered Him to be broken up into several less powerful deities.
“The evidence introduced in this trial has convinced me that the deity known as God has willfully and actively thwarted competition from other deities and demigods, promoting His worship with such unfair scare tactics as threatening non-believers with eternal damnation,” wrote District Judge Charles Elliot Schofield in his decision. “In the process, He has carved out for Himself an illegal monotheopoly.”
The suit, brought against God by the Justice Department on behalf of a coalition of “lesser deities” and polytheistic mortals, alleged that He violated antitrust laws by claiming in the Holy Bible that He was the sole creator of the universe, and by strictly prohibiting the worship of what He termed “false idols.”
“God clearly commands that there shall be no other gods before Him, and He frequently employs the phrase ‘I AM the Lord’ to intimidate potential deserters,” prosecuting attorney Geoffrey Albert said. “God uses other questionable strongarm tactics to secure and maintain humanity’s devotion, demanding, among other things, that people sanctify their firstborn to Him and obtain circumcisions as a show of faith. There have also been documented examples of Him smiting those caught worshipping graven images.”
Attorneys for God did not deny such charges. They did, however, note that God offers followers “unbeatable incentives” in return for their loyalty, including eternal salvation, protection from harm, and “fruitfulness.”
On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on morality and living well, the risk of guns with kids, tact versus honesty, staying in an abusive marriage for the kids, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.
You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:
The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.
You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.
My News of the Week: I’ve been working on programming for this webcast, as well as my updates to Explore Atlas Shrugged.
Question 1: Morality and Living Well
Question: What makes some action or choice of ethical concern? In your description of this webcast, you say that you answer questions on “practical ethics and the principles of living well.” What’s the line between those categories? When does a person acting unwisely cross the line into immorality? When does a person deserve moral praise for acting wisely? I’d appreciate a few examples, such as career choices, family relationships, eating habits, interacting with strangers, etc.
My Answer, In Brief: Ethics concerns the fundamental principles that ought to guide our choices and actions, but many differences in people’s choices are due to optional matters of style or values or honest mistake – not immorality.
Question: Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?
My Answer, In Brief: Don’t try to kid-proof guns, but instead, gun-proof your kids by training them in the principles of gun safety.
Question: Is it dishonest to use tact when talking to someone? When I have something important to tell someone and I am concerned that the other person might be put on the defensive or have hurt feelings, I try to say what I need to say with tact. That is, I change what I say from brutal honesty to something easier for a person to hear and accept. However, I worry that I’m being dishonest in doing so. When does using tact cross the line into dishonesty?
My Answer, In Brief: Tact may or may not be dishonest. Tact is a matter of style, not content, and sometimes (but not always) it’s an effective method of communication.
Question 4: Staying in an Abusive Marriage for the Kids
Question: Is it moral to stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children? Should a woman stay in a marriage where the husband is abusive toward her because she has kids with the husband and wants her kids to have some sort of future? Does it matter if the man in question has some – or even all – the financial capability?
My Answer, In Brief: Yes, yes, yes! To stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children is a farce, because the children will be hugely damaged thereby. The woman needs to be the adult – and take responsibility for herself and her kids.
Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
Do you want to better understand and appreciate Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged? Explore Atlas Shrugged -- my in-depth course consisting of a podcast series, study questions, and other resources -- will help you do that.
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