September 04, 2014

Consistency in Outrage

Credit: Marcus Qwertyus 
For everyone who felt the need to support Chick-Fil-A with your dollars as they were being "persecuted" by boycotts in response to their CEO's stance on same-sex marriage, I hope you will likewise lend your support to the Dallas Cowboys, who are being boycotted for their hiring of Michael Sam. If the outrage you felt in the first situation far exceeds any outrage you feel in the second, I think you should ask yourself what really outraged you about the Chick-Fil-A affair. Was it really because someone was being boycotted for their publicly-stated beliefs (no matter what those beliefs might be), or was it because someone was being boycotted for a belief you sympathize with? Should I expect increased support for the Dallas Cowboys this year from the same folks who celebrated Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day? I won't be holding my breath.

July 02, 2014

Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy

According to CNN, Hobby Lobby 401k plans allow investments in the very contraceptive devices that they brought suit about: IUDs, morning-after pill, etc. When companies want exemptions from the law based on their owners religious beliefs, shouldn't the pertinent religious beliefs be sincerely held? 401k plans and health care plans are quite similar in that the employee chooses the procedure or the investment and the employer makes a partial payment towards that purchase. So, in what ethical system is it wrong to support the purchasing of IUDs but OK to support the manufacture of IUDs?

Suffer the Little Children

Protesters in Murrieta, CA shamefully blocked a busload of refugee children, forcing them to turn around. Perhaps the good Christian people of Murrieta need to be reminded of some Bible verses:
Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 
Hebrews 13: 1 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

June 19, 2014

...But Pragmatism is What Felled Eric Cantor

Per the New York Times, the new Majority Leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, is a pragmatist. What's surprising about the choice of another pragmatist is that Eric Cantor was castigated and ultimately de-throned for being just that. So, is the Republican establishment just not listening to the Tea Party, or do they think that lightning won't strike twice?

Bob Jones' Philosophy Regarding Sexual Abuse

Credit: Associated Press
Per Al Jazeera, Bob Jones University tells students who have been raped to "repent." What's interesting about the cases cited in this article is that the rapists were men in authority over women, such as fathers and bosses, or were 'good' men, e.g., ministry students.  It is a standard tactic of sociopaths like these to minimize or even normalize their behavior within the confines of a closed, rarefied environment. Treating a woman's unwillingness or inability to forgive her rapist as a sin, perversely makes her the "real" problem and aligns with the sociopath's agenda.

May 26, 2014

The People of Latta's Will

Source: Moore's Facebook page.
The Huffington Post reports that, despite the people of Latta, SC even changing their form of government to overrule and repudiate him, Mayor Earl Bullard has defied their wishes and refused to re-instate the long-time police chief, Crystal Moore, whom he purportedly fired because she is a Lesbian. His defiance shows him to be one of those conservatives who isn't too concerned with "the people's will" when it doesn't agree with his goals. On a more positive note, the people of Latta have provided us with yet another example of one of the most heartening phenomena of social change in the last twenty-five years or so. You see, when LGBT people become known to people as brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors, public officials, etc. they cease being strange, alarming abstractions and become normal, flesh-and-blood people -- the kind of people you want to share a meal with, call on when you need help, and look out for when they are in danger.

November 19, 2013

Living Wages

Credit: Our Walmart
A study just released by DÄ“mos indicates that Wal-Mart could pay an average annual wage of $25,000 if it just halted the practice of buying back its stock at a cost of billions of dollars per year. This buy-back mostly benefits current stockholders, particularly the heirs of founder Sam Walton, who in 2009 owned about 42% of the company. A direct result of this siphoning of profits into the coffers of the have-mores is the sad tale of a Wal-Mart in Canton, OH where employees have set up donation bins at the Thanksgiving season to collect food from employees for distribution to other employees in need.

How extreme must the contrasts become before the Waltons realize that sharing wealth is a sustainable approach and hoarding wealth isn't? Perhaps, when their employees are so poor that they can't afford to shop in their own stores?

But pragmatism shouldn't be the primary impetus towards economic justice. I can say the following without qualification or hesitation: if you can afford to pay your employees a living wage, it is immoral not to do so.

September 19, 2013

Bravo, Chipotle

This short film, titled The Scarecrow, was designed as an advertisement for the fast-food restaurant Chipotle to promote its policy against factory farming. I find it heartening to see a company with such credibility among aficionados of fast and filling fare taking such a stance and implementing it as policy.

While I strive (mostly with success) towards vegetarianism, I know that I live in a world where people of good conscience don't necessarily share my concerns about the consumption of animal products. However, I do think that this video's raising of meat-eaters' consciousness along with Chipotle's tactic of making meat an optional ingredient instead of the heart and soul of its dishes are helping to make us a less meat-centric and inhumane society. Bravo.

September 17, 2013

Mental Illness and Firearms

The recent mass killing at the Washington Navy Yard is yet another instance of a mentally ill young man with easy access to firearms exercising his madness on large numbers of strangers. How many more must die before a consensus is built to address this particular confluence of factors? Does the NRA actually want the mentally ill to have unfettered access to firearms? Why is setting a high bar of trustworthiness for gun licensure oppressive?
According to ABC News:
"Just 12 states actively submit mental health records to the federal background check system, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. Those that do are only required to provide documents related to court-ordered committals. Thousands of felony convictions across the country have also been left out of the system, advocates say. In many states, the records are still paper-based and have to be entered into the background check system by hand -- a costly and time-consuming process."
Tightening up issues like this should disturb no one, since just doing a better job of what we already purport to do may have helped in some of these cases. For example, the Navy Yard killer, Aaron Alexis, reportedly once shot out someone's tires when they had parked in his space. This was a matter of public record, as he was arrested for the incident and later admitted to it, citing blackout-inducing anger. Anyone who has used a firearm in such a way should never have access to them ever again. If we don't improve our success rates in separating the mentally ill from firearms (and other means of mass murder), tragedies like this will go on and on with increasing frequency.

July 19, 2013

The Exponential Benefits of the ACA

Source: Keith Ellison
I believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have exponential positive benefits that most of us aren't even anticipating. For example, once the exchanges are established and working throughout the country, the uncomfortable and perhaps unfair requirement placed on employers to provide coverage may be scaled back, even eliminated. I think this will do what most folks on all sides of the issue think is reasonable -- to divorce healthcare coverage from employment. Another till now unforeseen consequence of the ACA is that people who are working only to retain affordable coverage could stop working. A study performed by economists from Northwestern, Columbia, and U. of Chicago anticipates that this could free up nearly 1 million jobs for the unemployed to fill. This couldn't happen unless individuals could find affordable coverage on their own, a possibility that the ACA is now establishing.