Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Relativity of Ethics

“Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.” Albert Einstein

Who here remembers Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes? Come on, admit it.  Some of you have to be old enough to remember.  I was not a big fan but I do have one distinct memory.  I had just learned about tax regulation in a civics class.  Rooney was griping that he had to pay more taxes because he made lots and lots of money.  He said something like, “I guess the government wants to punish the hard workers in this country.  I work very hard for my money.” 

"These protestors, who are actually few in number, have contributed nothing. They're parasites." Rush Limbaugh

It was the first time it occurred to me, in my semi-na├»ve adolescences that there is a sector of old rich white guys who are not on the reality planet.  I specifically thought, “I would like to see you trade places with a coal miner and then see what you have to say about hard work.”

“The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from.” Every Politician 

So that memory, coupled with my day at work, has led me to get on my high horse. 

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have two older gentlemen that I visit.  One worked all of his life as a rancher.  He didn’t retire until his mid-70’s when he had a stroke. That is a sun up to sun down, back breaking life with an extra fabulous twist.  The government came in and said, “Why look, you have all of this very expensive land and I think we will charge you taxes on your land, and by the way, did we mention it is very expensive?” So, in his mid-80’s, he has managed to keep a very modest house but has nothing else.  No savings, no pension, no retirement other than social security which is less than $1000.  His daughter is ending up paying his utilities.  He is a fall risk and the kids are discussing placing him in a facility. And guess what, when he moves, he gets to apply for Medicaid, loses his house, loses his independence and his dignity until he dies.  The lazy bastard.  He obviously deserve no more.

“The so-called new morality has too often the old immorality condoned.” Lord Shawcross

Gentleman number two is in his mid-90’s. His father died of TB when he was a kid so from then on he worked to help support his family. He did manage to finish high school, which shows a lot of dedication.  Late night work to a day in school isn’t something most teens would do.  He’s survived by being a master at budgeting and he has stuff down to a dollar. I’m not exaggerating.  This visit he talked about how is electric bill is up by $17 and he doesn’t know how he will pay it.  He rations his health care because he can’t afford the co-payments or his diabetic testing strips for that matter.  Anyway, he really needs grab bars in his bathroom before he slips and breaks something.  Cost of instillation? $300 which might as well be 3 million. Well according to our friend, Mr. Rooney, it was just plain laziness that he didn’t go to Yale to become a Bonesman while financially supporting his family.

“While having never invented a sin, I'm trying to perfect several.”

Here is my big question. What the hell is wrong with the system!?! Why does Paris Hilton (the quintessential example of what is wrong with America) get to blow $300 on a headband while my patient gets to choose which medication to buy?

Why do the conservative televangelists have a melt down over what adults are sleeping with each other even when they get busted at a motel rendezvous with hookers?
Why does congress continue to allow corporate raiders veto power over regulatory legislation? And, better question, why do we keep voting the bastards back in?

“There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.”  Tom Peters

I’m not saying I have the solution but I do recognize immorality when I see it and that includes making an obscene amount of money at the expense of a venerable population.

“Commit the oldest sins the newest kind of ways.” William Shakespeare, Henry IV.

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