Category Archives: Good people disagree

Afghanistan and aggressive dependence

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The moral conversation

I first heard the term “aggressive dependence” from a friend who spent over forty years creating community self-help cooperatives in mostly-rural locations in a dozen developing countries. Haiti was the one country where, in recent years, he expressed resignation rather than his typical ebullient hope. In his expression, aggressive dependence characterizes a society that defeats all attempts at practical outside… Read more »

When your pain becomes our pain

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Empathy-Sympathy-Compassion

Odds are…you personally will not suffer any ill effects from the coronavirus. But over 600,000 U.S. families have watched loved ones die, often without the hugs of family who had to say goodbye via FaceTime. Odds are…you personally will not be killed in a grocery store by a domestic terrorist wielding an AR-style high-lethality weapon. But over 40,000 families lost… Read more »

Biden, the bishops, and a failure to communicate

Cool Hand Luke

American Catholic bishops have apparently backed off plans to deny the Holy Communion from practicing Catholic Democratic politicians like President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Comments from the Jesuit Pope Francis and public sentiment appear to have convinced the bishops that this stance would be politically unwise at this time. California Republican and gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who in a… Read more »

Talking in three languages about Covid vaccines

religion-science-politics

I had long thought that the phrase “to babble” had its origins in the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel. Instead, you can find linguists arguing for Western European or Latin roots with the meaning of “to prattle” or to imitate baby talk (“ba-ba-ba”). By any definition, there is a lot of mutually-incomprehensible babbling going around that is as… Read more »

Israel, Gaza, and ethical nuance

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A fragile peace fire holds this morning, but political support for Bibi Netanyahu’s actions against the Palestinian Hamas military actions and control over Gaza is one of the few issues these days that seems to cross party lines. At least there are multiple views within the Democratic Party, and there are clearly neo-Nazi elements among Trump supporters who hold Israel… Read more »

When ethics and dogma meet politics

Stephen Crane

“Think as I think,” said a man, “Or you are abominably wicked; You are a toad.” And after I had thought of it, I said: “I will, then, be a toad.” — Stephen Crane (1871–1900) It can be dangerous to bisect any part of the world around us into two paths, but I have come to view human expressions of… Read more »

Minneapolis: When two things are simultaneously true

Privilege

These two statements, I assert, can be simultaneously true: I want to live in a secure society. I want to live in a free society. And most of the time, for most of us (cough, cough, middle-class white Americans), these two statements rest comfortably together in our heads as our view of “the real America.” I feel free to leave… Read more »

A tax plan for Biden #2 – guiding principles *updated*

Tax expenditures 2018

In Part One of this series, I updated several “quick hit” actions a Biden Administration could take to restore some measure of sanity to the U.S. tax system. In this part, I want to update my four basic principles for a fairer, simpler, and more effective federal income taxing system. I believe these principles also to be legislatively achievable. But… Read more »

Kids, can you say Epistemology?

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Blaise Pascal

Zen kōans (similar to parables) are notoriously hard to source, but the “stick” theme is common. This “stick kōan” about accepting reality is of unknown provenance, but it makes its point: The master held out a large bamboo stick and asked the student “Is this stick real?” The student, trying to show his superior understanding, replied, “How can we know… Read more »

The moral conversation around coronavirus vaccine priorities

Who Am I?

It did not take long for the difficult moral questions around who gets the Covid-19 vaccination first to get ugly. At Stanford University an algorithm for distributing the vaccine prioritized older doctors working remotely over young interns and residents who are in daily contact with Covid patients, resulting in a public shaming demonstration. After the bad public attention, the university… Read more »