Category Archives: In the News

When not-so-good people disagree

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The moral conversation

I started a chain of blog posts on ethics back in 2018 under the continuing theme called “Good People Disagree,” reflecting back on a model of ethics I had developed while formally studying the topic 30 years ago. My assertion has been that the most difficult corners of ethical reasoning and discussion are found in cases where the disagreeing parties… Read more »

Hurricane Ian, probability, and the Greek Fates

The three Fates

“God made Florida a swamp, and God wants it back.” (unknown) I cast my lot with the Greek Fates on some good odds regarding Hurricane Ian and we survived pretty much unscathed. Next time, though, I will probably leave if I have the ability to do so, even with the same odds.

We need Ryan White to remind us…

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The American zeitgeist concerning the Covid pandemic has, from the outset, flirted with a school of morality I have long termed “Sucks to Be You” Ethics. Back in March of 2020, I wrote about how President Trump was convinced that he had Covid confined to one arriving cruise ship, and in a real-life application of “Lifeboat Ethics,” he decided to… Read more »

The math of “Rent vs. Buy” has changed

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Several changes to economic conditions and tax law over the last five years have added new variables to the big decision of whether it is more advantageous to rent or buy a place to live. I have updated and simplified a spreadsheet I have long used to teach this concept for you to download and plug in your own numbers…. Read more »

Covid math we didn’t learn

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Two and a half years after all our lives were upended by Covid-19 it is critical that we look forward and ask ourselves, “How will America respond to the next pandemic?” Because we “failed the math part of exam” so badly with Covid-19, I fear that we will do much worse the next time out. The anti-math contingent of Americans… Read more »

How Republicans are more shrewd than Democrats on tax policy

Who gets tax expenditures?

“For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” — Jesus, quoted in Luke 16:1-13 NIV Everyone knows the punchline of this joke… Read more »

A fragile lifeline for the IRS

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WGPD Tax Code

I have no great love of the Internal Revenue Service, but the current criticisms from people like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who is trying to convince people that that 87,000 IRS agents are headed to Iowa carrying high-lethality weapons have zero basis in reality. Grassley needs to be retired by the voters. However, I am going to tell you how… Read more »

The pithy gospel of Frederick Buechner (1926–2022)

Wishful Thinking

“Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” (Frederick Buechner – Wishful Thinking, p. 79) After two dozen or so house moves, my wife… Read more »

Removing the “magic wand” from civil marriage

George C. Scott questioning Kathryn Grant's cohabiting status in "Anatomy of a Murder."

Same-sex marriage should not be in the news again. But Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision has clearly invited states, as they did with Roe v. Wade challenges, to challenge their own 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that enabled same-sex marriages nationwide. Both Justices Thomas and Alito, have recently been… Read more »

Separating the ethic from the dogma

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Garden of Eden

Note: This is a cross-post from the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. A Kentucky circuit court recently granted a temporary injunction to halt the implementation of Kentucky’s “trigger law” that would ban abortion in response to the recent Dobbs Supreme Court decision. The judge spelled out perhaps the clearest rationale to date why the most extreme of the anti-abortion laws are… Read more »