Respect for all human life

The blogger below passionately makes the point that I’ve been trying to get across:

A meme just came across my Facebook page, and it really saddened me. It was a picture of a presidential candidate with whom I strongly disagree, dangling over a cliff. The image posed the question:…

Source: Respect for all human life

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Mark Twain popularized the quote long ago, and I was reminded of it today when reading this article about drug testing in North Carolina.

At issue is this quote:

Here are the stats so far: Over the first five months of the program, 7,600 people applied for help. Of all those, social workers sent 89 to be screened.

Twenty-one from that group tested positive for drugs. That means of the total number of welfare applicants, less than 0.3% were denied benefits.

“I think it’s a total waste of money,” said Kight. “It’s expensive and unnecessary.”

Notice the percentage, 0.3%, used?

Why, exactly, would a reasonable person pull out the number of people testing positive for drugs, 21, versus the overall number of people applying, 7600? What useful information does that give us?

If each test costs $55, testing 7900 people costs a whopping $434,500, and you’re telling me that, for nearly half a million bucks, we only caught .3% of people using drugs?

No. No one at all is telling you that. But a reasonable person could conclude that’s exactly what the person who came up with the percentage wants you to think.

In reality, the state tested a total of 89 people, spending $4,895, and caught 21 of them, 23.6%. So if not giving benefits to those 21 people (or reducing benefits to some of those because they are responsible for dependents apparently) saves more than five grand, North Carolina just managed to save some money.

To be fair, the article gave me all the information that I needed to come to that conclusion, but the way that it presented the information was misleading at best. I have to rate it as … unreasonable.

No, Hillary Did Not Commit a Crime?

I’ve now read two separate articles that definitively state that Hillary Clinton will not be charged with a crime regarding her handling of classified emails. Both articles use this one, originally posted at LawNewz.com, as a major basis for their reasoning.

I found the two linking articles to be full of mushy thinking, so I had very low expectations when I clicked on the linked one. To my surprise, the LawNewz article is extremely well thought out. It’s … reasonable.

That’s a high compliment from this blog.

How is it, then, that the two other articles went so terribly wrong?

Simple. They both either missed or dismissed a major, major qualification in the original, and that despite the qualification appearing in the title!

ANALYSIS: No, Hillary Clinton Did Not Commit a Crime … at Least Based on What We Know Today

Those last six words are important. And if putting that qualification in the title isn’t enough, check out this quote from the Conclusion:

To be clear, none of this means Clinton won’t be charged. There may be a trove of non-public evidence against her about which we simply do not know.

I completely agree with the premise of the article. As I’ve stated before in this blog, I have no idea if Hillary did anything wrong or not. Based on what we do know, there is sound reasoning to state that she absolutely will not be charged with a crime.

What we don’t know, however, is if the FBI has evidence that hasn’t been made public. Fox News is the only source that implies that such evidence exists (all unidentified sources with knowledge of the situation, of course).  No offense to the fine reporters over at FNC, but it’s hard for me to take their word for it when we’re talking about negative press for Hillary.

The fact is, though, none of us, at this point, have any way of knowing if any such evidence exists. I’d agree with you if you say, “Ah, probably not.” On the other hand, it’s hard for a reasonable person to rule out the possibility. Thus, I can’t reasonably make a definitive statement that she will absolutely not be charged with a crime.

I fear I must find that the two aforementioned linking articles are … unreasonable.

Is it Reasonable to Cast a Sexist Vote?

In this post, a fellow WordPress blogger seems tormented over her choice to vote for Hillary and gives readers a chance to convince her if she’s right or wrong.

Here at One Reasonable Person, I care nothing for right or wrong, so I won’t engage her on that front. My concern is whether the decision is reasonable.

Let’s take a look:

Why then, if my own beliefs and interests align more with the Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, am I voting for the centrist Clinton? One very powerful and completely sexist reason: She is a woman. Yes, the fact that Clinton is female is overshadowing all of her negatives, and erasing all of Sanders’ positives. It is totally sexist. And I know it and freely admit it, even if I am not actually proud of it.

Powerful stuff that raises two questions:

Question 1: If you’ve put as much thought and, dare I say, reasoning into a problem as this blogger has, can the ultimate decision be considered unreasonable? Stated another way: Is reasonableness absolute or subjective?

While I’d like to say that any well-considered opinion has to be considered reasonable, I just can’t get there. Let’s say that I’m a rapper and, after much research, I’ve decided that the evidence conclusively proves that the earth is, in fact, flat.

Since the earth is round, the opposing viewpoint is unreasonable no matter how much time is spent considering it. Granted, my example has the benefit of being on a subject that can be conclusively proven, but I think the point drawn translates.

I respect greatly the amount of consideration the blogger has given this subject, but I have to conclude that the decision could possibly be unreasonable.

Question 2: Is it inherently unreasonable to cast a vote for sexist reasons?

My initial thought is that a male deciding not to vote for a woman due to gender would be roundly criticized as being unreasonable. I’m not sure that popular opinion is best suited to define reasonableness, however, and there are many arguments that could be made about whether my example properly relates to the blogger’s dilemma. For those two reasons, I’m uncomfortable applying the judgment garnered from my initial thought to the situation.

More relevant, I think, is the question, “What factors are reasonable when determining voting choices?” Consider (note that candidates are listed in alphabetical order):

  • Bush! I’ll vote for him.
  • Carson most authentically represents his faith. I’ll vote for him.
  • Clinton has the most experience. I’ll vote for her.
  • Cruz is the most disliked by the Republican establishment. I’ll vote for him.
  • Kasich … uh … has momentum. I’ll vote for him.
  • Rubio is the most visually appealing. I’ll vote for him.
  • Sanders will stick it to the man. I’ll vote for him.
  • Trump makes me laugh. I’ll vote for him.

I think that, if you’re of the viewpoint that you should only vote for the person best able to do the job, you have to find the blogger’s choice unreasonable (given her stated feeling that Sanders would do a better job). If you widen your umbrella, however, and allow people to take their emotions into account or send a protest message or spend their vote how they choose, I think you have to find her choice – and all the choices above – reasonable.

 

Are Voters Angry?

I keep reading in posts like this one that voters are angry.

Trump is an angry man – only god knows why – and he fuels that same anger in his fellow Americans that are voting for him.

As a reasonable person, I think it’s my job to question any statement that is simply stated as fact.

I think that the first part of the quoted statement is false. Though perhaps Trump’s statement seem born of anger when read, they appear to me to be more an attempt at comedy when I hear them in clips.

Trump, I believe, is first and foremost an entertainer. He uses the “angry” statements both as a way to entertain his crowd and to capture media interest. I don’t think that he is, in fact, angry at anything.

I’m not sure about the accuracy of the second part of the statement, however.

Is Trump’s appeal due to anger? Certainly, it appears that some degree of dissatisfaction is at play, but I’m not so sure that voters aren’t responding more to the charisma of an good entertainer in much the same way as they responded to Obama’s excellent skills as an orator.

Maybe We Should be Serious

As a reasonable person, I tend to prefer blog posts that express clear, well-reasoned thoughts. It is to my dismay, then, when I find most so many incoherent posts out there. All the better, though, when I discover a well-written blog like The Front Porch Philosopher, even when I might disagree with a particular sentiment.

In this post entitled Are We Serious?, the author expresses concern over the thought of either Trump or Sanders actually winning the presidency:

My question for America after New Hampshire is, are we serious? Do we realize that we are choosing someone to do a job here, the most important job in the world? This is not reality TV, and it’s not a popularity contest. We are not deciding the next American Idol here, but the leader of the free world.

Okay. That’s a good and valid question that is certainly worthy of consideration.

Would either man be able to accomplish anything at all? Would they stick to their campaign rhetoric? Would they endanger America’s economy and/or safety?

Again, worthy questions, and if you choose not to vote for either of these men based on these concerns, it would be hard for a reasonable person to fault you for it.

I want to call more attention to an issue raised by that very same author, however:

I get it. People are fed up with Washington. They’re fed up with Wall Street. They’re tired of both parties, let down by Bush and Obama. Voters are sending the message that they will not be controlled. They will not dutifully line up behind their party’s Chosen One. This year, people are choosing passion over pragmatism.

Here’s another reasonable question: which is more important – the relatively short term of a single presidency or the long term of a party’s direction?

It seems to me that we consistently have protest candidates. These people rise, give voice to the people’s concerns, and fall back to earth before the general election. The establishment of each party publicly frets about how they understand the people’s frustrations.

Privately, however, I think that each party’s establishment feels something completely different. It seems reasonable to assume they think, “The people threaten and bluster about these protest candidates, but at the end of the day, they put in office the candidates we tell them to elect. Why should we change anything?”

History tells us that Trump and Sanders are protest candidates who will be replaced by a proper establishment figure once it’s time to actually put someone new into the White House. Republicans and Democrats will continue on just as they always have – more concerned with maintaining power than with accomplishing anything for the voters.

In the short run, electing one of these two men might very well be an unmitigated disaster. In the long run, though, will leaving the two parties on their current course be an even worse one?

So no, we’re not serious. But maybe we should be.

Tone Deaf Article on Johnny Manziel?

I can’t believe that I’m writing a post in dense of Roger Goodell, but here goes …

As a reasonable person, I think that a lot of the unreasonableness in American attitudes at the moment can be directly traced to people being so concerned with their hot button issue that they completely ignore all other issues. Take, for example, this article from MSNBC sports calling out Roger Goodell for not taking immediate disciplinary action against Johnny Manziel for domestic violence.

I think that any reasonable person would agree that Manziel absolutely needs to be subjected to discipline for the recent incident with his ex-girlfriend in Texas. His actions are completely reprehensible.

When you have a young man’s father fearing that that young man is going to reach his 24th birthday, however, perhaps it is appropriate to take a step back for a moment to consider what course of action is most likely to lead to that young man getting the help he needs.

Domestic violence is never okay. Period. But what’s more important – making sure he’s punished or trying to save his life?