Some weeks ago I wrote an article titled Ethics, Torture, Utilitarianism & Law. In it I used the trolley problem and the hidden bomb and terrorist torture problem to challenge my readers. If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him to fish you make him independent and self-sustaining, by being able to feed himself. The trolley problem was the brain child of Philippa Foot, who died this month at a ripe old age. Today’s Financial Times has a column about the Tea Party by Edward Luce, their Washington Bureau chief. He is a very perceptive analyst and in his tenure as their New Delhi bureau chief, wrote a good analytical book about India, titled “In spite of the Gods”. Incidentally he is married to a woman of Indian origin, so one can’t dismiss his criticisms as David Milliband rants for a lost empire.
It is possible that his article may have been a Rorshach test on me, but I have always believed that the Tea Partiers were Republican Vampires transformed from bats to werewolves. Most of them are ignorant, undereducated persons, who have either suffered a lot because of the economic downturn, or elderly persons who are unwilling to suffer any cuts in their Medicare entitlements because of the new healthcare bill, or well off persons incensed at the reduction in income likely to occur because of higher taxes and mandatory health insurance coverage they will have to provide for their employees. The group has received financial support from corporations and Chamber of Commerce members and verbal incitement from trashy bimbos, shorn of sanity, bent on a train wreck, to the cheer of an army of dicks.
Inane statements like the US government should (be more like Islam) unify church and state despite the unequivocal words of the First Amendment or questioning the right of a Muslim to be elected to the House or Senate, clearly show that quite a few of the tea party are ignorant of the Constitution and confuse it with Constipation and are possibly racists or xenophobes. Others have challenged the healthcare law by stating that the Constitution does not mention anything about healthcare. Some want to abolish or privatize Social Security and eliminate unemployment benefits and the Department of Education while continuing wars and increasing defense spending. They want tax cuts and a balanced budget but are unwilling to give up any benefits they currently receive. In other words they resent the benefits of others.
The Republican Party, which thrives on waving the red pennants of welfare, abortion, gay rights and exploitation of welfare by non-whites, to incite the bull headed poor and uneducated whites to vote against their interests, while blinded by anger, prejudice and ignorance, has metamorphosed into the cockroach of the Tea Party to fool those voters again and to escape the blame for their profligate spending and absent regulation, which led to the financial catastrophe and their subsequent bailout of the bankers and abandonment of the homeowners, done with the collusion of their Democrat colleagues and their corrupt leaders like Dud and Crank.
Here is a test for the readers to assess themselves and their Tea Party Quotient. You are a physician managing five patients desperately in need of transplants (two need a kidney, one a lung, one a liver and one a heart). All these patients are good people known to you and are pillars of your society. An unconscious unknown patient is brought to your hospital and while being treated, you notice that he is a compatible organ donor for all your five patients.
- If you avoid extraordinary efforts, the patient will be brain dead and become an organ donor and his death would save five nice persons. What should you do and why?
- The potential donor is a former convicted crook and still indulges in his criminal life style ranging from a) selling drugs, b) robbing banks or c) robbing, raping and murdering his victims. What should you do and why for conditions 2a, 2b and 2c.
- a) Those needing transplants are white and the potential donor is black or b) the recipients are black and the potential donor white. What should you do for (a) and (b) and why?
- The comatose potential donor was in a car accident and his brain scan shows severe brain injury with slim if any chance of recovery and an independent life. He will be bedridden in a nursing home. Should you harvest his organs and let him die and thus save five of your patients?
Remember that the etymological derivation of ethics is from the Greek ethicos meaning character and that of justice from the Latin justitia meaning equity. See how our cultural biases and inner fears contaminate our language because to do the right thing, one has to be “FAIR” and colloquial English has a phrase praising right behavior –“That was really WHITE, of you” and if you behave badly it is a –“BLACK deed and you are a BLACKguard”
To end this article on a funny note, Don’t forget that the Boston Tea Party was the act of a bunch of cowards. They were white men of British extraction who resented paying higher taxes to sustain the wars of Great Britain, but lacking courage, they disguised themselves as Red Indians to avoid being punished for their criminal behavior. Thus history repeats itself, before as a tragedy and this time as a farce by the Republicans.
Since the Tea Party does not know the difference between the Constitution and its (mental) Constipation, I can imagine their leader and spokesman approaching a physician and with a few words of hubris, mimicking an American Indian of the eighteenth century with limited English, and saying “Big Tea Party, no shit”. The kindly doctor misunderstands and prescribes a mild laxative. The next day the crowing leader enters the doctor’s office and crows triumphantly the same words - Big Tea Party, no shit. We now come to November 2nd and the doctor having tried everything else prescribes croton oil, one of the severest laxatives. On Wednesday morning while the doctor is scanning the election results, an orphan of the Tea Party walks in looking dejected and the doctor queries him. The despondent kid utters, “Big SHIT, no Tea Party.
Finally a riddle for you to solve – Gujarati with English translation
Konay Bhagvaa paheria ----- Who wore the saffron of renunciation?
Konay sevy aag -------- Who set himself on fire?
Konay karvat mukaviyo ---- Who had his head sawed off?
Kai Rani nay kaaj ---- For the sake of which queen?
For this polyandrous queen and her consorts have ruined and polluted India.
Now let us see if the readers want to be interactive and voice their points of view.
Most of us are not sociopaths or psychopaths and do not wish gratuitous harm to others. The problem comes with the fact that most of us do not wish to help others at the cost of loosing something that we have. It gets even worse because of the belief that what we have, which is that some things we deserve or have earned by our efforts and that something that others desire is not what they deserve. This is consistent with Aristotle's definition of justice, which specifies that some people are naturally destined to be slaves and that rewards should be given to the deserving. The problem with this philosophy is the same for any government as defined by Plato --who shall guard the guardians and define what is just and who decides what who deserves?
There are other definitions of justice like the one of Kant which is not different from the Gita's point of view that your only Right is to perform your duty and Karma and not to seek the benefits of the results. That may be too idealistic for any average human being to live up to as we know and the history of humanity affirms.
There is however a better compromise called the veil of ignorance as promulgated by John Rawls, where we formulate the principles and behavior of a just society on the assumption that we don't know where the chips will fall. If we do not certainly know whether we have what it takes to succeed in any given society and do not therefore have the ability to predict our own future, would we not choose a social safety net that would allow the least able of us to survive without sacrifice of dignity and decency. If we don't and the have-nots become a majority as is most likely because the bulk of humanity or any society is neither smart, capable or intelligent, we will face a revolt like the French, Russian or Iranian revolution which will threaten the survival of the smart, intelligent and rich. The beauty of Hinduism, as also its pie in the sky, to fool the deprived, lies in the promise that sometime in this life or in the next ones your greed and desire will be satiated and you will tire of the ephemeral pleasures to revert to decency and general welfare, but its hidden curse is that it becomes a subtle means to intimidate the poor and deprived by justly assigning their present undeserved status to the just retribution for the sins of their past birth and lives and thus intimidate them from seeking any means of redress for their unfair, unjust and oppressed status.
It is justifiable to fret over the debt burdens we bequeath to our childre, but not if we greedily try to maximize our benefits selfishly in the same breath.
Age is no defense for selfishness or being self-obsessed. As the Sanskrit verse says-
Chalitam mundam, palitam mundam, vriddho yati, gruhitva dandam, tad api na munchati asha pindam-- despite having difficulty with walking, balance and status and a in spite of age forcing the need for the ancillary help of a walker, we do not give up hope and greed for more than we have even the ability to enjoy. My answer is not a criticism or condemnation of anyone who differs and merely an argument for another point of view which I personally advocate, but cannot always attain despite my best efforts. But then as Browning put it so beautifully,"That a man's reach should extend beyond his grasp, for what was heaven made for".
An interesting viewpoint expressed. As one leaning towards chai party affiliation and belonging to some of the sub groups let me digress.
I'm over 70, have a post graduate education, read our local paper daily and
consider myself to the right of center...more traditional than progressive.
Many of us are concerned about the direction our country is taking. We love our grandchildren and don't want to see them saddled with a debt that
We are concerned that big money has seduced our politicians. We're
concerned about what Eisenhauer warned about...the military industrial
We hope someway there is a third way/party that more accurately reflects
grass roots America. I admit we are idealists, we love our country and
desire her to be a beacon on the hill that will others will want to emulate
instead of being coerced.
We are at a cross roads and we're hoping that our peaceable and rational
approach to governance will persuade others to join us.
Yes..any movement has its fringe elements that are radical. Many of our
fears and world problems are caused by just such people who attach themselves to movements that portend change.
We ask that people look without prejudice at the main themes in this
movement and consider whether they help or hurt.
Again , I'm not a chai party person...but I suspect there is a ground swell
of folks like myself who resonate with the lofty ideals they profess.
I lived in India in Gujarat for 12 of my early years and can still speak
a child's Gujarati.
I suspect that I have not changed your basic beliefs about the T party
folks. You write much more eruditely than I, but I wish you peace, brother.