Crossing the Line

I crossed a picket line once.  The Ontario Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OSSTF) in the Toronto area was on strike in 1983, and one of their demands was that union members be hired to fill night school and summer school teaching positions.  They were concerned about quality of education: they didn’t want these courses to become second-class courses as a result of being taught by second-class teachers who were unqualified and inexperienced.

Well.  I was qualified.  More qualified than many of the older OSSTF members who got their teaching jobs when you didn’t even need a B.A., let alone a B.Ed.  And I was experienced.  In addition to about ten years of private music and dance teaching experience, I’d had a half-time regular day school position for one year and had taught a few night school courses the following year.

But more than that, Read the rest of this entry »

The Road to Hell

I’ve reconsidered intent-based moralities.  They’re bloody irresponsible.  I’m giving new meaning to “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” (or maybe I’m just finally understanding it).

Intention-based moralities are for people too stupid or too lazy to consider the consequences of their actions.  “But I didn’t mean to” is the cry of an idiot.  (What did you think would happen when you put a firecracker in the dog’s mouth?)  “I was only trying to help” is an attempt to absolve oneself of the burden of figuring out the effect one’s behavior has on others.  (In what universe is that helpful?)

If you only meant to have a bit of fun, getting in your car drunk out of your mind and driving down the 401, if you didn’t intend to hurt anyone, well then, okay, you can go (you should go) — to hell.

Business Rules the World. Do we want it to?

One of the most common – and most serious – weaknesses of codes of ethics, and indeed, most ethical theories, is that they don’t prioritize values.  They’re fine for many of the simpler ethical questions, but when goods and interests conflict, when virtues and rights collide, they don’t provide a way to determine which interest, which right, is stronger.  For example, it’s all very nice to say that both customers and shareholders are valued, but which is valued more?  Do you opt for lower prices or greater profits?  And it’s all very good to say that loyalty and honesty are among the company’s virtues.  But what does an employee do when honesty seems to be a breach of loyalty?  Does the employee blow the whistle or not?  The code I begin to develop here is an attempt to solve that problem, an attempt to prioritize values.

First, I propose that Read the rest of this entry »

I’m too drunk. No I’m not.

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, (self-induced) intoxication is no defence against charges of assault (33.1): if you’re drunk, you’re still able to form the general intent to commit said assault.

And yet, with regard to the sub-category of sexual assault, belief that someone is consenting is cancelled if that someone is intoxicated (273.1(2)): if you’re drunk, you can’t consent to sex.

So if you’re drunk, you’re capable of forming the intent to assault, but you’re not capable of forming the intent to have sex? Given that it’s mostly men who do the assaulting, and it’s mostly women who do the consenting (and given, it’s my guess, that the lawmakers had men in mind for 33.1 and women in mind for 273.1(2)), is this some sort of ‘protect the weaker sex’ double standard?

Hey, if we expect men to foresee the effects of alcohol and to be responsible for their behavior while under its influence, we should expect the same of women. Read the rest of this entry »

A Little Less Evolved

Sometimes I wonder whether men have a defective chromosome: the Y was supposed to be an X, but somehow it ended up missing something – a case of stunted growth, or arrested development. This defective chromosome, uniquely characteristic of the human male, causes them to be a little lower on the evolutionary scale, a little less evolved.

Consider their fascination with movement. Read the rest of this entry »

John Smith and his Biochem Cubes

Suppose John Smith makes biochem cubes – biological-chemical cubes about one metre by one metre with an input for resources required for sustenance and an output for unusable processed resources. Why does John Smith make biochem cubes? Good question. Truth be told, they’re unlikely to make the world a better place. And he doesn’t sell them.

Should we make allowances for John Smith with regard to money (salary, income tax, subsidies, etc.)? After all, he has, let’s say, ten biochem cubes to support. If they are to stay alive, he needs to provide sustenance. He needs a bigger house. More electricity. More food.

Should we encourage his ‘hobby’? Perhaps consider it respectable, or a rite of passage to maturity?

Or should we censure it? Because once his biochem cubes become ambulatory, the rest of us have to go around them in one way or another. And when we’re both dead, his ecological footprint will have been at least ten times mine. (More, if the biochem cubes he made go out and make other biochem cubes.)

Why isn’t being a soldier more like being a mother?

Motherhood is unfair to women in a way fatherhood most definitely is not. Not only are there the physical risks (pregnancy and childbirth puts a woman at risk for nausea, fatigue, backaches, headaches, skin rashes, changes in her sense of smell and taste, chemical imbalances, high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, embolism, changes in vision, stroke, circulatory collapse, cardiopulmonary arrest, convulsions, and coma), there’s the permanent damage to one’s career: if she stays at home, the loss of at least six years’ experience and/or seniority; if she doesn’t, the loss of a significant portion of her income, that required to pay for full-time childcare. (And even if she can swing holding a full-time job and paying for full-time childcare, she probably won’t get promoted because she typically uses all ‘her’ sick days, she’s reluctant to stay past 5:00 or to come in before 9:00 or on weekends, and she occasionally has to leave in the middle of the day, perhaps even in the middle of an important meeting. In short, she can’t be counted on. Such a lack of commitment.)

Either way, Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Wrong with Selling your Organs?

It seems to be morally acceptable to sell one’s blood, sperm, eggs, and hair. So what’s so unacceptable about selling one’s kidney, for example?

And in case people think the forementioned sales are unacceptable, let me make another analogy: it’s okay to get paid to play football — why is using your body as a linebacker in order to earn an income acceptable, but using it as an organ store is not?

Is it because Read the rest of this entry »

Kept Women (and Men)

There is something objectionable about a perfectly-capable-of-working adult being ‘kept’ by another adult. It seems to me the epitome of laziness and immaturity to be supported by someone else, to have someone else pay your way through life.

But, I suppose, if someone wants to pay someone else’s way, if a man wants to ‘keep’ a woman (or vice versa), and that woman (or man) wants to be ‘kept’, I suppose that’s no business of mine.

But then why should I subsidize their keep? What has your wife (or husband) ever done for me? And yet I must subsidize her discounted income tax. Her discounted car insurance. Her discounted health insurance. Her discounted life insurance. Her discounted university tuition. Her discounted club membership. Hell, even her discounted airline ticket.

If he wants to pay her way, fine, but her way should cost the same as mine. Why is her way discounted just because she’s not paying it herself? Why do we roll out the red carpet for kept women?

Even if she is paying her own way, why should she have to pay less than me just because she’s married? Why should spouses get a discounted rate on all those things?

In particular, access to company benefits irks me: you don’t even work here, why should you be covered?

Two married adults should pay the same as two single adults. End of story.

Vested Interests and Cancers

Vested interest.  It sounds so solid.  So respectable.  So endowed with authority.  Like a three-piece suit with a watch on a chain.  But what does ‘vested interest’ mean?  It means ‘self-interest’. A vested interest is nothing less than a self-interest.  And nothing more.

But say ‘vested interest’ and, well, say no more.  Literally.  If I object to a zoning bylaw change that will probably lead to more traffic and tourists because that will destroy the silence and solitude of where I live, well, I’m just expressing my own personal interests.  But if the guy who runs the gas station says the change should be approved because it will be good for business, well, that’s different.  He has a business – he has a vested interest in the zoning bylaws.  So suddenly his opinion, his desires, count more.  It’s magic.  It certainly isn’t rational. Read the rest of this entry »