Pre-rant musings

I've relocated several hundred miles north, and I'm not really settled.

However, I've been thinking about my ethics classes and how I approach certain subjects. [Caveat: this is a blog post, not an ethics class, so the presentation here has been modified.]

Are you conservative or liberal? Two issues: crime and welfare.

For the purposes of this post, we have to make some background assumptions. With regard to crime, we assume that some people are innocent and some people are guilty (i.e., you can neither start with the premise that all people are guilty, nor with the premise that one's circumstances exonerate one's responsibility). With regard to welfare, we assume that some people are deserving and some people aren't (i.e., some people are poor for reasons beyond their control and therefore deserve some help from the state, where private charity is insufficient; and being lazy is not a "reason beyond their control"). Further, for both, we have to assume that the system (for prosecution and for distribution, respectively) is always flawed; the best system will still find some innocent people guilty, some guilty people innocent, some deserving poor will be excluded, and some undeserving people will receive assistance. If you don't think these are acceptable premises, then we cannot move forward here.

With regard to crime: is it more important to maximize the number of guilty people punished (knowing that some innocent people will be unjustly punished) or to minimize the number of unjustly punished innocents (knowing that some guilty people will escape their due punishment)? That is, given a flawed system in which perfect justice is elusive, do you emphasize the guilty or the innocent? (When I was growing up, there was a popular phrase, "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" which seems to embody the conservative ethos here.)

The situation with welfare is a mirror image: is it more important to maximize the number of deserving poor receiving welfare (knowing that some undeserving people will exploit the system), or to minimize the number of people fraudulently receiving assistance from the state (knowing that some deserving poor - i.e., children in poverty - will get left out)? Again, given a necessarily flawed system, do you emphasize the deserving poor or the welfare cheats?

There are other issues that don't really fit into this schema, and there are additional complexities that this papers over, but I like this as a quick-and-dirty classification, and captures two very distinct ways of looking at the world.


Final in the Alphabet series: Fin.

I've still been thinking about hard-line economic positions, but I've also been drawing cartoons about them. Which is to say, there will not be a rant about libertarians to accompany this picture, but there may be an illustrated rant at some point in the future.

Just to keep you up to date, I've primarily been thinking about moving - from Roanoke, up to New York. For those of you who haven't been following along, that's Central New York, not The City. Very different. I still don't have a firm date for departure, but it will within the next two weeks. Unfortunately, my next job doesn't start until September 7th.

I now plan on returning to my usual mix of cartoons and paintings. Since my plans often don't work out as expected, who knows what's next. Perhaps sculpture!