Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I'm more outraged than they are!
The following news story, out of Norway, is impressive (in a very bad way) on several levels:
It's the moment nosy Norwegian neighbors have been waiting for -- the release of official records showing the annual income and overall wealth of nearly every taxpayer in the Scandinavian country.As outrageous as this Obamaesque variety of "transparency" is, I find the ethical code that makes it possible doubly so. Note the focus on the fact that children of the poor might be taunted at playgrounds, which is bad enough, to be sure. Worse still is the lack of empathy for the successful, for whom the nosy will indulge envy -- exemplified by this "journalist's" serving-up of details on a few notable individuals.
In a move that would be unthinkable elsewhere, tax authorities in Norway have issued the "skatteliste," or "tax list," for 2008 to the media under a law designed to uphold the country's tradition of transparency.
The crowning jewel of the outrage -- as well as my greatest gasp of astonishment -- came, however, from an "opponent" of this law:
"What each Norwegian earns and what you have in wealth is a private matter between the taxpayer and the government," said Jon Stordrange, director of the Norwegian Taxpayer's Association. [bold added]No. It's nobody's business but his own.
The moment you grant that the government has any business knowing your exact income is the moment you give moral permission for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to paw through your wallet.
Nude at Home
An article at Pajamas Media on a man apparently arrested for being nude in his own kitchen raises some very interesting issues, but the most important is that our privacy at home may no longer be protected by the law as well as it ought to be.
Unfortunately, neither the facts of the case nor Catalano's exact views on indeceny laws are clear to me from the article. I will say that indecent exposure should be illegal, countless "hippies of the right" to the contrary notwithstanding:
Only one aspect of sex is a legitimate field for legislation: the protection of minors and of unconsenting adults. Apart from criminal actions (such as rape), this aspect includes the need to protect people from being confronted with sights they regard as loathsome. (A corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen.) Legal restraints on certain types of public displays, such as posters or window displays, are proper—but this is an issue of procedure, of etiquette, not of morality . . . "Thought Control," in The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 2, 2.)If any normal person walking just barely in this guy's yard -- inches from his sidewalk, say -- could see him without making any special effort to do so, it was right that for him to be arrested, or perhaps warned. If not, not.
The moral to this story could be as prosaic as, "If you live near heavy pedestrian traffic, don't forget that people can see through your windows when it's dark out."
The Stages of Man's Life
Sure, we've all seen illustrations of the stages of life like this one, but my Mom recently emailed me the humorous take at right.
Midas Mulligan Shrugs
Memo to Barack Obama: Being a CEO is more than about saying, "You're fired." Gaining and keeping good people is even more important:
The administration had tasked Kenneth Feinberg, the Treasury Department's special master on compensation, to evaluate the pay packages of 25 of the most highly compensated executives at each of seven firms receiving exceptionally large amounts of taxpayer assistance.Aside from this properly belonging in the "get this off my chest" file, it can also be cross-referenced under, "The fact that you have to say it means it probably won't be understood." Nearly a year after he was "hired," Barack Obama has, in a sense, never actually shown up for work. (But he does know how to look busy!)
But Thursday, he ruled only on slightly more than three quarters of the pay packages that were to be under his purview. The balance reflected executives who have left since he began his work in June or will be gone by the end of the year. [bold added]
And to think this man means to run our entire economy! I blame a poorly-trained and uninformed hiring committee. Fortunately, there is a way to start addressing the problem.