Turnabout is fair play (and vice versa)

Turnabout is fair play (and vice versa) June 26, 2012

Justice must be reciprocal. Otherwise it’s not justice.

Turnabout is fair play and fair play is turnabout. Justice isn’t justice if it’s not the same when the shoe is on the other foot.

Louisiana lawmakers do not understand this:

We told you last week about Louisiana’s new plan for educating its youth, which is to stop having a plan for educating its youth and just dump everybody into classrooms owned by private companies that replace teachers with Moses Explains Algebra on VHS.

They’re set to steer tens of millions of dollars into the new privatization program, which pays for vouchers that parents can use to send their children to religious schools. Gov. Bobby Jindal said the state was “changing the way we deliver education,” which is a lot like Domino’s saying it’s changing the way it delivers pizza by locking up the store and telling everyone to buy a Hot Pocket from the Vatican. In any case, Louisiana Republicans loved the plan. Until a group of folks showed up to ruin the whole thing: Muslims.

The Voss Lighting Company of Lincoln, Neb., does not understand this:

According to the complaint, the manager asked Wolfe “to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when [he] was ‘saved’ and the circumstances that led up to it.” In the interview, Wolfe claims he was told most employees at Voss were Southern Baptist, but employees could go to any church, as long as they were “born again.” The complaint claims the manager asked Wolfe if he would “have a problem” coming to work early, without pay, to attend Bible study. Wolfe, a single parent who says he cannot attend church on Sundays, told lawyers the branch manager was “agitated” at his answers. He didn’t get the job.

As Joe Jervis says, “If the situation were reversed, you can bet this story would be at the top of every Christianist site.”

And that is always the key question: Would this seem fair “if the situation were reversed”?

Ben Bernanke does not understand this, but Matt Yglesias does:

If I had a chance to ask Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a question at his press conference today, this is what I would want to know: “Suppose that inflation were 8.2 percent and the unemployment rate was at or below 2 percent, what would you do?”

The answer, obviously, is tighter money. But that wouldn’t just mean an operational action to raise interest rates. You would, of course, raise interest rates. But expectations matter. If people thought that as soon as unemployment lingered above 2 percent for a month or two that rates would come down again, then inflationary expectations would never be whipped. To implement a tight money policy that worked, Bernanke would need to lecture a little bit. He’d have to say that while of course nobody wants to see unemployment go higher if you want to bring inflation down you have no choice but to tolerate somewhat higher unemployment.

Jason Pitzl-Waters does understand this:

Sadly, these worthy efforts towards making the Air Force a place that respects all manifestations of faith is being framed as an attack on “religious freedom” by these lawmakers. For them, religious freedom means freedom for Christians to swing their theological “arms” without any regard to whose nose might be struck. When [they] assert that “the combination of events mentioned above raises concerns that the Air Force is developing a culture that is hostile towards religion” what they mean is hostile toward unfettered Christian expression, and little else. I cannot imagine that any of the 66 lawmakers gave one thought as to what things were like for religious minorities before the recent shift in policy and tone. Religious freedom, for them, begins and ends with their conception of America as a “Judeo-Christian” nation that exists under a single, monotheistic, God.

As I’ve said before, to these Christians, government-enforced secularism isn’t a neutral ethos, but a method of attacking their faith and limiting their free expression. In the minds of these Christians “religious freedom” means, in this time of demographic dominance, the right to let the majority dictate the religious norms of a society. Any deviance from that, in limiting prayer in schools, or sectarian prayer at government meetings, is a persecution of their church. We are increasingly caught in Christianity’s own crisis over its role and purpose in a post-Christian pluralistic society, and the results aren’t always pretty. …

… If religious freedom as a concept is going to mean anything, if isn’t going to just be hollow rhetoric, then it needs to apply equally to everyone.

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  • Münchner Kindl

    Justice has to be fair, but it shouldn’t be without differences.
    Fining a billionaire $500 is very different from fining that amount from someone under the poverty line. Not that many legal systems recognize this.

    um, what? Maybe in the US, a fine is fixed, so a rich person is less hit by it than a poor person.

    But in other countries, it’s the standard for fines to be written in the law as “so and so many day-pays” (Tagessätze), which the judge then calculates according to what the individual person earns roughly calculated in one day, so that a billionaire pays a few millions while a McJob worker pays 100$ for the same transgression.

  • Barry_D

     “I don’t know why this private organization should be prohibited from
    organizing itself as a faith community; it seems like an unwarranted
    intrusion of the State into Religion. This is a private organization,
    not the USAF or the State of Louisiana, and private organizations are
    entitled to privacy and religious freedom.  A confusion of secularism
    with homogenization.”

    You answered your own question – if they chose to organize as a church (a non-profit), they could.  OTOH, they’d lose out on some of that sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet, sweet profit.

  • Tonio

    My question about for-profit churches had nothing to do with the government designation. Instead, it was about whether there are any local congregations that are set up specifically to enrich their leaders. Your description of megachurches answers my question. Would it be advisable or feasible for government to require more financial transparency of churches in order for them to keep their non-profit designation? Non-profits of any sort shouldn’t be about making its members wealthy. What you describe reminds me of the Girl Scout cookie sales, with very little of the money from the sales actually filtering down to the troops that are doing the selling.

  • Freak

    Churches aren’t necessarily not-for-profit; the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Satan are for-profit.

  •  I am in general in favor of mandatory public financial disclosure (that is, reporting on where the money goes) for any organization that receives public funds. Donations from private individuals are an edge case; in isolation I would say they don’t count, but there’s some threshold which can be crossed in aggregate at which point I would say they do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    the parents, who can be expected to be the ones most interested in good educational results

    Uh-uh. No. The rich parents are the ones most interested in good educational results. The rich and the middle-class. Poor parents, while not uninterested in good educational results, are usually more concerned with ‘is my child in trouble with the law’ and ‘will I be working enough hours this month to make rent’. And the schools with a lot of poor parents are the schools with not a lot of local property taxes with which to fund the schools, which means they’re the schools with outdated textbooks and obsolete technology, which makes it hard to convey to the students that this shit’s important. If my education were something I should care about, too many poor children reason, then it would be something other people cared about, and it’s evident from the outdated textbooks and the obsolete technology that nobody does. And, y’know, they’re not wrong.

    Ellie, if you want to make a retraction of that pre-emptive “fuck off”, I’m here

    You said that marriage is sacred. This strongly implies that marriage is religious, and therefore not something that I as an atheist can or should participate in. You have not said anything to retract that claim. Fuck off.

  • Tricksterson

    In fairness I must admit that I adapted it from the term congresscritters which I got from either Spider Robinson or Robert Heinlein, I forget which.

  • We Must Dissent


    Uh-uh. No. The rich parents are the ones most interested in good educational results. The rich and the middle-class. Poor parents, while not uninterested
    in good educational results, are usually more concerned with ‘is my
    child in trouble with the law’ and ‘will I be working enough hours this
    month to make rent’.

    While this is entirely anecdotal and thus not evidence, the above is directly contradictory to my experience as a teacher. Rich and middle-class parents generally know their children are going to be fine in life. They are concerned with *scholastic* results, not educational ones. They want to make sure that their children are getting good grades and that everything is going to look good on college applications. Their concern, generally, is if their child is getting straight As, not if they are learning anything.

    The parents in poor families have all the concerns you listed, but they also know how hard their children’s lives will be without educational success. It’s the poor parents who I know I’m going to see at parent-teacher conferences, and it’s they who’ll pull their children from the sports teams or other extracurriculars if grades start to slip.

    The one exception to this is families of undocumented immigrants. With all the crackdowns on hiring “illegals”, many of them are of the mindset that it doesn’t matter what they do; they’ll only be able to get hired in agriculture or *maybe* construction anyway.

  • Ammit if modern corporations are going to act like Shadowrun megacorps we should at least get dragons, elves, dwarves and magic.  And cyberware, lots and lots of cyberware. 

    It is 2012 already, screw the flying cars, I just want a good quality cyberjack!