Selfishness isn’t a word that has earned it’s berth on the list of deadly sins. Firstly, it’s not a verb, but more importantly, being selfish isn’t always something we as a people necessarily frown upon. In all honesty, putting yourself above everything else is likely a fast-pass to personal success and achievement. Still, we stigmatize the word to mean something foul and it doesn’t take Nancy Drew nor Sherlock Holmes to find daily examples of it. In fact, it’s served up to each and every one of us on a silver platter from morning until night.
The antithesis of acting in ones own interest is a term that reminds us all too glaringly of grade school social studies. Coined during the early 1800’s, Jeremy Bentham scribed a new sociopolitical policy known as “Utilitarianism,” which many philosophical-elites of the time dubbed to be the crown jewel of welfarism. During a time of political shake up, not too different than the campaign we are laying witness to now, Bentham urged the decision makers to pursue his utilitarian belief. In basic principle, as you may recall, utilitarianism is the the pursuit of doing the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. Sure, doing things for the sake of utility may sound a bit too mystical which explains why the sexual hedonists of the time were some apt to adopting the system. But in a practical, applicable interpretation…Bentham was certainly on to something good (and by no means does he need MY seal of approval). In fact, the tabloids have been doing a tremendous amount of coverage of people and institutions attempting to execute orders that may serve the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. In attempting the please the masses, as you will see now, people cry foul when the well being of one i.e. themselves, falls through the cracks.
United Airlines Executes “Protocol”
The protests have been good, the memes have been great, and the public backlash was nothing less than expected. After an “overbooking” of a domestic United flight “forced” the airline to execute their “right” to “remove” Dr. Dao from his seat on a plane….United unfortunately shifted the focus of the predicament from why to how. The issue was never supposed to affix itself on how the passenger was removed….instead it was supposed to be a question of why. For their pitiful execution, they deserve no sympathy nor defense from this writer. I will however steer the topic back into the realm of reason. United was not legally wrong, in fact they were sticking to code. Their PR team, bless their overworked hearts, went on to explain that Dr. Daos removal was, in its simplest form, a question of logistics. The four seats that were redistributed to their own employees wasn’t an act of selfishness at all, in fact it was the contrary. 4 seats were asked to be given up so that flight attendants could man a 70 passenger flight set to take off the following morning. Without the United staff aboard, the flight plans of nearly 70 customers would’ve been derailed, rather than the delay of 3 and the internet infamy of one forever traumatized doctor. Utilitarian mathematics will always state that 70>4.
There’s a long list of reasons that explain why the stars and stripes fly under the guise of democracy and not utilitarianism…a fate that even Bentham himself likely saw coming. In situations such as these, entitlement seems to outweigh utility which is why the folks at United will be burned at the stake for the foreseeable future. Economically, they were correct in attempting to satisfy the needs of 70 rather than their minority party….that’s just good business. In practice however, the policy fails in understanding the plight of any one traveler who went down the mile long check list to secure themselves a seat on a plane. It’s a question of fairness painted with a layer of selfishness. Dr. Dao fulfilled every requirement asked of him to be eligible to fly; asking him to remove himself from the situation and pacify himself for the “greater good,” is a practice in selflessness on a Herculean level…a level that most mortals will never be able to achieve.
Passover is NOT Jewish Easter
This entry into the Utilitarian Dog Show has nothing to due with the fact that the Jews are forced to eat unleavened bread while our Catholic counter parts indulge in peanut butter filled Cadbury eggs. While it certainly doesn’t help, this past weeks Holiday schedule does unveil some evidence that the scales tip in favor of the later. Monday and Tuesday marked the start of Passover, a podium-placer in terms of the Jewish holiday cycle. Friday marked the start of Easter and I’ll refrain myself from speaking on the level of virtue for the religion as I am likely ill-informed. What I can speak on however, is the 3/4 days the Jews were rewarded vs. the office closures that swept the corporate world on this particularly “GOOD” Friday. The Jews were afforded a meager 4pm clock out….the Catholics boozed Thursday night and slept in as Good Friday warranted office closures. Rather than having Jesus and Moses duke it out UFC style to find which religion reigns the World Heavy Weight Champ, we allow our officiating staff comprised of Sir. Jeremy Bentham and the trusted U.S. banking system to make the call.
The Donald (more from him in a bit) was recently on the news praising his great again country for it’s tolerance in regards to religion…remember it’s NOT a muslim ban and we are NOT a catholic country. We are, however, the poster child for capitalism. In attempting to once again satisfy the blueprints of utility, the 4M American Jews are a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the 80% of Americans who find themselves in bunny ears on the first Sunday after the paschal full Moon. So, before you schedule your sit down with HR to remedy the millennia of wrong doings against the Jewish tribe, remember that you’re in the office to do your share of the business and nothing more. Utility will favor the 80% over the Passover minority every time. If you have a problem with that, I recommend taking the sick day rather than attempting to reverse the economic wheels that drive us 9-5ers.
Isaiah Thomas Laces Up
The NBA Playoffs are now underway and the Celtics are once again in contention. Led by 2 Time All-Star and generational star Isaiah Thomas, those motherfuckers in Boston are once again championship chasing. As the first round commences, it’s safe to assume that the players are finding the physical prowess and mental fortitude necessary to play for a ring…the death of your point guards sister certainly doesn’t aid in that plight. Isaiah got the call that any family member dreads, the post midnight inbound from that hospital to inform the bloodline that one-of-kin has passed on to the afterlife. Morbid is an understatement…the death of Chyna Thomas in a one car accident is a travesty. As the Thomas’s bereave their loss, one would surely excuse the victims only brother from any and all responsibilities, of course including basketball. In true champion form however, Mr. Thomas played
The locker room atmosphere and camaraderie can only float a competitors spirits so far on and off the court. Thomas’ willingness, nay responsibility, to play is as much a testament to his character as it is exemplifying of the power of utilitarianism. Without Isaiah there would be no 2016-2017 Celtics basketball team. In fact, the only thing that hurts as much as his heart would be his shoulders…wear and tear from carrying the weight of his team thus far. Utility was unlikely to be Isaiahs motivating factor behind his decision to hit the paint. No, I am sure the man found the strength to play from his teammates and the city who were counting on him to lead. In what is assumed to be one of the most disturbing times of any mans life, the death of his sister surely fueled the fire that burns within any future hall-of-famer…pushing him to rise above and act on behalf of his team rather than taking the “selfish” route and surrendering himself to the anguish. Truly commendable.
421A is Back for NYC Real Estate
Written in the NY building code, 421A was a tax abatement that granted real estate developers tax benefits for the inclusion of affordable units in their residential projects. The city passed the code originally in 1971 which helped developers to cut expenses, although cash flow dipped due to sub-market rents for mid-level income families. Most developers befriended 421A, as their savings far outweighed the drop in income producing units. After nabbing Andrew Cuomos seal of approval to renew the abatement last week, the Governor reminded NYC that this wasn’t a business decision, rather “…421a is an ideological, philosophical issue.”
NYC and countless other gentrified settlements across the nation are becoming so expensive, that most civilians are pricing out of eligibility to live in the very cities they were born and raised in. The cities renewal of 421A shows that when it comes to city planning, utility still reigns supreme over the almighty dollar sign. Now under the name Affordable New York, the house and senate have showed that their true interests still lies with the livelihood of it’s inhabitants, rather than the wealthy campaign donors who earn Boo Koo bucks from developing nests for New York elites. Preserving at least a segment of new residences for the less affluent is in deed a philosophical issue. Surely, NYC will never have a shortage of 1%ers to reside in the luxury high rises, but the roots that the Big Apple has sprouted from will always be fertilized by the blue collar folk. So, now that you’ve been spared from the over encumbering rental market…the MTA will shoulder the blame for your double digit bank account.
Mother of All Bombs
Our President made his second globally public militant flex last week, as he dropped the M.O.A.B. on an ISIS tunnel system near the border of Pakistan. This was on the curtails of the Tomahawk air strike DT issued on Syria after their deplorable use of chemical weapons on the helpless lives of men, women, and children. While CNN and NBC cover the strategic implementations of the attacks, the pit in your stomach isn’t a result of Trumps misuse of his Commander-In-Chief title…instead it stems from the mystery as we all ask “now what.” Trump perhaps, did not practice utility when he called in the attacks…how could interfering with a countries civil war serve the greater good? Well, perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps the Syria attack will in fact cause more harm than good as both our friends AND foes recalculate their ground and air game. What DT did accomplish in a near black and white manner, was changing the short term outlook for some people…we’re not debating if it was right at the time. We’re debating if it will be right in time.
Pakistanis have been quoted saying that they hope for a hundred more attacks on the members of ISIS similar in scope to the MOAB. The Syrians who were subjected to Sarin gas are indebted to our President for actually acting upon one of his red line items. Donald Trump did good for a lot of people, but only time will tell if he defied utilitarianism as the great amount of good he has done may not be for the greatest amount of people. While the attack was black and white…our political outlook now looks grayer than ever. In this regarded, we are forced to stay tuned for the next episode of Keeping Up with our President.
The MLBs New Intentional Walk Rule
In a few very short weeks, hockey and basketball will enter the offseason and the sports world will enter the summer drought the critics slander as #JustBaseball. Regarded as Americas past time, it appears the the classic three-pronged game of hit, run, and throw is becoming as archaic as the dinosaurs. As the dust begins to settle and interest skims along at rock bottom, the MLB is attempting to freshen up a sport that seldom crowns a winner under a 3.5 hour outing. A recent trip to Yankee stadium showed just how grim the fate of baseball is looking, as a primetime weekday game hardly even sold 25% of the seats available. In attempts to expedite summer hardball, the decision makers in the front offices have passed a new intentional walk rule…rather than throwing 4 balls out of reach from the batter, the pitcher need only say to the ump “I would like to intentionally walk him.” Take your base.
Far fetched and unlikely as it may be, there is a minute chance that action can stem from the 4 garbage balls pitchers used to be forced to throw. A wild pitch, a a stretch from the batter, or a bit of trickery may produce something of substance, but 99% of the time the intentional walk results, in well, a walk. Football is a game of inches and in soccer every second counts, why then is baseball saving face when it comes to the intentional walk? Well, because historically low ticket sales and floundering interest from the audience has forced their hands. Pitchers should pitch so I cast my ballot for the incumbent…but for the greater good, the commissioner ousted a rule that has been intact since the dawn of time.
Jeremy Benthams 19th Century ideology still stands as a great litmus for testing the waters of economic, political, societal, and philosophical progression. Bentham standardized his practice into a binary-esque measuring tool called “the happiness factor.” Sonically, the happiness factor sounds to be a better fit for a Coachella song premier rather than a vehicle for proper decision making. Utility seeks to satisfy the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people, a practice that only gets more difficult to employ as our selfishness is at an all time high. Good or bad, utilitarianism is seen deployed in matters that stretch across the entire swath of our existence. Due to the moral compass being magnetized in different directions for different people…acting for the greater good is hardly ever a victimless action. Unfortunately, acting for the benefit of one often times causes suffering for others. While utilitarianism is by no means cemented into our legal codes, it is always a variable when we weigh out our options. When there is a winner, there is usually loser. When there is light, there is also a shadow. The greater good will still have its casualties, perhaps thats why the biggest argument against Benthams system is as follows….”No moral concept suffers more at Bentham’s hand than the concept of justice.” It’s truly never as easy as it may seem to be. Haters will they were marginalized.