You can't have this discussion without John Emerson around.
Also counterpoint -- the assholes in the finance industry are fairly few in number. It's the one percent, and really a small fraction of the one percent. There are an awful lot of finance industry jobs, but lots of them are receptionists, IT managers, bank clerks, and so on, who aren't going to be systematically worse people than anyone else. </dsquared>
So clergy being no better than the average person is possible with them still being better than finance assholes; they're also probably better on average than convicted serial killers. But the average person is better than those two groups as well.
Maybe he's too busy preparing for the earthquake.
Specifically the child abuse scandal? Or a more general failure to live ethically? Because the actual people who abuse kids, and those who cover it up, can't be a big percent of the total clergy. The cover-uppers especially seem like it would be disproportionate among ambitious clergy.
There are an awful lot of finance industry jobs, but lots of them are receptionists, IT managers, bank clerks, and so on, who aren't going to be systematically worse people than anyone else.
That's just my failure in grabbing too broad a descriptor, then. I'd lump them in with the general population. "Those who buy and sell ridiculous derivatives and shit like that"?
Calculus teachers sell derivatives.
I'm not including secretaries and the like when I say "clergy" either.
There may not be complete agreement on what constitutes moral behavior, but I bet most clergypeople make an above-average effort to stick to their own morals.
What Josh said. Honestly, it's difficult to see what would be enough to convince you otherwise, if the last five years haven't done the trick.
Put it another way: here is a group of people with above-average power and authority and below-average openness and accountability. Why on earth would you a priori expect them to behave more ethically than anyone else?
But the point is that the numbers are small; finance industry assholes is a group like murderers, not like postal workers. You can be better than finance industry assholes without being particularly good in comparison to average people.
finance industry assholes is a group like murderers, not like postal workers.
That's what I keep telling the people who write the criminal code.
Why on earth would you a priori expect them to behave more ethically than anyone else?
Heebie U is affiliated with one of the Xtian versions, and it is a really earnest, good-hearted NALT-riddled place. The kids that head to seminary seem, at age 22, to have chosen it freely because they want to make the world a better place. Now, I'd assign the exact same moral compass to the nonreligious kids who head to the Peace Corp and such. But less so to the frat bros and kids who make vastly different choices.
Also counterpoint -- the assholes in the finance industry are fairly few in number. It's the one percent, and really a small fraction of the one percent
This is a bit of an underestimate. Two per cent of the general population are sociopaths. I think it's a reasonable assumption that finance is a more sociopath-friendly profession than average, so the percentage will be correspondingly higher. How much higher is difficult to say because you can't really march into Bank of America and demand to run everyone through the PCL test, but educated guesses are from 5% to 20%.
I would guess that it matters a lot how free the choice is to join the clergy.
In south america (more in the past than today) and parts of Asia, a religious calling was and maybe still is simultaneously a family obligation and also a path to relative wealth and power, compared to an alternative of a shit job or being stuck in village of birth. Averaging over all clergy includes these folks.
What does "NALT-riddled" mean?
15: I know studies have been done that show CEOs to be more sociopathic than average but I'm too lazy to google it. I assume the finance industry works much the same way. There's a real advantage in business to viewing everyone as means rather than ends.
What a population is like on average isn't the relevant only metric. An outsize number of people doing significant social justice work are clergy or otherwise do the work out of a sense of religious mission/commitment (compared to their presence in the population, ethicists probably are an outsize presence in doing social justice work also).
The kids that head to seminary seem, at age 22, to have chosen it freely because they want to make the world a better place.
The point of the article linked is that ethicists are much better than average at advocating moral behaviour in others, but are no better than anyone else at behaving morally themselves. I can't see why exactly the same shouldn't apply, in spades, to priests.
16: It was a family obligation in some communities in the U.S. within living memory. In my experience, you can see the higher levels of earnestness (and doctrinal enthusiasm) in the younger Catholic clergy here.
19: OTOH, religious people are no more likely to give to charity than non-religious people, unless you include churches spending money on proselytising as charities.
That's not exactly the same as "clergy".
Mentioned in biographies of both Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King: On the African-American side of segregated America in the early 20th century, it was universally understood that the highest achieving young men who wanted to get rich became ministers, while the bright young men who didn't care about money but wanted to improve lives in their community went to law school.
Maybe I'm wrong! Maybe the lure of power balances out the lure of living ethically. I certainly believe that the nature of a profession can be appealing to certain types of people, and then reinforce those traits in its practitioners. Folks in the oil industry are more likely to be climate deniers.
In having an ethical sad. My street is likely to get upzoned to low rise multifamily, so (between giant tax hike and the chances of unpleasant adjacent new build) my hundred-year old house that I love, that I have invested decades of work and money into longterm energy efficiency in, may effectively have just become garbage.
I'm trying to think how the block could organize so thatcwe have to all be bought out at once, instead of the first sellout collapsing everybody else's use value. Hey, good thing we have a block party coming up.
And I'm at an oncologist appointment and having trouble feigning equanimity.
Seems to me there was a Swedish fellow, wrote a real catchy song on this very topic.
Oh gosh, clew, best of luck.
I think the morals of clergy do vary from church to church, and I really don't think that the Catholic church has behaved any worse over sex abuse than any other institution in which people had comparable opportunities. Most, but not all of these are religious. But there is a very high rate of sexual abuse reported from the Swedish care system, for example, and nothing that the Catholic church has done even in the last century compares to the conditions in communist orphanages (not just Romania; I've heard horror stories from the Ukraine).
I would not trust a self-anointed pentecostalist further than my 98-year-old mother could throw him. And I have known a couple of more or less sociopathic Anglicans, who could not have managed the evil that they did without the aid of religion. So I don't think I am particularly starry eyed. But I spent a lot of time looking at Catholic chld abuse scandals. They were horrible. They were not worse than you would find in other places. Probably the most objective evidence of this is the insurance rates charged to organisations that want to insure against being sued. The Catholics don't pay higher premiums that Lutherans, or didn't, the last time I looked.
27: Damn. Keep us updated.
27: Yes. I'll keep you in my thoughts.
finance industry assholes is a group like murderers
Controversial when Brett Easton Ellis wrote it back in 1991, conventional wisdom today.
Have y'all ever worked in a financial institution AND at a non-profit? I'm certainly not saying banks are morally good, or even neutral, but a lot of the people in people-helping organizations who think they're holding themselves to a high ethical standard are treating their employees like shit. I mean, what the fuck kind of asshole do you have to be to run a so-called non-profit hospital nowadays? Overworking the staff, cutting their benefits, screwing over the patients, muscling their way around the communities where they're located.
In contrast, even though your business might be stealing pennies from poor widder women and orphans, you can do some pretty awesome stuff for your workers. My current job is the only place I've ever worked (including several ostensibly radical non-profits) where there is specific language protecting the rights of people regardless of their gender identity.
I've been having the creepy symptom for a decade without anything bad being found. My prior is that it's either hormonal or very slow, and my primary doc agrees, but every so often she sends me to a specialist.
I'm actually much sadder about my house. May start working for a market in daylight rights, which might help spread the payoff of Seattle development. But guessing wrong about whether or house could be a house for another hundred years wastes all the emergy we've put into solidifying it. This gives me the deep hippie horrors. Also, if run on 1905 principles, its a very energy efficient house.
Maybe its time for a lodger.
(28 obviously not to 27) Good luck clew!
Still curious about 28!
36: it is easier to be generous with the pennies of the widder orphans.
Hint: Long haired preachers come out every night...
26: Will it really be that awful living on the same the block as low-rise multifamily housing? It makes your house garbage?
27: Fingers crossed for you.
Anyway, you should only work for a small nonprofit as a way to get enough experience to get on at a government agency or bigger, better funded nonprofit. Unless you're willing to be poor or embezzle.
Black cat, white cat: As long as it supports full equality for people of all gender identities, it's a good cat.
Have y'all ever worked in a financial institution AND at a non-profit?
Yes. The financial institution is where I worked with the Buddhist nun. (Then-local job market was pretty weird in the early 00s.) My experience wasn't as stark: the bank work was a lot more regimented; other organizations had a lot more room for eccentric personalities to perturb things.
clew, sorry about the crises. Is the oncologist's office soothing with fountains and birdsong? That shit makes me panic pretty fast.
This makes me feel hopeful:
The link in the OP strikes me as similar to a lot of that guy's work (and the XPhi!* people generally): "The ethicists we asked said that doing moral philosophy didn't make them better people than everyone else, but we did a study and actually they're not!"
The studies they do actually are cool, but they have a long history of "This study overturns a commonly held belief in philosophy that actually no one holds!" My favorite was the extended series of stuff arguing that, empirically speaking, our normal or instinctive moral judgments aren't always consistent with each other (and are sometimes inconsistent in certain patterns) and using it to challenge the validity of the trolley problems debates, which were of the form "Ok here's a place where our moral intuitions seem super inconsistent is there a way to understand them so they aren't, and if not what should we do about that?".
*It's just like all the philosophy that preceded it, only edgier!
I was listening to The Smiths the other day and I finally realized what Criminally Bulgar is referring to. I am...a little slow. Great joke, though. Now I hear The Smiths in my head when I see your name.
Oh good god. I know that song as well as anything, but never picked up the joke.
The only Catholic priest I know professionally, is a Monsignor in a senior position in the Vatican. I'd guess he has more in common, behaviourally speaking, with the average senior corporate exec than he does with a parish priest. He seems like a nice guy however.
I did work for a religious college for a while, though, and I'd say the people there were pretty ethically admirable. The principal of the college was a lovely, gentle man. Super-bright, and voraciously well-read in a huge range of disciplines. Personally very tolerant, or at least so he seemed in conversation, although I think his wider religious domination* includes a fair number of people where that would not be the case.
I remember talking to the bursar of that college once about what we'd done during the holidays. He'd been in the Congo delivering aid into a war zone, and had been held up at gunpoint by militia more than once. The previous year he'd been in Nepal, setting up distance learning things and access to the internet and MOOCs in remote villages.
I did not feel ethically superior.
50 Same here.
I mean, what the fuck kind of asshole do you have to be to run a so-called non-profit hospital nowadays? Overworking the staff, cutting their benefits, screwing over the patients, muscling their way around the communities where they're located.
God, yes. Almost as ruthless and definitely just as monopoly-hungry as for-profit hospitals in so many places. Even without the profit motive, I guess upper management is still motivated in the same directions by prestige, bonuses, supermanager camaraderie, etc. I can imagine an alternate universe where finance is all organized on a nonprofit basis and just as bad.
I still don't get the joke, but at least I've not listened to enough Smiths songs to know the lyrics.
54 is right. Our local non-profit hospital management couldn't be evil enough providing health care and had to branch out into health insurance.
The only reason I said "almost" as ruthless, incidentally, is that I've never heard of nonprofit hospitals setting their doctors admissions quotas.
Wow, speaking of unethical!
I'm so glad it's not just me!
55: You're missing out! The song is "How Soon Is Now" and the lyrics are:
I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
Perhaps my naïveté is showing.
49,50, etc. >> I like to think I am simply in the minority of people who have correctly parsed the vocal.
Haha, I'm sure Morrissey knows a lot about bulgar so maybe.
Psychologists in leadership positions seem to be pretty terrible too. At least the APA's ethics folks were when they modified their rules to make it acceptable for psychologists to participate in torture.
22: poor black Christians seem to give a lot.
57: The docs at my hospital get paid more if you get a mammogram or colonoscopy on the govt's recommended schedule. Funny thing is that there are radiologists pushing 1 every year after 40, and the hospital has marketing materials about it, but the population health people push for every 2 years after 50, and that's the target that affects the bonus.
My hospital is part of a power-grabbing monopoly, but my dept is full of well-meaning people (encourage docs to use generics where appropriate!) and the employee benefits are great.
The overlap between ministers of religion and senior bank executives is small, but its inhabitants are interesting: among them former Co-operative Bank CEO Paul Flowers, the Crystal Methodist.
Can an average be skewed? I had thought that that referred to a distribution. H-G is a mathematician, so may know something about statistics that I do not.
70: in common speech "skewed" just means "pushed to one side or the other" so yes it can. In mathematical terms it refers to distributions.
Language aside, report the median and the interquartile range.
I don't think I can do that without using language.
69: And Steven Green, who was Group Chairman of HSBC while it was complicit in extensive money laundering, and is a CofE priest.
For balance, one should also note that the chairman of Northern Rock at the time of its collapse was a pop writer on evolutionary psychology.
And let's not forget the Vatican Bank.
I was told not to worry, which is not actually comforting, and given a flow chart of things to do, avoid, or report immediately, which is comforting. No idea if my hospital is rapacious; its a variety of group practice, or was originally.
43.1: Zoning changes are designed (here, in an ongoing crowded boom) to turn over housing stock as fast as possible. Building not lasting to expected age* means we don't achieve a bunch of emergy payoffs because the expensive systems have been bulldozered down. Yes, literally garbage.
* yes, we reduced it for earthquake risk
At least the first half sounds good.
I don't understand 77.2. Especially the second sentence. Perhaps this is me not knowing some jargon? But could someone clarify? What kind of "expensive systems"? What does "not lasting to expected age" mean?
I read somewhere that the median house in Pittsburgh was build in the 30s. Which explains the gas bills some people have.
49,50, etc. >> I like to think I am simply in the minority of people who have correctly parsed the vocal.
Most of us just heard "I am the sun and the air" and the rest was gibberish.
79: 77 sounds as though the zoning changes will somehow compel clew to sell her house to a developer who will bulldoze it, making her prior investments in green systems a waste because the house won't last as long as expected. What I don't understand is why the zoning change will make her sell if she doesn't want to.
That's easy. Property taxes because you're assessed at the value of land with a low-rise on it. But that wouldn't mean selling at a loss. At least not by the structure here. Unless you figure the loss comes when you try to buy an equivalent place. Or if there were improvements that were in excess of the rest of the neighborhood. Which is my guess.
Oh, is the point that the house is currently assessed at far below its actual current value (due to the improvements clew made which the city doesn't include in its assessment) but due to the rezoning it will now be assessed at close to its actual value resulting in a large increase in property taxes which is somehow big enough that clew can't afford it? That is the old value of land+house (which was mostly in the house) is roughly comparable to the new value of the land itself if sold to a developer, thereby making the house itself not worth anything?
Theoretically speaking, you'd think that taxing on improvements to earthquake survivability would be less than ideal.
You guys are leaving out the element of affection for the individual house, and commitment to the ecological value of the improvements -- if she has to sell and the house is razed, then even if she makes a profit on the sale, she's sad about the house and about the waste of the improvements ecologically. I just couldn't figure out what was driving her to have to sell, but I suppose property taxes might be expected to rise to an unaffordable level? I can't think of what else it could be.
Of course if your property is suddenly worth a lot more, than you're a lot richer and should be able to afford paying a bit more in taxes (eg, putting less into retirement since the future sale of the property will give you a bunch of retirement money., or getting a reverse mortgage). Of course some people might not be able to make those work, but it should be a pretty unusual situation that someone can force you to sell just by making your land more valuable.
87.last: Ask many a farmer about that