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A “1st World” Ethical Dilemma

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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31 December 2020 11:14
 

For the last 17 years or so, my wife and I have devoted ourselves to a couple of projects that we think are making the world a better place. One has to do with teaching hundreds of teachers to teach better, and the other has to do with helping thousands of people learn to treat their horses more humanely (and perhaps gain a little humanity in the process). Every day we do battle with the naysayers. Most people are really stuck in their old ways of doing things and push back aggressively when they learn that perhaps they need to evolve how they do things. It’s very draining for us to deal with all the haters day after day after day.

One of my mental and physical health outlets is golf. (I’m also a golf-crash-test-dummy for some of the cutting edge training approaches we’re developing.)

Here’s the thing. My golf clubs are 35 years old. I’ve spent the last couple of months looking into new clubs and trying various brands and models. By far and away, the clubs that suit me best are called PXG. My ethical dilemma is that the guy who founded PXG, Bob Parsons, has done and defended some dubious things. He shot an elephant, he made the infamous, misogynistic GoDaddy commercials, he was (maybe still is?), a trump supporter.

So, these golf clubs will make my life better than any other clubs I’ve found. But I’m not at all sure I want to - even in a tiny way - support Bob Parsons.

Can I justify buying these clubs on the grounds that my mental health improves my ability to “do good” in the world, and so from a utilitarian perspective, the slight negative of supporting Parsons is maybe outweighed by the positive value of helping me keep my head on straight? Or is that just an elaborate justification on my part smile

And yes, as the title indicates, I know it’s a 1st world problem..

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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31 December 2020 13:15
 

Easy solution – just keep looking.  There is a VERY large selection of golf clubs out there.

Although this might seem like a first-world problem on the surface, ethical consumerism is not – e.g. buying only conflict-free diamonds, ethical stocks, boycotting products from unethical companies.  In many instances, first-world country markets have a direct impact on third-world countries, the under-privileged, animals/wildlife and the environment.

 
 
PermieMan
 
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PermieMan
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31 December 2020 19:57
 
Jan_CAN - 31 December 2020 01:15 PM

Easy solution – just keep looking.  There is a VERY large selection of golf clubs out there.

Although this might seem like a first-world problem on the surface, ethical consumerism is not – e.g. buying only conflict-free diamonds, ethical stocks, boycotting products from unethical companies.  In many instances, first-world country markets have a direct impact on third-world countries, the under-privileged, animals/wildlife and the environment.

Certainly one way to respond to the dilemma.  However, if to venture further into the world of ethical consumerism only to discover the universe of conscious consumerism one might realize the depth from which a response to purchase ethically in the world (favorite set of golf clubs) is possible.  To start on the arduous path of ethical consumerism by committing to only purchase recycled toilet paper might be daunting enough to curtail any motivation to venture further.  Interestingly, after only months of purchasing the eco-friendly t.p. the initial resistance of the pattern from the social conditioning can dissipate leaving a sense of liberty to practice it again.  But in the universe of conscious consumerism, when one simply becomes woke regarding an issue or circumstance and then perhaps realizes how to morally respond to it…it can be the clarity itself that has the most value as opposed to the action.  In which case a non-action would outweigh the action.  I.E. Boycotting Monsanto is practicing conscious consumerism where as purchasing an alternative product like naturally based herbicide would be considered ethical consumerism.  This then makes conscious consumerism the power holder to ethical consumerism.  So in the case of purchasing the golf clubs, if one were grounded in this theory they would have the knowing that purchasing the golf clubs is okay as the purchase doesn’t actually affect being a conscious consumer.  After purchasing these clubs from the Universe of conscious consumerism one can resume their practice in the world of ethical consumerism unadulterated by the social etiquette of ethical consumers. lol. With that said, the key to ethical consumerism is in letting go not in holding on…

[ Edited: 02 January 2021 16:42 by PermieMan]
 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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01 January 2021 08:11
 

I still enjoy media from people who should be cancelled.  I try not to spend a lot of money on it, and I usually don’t go seeking new media from these people that I haven’t already experienced.  To me the line for this kind of thing is very personal.  When the person’s actions/history ruin the enjoyment is when I stop listening/watching/reading.

Are there a runner up set of clubs that would work?  Will knowledge of Parson’s actions constantly be in your head while playing?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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01 January 2021 09:01
 

There are a TON of choices, one my even say a tyranny of them smile

I have researched SOOOOO many options, there is one more I’m looking into.

A friend suggested buying them 2nd hand, using the logic that at least I wouldn’t be lining Parson’s pockets. From an ethical perspective, I find that idea intriguing. It kind of makes sense, but it kind of feels like an ethical “get out of jail free” card?

The related question of what media to watch is also one I’ve grappled with. My not-very-firm approach is to say that I don’t want to support the dubious artist financially, but I might enjoy older material that’s in the public domain. Not too sure on that one.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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01 January 2021 13:46
 

Reality Check:

1. The amount of “good” you’re actually doing in the world probably equals the amount of benefit Bob Parsons will realize if you buy PXG golf clubs (negligible).

2. The negligible amount of “good” you’re doing in the world doesn’t even come close to justifying all the stress it’s causing you, even if your martyr complex makes it difficult to realize this.

3. New golf clubs probably won’t improve your golf game anywhere near as much as more practice.

Therefore, you should cease your do-gooding and spend more time practicing with your 35-year-old clubs. Your golf game will improve more than if you bought new clubs, you’ll have less stress in your life, and there will be virtually no impact on the amount of goodness in the world—or on Bob Parsons’s bottom line.

Happy New Year!

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PermieMan
 
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PermieMan
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01 January 2021 13:54
 

Something to keep in mind when discussing ethics is, that which you are prioritizing is. that which you are coming from.  People who do something without ethics and on autopilot are in a process of becoming complacent.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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01 January 2021 14:43
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 01 January 2021 01:46 PM

Reality Check:

1. The amount of “good” you’re actually doing in the world probably equals the amount of benefit Bob Parsons will realize if you buy PXG golf clubs (negligible).

2. The negligible amount of “good” you’re doing in the world doesn’t even come close to justifying all the stress it’s causing you, even if your martyr complex makes it difficult to realize this.

3. New golf clubs probably won’t improve your golf game anywhere near as much as more practice.

Therefore, you should cease your do-gooding and spend more time practicing with your 35-year-old clubs. Your golf game will improve more than if you bought new clubs, you’ll have less stress in your life, and there will be virtually no impact on the amount of goodness in the world—or on Bob Parsons’s bottom line.

Happy New Year!

Thank you Mr. Cranky Pants.

p.s. I have pretty solid data to back up my claims of doing good.
p.p.s. I’m pretty sure I know a lot more about skill acquisition than you do.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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01 January 2021 15:03
 

Another concept is moral license.  This can be problematic thinking if we approach it wrong, but done correctly it can be a tool.

In the bad model, if I do a good thing then I am allowed to do a bad thing.  I helped an old lady across the street, therefore it’s okay that I robbed a bank.  It effectively excuses bad behaviors.

In a good model, it recognizes the harm we’ve done and what we need to do to make it right.  I robbed a bank, therefore the correct thing to do is to give the money back and confess to the crime.  It doesn’t resolve us of responsibility, but it shows us a way of making things correct.

Maybe buy the clubs, and donate a similar amount to an elephant preservation organization.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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01 January 2021 15:06
 
weird buffalo - 01 January 2021 03:03 PM

Another concept is moral license.  This can be problematic thinking if we approach it wrong, but done correctly it can be a tool.

In the bad model, if I do a good thing then I am allowed to do a bad thing.  I helped an old lady across the street, therefore it’s okay that I robbed a bank.  It effectively excuses bad behaviors.

In a good model, it recognizes the harm we’ve done and what we need to do to make it right.  I robbed a bank, therefore the correct thing to do is to give the money back and confess to the crime.  It doesn’t resolve us of responsibility, but it shows us a way of making things correct.

Maybe buy the clubs, and donate a similar amount to an elephant preservation organization.

That’s very interesting, like moral carbon footprint offsets smile

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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01 January 2021 16:51
 
icehorse - 01 January 2021 03:06 PM
weird buffalo - 01 January 2021 03:03 PM

Another concept is moral license.  This can be problematic thinking if we approach it wrong, but done correctly it can be a tool.

In the bad model, if I do a good thing then I am allowed to do a bad thing.  I helped an old lady across the street, therefore it’s okay that I robbed a bank.  It effectively excuses bad behaviors.

In a good model, it recognizes the harm we’ve done and what we need to do to make it right.  I robbed a bank, therefore the correct thing to do is to give the money back and confess to the crime.  It doesn’t resolve us of responsibility, but it shows us a way of making things correct.

Maybe buy the clubs, and donate a similar amount to an elephant preservation organization.

That’s very interesting, like moral carbon footprint offsets smile

Nah, our consciences can’t be put on a balance sheet.  I think a healthy psyche depends on avoiding feelings of guilt as much as possible, not a back-and-forth, not using justifications which we don’t ourselves believe.

Also, ASD seemed to imply that little good is done in the world by such considerations.  I disagree.  Every little bit helps and together it can help a lot – there are plenty of examples although there should be more.  We also depend on others (media, activist groups) to know how and when there is an issue.

 

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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01 January 2021 18:15
 

I found this article about Parsons on the internet. It appeared on the Forbes website earlier this year:

https://tinyurl.com/y83bkhds

Yeah, he is sort of a Republican jerk. He thinks the Covid-19 deaths are over inflated and that the country should open up, or at least he did a few months ago. There’s no mention of him shooting an elephant, which I think is unconscionable.

But, like most people, he’s not all bad. He received an $8 million Paycheck Protection Program loan from the government, but then gave it back because he thought other businesses needed it more.

And then there’s this:

Another venture affected by coronavirus is Parsons’ charitable organization, the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, which donates to education, healthcare and veterans, among other causes. Since 2012, Parsons and his wife have given away more than $180 million to charities. In 2013, they signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate at least half of their fortune.

He says the foundation—which had $30 million in assets as of 2018—moves about $1 million to charities every two weeks, but this year, that may be hard to do. However, Parsons says he plans to honor the giving commitments he’s already made.

Yeah, I know, he’s getting substantial tax write-offs with these contributions, but still… $180 million goes a long way in helping people. And pledging to give away half your fortune to charity isn’t a bad thing either.

I don’t know how you should weigh all these factors together, Icehorse.

For my two cents worth — I’d say go ahead and buy the golf clubs if you really like them.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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01 January 2021 18:16
 

I don’t think so. I think it would be arguing in retrospect and not really honest. Which isn’t to say don’t do it. Just that rationale doesn’t hold up.

I think its not generally difficult to buy local, second hand and cruelty free. It takes a bit of extra effort but I believe its worth your time since you express both a knowledge and concern about the consequences.

I believe that would be more satisfying overall.

 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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01 January 2021 23:44
 

Don’t buy the clubs, new or used, if the guys politics bothers you, since it will likely leave feelings of guilt and affect the mental side of your game.  For me, justifying something with which I disagree indicates not doing it.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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02 January 2021 14:58
 

Further research might reveal some contribution that you feel positive about either in Mr. Parsons or those who depend on the company payroll. If you stop there, you can buy the clubs without discomfort. 

Or, research the competitors until you discover something objectionable and stop. Then you cannot have any new clubs at all. What about the old clubs? Is there a hidden dark history that could give them a retroactive stain?

Concluding that Mr. Parsons is energizing your do-gooding and that counter-balances the moral tilt is a fine place to stop. They’re just clubs.

Knowing all the moral ramifications of your club choice is beyond the scope or lifetime of any advanced primate. Flipping a coin would have equal moral certitude.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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04 January 2021 09:38
 
icehorse - 31 December 2020 11:14 AM

For the last 17 years or so, my wife and I have devoted ourselves to a couple of projects that we think are making the world a better place. One has to do with teaching hundreds of teachers to teach better, and the other has to do with helping thousands of people learn to treat their horses more humanely (and perhaps gain a little humanity in the process). Every day we do battle with the naysayers. Most people are really stuck in their old ways of doing things and push back aggressively when they learn that perhaps they need to evolve how they do things. It’s very draining for us to deal with all the haters day after day after day.

One of my mental and physical health outlets is golf. (I’m also a golf-crash-test-dummy for some of the cutting edge training approaches we’re developing.)

Here’s the thing. My golf clubs are 35 years old. I’ve spent the last couple of months looking into new clubs and trying various brands and models. By far and away, the clubs that suit me best are called PXG. My ethical dilemma is that the guy who founded PXG, Bob Parsons, has done and defended some dubious things. He shot an elephant, he made the infamous, misogynistic GoDaddy commercials, he was (maybe still is?), a trump supporter.

So, these golf clubs will make my life better than any other clubs I’ve found. But I’m not at all sure I want to - even in a tiny way - support Bob Parsons.

Can I justify buying these clubs on the grounds that my mental health improves my ability to “do good” in the world, and so from a utilitarian perspective, the slight negative of supporting Parsons is maybe outweighed by the positive value of helping me keep my head on straight? Or is that just an elaborate justification on my part smile

And yes, as the title indicates, I know it’s a 1st world problem..

I think being an ethical consumer is a worthwhile endeavor, but of course in a complex global economy like ours, where large companies and corporations are the norm, you’re never going to achieve consistency. I refuse to give some companies my money, knowing full well that others I frequent are surely guilty of other sins I either don’t know about or manage to overlook.

Trophy hunting is gross, and the GoDaddy ads were—as the kids say—total cringe; but other than that—he’s a rich guy who supports Trump? That’s gonna most of them, likely. It’s not like he’s the “My Pillow” guy going to bat for The Donald, is he? If not, well…you and I buy stuff from companies owned by rich sociopaths who support Trump all the time.

It’s a company he founded, but it’s also a company employing several dozen people who support the sport you enjoy. It’s cool to want something high-end for a passion; I started playing the trumpet again (after a 33 year hiatus!) last year, and after a few months honking on a cheap used horn that couldn’t stay in tune, I gave myself permission to take advantage of a seasonal sale at the local music shop, and spent $2500 on a new Bach Stradivarius, which is a pretty damn nice silver trumpet. A lot of money for an amateur who still struggles with odd time signatures and minor keys, but you only live once.

If you don’t mind me asking—what do you do with teachers?

 
 
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