Conflicts of Interest, Ethics, and Donald J. Trump

The U.S Office of Government Ethics was established in 1978 through the Ethics in Government Act. It “provides overall leadership and oversight of the executive branch ethics program designed to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest.” Apparently the Trump White House has not welcomed such oversight. Consequently, the office’s director, Walter M. Schaub, Jr., announced he would resign on July 19, stating, “In working with the current administration, it has become clear that we need to strengthen the ethics program.”

Even prior to Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, the OGE anticipated his potential conflicts of interest, encouraging the President-Elect to divest himself of his businesses. That did not happen. Other ethics issues arose, but Trump has been recalcitrant about addressing them. These issues highlight a distinction between what the law and ethics separately require.[1] Think about it this way: what’s legal is not always ethical. For example, there is no law requiring U.S. presidential candidates or sitting presidents to disclose their tax returns. It is, however, not the norm, and for good reason. Continue reading “Conflicts of Interest, Ethics, and Donald J. Trump”

The Examined Life, Public Service, and Philosophy in the Community College

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates declares himself “a sort of gadfly” to Athens, constantly stinging it, ‘stirring it to life.’ Among other things, he is concerned with the idea that Athens’ survival depends upon the quality of its citizenry. That quality is determined by each individual’s continual self-examination, that is, reflection on what makes a good life and how to live it. This is no easy task. Just what is the method whereby one examines one’s life, and just how one recognizes what the good is, requires an investment of time and effort that many people find insupportable.

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A Primer on Critical Thinking: A Response to Richard F. Miniter’s “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”

About a month ago, I landed on a site called American Thinker. I noticed “critical thinking” in the title of an essay by investigative journalist, Richard F. Miniter: “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”. Because I routinely conduct critical thinking courses in my discipline, my curiosity was piqued. I was disappointed, however, that the essay was more a superficial political attack than a genuine engagement with an interesting topic: critical thinking and the politics of education.

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