Stephen Maseda | Where Are Moral and Ethical Points?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Having now read Mr. Christopher Lucero’s (Jan. 3) response to the Betty Arenson commentary “Pay Attention” (Dec. 28) a third time, I am struck by a couple of things. 

First, Mr. Lucero accuses Ms. Arenson of “misuse of statistics,” “erroneous choices of point data as representative,” and “misplaced mention of the plight of the homeless,” none of which accusations he makes any attempt to substantiate, almost certainly because he cannot. Instead, he “chooses” to make the argument “from [an] ethical and moral plane.” 

Secondly, having re-read the letter I am still looking for either (much less both) the “moral” or the “ethical” argument he says he is making.

His main point is that some Californians have done very well economically (in which category he includes our retired public servants), who have chosen to move out of California, as a result of which California is exporting its “wealth” to “ungrateful states.” Initially one wonders how other states should express their “gratitude” for Californians relocating to them in droves. Mr. Lucero, however, never gets to the question of why they are moving, and not just the rich and retired but also the young and the middle class. That does not seem to be part of his “ethical or moral” argument. Could it be the high taxes that Ms. Arenson discusses in her commentary? On a plane closer to an “ethical or moral” plane — would it not be better for California and the folks choosing to leave, if they chose to stay and keep their wealth here? It would certainly seem so, but we do not know why Mr. Lucero seemingly disagrees, because his only comment on the issue is that “having your cake and also eating it [is not] achievable reality.” Again, he fails to explain why not.

Mr. Lucero does acknowledge, in a backhanded manner, that California has its problems “most of which [he asserts] are related to the edgy nature of the Golden State.” This is apparently the “ethical/moral” response to the points raised by Ms. Arenson that California has the highest poverty rate, the largest homeless population, one of the highest, if not the highest, illegal immigrant population, the highest taxes, and the greatest income/wealth disparity in the country. 

His final “moral/ethical” assertion is that the people who are leaving are “poor of spirit, [and] those whose personal resources are poorly endowed, planned or executed,” and are “lowly spirited or… stingy.” To put it more succinctly, they are losers. And it is inevitable that as California’s wealthy amass more wealth these losers will be driven out to “ungrateful” states.

It is hard to see from what “moral or ethical” plane these arguments spring, or for that matter how they square with his argument that California is exporting its wealth to these same ungrateful states.

Unfortunately, Mr. Lucero is correct about the fact that California is becoming, and to a great extent has become, a two tiered state — the wealthy and the poor who serve them, with the middle squeezed out by the high taxes, regulations, poverty and illegal immigration. However, as even he notes, many of those who do well emigrate eventually. It is hard to see how any of this is either “moral” or “ethical” or how it addresses the problems Ms. Arenson raises.

Stephen Maseda


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