The ethics of cutting retirement benefits: Brad Hirschfield's video Q&A

Sep 06, 2011

Join Brad Hirschfield as he talks about the ethical and moral issues raised by the week's biggest stories.

Hello and welcome. 

- Today we'll discuss the proposal in Rhode Isalnd and other states to cut benefits for retired workers to deal with  budget problems.

- Presiden Obama's sinking approval rating and the connection between approval ratings and actual success.

- How we remember 9/11 and the 10 years since.

The proposed reduction in retirement benefits in Rhode Island does not seem fair. While we need better management in government, isn't this just an indication of the need to raise taxes?

Rabbi Brad, how ethical was it for the generation that is now retiring to run up government debt and other liabilities while they were working, to be paid by the subsequent generation, that now is? It  seems to today's young workers that the baby boomers have been voting themselves money their entire adult lives.

Just an aside: In my home state of Alabama, state employees pay nothing toward their medical benefits, at least until recently, and state retirees just moved from a $20 to $30 co-pay. I'm not sure the sky is falling, at least not yet. 

While not a popularity contest, ratings do indicate how a country views its leaders. Is it a mark of how effective he is?

A commenter on The Post's article about President Obama's approcal rating wrote: "One President did not create this mess, and it's rather shallow to expect one President to fix it." Do you agree? If so, is there an ethical element -- as in, do voters have a responsibility to recognize this  and vote accordingly?

Unfortunately, I do not believe that we have learned lessons from 9/11. After the tragedy, we pulled together in grieving. But with time and some distance, those less directly connected to losses of close relatives or friends are less affected. Not unexpectedly, we have moved away from one another and succumbed to more polarizing behaviors in fear. How do you think that we can work to overcome this fear?

A commenter on The Post's "On Parenting" blog posted this comment in reply to a piece on how to teach children about 9/11: 


"Tell them the WHOLE truth. Throughout history, various religions have committed atrocities in the name of protecting their society.  ... The 9/11 attacks were simply the latest in a long history of religious terrorism by many religions."


How do you react to this impulse to blame religion?


That's all for this week. Thanks for watching and particiapting!

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Brad Hirschfield is the president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He writes the For God's Sake blog for The Washington Post. A regular on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network. he appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and CNN, and is routinely listed as one of America?s "most influential rabbis." His most recent book is You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism.
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