Ethics are a lot complicated than people think. Lets look at so called ethical vegetarianism. I never liked the idea in the first place, because it assumes that it is more ethical to eat plants than it is to eat animals. Why? What about a sponge? Most people think of it as plant like, but technically it is an animal. Worse, all animals eat - which means they kill to survive, while most plants photosynthesize, so they don't kill anything at all. Ethical vegans choose to eat peaceful, non-violent creatures as opposed to the violent, mass murders that kill other creatures to live. The distinction between plant and animal is more emotional than it is logical.
But lets move on to the big objection. As many have begun to point out, eating a purchased plant kills more animals than eating a purchased steak. Commercial harvesting is ... violent. Read this quote (Source):
"[A] conservative annualized estimate of vertebrate deaths in organic rice farming is ~20 pound. … [T]his works out a bit less than two vertebrate deaths per square foot, and, again, is conservative. For conventionally grown rice, the gross body-count is at least several times that figure. … [W]hen cutting the rice, there is a (visual) green waterfall of frogs and anoles moving in front of the combine. Sometimes the “waterfall” is just a gentle trickle (± 10,000 frogs per acre) crossing the header, total for both cuttings, other times it is a deluge (+50,000 acre)."
When cows (or sheap, or veal, etc.) eat plants, they are selective. They leave the frogs and anoles (a small lizard) alone, eating just the grass. When we farm vegetables we leave a path of death behind. This is not even counting the many insects killed by pesticides used to protect the precious vegetables.
To make it even worse, you can raise livestock on marginal lands. Mountains? No problem. Growing vegetables (and many grains), requires you to use prime land that normally teems with natural wild life. You kill them and steal their natural habitat to grow plants Cows, etc. can live on marginal lands that doesn't support much wildlife and they can share it. You don't have to kick the prairie dogs out to raise beef. Oh, you do have to get rid of the larger predators, but they are relatively rare - and are more likely to be saved in parks and preserves.
As you can see, ethics requires more than just a principle. It requires thought, research, and the will to do what is right, as opposed to simply what seems right.
That is my problem with the many politicians. They don't think through their own principles. Take Herman Cain's recent abortion blunder. He said:
"What it comes down to is not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision."
That is at heart, the pro-choice position, if said using the GOP's new 'faux-libertarian' language. It's clear to me why he said it - he was sticking to the talking points about government regulations being bad. He applied it fairly and honestly, without realizing that is not what the GOP does. As such, he came to the oh so logical conclusion that abortion should be legal. Too bad another of the GOP's prime principles is pro-life, and that over-rides lesser principles such as regulations being bad. Later he realized his mistake and tried to fix it.
Too late. At the very least he revealed that the GOP is lying about being anti-government. That is simply an excuse the GOP uses to explain why it wants the government to do nothing about issues they don't care about. On anything the GOP does care about, they are tremendously pro government regulations. Abotion, sex education, gay marriage? Regulate away.
It's not just the GOP, it happens with Democrats too. Less often recently, in part because currently, we have a wider base of politicians (with more varied goals) and better leadership. The wider base means we can allow people to differ a bit without being kicked out of the party. In other words, we let people hold opinions that violate core DNC goals and still be part of the Democratic party. For example, if we had a politician that believed strongly in the power of regulation, we would allow him to use that principle to be pro-life, without kicking him out. Note, as a general rule few (if any) democrats are pro-regulation as a principle, but instead see it as a necessary evil.
In addition, we have a strong leader. Obama's has clear goals and priorities, which can shape the party. He leads and gives direction to the entire party, but the base allows for differences. As long as the other Democrats follow his lead for most things, the party will not adopt principles that at heart go against deeply held core party beliefs.
The GOP lacks leadership. If Cain did in fact become the GOP president, he could make a choice - either abandon the principle of 'anti-regulation' as a core theme, or abandon the core principle of pro-life. I think we all know that if he did become president, the anti-regulation theme would vanish against the unbreakable rock of pro-life. Because in real life, principles almost always lose out to core beliefs.