Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/25/17

1. On the same New York Times front page (June 21) that announced the Georgia 6 result, surrounded by Times’ agenda-advancing stories with slanted headlines (climate change, North Korea, the Obamacare overhaul,  the “divided GOP,” and Michael Flynn) was the kind of story that once made the Times’ reputation. It was headlined, “Haven for Recovery Becomes A Relapse Capitol,” Will this story be discussed today by the Sunday talking-head shows? Of course not. The implications of it are not friendly to progressive mythology.

The story explains how Delray Beach, Florida has become a Mecca for drug addicts and a bonanza for treatment centers and “sober houses,” group living facilities for addicts. Some quotes will provide a sense of the report, but you should read it all:

Unlike other places in the United States that have been clobbered by the opioid crisis, most of the young people who overdose in Delray Beach are not from here. They are visitors, mostly from the Northeast and Midwest, and they come for opioid addiction treatment and recovery help to a town that has long been hailed as a lifeline for substance abusers. But what many of these addicts find here today is a crippled and dangerous system, fueled in the past three years by insurance fraud, abuse, minimal oversight and lax laws. The result in Palm Beach County has been the rapid proliferation of troubled treatment centers, labs and group homes where unknowing addicts, exploited for insurance money, fall deeper into addiction.

Hundreds of sober homes — some reputable, many of them fraud mills and flop houses for drug users — sprawl across Delray Beach and several surrounding cities. No one knows exactly how many exist because they do not require certification, only city approval if they want to house more than three unrelated people. Hoping for a fresh start, thousands of young addicts from outside Florida wind up here in places that benefit from relapse rather than the recovery they advertise.

…the proliferation of fraudulent sober homes was in part also the result of two well-intentioned federal laws. First came a 2008 law that gave addicts more generous insurance benefits; then the Affordable Care Act, which permits adults under 26 to use their parents’ insurance, requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and allows for multiple drug relapses.

The result was a whole new category of young addicts with access to insurance benefits. This gave rise to a new class of abusive operator, as painstakingly chronicled in The Palm Beach Post: the corrupt sober house owner. Many drug treatment centers — which also treated inpatients — started paying sober-home owners “bonuses” from insurance money and fees for referring outpatients to their centers while they underwent therapy, according to law enforcement, a grand jury report and court records.

Sober homes, which are not covered by insurance, can get thousands of dollars a month for each recovering addict, in large part from treatment providers, law enforcement and city officials said. Much of it goes into the owners’ pockets. But it is also used to pay rent so patients can live free and to provide perks that lure patients from other sober houses: manicures, mopeds, gym memberships and, worst of all, drugs. Relapses are welcome because they restart the benefits clock.

To increase profits, many treatment centers and labs overbill insurance companies for unnecessary tests, including of urine, blood and DNA. Some have billed insurance companies thousands of dollars for a urine test screen. Patients often unnecessarily undergo multiple urine tests a week.

Ah, glorious compassion! So those of us who managed to not break laws and cripple ourselves while doing so get to pay for not only the self-inflicted problems of those who did, but also get to enrich  the scam-artists who live off of their addictions, protected by compassionate, expensive insurance guarantees that require no personal responsibility or accountability. Meanwhile, “federal disability and housing anti-discrimination laws offer strong protections to recovering addicts who live in them.”

This is the better “treatment” alternative to the “war on drugs” that the compassionate people harangued us about for decades.

2. Bill Cosby’s announcement that the serial sexual predator will deliver educational talks aimed at teaching young people how to behave to avoid sexual assault allegations exploded the Ethics Alarms chutzpah meter, already weakened by Jon Ossoff’s condemnation of big money in politics. Maybe he will use this announcement in his next trial to prove that he is clinically insane. This is public gloating and an intentional insult to all the women he abused. What institutions and parents would allow children in their charge to attend such a session? This is like Bernie Madoff holding seminars on holding the trust of your investors.

3. In more revolting Cosby news, one of the two black jurors who deadlocked Cosby’s sexual assault trial said this week that he found Cosby’s accuser, Andrea Constand, to be untrustworthy because she seemed “well-coached,” and also because she ” went up to his house with a bare midriff” a before the alleged assault in 2004. The anonymous juror added that he thinks Cosby has already “paid dearly” and should not be retried in the Constand case said that he thinks “more than half” of the over 60 other women who have also accused Cosby of sexual assault made up their stories and “jumped on the bandwagon.”

Oh! Cosby only raped or sexually assaulted about 25 or so  women after drugging them! That changes everything; yes, he’s “suffered enough.”

And this, my friends, is why it is almost impossible to convict beloved celebrities with benign public images of criminal acts committed when when they are being themselves.

4. On “The View,” about the last place I would expect anyone to say anything worthy of Ethics Alarms notice unless it was offered as proof of ethics duncery, Michael Bloomberg said this about President Trump:

“We’re a democracy, the public has spoken, whether you like the results or not, and other than with a little help from the Russians, he was elected. We have to make it work… We have an election—whoever wins, you got to get behind.”

This is an unremarkable statement that simply restates the essential democratic principles the nation followed for its entire existence…until the Democrats decided that it would be politically expedient to behave otherwise now.  It also repeats what I have been writing since November. Bloomberg and I, and everyone who agrees with us, are right. Everyone else is wrong…and dangerously so. (Further proof is the lame and typical rebuttal of the linked source: “Trump obviously won, but Hillary Clinton got more votes, and Trump’s disapproval rating is at a staggering 58 percent. If anything, the public spoke out against Trump and continues to do so—but thanks to an insufferably quirky electoral system, he’s the president anyway.”

5. From Tim Levier comes this story, where Colorado threatens to show us what “nanny state” really means, and a parent who second-guessed his own bad decision shows how statists think. I doctor whose kids became addicted to their smartphones formed a nonprofit called PAUS (Parents Against Underage Smartphones) has launched a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make Colorado the first state in the nation to establish  limits on smartphones sales for young users. I wonder how many other areas of parenting the state could dictate like this? Meanwhile, this same state is telling all children that pot smoking is wonderful. If Dad gets his way, his children will avoid the perils of having “too much technology too soon” which  “can impair brain development, hinder social skills and trigger an unhealthy reliance on the neurotransmitter dopamine,” as they grow into typical Colorado adults whose recreational drug habits impaired their  brain development, hindered their  social skills and triggered a healthy reliance on a Rocky Mountain high, blessed by the State.

19 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/25/17

  1. “This is like Bernie Madoff holding seminars on holding the trust of your investors.”

    Or “the same as Jeffrey Dahmer hosting a town hall meeting on the joy of cooking.”

    Oddly enough, there’s a great steak joint (the “Five O’Clock Steakhouse,” Milwaukee, WI) kitty corner from where Dahmer operated.

    Needless to say a bad neighborhood, you need to hire someone to watch your car; and this was over 23 years ago!

  2. Meanwhile, this same state is telling all children that pot smoking is wonderfu.

    Wait, Colorado is proposing limits on smartphone sales to children, but has no limits on marijuana sales to children?

    That would be outrageous if true, but it isn’t, your comparison makes no sense.

    • Why is this concept so hard? The state is actively promoting pot use. It has declared that it isno longer a crime. It allows the stuff to be glamorized and advertised. Parents can no get legally stoned, and with their kids present. This sends a powerful message that pot is grrrrreat, increasing the likelihood that children will use it, regardless of what the law says—remember why cigarettes and liquor couldn’t be advertized? Those ads about talking to your kids? Once adults are using substances and the state says its OK, kid use is inevitable. But the state is so, so concerned about kids brains developing properly that it might ban smart phones, which unlike pot, actually confers real benefits.

      What’s so hard to understand?

      You also left the”l” off wonderful, so I thought I had made another typo. Not fair.

  3. 1. “This is the better “treatment” alternative to the “war on drugs” that the compassionate people harangued us about for decades.”
    No. This is what you get when you have the legislators being too incompetent to write the laws properly therefore allowing corruption to run rampant. If the legislators wrote much better drug treatment laws then maybe the drug treatment programs would actually have a chance of working for the addicts rather than for the fake treatment centers.

    • But the inability to write laws competently is the status quo. You can keep pretending that the government will fix these problems, but they won’t and can’t. Don’t do this which is bad for you and society, or you will be punished severely has the benefit of clarity and fairness: I do not want to pay in any way for your addiction that you were fairly warned about and inflicted on yourself anyway. Nor should I have to.

      • After reading about various issues with laws both in the United States and here in New Zealand I get the impression that while often I may disagree with many of the laws passed here, they are generally written to a better standard than in the US and if they are found to be deficient then they are more quickly fixed.
        Also I too do not want to pay for other people’s addiction treatment but then nor do I like to pay for them to go to prison. Which is more cost effective, prison or treatment? It may well be a matter of how much each addict wants to get off drugs.

  4. “because she “went up to his house with a bare midriff””

    I dont have a great grasp of the legal system, but….how does such a juror not get eliminated in selection? I thought one of the purposes of selection was to eliminate jurors with significant biases related to the accused crime, that would have a detrimental effect on their ability to render a fair verdict? I’d say that “women who dress a certain way make the accused less culpable” is a pretty gigantic bias, no?

    I recall reading an interview with one of the OJ jurors, Cassie Bess, who made the following admissions:

    Interviewer: Do you think there are members of the jury that voted to acquit OJ because of Rodney King?
    Bess: Yes.
    Interviewer: You do?
    Bess: Yes.
    Interviewer: How many of you do you think felt that way?
    Bess: Oh, probably 90 percent of them.
    Interviewer: 90 percent. Did you feel that way?
    Bess: Yes.
    Interviewer: That was payback.
    Bess: Uh-huh.
    Interviewer: Do you think that’s right?
    At that question, she holds up her hands.

    How do people like this still end up on juries???

    • Inpart, Chris, because of the jury-selection process. You are allowed x-number of peremptory challenges. These can be for cause or not, maybe because they just don’t look good to you. For the remainder, you have to have a just cause for challenging them. I have been allowed to serve on one jury, in part because I was a practicing psychologist, and, the final one I was excused from, because I had a full beard, and I asked an embarrassing question.

    • This too:

      –After the trial was over, several of the jurors were interviewed and asked about the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution. One juror said that she didn’t even take the DNA evidence into consideration because “many people have the same blood type.” Another juror felt that the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution wasn’t relevant because “it’s not against the law to bleed at your own home.”–


      • Lets also remember that this happened in 1995. DNA was a new thing in the public eye at this time. We often forget how technology moves, but this is only 9 years after DNA started being used in criminal investigations, and juries, maybe rightly so, were still skeptical of this, and did not fully understand it to the extent that we do as laymen today.

        • Not to mention the LAPD was demonstrably corrupt at the time, and from what I have seen it was a distrust of the officers involved and the LAPD in general (rightly or wrongly) that played more of a role.

        • Granted, but I think the jury was given enough of a primer on DNA, during the trial, that they ought to have understood that a DNA match isn’t the same as a blood-type match. Assuming they didn’t just space out for the whole thing.

  5. The ministry we work with runs a men’s home with over 70 men at any given time, transitioning into normal useful lives from prison, alcohol, drugs, etc. This is a long-running, successful program that is entirely self-funded (the men work in a warehouse and a series of local thrift stores in exchange for the free lodging, food, for a year while they go through the program, which means we don’t have turn anyone away and insurance is irrelevant.)

    Introducing government money into that environment, I think, would only invite corruption and discourage the kind of problem-solving that made the place successful in the first place. I’m glad they don’t take any.

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