Open Forum!

The way this trip is going, I have no confidence in getting more posts up, or, in fact, whether I will be attacked by rabid badgers or fall down an elevator shaft. So the prudent approach is to turn everything over to the co-pilots, you, and rely on the commentariatt here to keep the metaphorical ethics craft in the air and out of trouble.

Please stay on topic, be civil, and don’t be mean to Alizia. I won’t be back in my Alexandria office until around 8, and that’s only if the flight isn’t delayed, so who knows when I’ll see a keyboard again.

54 thoughts on “Open Forum!

  1. I find myself reading advice columns to see if I agree with the answers given. Abby’s daughter isn’t as good as her mother was, Amy isn’t that good at all, Harriette’s letters seem to be too timely to be authentic, but, as Jack has pointed out in the past, Carolyn Hax is pretty savvy.

    Which brings me to today’s entry about a generous offer to foot a bill, a guest with a history of taking advantage and a letter writer whose ethics alarms are ringing, but not enough to engage in some rationalizing.

    What do you think? If a relative of yours pulled this, what would your response be?

    • I would write about this incident on Facebook and name names. Her husbands brother needs to be royally shamed.

      I have had experience with people like that and the first instinct is to rationalize it was your fault for giving them the choice but consider the only other alternative; telling your guest what their budget line is for ordering. Do so makes you appear cheap and would be tacky.

      It is incumbent on the guest to accept or decline the offer graciously and if accepting avoid becoming an imposition on the host. Nothing else is ethical.

    • Ordering a 5 figure bottle of wine without getting the approval from the people paying for it is disrespectful and completely outrageous behavior, I don’t care how wealthy the people are. Even wealthy people expect a reasonable measure of respect from others when it comes to spending their money. The brother-in-law was an unethical jerk; a trip behind the woodshed for some attitude adjustment might curb his behavior for the future.

      It’s also my opinion that the restaurant manager should have taken a moment of time to approach the ones paying for the bill to confirm such an extravagant order before opening such an expensive bottle of wine.

      Lastly, if the bill really startled the ones paying for it, then after graciously paying the entire bill they should thank all the guests and then privately approach the jerk brother-in-law and tell him that he clouded the celebratory nature of the gathering with his intentional abuse of their generosity by purchasing the $_ _ , _ _ _ bottle of wine without discussing it with them first and that he’s no longer welcome at any of their future events, if he shows up in the future he will be asked to leave.

      Lesson learned? I hope the wealthy person will think ahead next time and arranged something with the restaurant manager to prevent obvious abuse of his generosity.

      • In my opinion, the Letter Writer and her husband, knowing the brother “games the system”, so to speak, should have kept him off the guest list or warned their generous friends ahead of time of his proclivities so they could give instructions to the waitstaff to check with them before any extravagant orders are made.

        That she is rationalizing how relevant their wealth is to the situation when it’s really not smacks of “It’s not the worst thing” (because they can afford it). And, of course, “They should have known/seen it coming” when they invited people to a fancy restaurant without setting a menu that someone might abuse their generosity.

  2. Absolutely agree with Carloyn’s advice in this case. Such taking advantage is unconscionable. It’s hard for me to believe this decision requires much thought.

    • When everyone who works for the Trump Administration is deemed a Brownshirt until they are involuntarily exiled, I believe the Democrats and the news media (but, to quote Jack, I repeat myself) think they are being supremely ethical and professional.

      But, of course, they’re not. And you are correct in that it’s not ethical. But, then again, the last few Press Secretaries have had jobs that have required them to lie through their teeth. It’s practically a job description now. Sarah Sanders did about as well as can be expected considering how often the President failed to communicate clearly (by mouth or by Tweet) or how often he communicated too clearly.

      • I only ask that the entire line from my blog post be used–not just the headline. “Once a press secretary is not seen as honest or credible they are as useful as an eunuch at a sperm bank.” Now I grant you that would not be the headline my mom would have wished me to post–and certainly not my grandmother!. But in this era when there requires ‘a grab’ to nail someone’s attention the headline seems, in that sense, appropriate. Is it ethical? I agree it is open to argument. Is it honest? That might be the more important item to ponder. And in that regard it, without question, is true. As yourself what Ron Nessen would do?

        • I think in my entire life I can only recall three or four Press secretaries who were not habitual liars. All of Obama’s were outrageous, but it’s the job. If the boss wants you to lie, you lie.

        • Here is an example of a critique that is both ethical and honest: Your blog page is amateur-looking, the content just repeats the same talking points that thousands of wittier people are making, with no new insight or interesting commentary, and not allowing comments is weak.

          “As useful as a eunuch at a sperm bank” is mean and crude, but also not clever, so it just comes across as trying and failing to be edgy like the cool kids. The unflattering picture of Sanders is another lazy, uninspired way to be mean to someone. Your insincere-sounding appeals to religion couldn’t possibly be more tone-deaf, seeing as you didn’t seem to give a moment’s thought to the Golden Rule when it came time to stick it to a public figure you don’t care for.

          • The talented Mr. Rivers/Humphrey shut down comments on his blog because there were some…um…voices with the temerity to compromise his pitch to the choir.

            His objectivity is slim to none, and slim just left town…

            The inescapable hypocrisy? Lefty would be in spittle-flecked, apoplectic meltdown were some EVIL Male Righty to similarly malign a woke X-Chromosomal Unit.

        • First and foremost, please read the entire list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions, unlike others of your political persuasion that I’ve come across in recent years I think you might actually learn from it. What can you loose, give it a read.

          “I only ask that the entire line from my blog post be used–not just the headline. “Once a press secretary is not seen as honest or credible they are as useful as an eunuch at a sperm bank.” “

          It’s cute that you think the entire line from your blog somehow makes an ethical difference.

          But in this era when there requires ‘a grab’ to nail someone’s attention the headline seems, in that sense, appropriate.

          That’s #1 on the Unethical Rationalizations list, it’s called the The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”.

          “Is it ethical? I agree it is open to argument.”

          No, dekerivers, there’s no argument, there’s only rationalizations. Ponder your “honestly”, it’s not ethical and you know it.

          Is it honest? That might be the more important item to ponder. And in that regard it, without question, is true.

          Honesty? I personally know more about you than other commenters here at Ethics Alarms. In one of your blogs you wrote “Nice that minorities, non-Republicans, and just plain old Wisconsinites have a governor again” which a commenter called the implications of that statement an outright lie. So if a person believes right down to their core that you are a liar parroting useless propaganda as a tool for the political left making you as useful as an eunuch at a sperm bank then you think it’s more important for that person to “honestly” launch into ad hominems and insults about you than it would be to be an ethical commentator? Go ahead and “honestly” answer that question.

          Ask yourself what Ron Nessen would do?

          Who cares what Nessen would do? Is that another rationalization trying to justify your statements?

          I realize that your hate for anything related to President Trump is an overwhelming emotion that psychologically overrides everything else, but please learn to step outside of your irrational emotional hate and evaluate what you write before you post it on your blog. Please read this, The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #7: “Trump Is Anti-LGBT”.

          • There is a condition among Republicans and conservatives who were hijacked by Donald Trump to employ the Stockholm syndrome. When confronted with truth and facts there is a reaction to strike out with a protective cone for the one who took them hostage. Nice try here, but it does not work. You pretend to work from a lofty position but that supposed standing falls apart when you use the same line on me that you felt so ‘whatever’ that you created a post about it. You wrote, “… as a tool for the political left making you as useful as an eunuch at a sperm bank…” I think the phrase I made–and that you take issue with– in my post sparkles. And I think it more fair than comparing Sanders to a mule trying to have offspring…which was on this blogger’s yellow legal pad when making some notes while thinking about the post. I write OP-Ed type posts which are read. Folks may agree. They may disagree. But in each post–as I have often stated on CP–I call the balls and strikes. I have as many upset folks from one side of the aisle as the other. I write to make a point and nothing more. Finally I am more sad, and perhaps a bit stunned as I figured you for a more cerebral person–and that is not a slam BTW–to read “Who cares what Nessen would do?” I know Trump took over the Republican Party but when he is able to take away reason from those who protect him, as you do, then it is a sad time for the nation in ways that historians will need to reckon with in the years ahead. For the sake of the nation find his book and read it. Consider what a good man like President Ford meant for the nation, and what Nesson knew was important about his role as press secretary. Ford was correct about the RN pardon and Nesson about why being candid with the press is good for the nation. Standards matter.

            • There appears to be a high level of #2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming“ in that comment.

              FYI: Try critical thinking for a change. Nessen was a man of his time, not this time. Nessen is irrelevant because he did not face the left’s political propaganda machine emanating from the 21st century’s unethical media which you yourself referenced as part of your Golden Rationalization.

            • Standards matter, but as I suggested in my response to your imaginary view of the Press Secretary, it’s a job one only accepts if one is willing to lie in public. The news media knows this. Reporters were just accepting of the various Obama official lies and didn’t press the issue, while with Trump they have treated everything as a lie, because unlike Obama, they aren’t trying to bolster Trump; they are trying to destroy him.

              I wrote about the lies of all three Obama press secretaries, all three of whom were more brazen than Sanders. Here’s one I picked at random—from 2013.

              “We could go down the list of questions–we could say ‘What about the president’s birth certificate? Was that legitimate?’”

              —–Jay Carney, in yesterday’s news media briefing, apparently suggesting that public concern with at least four episodes raising legitimate questions regarding serious misconduct at high levels of the Obama Administration was the equivalent of “birtherism.”

              That’s a lie, a dodge, and slimy as hell. Carney was asked about four genuine incidents, and brushed them of as the equivalent of bogus attacks on the President’s place of birth.

              Gerald Ford was a weak leader and a weak President, but an honorable man who could NEVER and would never have either sought the Presidency nor won it under normal circumstances. He stands with Andrew Johnson as one of the two outliers in the list…which was why he was defeated by such a weak opponent, Jimmy Carter. Ford is a bad analogy for any Presidential conduct.

            • dekerivers,
              There’s also a 14. Self-validating Virtue rationalization in your comment as well.

              “I know Trump took over the Republican Party but when he is able to take away reason from those who protect him, as you do…”

              After a close review of your blog posts today, I noticed a trend that you seem to refuse to respect of the office of the President of the United States and refuse to write the words “President Trump” and refer to the President of the United States as either Donald Trump or Trump. Do you understand that President Trump is YOUR President just like he is the President of every other citizen of the United States of America. The correct phrase to use is President Trump, accept it, use it.

              That aside, please explain how I “protect” President Trump. Honestly dekerivers, I think you must have meant something else or “protect” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

              Standards matter.

              These “standards” you speak of only apply to those that are on the opposing side to the 21st century political left. The hypocritical 21st century political left and their in-the-pocket allies in the unethical media, especially since November 2016, have proven beyond any doubt that they have absolutely no standards that apply to themself and will stoop to any depths of propaganda and lies that they feel is necessary to smear anything or anyone related to President Trump. The 21st century political left, the anti-Trump resistance, social justice warriors and the political left allies in the media have completely scrapped any standards they once had.

  3. I think I heard a new rationalization today. Was watching a show about a PI trying to help a real estate developer. She was trying to build a housing development that was getting a lot of opposition. Earlier in the show she said progress must be made, but I didn’t notice it until she said, “I’m on the right side of progress.” This reminded me of the “I’m on the right side of history” rationalization.

  4. Just honoring The Boy.

    On a more sinister note, we are at a swim meet near Dallas. It is governed by USA Swimming and is very competitive. Our team, SHAC (Swim Houston Acquatic Club) is a guest and a participating team. All teams agree to USA Swim “SafeSwim” guidelines as the majority of swimmers are minors. USA Swim enforces these rule (well, is supposed to anyway . . . ) Meets are sanctioned by USA Swim, and the officials are,subject to USA Swim rules. Officials . . . officiating the meet are granted certain benefits, such as waiver of spectator fees, admission to the Officials Tent and concessions, and service hour points. It is an important job because many swimmers are trying get advanced times for Sectionals, Nationals, Pre-Olympic cuts, etc., a well run meet is required.

    Well, as luck would have it, I witnessed the most amazing thing this morning. I dropped The Boy off for warm up at 7:45 am and was sitting on a bench right next to the spectator admission table. Now, the table clearly stated the spectator fees: $5.00 for each session, or $20.00 for the full meet including prelims and finals for Thursday through Sunday. 99% of the spectators paid without questioning the fee. Two families refused to pay. Then, the fun started.

    The first read the sign and asked, “How much for Friday through Sunday?” The lady said, “$20.00 for all days.” The Cheapskate said, “Well, I will pay $15.00 for today (Friday) through Sunday.” The lady, sticking to her guns, said, “no, sir.
    The admission fee is $20.00.” In a huff, Cheapskate said, “No. I owe you $15.00. The sign said Thursday through Sunday. Today is Friday so I owe you three days, not four.” Discussion back and forth concluded with Cheapskate paying $20.00, with snide remarks of misleading the public. (To her credit, the Admissions Lady acknowledged the confusion and said she would talk to the oeganizers to clarify signage.

    Cue heavy Wagner-esque orchestration. Enter: The Scofflaws.

    A mother, known to the host team, wanted to get in for free. She refused to pay the Admissions fees at all. She declared she qas exempt from fees. The Admiasiobs

    • Two people sorting junk, one unhurried clerk, and a rapidly growing customer service like line. Welcome to Walmart….

  5. Posted too soon.

    The Admission Lady flatly rejected her demands. The Cheat walked away. She told her husband, who is an official but not officiating, who set out to rectify the situation. He demanded free entry for her and his entire family (over $100.00 in admissions fees). He scolded the Admissions Lady, who fought right back. She unceremoniously declared that he was not officiating the meet and using his USA Swim credentials was wrong. Not to be deterred, the Cheat’s Cheater Husband declared he would talk to the Meet Director about this. Admissions Lady said, “Call him over.” He did and immediately wished he hadn’t.

    The Meet Director came over and listened to the arguments of both sides. He asked a few simple questions:

    “What is the problem, sir?”

    “What is the problem, ma’am?”

    He listened carefully. Then, his alarms rang loudly:

    “Sir, are you officiating this meet?”

    “You’re not?! Have you used your USA Swim credentials to enter officials-only areas? You have?! Let me see your USA Swim credentials.”

    Whereupon, the Meet Director received and reviewed the Cheat’s Cheater Husband’s lanyard. The following exchange:

    Meet Director: “Sir. You have misused your position as a USA Swim official. I am turning you into USA Swim to revoke your pass. You are prohibited from attending the rest of this meet. How dare you violate SafeSwim rules to take advantage of your position. Now, sir, leave immediately or I will have you forcibly removed. Good day, sir.”

    Kudos to Admissions Lady and Meet Director. You are Ethics Heroes.


    • Is it unethical to enjoy stories like this? There is something satisfying about seeing people get their comeuppance.

      In regards to the first story, I don’t think it is ethically wrong to try to negotiate, but to bully and be belligerent certainly is.

      But the official was wrong ethically (and perhaps legally). Good for the Director and the Admin for standing there ground. They would have been just as unethical if they didn’t.

          • JP
            I think quiet enjoyment is not unwarranted. If you consider that this is probably not the first instance of such an exhibition of the behavior, then the satisfaction gained when the violator gets his due simply reduces the global psychic dissatisfaction generated by the offender.

            The key however is quiet enjoyment.

      • Do you enjoy it because a bad person is suffering, and we as humans somewhat enjoy another person’s misery?


        Do you enjoy it because a bad person is suffering, and justice is always something to rejoice?

          • I still have a hard time figuring out if there really is a difference between the two questions so I struggle whether or not I should maintain a stoic attitude towards justice being meted out because we *shouldn’t* find joy in other’s suffering or if I am permitted to take pleasure in someone else’s suffering in these exceptions *because* justice is being meted out.

    • I hope your son does well today. I am a USA swimming official and I’ve seen enough of this. I’ve noticed a HUGE difference between small town teams and big city teams in this regard. The item that stands out to me is:

      officiating the meet are granted certain benefits -snip- and service hour points.

      . This is typical in large teams, especially urban core teams. They can’t get the officials that the team must supply without the mandatory service hours rules for the team. My kids swim on a small town team, and the officials volunteer as it’s another civic duty. I think this is a great example that in a small community, individuals do make a difference, and the finger on “who must do this” includes themselves. On the other hand, in a large urban area, every need is met (or not met..) by someone who has it assigned as a job.

      One of the items we have to teach new officials is that if you sign in for the session, you have to serve your entire session. We’ve had people go sit down because they hit their mandatory hours for the month / quarter and they are “done” so they don’t see the need to continue. Another item we have to teach is that you only use your “benefits” for those sessions you work. Working 1/2 a day doesn’t get you breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      So good on this meet director for sticking to her guns. As to what will happen to this guy, if this is a LCS meet, they’ll deal with it internally. Probably a warning and he may not get an invite to state meets for a while. If it’s a national meet, he can kiss his national certification goodby for a while.

    • That’s an awesome story. What I thought was inspiring was the Admission Lady doing her duties to the letter like a boss when just caving in would have been easier. Give that woman a promotion.

      • Rules are rules. The organization hosting gets to make their rules as they see fit. They may have a good reason for the pay policy, or may be tyrannical pricks, and it works out the same: their freedom to set prices at a private event, or to sell a coke for $15, is unquestionable. The consumer need not buy the coke nor attend the event.

        Abuse of those rules had an established remedy: asshole lost his credentials. Again, host makes the rules.

        Otherwise we have anarchy. This strikes at the root of a major issue today. Two tiers of justice. I would go to jail for breathing a word about obsolete secrets, yet Comey, Hillary, et. al. continue to walk the streets.

  6. In California there’s a law on the books that says if a person is “charged” with a crime by a District Attorney or City Attorney, insurance companies do not have to provide coverage for them even if they have business liability coverage for everything else. I have a situation where the accused was charged with a crime by the District Attorney and the insurance company refused coverage because “they had committed a crime”. I mean, where’s the “innocent until proven guilty” here? Anyhow, after a 5 day trial the accused was found innocent on all 8 felony charges and the case was dismissed. My question is:
    IS THIS THE LAW IN ALL 50 STATES OR JUST IN CALIFORNIA? and isn’t it reasonable if the accused is found innocent that the insurance companies should have to reimburse them for their legal expenses? The fact is that 92% of those charged by District Attorneys in California are found guilty. If they could afford a defense, isn’t it likely that number would be a lot less? The insurance companies have such a huge lobby it’s unlikely that law will ever be overturned, but it’s always seemed to me to be a great case for the Supreme Court. Any thought or expertise in this area?

    • That 92% would suffer greatly if the standard were “convicted of the crime they were charged with” and that a no-lo or guilty plea to a lesser offense in a plea deal that dropped the serious charges did not go on the record as a “win”.

    • Yeah, that sounds like a law to give the government more power. The ideal state is when you can charge anyone at any time for something and prevent them from raising a decent defense. We have come close to that ideal. California, as usual, is just a little ahead of the game.

      The new Social Credit System that is coming ups that a notch to the point where they don’t have to charge you or convict you. The Yang Gang people are really scary.

  7. I am in a recent situation and wonder if anyone else has seen this as well. I took my child to our family doctor to get vaccinations for next school year. I was told that they would not vaccinate my child because I have ‘private insurance’. They only vaccinate Medicaid patients. I asked how am I supposed to get my child vaccinated? I was told to go to the state health department. I went there and was told they only vaccinate Medicaid patients. I went back to my family physician, they suggested the Urgent Cares. Of course the Urgent Cares said they only vaccinate Medicaid patients. I then remembered when researching for a discussion class, that 40% of the pediatricians in the US are not providing vaccinations and another 50% are considering not vaccinating.

    Is this the ACTUAL reason we are having measles outbreaks? When I tried to ask why, I was not given a straight answer. The state health department said it was a shortage of vaccines. They were without the measles vaccine (for instance) for 6 months straight.

    Why do we have a vaccine shortage? Is vaccinating 200,000 unvaccinated people/month walking across the southern border resulting in shortages for US citizens? Or is this another case that I make too much money to get my child vaccinated. Just like I make too much money to afford child care?

      • It isn’t the cost. It is that they are required to provide vaccinations as a requirement of participating in Medicaid. They are not required to provide vaccinations by the ACA (thanks Obama!). As I said, I am not getting a straight answer about why. It seems to be a shortage of vaccines (so they give them only to the people they are required to).

        I talked to 5 different providers before I found one, 45 miles away who would vaccinate my child…in November.

  8. Late drive-by to mention what Charlottesville is up to in these post-Unite the Right Rally days: The mayor has proposed to replace Jefferson’s Birthday as a city holiday with Liberation and Freedom Day, commemorating Sheridan’s occupation during the Civil War. There’s also some wrangling over the fate of the Lewis and Clark (and Sacagawea) statue on West Main Street (I lived a few blocks away for several years); the city wants to move it to a pocket park as part of a revitalization project, at some expense, while the usual suspects complain that Sacagawea is insufficiently honored beside the two men who are, after all, local sons. Here’s the local paper’s report:

    These are people who not only have no respect for history, but can only conceive of history as a means of advancing their (frankly) radical sociopolitical objectives.

    • Shhhh…..don’t tell them that Sheridan was the one who coined the phrase, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”. ( There’s some dispute about it, but he’s the one credited with it. )

      • True, though whether he actually said it will little matter once they read up on his role in the Indian Wars. He was, moreover, the ninth president of the NRA.

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