Missouri’s Unethical Food Stamps Bill

Sometimes you just need a good lobster. I'm from Boston. Trust me on this.

Sometimes you just need a good lobster. I’m from Boston. Trust me on this.

Years ago, my wise and wonderful first year Contracts professor at Georgetown Law Center, the late Richard Alan Gordon, made a permanent impact on my conscience with a spontaneous rant. He was discussing a case involving a welfare recipient who had been sued by a Washington department store for failing to keep up with installment payments on a Hi-Fi system. The court voided the contract, saying that it was unconscionable for the store to intentionally create incentives for poor people to spend public assistance money on “non-essentials” like music systems. (I wish I remembered the name of the case, but then I only got a C+ in the course.)

As the students nodded their heads in agreement with the opinion, Professor Gordon cut them short and thundered (I am copying from faded old notes: Dick’s rants were always eloquent and memorable, and I began reconstructing them after class for posterity):

“Outrageous! Who are you, or a court, or a government, or any authority to tell another human being that feeding his body is more important than feeding his soul? Music is “non-essential”? I suppose that means that literature, culture, inspiration, wisdom, knowledge…or a moment of joy, the thrill of discovery, experiencing a concert, admiring a great work of art, or sharing an intimate and timeless moment with the love of your life is “non-essential” too! Neither the law nor any court nor a government authority has a right to dictate what is essential to any human being, whether he is receiving public assistance or not. Being poor imposes its own cruel restrictions on liberty and autonomy. Imposing more still is both an abuse of power and a violation of basic human rights. This is an assault on human dignity.”

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Ethics Quote of the Era: Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress of 1776

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

—-The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, edited, ratified and signed by him,  Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Hancock, Samuel Chase William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkin,  William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton.

Ethics Heroes all.

Thank you, guys.

(You can read the entire document that changed the world…undeniably for the better…here.)

Unethical Quote of the Week: The Los Angeles Times

“If you can’t handle such a minor inconvenience, perhaps you should stay on the ground.”

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, in an editorial called “Shut up and Be Scanned,dismissing the objections of travelers who find the gonad and breast-fondling patdowns now being used by TSA screeners embarrassing and obtrusive. Continue reading