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#598710 05/05/10 05:24 PM
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I've hit an interesting situation in week 4. One of my classes had a discussion on ethics as one of their featured discussions. A few of my classmates are apparently doing what I feel are unethical things and are quite proud of what they are doing. I take ethics fairly seriously so it bothers me that they are proud of their activities.

I almost wish the discussion was held later in the class, because I imagine this knowledge might affect future discussions. Maybe they will see me as too "prissy" now for my ethic stance, and I will see them as "iffy" for the same reason.

Have you ever had a class discussion like that?


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Can you share what the issues are? I wonder if the ethical issue could have cultural bias.


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Maybe, but college was so long ago for me that I don't remember! LOL--sad, but true.

Not knowing the particulars, I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet I'm on the side of "prissy" versus "iffy". And, it would probably be perceived as "old-lady" of me, but I was even more stringent when I was younger. I've loosened up a bit in my old age. LOL

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I hesitated on sharing the actual issues because I was already sort of wound about it and didn't want to have two different forums where I was defending my prissiness smile But I suppose it would be good for me to learn to not take ethics so personally smile

And really, we're not talking about life-or-death ethics. We're just talking about ... well ...

It started with going to a restaurant and not leaving a tip. I felt if you're going to go to a restaurant where a tip is expected as part of the waitress' salary, and you know that, and the waitress is great, and you do NOT leave a tip, that you have not held up your part of the bargain. Yes, you saved yourself money. But saving money should never be an excuse for not holding up a bargain you deliberately chose to enter into. If you couldn't afford the restaurant's "full costs", you should have chosen a different restaurant.

A restaurant isn't a required part of life. It's a luxury, and if you walk into a restaurant, you are agreeing to abide by that restaurant's rules.

So then we tangented to even more "fully stated" rules in locations. So say you go to a location which very clearly states "no outside food". A sports event or a movie. Again, a luxury trip you are choosing to splurge on. You are agreeing to abide by their rules when you choose to buy the ticket.

A few people felt it was absolutely justified to load their pockets up with food and drink because "the tickets were too high priced anyway" so they were offsetting the unfair cost by breaking the rules. They didn't feel they were doing anything wrong. Even though it was clearly being stated that they were not allowed to do this. Even though they chose to go to that specific location, knowing its rules and total costs.

I think if they said "I know it's wrong and I choose to do it anyway" I might have felt less riled, but when someone looks right at a sign that says "do not do X" - on a luxury situation - and they go and do X anyway and say it is not wrong - it doesn't feel ethical to me.

The reason I mention the luxury item aspect is that I *might* feel swayed if it was a critical item. If you were out of medicine and your child was dying then I can see rule breaking being on the table. But not for a luxury that you could just as easily have passed by. Going to a movie is not a necessity.


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I'm with you Lisa - I don't believe any of that makes these folks particularly outstanding citizens - I would be happy with the "prissy" label if it means doing the right thing. I firmly believe that it is these small missteps that lead to less civility - and courtesy and civility have been on the way out for awhile now.

Breaking the rules when it hurts others, no matter how small that hurt might be, just isn't nice or ethical.


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Hmmm. Interesting. It's interesting because, to me, these issues fall outside the realm of ethics. Ethics is rightness or wrongness of human conduct but while in some areas, we do need to discuss what is right and wrong as a community (euthanasia, criminal consequences, cloning, etc.) some of the smaller decisions really are up to the individual as part of his or her free will. We have to ask ourselves, "What is the potential outcome and what effect does it have on us and others?"

It is nice that you hold your particular viewpoint on tipping servers. I once was a server and I appreciated guests like you. I always leave a generous tip, too. But when people did not tip me (which rarely happened), I chalked it up to forgetfulness, stinginess or frankly, being broke. All of which I could easily forgive. If someone came in with the opinion that tipping is unnecessary because serving the food is part of the restaurant experience and reflected in the menu prices--okay. *shrug* Too bad they do not understand that there is a universal law that givers gain.

But I also believe that tipping should be unnecessary because good service should be required of all employees and they shouldn't need an incentive to provide it. Their companies should compensate them well enough. Tipping began as a clandestine way of getting extra service above and beyond what the other patrons got. And then, it became a show of gratitude. Now, it is a requirement regardless of the service you receive. (And yes, I still tip big when I receive lousy service!)

As for bringing in outside food, they are not breaking any laws. They are breaking rules set by the establishment, however. Is it wrong to break rules set by an organization? Well, you have to ask our forefathers about that. Americans broke laws and rules and established this free country. Why? Because some rules and laws are wrong themselves.

These organization do not want people to bring in outside food in order to 1. make money on concessions; 2. do not want people to bring in their own full picnic meals; and 3. possibly prevent accidents from glass bottles, etc. that are smuggled in. Let's be sure to keep the spirit of the law and not necessarily the letter of the law.

When we go into an event, we are sure to purchase concessions (usually a fair amount!) and thereby help increase the profits of the organization. However, I DO bring in a few items, namely WATER because they do scalp you on the cost of water ($4 a bottle) and that is unfair when everyone needs a basic necessity like clean water; and 2. a few items that my kids might want that they cannot get there at the concession stands.

Am I breaking the rules? Yes. I question them. I am a very obedient person and will not break laws, but I might challenge rules of private organizations if I believe them to be wrong. I believe that the organization will want the money from my tickets, parking, souvenir and concession purchases rather than deny my entrance because I bring in my own water (which by law they have to allow) and even a few small items for kids that can't be purchased there (my little boy loved rice balls.)

Should I say, "Well, I see that sign and I don't like that rule so I should boycott this event!"? That would mean I would have to boycott every movie or luxury event because every organization wants to make concession money. That means that unless I am rich enough to afford the whole experience, I should not be allowed to go. Or I have to go and not drink anything, except from the water fountains, which at luxury venues are non-existent, by the way!

I don't know. Maybe I am wrong to break the rules here but I do bring in some items (not meals or anything!) I respect and support businesses because I see things from a business owner's point of view. Not trying to cheat them. I even HELP them by buying lots of food there! But I do feel it is wrong to charge $4 for a small bottle of water. The markup is cruel, and water is a necessity! And I don't think that a baseball game or movie should be a luxury that is out of reach for the average or even lower income American.

Do you know that here movies, popcorn and sodas for a family of four costs $80? We'll pop that, but we have Netflix and a good dollar theatre nearby, too, thankfully.

You are not prissy to be a rule follower, Lisa. Maybe I need to rethink my own ethics of this type of situation. I am not proud to break the rules. I just get dismayed to see how some rules are unethical themsevles. Sorry this is so long!

BTW, you should read Vance's Crime post about ridiculous CA laws!

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Um. I am a low tipper. I bring healthy snacks and decaf flavored coffee into movies.

I know I am not a bad person. In fact I am a very good and giving person. I don't consider that these are ethical misdemeanors.

I guess different people have different senses of integrity. The things I think are important in life, I abide by.

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LOL. Jilly, I take forever to say what you say in a few words. You are clear and concise. Now that is good writing!

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I don't think of not tipping as unethical, but I do think it's stingy. Most servers still make $2.13 per hour which is what I made when I last waited tables almost 20 years ago. It's a generally accepted social norm that diners tip for good service. I think if you feel otherwise, you should order your food to go.

Waiting tables is hard work, the vast majority of servers are not covered under insurance and have few benefits, I think taking advantage of someone because you want to save a few bucks might not be unethical, but I think it's greedy.

To me, the deal is you are essentially hiring the server to wait on you and should pay for those services. I was also a restaurant manager and we would have not survived two months trying to pay servers adequately at the prices we charged on the food. If we raised prices 20% to pay the servers, we would have been priced out of the marketplace.

I don't take outside food or drinks into movie theaters either. I respect that a business has a right to set its own rules and a movie is only 2 hours for the most part, so not having snacks is not exactly a hardship. I usually buy a soda there even though it's outrageously priced. I knew people who snuck in snacks when my kids were little and I really thought it was a horrible lesson for kids (these people were parents, taking their kids to the movies & sneaking in snacks). I would never permit or condone that -- not because it was "breaking the rules", but because I thought it was teaching them something I really did not believe in--the "sneaking" part is dishonest.

So, tell the server up front--I'm not going to tip you. That way, the server can give better attention to her other tables. If you're not tipping, surely you don't mind slow service.

And, walk right in to the movies with your outside snacks in the open, especially if you bring kids. Better to get tossed out for breaking the rules than hiding something or behaving dishonestly, in my humble opinion. But, that's my opinion.

And, my two cents. Time to wrestle the soapbox back into its cage. laugh


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I didn't "sneak" anything. I bought theatre popcorn, sodas and candy for two of my kids. I brought in a snack for my special needs child who had special needs. Never did a theatre manager or employee complain. In my opinion, I did not teach my children to be dishonest.

Once, I tried to talk an employee into letting me bring in my sugar-free lemonade (they did not sell it) and she said no. I tossed it out with absolutely no hard feelings. I understand, especially because I always wanted to run my own restaurant or theater.

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