Ethical Outrage: No Excuse for This Kind of Behavior

This story in the Washington Post caught my eye and gave me an instant headache. Here is a man who fought to reopen Maryland prematurely, caught the coronavirus, and now refuses to provide information on who he’s been in contact with because he doesn’t want the government to have anyone’s information. This despite the fact that infectious disease experts say contact tracing is key to containing the virus.

People have a right to control their own behavior and exercise their individual rights—but not when it puts others at risk. This is why it’s important to wear a mask indoors with others present. You can put your own health at risk if you want, but a mask protects others. Not wearing one is the equivalent of driving drunk and not caring who you might run down.

It’s hard to believe anyone can be so uncaring, so selfish, so unethical as the gentleman described in this article.

Is there any sane argument in his favor? If you think so, please leave a comment or email me at


Some Companies Still Don’t Get It

J.C. Penney, a department store with 840 retail outlets in 49 states, filed for bankruptcy this month, 118 years after it was founded. The company hopes to reorganize, but 242 of its stores are closing for good. The company, hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown, won rent relief as it tries to stay afloat, but thousands of employees have lost their jobs, investors have lost millions, and consumers in many poor areas will lose valued retail outlets.

But the pain only went so far, and it certainly didn’t reach the executive suite. Just prior to filing for bankruptcy, J.C. Penney paid its chief executive, Jill Soltau, $4.5 million, while the chief financial officer and the head of human services each got $1 million in bonuses.

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When It’s Unethical To Be Thrifty

In a recent post, I suggested that people who receive a government stimulus check even though they are not suffering any economic hardship should try to donate the money to charities overwhelmed by those who have lost jobs and income. When asked a related question, The New York Times Ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, suggested those who can should spend more to stimulate the economy and resist the urge to be thrifty despite these uncertain times. (See the second question in this column.)

Now there is strong evidence, that those most able to spend are pulling back, just when low income workers need the economic jolt the most. Please take the time to examine their research here.