On three different occasions in the last several weeks, planes flying in the U.S. have made emergency landings because of arguments between passengers over whether one of them is entitled to recline his or her seat. Newspapers, and radio/television newscasts, have erupted in an orgy of comment about the ethics of reclining or not reclining. Less noticed has been the fact that a mail order company called "Knee Defender" has actually encouraged these battles by selling (for $21.95) a plastic wedge that, inserted into the hinge of a seatback tray table, prevents the person seated in front from reclining their seat. I'd like to point out that Knee Defender has been less than ethical in falsely claiming on its internet site that the late Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote that "your right to recline ends at the knees of the person seated behind you". A company that would engage in such outrageous deception deserves the action of all major airlines in prohibiting the use of Knee Defenders on their planes.
The recent closing of four out of the twelve Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos (Revel,Trump Plaza, Atlantic Club, and Showboat) is a major blow to that city's economy, and a tragic development for the thousands of casino employees put out of work. But if the news causes a slowdown in the creation of additional American casinos, it will have been a helpful event; nothing is more wasteful of our country's resources than excessive casino gambling and the financial tragedies it causes for persons addicted to that mindless activity.
According to numerous commentators, a growing percentage of American retirees over the age of 60 have decided to devote their retirement years to traveling overseas; some of them find that by relying on couchsurfing (free accommodations) and volunteer activities (working on organic farms for room and board, for instance) they can spend less money abroad than by remaining in their homes within the U.S. More and more of them are therefore selling their homes, and using the resulting capital for prolonged foreign travel, a phenomenon confirmed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of social security payments are now sent to Americans living overseas. As for the possible need for medical treatment while abroad (medicare does not pay for foreign doctors or hospitals), they respond that many foreign countries provide free of charge medical treatment, and even when they don't, the cost of foreign doctors and treatments overseas is much less than at home, and can also be covered by numerous private insurance policies.
A New York Times columnist, Seth Kugel, has touched off a controversy about the ethics of his advice to phone a hotel directly after you have discovered a discounted price at that hotel on one of the internet search engines. Since the hotel would have to pay a big commission to that search engine listing the discounted price, it is often willing to quote you an even lower price if you phone them direct to make your reservation. But a minority of readers have responded negatively to Kugel's advice. According to them, it's shocking that you should take advantage of the search engine's hard work in revealing a discounted price, by then phoning the hotel direct. But is there an ethical issue here? Does anyone feel sorry for Messrs. Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, and the like?
In a piece of legislation obviously brought about by expensive lobbying efforts on the part of the airlines, the House of Representatives has passed an absurdly-misnamed
"Transparent Airlines Act" permitting the airlines to omit from their advertising the various government taxes and fees that passengers must add to the basic cost of an air ticket. So that individual members of Congress could not be blamed for their outrageous stand, the act was passed by a voice vote only, with no one going on record in favor of it. It is hoped that this piece of anti-consumer skullduggery will be rejected by the U.S. Senate.