My husband works in an industry where he is considered an essential worker. (Not healthcare.) I am covered by his employer’s health insurance. I just found out that the arm of the organization managing the health plan is negotiating with one of the pharmacy companies involved to expedite the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine to the frontline workers. My husband is high enough in the organization to make sure I can get the vaccine with the workers. Although we are both over 65 years old, we do not have any underlying medical problems that put us at particular risk. Can I ethically “cross the line” since the CDC has just set guidelines on who has priority to get the vaccine? Name withheld, New York
Let me first Note that in fact the CDC has not established mandatory guidelines for vaccine distribution. A working group set up by the CDC has proposed criteria, but for now states have to follow their own rules. (At least that was the situation at the time you wrote and I am responding; I imagine the situation could change.) Can your husband really make sure that you have the vaccine at the forefront with key staff Got front what’s breaking your rules? New York State?
Your confidence that he can is a little daunting. Each vaccine bottle has a unique serial number and a barcode. So it should be possible to develop a system in which queuing jumping can be detected and discouraged. Larger questions of social trust and fairness are up for debate and are all the more critical in the face of our current crisis of legitimacy. That’s one reason why, as Atul Gawande, member of Joe Biden’s advisory board for Transition Covid-19, said, we need a system that puts bus drivers in front of bankers.
If your husband somehow manages to circumvent your state’s rules just for you – taking you from New York’s Phase 3 receivers (65+) to Phase 2 receivers (key people on the front lines) – and when If his company’s health plan approves this, you will be taking advantage of these privileges in a way that undermines trust in an ethical distribution system. The immediate consequential damage of your individual injury is very small. But when reasonable rules have been established, morality requires that we make our contribution to collective practices that are good for the community. The protection from Covid-19 that you seek can be achieved without this injustice: as long as you stay home (if that wasn’t an option for you, you would have said it), maintain social distance, wear masks if You’re ‘when you meet people outside of your home – you know the protocol – you have very little risk of developing the disease. This is even more true if your husband is vaccinated and does the shopping. It’s your turn early enough.
I am a private chef and my work has been heavily influenced by the Covid pandemic. Up until this year, much of my income came from live catering events. Since March, I’ve been able to turn my business around and stay afloat by running a convenience food delivery business. I’m also still getting paid by a large corporate client, which has given me a bit of financial freedom in a time when so many food companies are struggling. With the start of the holidays, I am now receiving requests for prepared food for larger gatherings of people, such as starters for an extended family of 20. And when the pandemic fatigue sets in, I will be asked to hold private events like all-day yoga retreats for those who itch to get out of the house and hang out with friends. All of these events violate my state’s current policy not to bring more than three households together in one gathering. In any of these cases, if I turn down the job, the event will still happen – the food will just be drawn from another location. If I say yes, then I can add a little extra to my reduced income and put a little more money into my savings. But since I would be fine financially if I refused this work (i.e., I can’t justify having to take the work to meet my basic needs), I wonder if I have an ethical obligation to refuse the work When I know the fruits of my labor are being used to fuel a gathering that does not conform to public health guidelines. Name withheld
Apr. 29, 2020 at 2:16 am ET
Usually when someone signs up When you help do something that you rightly disapprove of, you are to some extent involved in what they do. And that applies even if your withdrawal did not prevent it. To take an extreme example, I doubt you would agree to a Ku Klux Klan rally whether or not someone else would accept the job if you refused. The health guidelines in question are designed to reduce the spread of an infection, which can be fatal. Ignoring these guidelines is pretty bad. And because you are financially fine, if you refuse to help those who do, you will not be unduly burdened. To reiterate a point I just made, we have a duty to make our fair contribution to maintaining appropriate practices that serve the common good. That’s a pretty basic thought, and its ethical validity isn’t compromised by the unfortunate fact that too many Americans have opposed it.
My youngest child is being adopted. He has been troubled since his early teens. Now, as an adult, he has a lot of emotional issues and we believe he is a recovering drug addict. (He still drinks a lot.) We love our son and tried to give him what he needed, but it was very difficult to raise him. Specialized therapy schools, rehabilitation, legal fees, etc. have drained us financially and emotionally.
He looks pretty good and has a lot of charm. He had few problems making girlfriends, but he had a lot of trouble maintaining relationships. He recently told me that his new girlfriend was pregnant. We didn’t meet her because of the pandemic. She seemed intelligent on the phone and said she wanted to be a good mother. Our son seemed excited about the idea of having a child as he didn’t know any of his birth relatives. He had a decent job at the time and we were hoping a kid would make him more responsible.
He soon disappeared. This is a pattern. The mother is sad and disappointed, but ready to raise the child on her own. My question concerns my and my husband’s responsibility towards this child and my son’s friend. We are retired and comfortable, but by no means rich. I see myself helping with the essentials for the child, but I do not have the feeling that I want to make a significant contribution to the financial support and care of the baby. That makes me very sad, but we need help to draw our limits here. Name withheld
Sometimes things that It goes without saying that it is better to say, let me make it clear that, as I understand it, adopting your son is simply that that fact shaped his excitement about having a biological relative of his own. You have taken full responsibility for parenting – with all its blessings and, alas, burdens – and one of those responsibilities is caring for your son’s offspring. However, taking an interest in them does not mean taking on a huge financial responsibility for them. The mother of the child is entitled to child benefit from her son and should apply for it. If he does not meet these commitments, you can choose to stand up for your grandchild by possibly leaving something or everything that you would have given to your son to your grandchild. Your son’s irresponsibility does not require you to derail your own plans or compromise your financial security.
Perhaps in other places and at other times there would have been social expectations that you would take care of your grandchild if your son didn’t. However, in this place and time, the responsibility for children rests primarily with their parents. And ethical obligations to family members are determined in part by what is common in the society in which you live: Expectations can create obligations. I’ve discussed the duty to uphold sound practices that serve the common good. This logic extends to institutions such as the family: they too deserve our support. Whatever decision you make, what you can comfortably contribute, I hope your son will come to terms with this basic truth at some point.