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Re: ethics of subsidized moonlighting

Steven D. Hales wrote:

  >moonlighting at tax payer's cost and federally sponsored tax exempt
  >for profit organizations going after private practices customers.
  >what are the ethics of such practices?

  I think this is an important question, and honestly, I am not sure
  what the
  correct answer is. Here's a couple of thoughts. (BTW, none of this
  is to be
  construed ex cathedra).

Thank you for answering the first part of my question, can you enlighten
us on the second part?

  One argument is that doing binding on the side using equipment that
  partly subsidized with public funds is wrong on the grounds that
  binders are being compelled by law to support competition that,
  because of
  the support, can underbid the private binders. Thus private binders
  unjustly required to bring about their own downfall.

Partly or totally subsidized .

The other side of the coin is that the public subsidizes many

  that are in direct conflict with private business, and we think
  nothing is
  wrong with it.

This is not the issue. In every profession there is competition, it is
healthy and it is the nature of free enterprise. I understand that quite
well. I welcome it and I agree, there is nothing wrong with that.

  For example, police detectives take business away from
  private detectives. Were there no police detectives, the market for
  detectives would be much greater. Yet we think that it is a good
  thing that
  all are taxed to hire police detectives.

But we dismiss them if they use the patrol car for their private needs
or the shoot gun to go hunting.

  My guess is that we think so because there is a great public good to
  realized by having police detectives, and this public good outweighs
  harm caused to private detectives.

Yes, and?

  So perhaps the question that needs to be
  asked is how substantial the benefit is to the public to have
  publically subsidized binding available,

If you tell me how to do that, I'll be the first one on the line for the
subsidy. I would like to point out that repairing every household's
bible at an affordable price is not the goal of the institutions engaged
in conservation.

  versus how much harm is caused to
  private binders by the loss of this business.

The harm done is not only to the private binders or restorers, the harm
is done to the entire profession by keeping prices artificially low
which translates to inadequate funding for conservation services,
technicians salaries etc...perpetuating the vicious circle that leads to

  If the benefit is high and
  the harm low, then there may be nothing wrong with it. If the harm
  is high
  and the public benefit low, then subsidized moonlighting would be

What public benefit are you talking about? Put 250 people in a room and
ask them when was the last time they had their books bound. The very few
collectors? I'll bet you not 1% of the population.You are comparing the
police force, catering to the entire US population with a service that
serves only an infinitesimal fraction of the same population. How can
you draw sensible conclusions from such comparison?



  Steven D. Hales
  Assistant Professor                     email: hales@xxxxxxxxxx
  Department of Philosophy                phone: (717) 389-4229
  Bloomsburg University                   fax: (717) 389-2094
  Bloomsburg, PA 17815


Denis Gouey

Denis Gouey Bookbinding Studio
PO Box 383 Norfolk CT, 06058

860 542 5063


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