The Case Against Former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt’s Second Jet

This foundational principle bears repeating: Legality is not the same morality. It is perfectly illegal to jaywalk across an intersection during a moment when there is no traffic, but it is not an act of immorality to do so. Likewise, it may be perfectly legal to curse at your grandmother, but absent an extraordinary context, it would be immoral to do so.

This distinction—that some immoral acts may be legal—has become relevant again upon encountering the Wall Street Journal news item that former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt frequently obtained a second jet plane to follow him as he met with government officials and other business leaders to secure GE contracts and evade anti-trust punishments during mergers. The latest development in this storyline is that Immelt did not seek the approval nor provide notice of the arrangement to the GE Board of Directors.

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Getting A College Application Fee Waiver

High-school seniors experience one of their first encounters with the “fee economy” during the college application procession. Frequently, the costs of applying to certain schools can require expenditures of $60-$110 each that can leave applicants with a $1,000+ bill as the cost of getting their applications in front of admissions committees across the country. That is unnecessarily high, and with a little bit of preparation and initiative, the average high-school student can drastically lower the costs of applying to school (even if they come from a middle-class or upper-class household.)

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California Lemon Law Overview

I wish every state legislator received a training course in “Regulation Best Practices” that taught them how to balance the equities when contemplating their vote on a given piece of legislation. By that, I mean approaching regulation in the spirit of “If we demand too much, we will create mandatory compliance costs that will exceed the prevention of the harm we seek to avoid.” This must be weighed against regulating an industry too little, in which the potential harms to be avoided are great and the agency costs that would be required to avoid the bad outcome are minimal.

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Rerum Novarum Lives On

It is surprising to me that, throughout all of the debates about automation and minimum wage laws in the United States over the past few years, hardly any mention of Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum” enters the dialogue.

Personally, I find Paragraph 45 to be one of the most compelling commentaries on the moral validity of a living wage that I have ever encountered.

In it, His Holiness offered:

“Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.”

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The Jones Act Overview

The Jones Act is one of the most worker-friendly statutes in existence in the United States because it gives seamen and sailors very broad rights to sue their employers in the event that they are injured while navigating, or attempting to navigate, American waters carrying cargo for U.S. ports.

In the 1910s, the United States was losing about a hundred sailors per month to deep injury or even death. To combat the occupational hazards of being a seaman, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 which gives vast monetary recovery rights to sailors if they are injured or killed while at sea. The purpose of this highly pro-worker maritime law was and is to incentivize ship operators to adopt the highest safety standards possible by imposing stiff penalties for marine workers that are injured on the job.

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