My friend has a moral dilemma - ***UPDATED***
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 11/14/2012 by Cake Diva in NSBR Board
 

Cake Diva
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:28:33 PM
Quick background - one of my best pals is also in the cake biz. She lives in an area where you cannot, under any circumstances, bake from your home for the public. Not even in a separate kitchen facility - you must use a commercial kitchen outside your home.

Every year at this time, her bread and butter is her Christmas cookie service (how I got the idea in the first place!)

Just yesterday, both her Uncle & her Mom got flyers in the mail for a cookie baking service. Not hers, and all over her territory.

When you go to the website for this flyer, it lists them as a "home baking business" and no address until you place an order, then you will be given the address for pick-up. Obviously knows they are not on the level with the health unit.

SO the dilemma is - should she call the health unit on them? She's really torn. On one hand, she doesn't want to be a snitch, but on the other hand, she has huge rent to pay (and part of her business is 3 rental kitchens for people just like this cookie service who can't work from home) - and dang it, she's playing by the rules, why shouldn't they?

My advice was to call.

WWTPD?

****************UPDATE***************

First - let me say that I agree with Batya - that "moral dilemma" was the wrong choice of words. More like "ethical dilemma" or just plain "dilemma" was the better wording to use.

On to the update:

My friend did not end up calling. I did ask her, and she said "damn straight I'm calling because they care cutting into my business, illegally"

HOWEVER - she called the other day, and asked if I had called the Health Unit. I did not. But somebody must have. The website for this business now says:


Due to unforseen circumstances, ***** Baked Goods is no longer taking orders. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.


She didn't call, I didn't call, her husband didn't call. But obviously somebody who got this flyer must have called.

Just thought I'd update!


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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:31:51 PM
Could she mail a copy of the flyer to the code inforcement people. Then they could decide to go after the home-baker and she would in no way be connected.


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irishscrappermom8
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:32:29 PM
I think in this case I would snitch. They KNOW they aren't playing by the rules by not giving out an address, and they are consciously flouting the law.

Now, if they were a start up and didn't know, a heads up to them (the baking people) would be in order.

ETA: I just say HuskerFaninIL's response. I like that.





melanell
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:33:06 PM
^ I like Husker's idea. ^

Annabella
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:42:32 PM
I would report them. Because really no one knows the law on this and they may never get caught.




pennyring
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:44:42 PM
Do you think they're giving out their home address, or just meeting in a Starbucks parking lot or something? I love the idea of a sting operation involving cookies. Hehe...




Annabella
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:46:04 PM
I wouldn't assume they are not giving out their address to be sneaky, but perhaps they don't know the law but just don't want people showing up at their door so their business is all delivery.





recap.pea
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:46:36 PM
I would call - everyone should have to follow the rules. She could offer to email or fax the flyer to them as well.

myboysnme
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Posted: 11/14/2012 7:52:31 PM
I would call them like I wanted to place an order. I would ask some questions, getting around to them saying they bake at home. Then I would say something like, "Really? That's illegal in this county/city/township. How do you get around that?" or "I'm asking because since it's food I was wondering about where the web site says you do home baking. Do you have a business license, etc."

Then depending on the attitude, I would mail the flyer to the enforcement agency or email them and attach the flyer.


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e_doe
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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:23:20 PM
Yes to Husker's idea!!

I think they could actually not know. Best to let the authorities handle it.

If there is a sting, though? I want to be an undercover agent.
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nicolequinn
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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:36:12 PM
I'd snitch and not care about it.
I can't stand cheaters or liars.
If she has nothing to hid and it's a legitimate business, then no harm done.
If she is knowingly violating her state's health code and laws, then she should be in trouble.



TXDancermom
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Posted: 11/14/2012 9:03:22 PM
I probably would call.


Skybar
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Posted: 11/14/2012 9:51:28 PM
call your local licensing agency and see if they have a license - or are required to have one.

If they need one and don't have one the licensing agency will most likely go after them. (we did) Also, the food is most likely taxable - is it in your area? If so, they aren't paying the taxes if they aren't licensed.




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scrappin jen
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Posted: 11/14/2012 10:20:17 PM
Honestly I'd just send in the flyer with a note I am concerned it is a home baking business against code.

However, it does sound like more the issue is this new business is stepping on her toes by advertising in her "territory" and she is more worried about her "bread and butter" as you put it. She was out advertised and that probably stings a bit. It does sound like a motive dilemma as much as a moral dilemma. Her motive may be not to ensure the safety of the public as much as to ensure the safety of her business. It is easy to get the 2 confused when you feel threatened.

"Obviously knows they are not on the level with the health unit"?? not necessarlily. As others have pointed out they may not want to publish their home address. It is entirely possible they rent kitchen space and bake in batches but are unable to have customers come to the rental kitchen.I have a friend in the baking business and she uses a local restaurant on their closed day to bake. She would not be able to sell from their restaurant though as it is against their rental agreement. She is a single mom and in no way would she want to advertise where she lives so setting up a delievery address after a relationship as client is established seems reasonable. Just looking at it from another angle.

If your friend's cookies are that good and they have an established reputation she'll do fine. You can't give that in a flyer.

ScrapsontheRocks
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Posted: 11/14/2012 11:35:51 PM
The law is the law. She should call. If the other business has inadvertently transgressed, they can adjust their business plan; if they are chancing it, let health & safety and legitimate businesses triumph.

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Posted: 11/15/2012 5:24:11 AM
She should call.




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Cake Diva
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Posted: 11/15/2012 5:37:50 AM

call your local licensing agency and see if they have a license - or are required to have one.


If they are working from home, they don't have a license. It is not allowed in the city they live in.


However, it does sound like more the issue is this new business is stepping on her toes by advertising in her "territory" and she is more worried about her "bread and butter" as you put it. She was out advertised and that probably stings a bit.


Nope - it says right on this person's site that they are a "small, home-based bakery, located in X city" - if this was a legitimate business my friend would have been hurt, but sucked it up. She knows she isn't the only game in town. However, if this person is not operating by the rules, that changes things. This person has no overhead, and can just undercut my friend in every way. Not playing by the rules is not ok.


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Gsquaredmom

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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:22:42 AM

Could she mail a copy of the flyer to the code inforcement people. Then they could decide to go after the home-baker and she would in no way be connected.

==================================

This. The codes are there to protect people and they will want the flyer anyway. If they are legit, more power to them. If not, well, then the health of people is protected.



GrinningCat
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:24:59 AM
Send me the flyer, I'll gladly report it. I have zero patience for this kind of bullshit. I won't have a single moral dilemma about it. What the home kitchen is doing is WRONG. Period. I will gladly report them. They are the people who give small scale food producers a bad name. No tolerance for them. At all.


Honestly I'd just send in the flyer with a note I am concerned it is a home baking business against code.

However, it does sound like more the issue is this new business is stepping on her toes by advertising in her "territory" and she is more worried about her "bread and butter" as you put it. She was out advertised and that probably stings a bit. It does sound like a motive dilemma as much as a moral dilemma. Her motive may be not to ensure the safety of the public as much as to ensure the safety of her business. It is easy to get the 2 confused when you feel threatened.

"Obviously knows they are not on the level with the health unit"?? not necessarlily. As others have pointed out they may not want to publish their home address. It is entirely possible they rent kitchen space and bake in batches but are unable to have customers come to the rental kitchen.I have a friend in the baking business and she uses a local restaurant on their closed day to bake. She would not be able to sell from their restaurant though as it is against their rental agreement. She is a single mom and in no way would she want to advertise where she lives so setting up a delievery address after a relationship as client is established seems reasonable. Just looking at it from another angle.

If your friend's cookies are that good and they have an established reputation she'll do fine. You can't give that in a flyer.

You are giving this fly by night, unlicenced, illegal food seller too much credit. It is illegal to operate any kind of kitchen without a licence, period. If you're too chicken to put the address on the flyer, it's obviously illegal. I've seen enough of this nonsense to know that it's not an up and up business.

Peppermintpatty
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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:31:50 AM
Report it. Everyone needs to play by the rules. What she is doing is not only illegal but potentially harmful to the health of others as well as the livelihood of other bakers in the area.

I have no qualms about reporting something like this.





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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:37:34 AM
Heck yeah I would call!



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Pretty In PeaNK

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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:56:37 AM

However, it does sound like more the issue is this new business is stepping on her toes by advertising in her "territory" and she is more worried about her "bread and butter" as you put it. She was out advertised and that probably stings a bit.
I don't think it's about territory at all. I think it has to do with unfair competition.

This person has no overhead, and can just undercut my friend in every way. Not playing by the rules is not ok.
The legitimate business is paying for the use of a commercial kitchen, paying taxes and license fees. That trickles down in the price of the cookies which will of course be higher. I understand her frustration. I would mail a flyer AND call.

julieberg
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Posted: 11/15/2012 8:01:06 AM

I'd snitch and not care about it.
I can't stand cheaters or liars.
If she has nothing to hid and it's a legitimate business, then no harm done.
If she is knowingly violating her state's health code and laws, then she should be in trouble.



I agree.

PierKiss
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Posted: 11/15/2012 8:14:01 AM
Yes, I would report it. Rules and regulations are there for a reason. And if everyone else has to play by them, so should this person.



SharlaG
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Posted: 11/15/2012 8:17:26 AM

I love the idea of a sting operation involving cookies. Hehe...
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:11:53 AM
I tend to walk on high moral ground and integrity is my middle name. To the point where I am often told to get off my high horse, etc. With that said, hear me out.

I am going to go against the grain and say, tell her to keep her nose in her own business. Put all her energy positively into her own business, know she is doing the right thing and not pay any mind to this little home business that may or may not be cannibalizing profits from her legitimate one.

Whether it is or is not, it sounds very negative, very sour grapes, very worried about them 'stepping on her toes' like scraper jen said and not having to pay their dues, very making a citizen's arrest and policing the industry. If she wants to do that, let her. I would crumple it up and trash it. They don't sound like serious business people. No equivalent competition, so I wouldn't worry. I'd toss it and go about my real business, where I should be focusing my energy.

Worry about doing the right thing and not what this person is doing. If they are putting fliers out there, either they do or don't know the rule and they do or don't care about getting caught. Pay it no mind.

OP, on this thread, with your responses, you seem to want validation, especially since you are in the business, as I, too am a partner in a food business, in NYC no less with rents through the roof, so I understand. Go ahead and have the whistle blown if that's what you want. If so, let her do it. You don't need anonymous peas to give the ok. If you're asking, you may realize it's not the 'right' thing only b/c it's a petty, immature response even if the flier people ARE doing the WRONG thing. KWIM?


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TeamSteve
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:23:15 AM

WWTPD?


If it was ME, I wouldn't give it a second thought. I would follow the rules. If someone else decided not to, then that is on them.




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GrinningCat
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:37:51 AM

If you're asking, you may realize it's not the 'right' thing only b/c it's a petty, immature response even if the flier people ARE doing the WRONG thing. KWIM?
How is not reporting an illegal business not the right thing to do? Seems like that's the only thing to do. I'd do it in a heartbeat, thus why I volunteered. Illegal food businesses who think they can circumvent the rules piss me off. So ya, I'll report them when I see them. I just don't understand how you think ignoring the illegal business is the right thing to do.

not2peased
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:59:30 AM

I am going to go against the grain and say, tell her to keep her nose in her own business. Put all her energy positively into her own business, know she is doing the right thing and not pay any mind to this little home business that may or may not be cannibalizing profits from her legitimate one.

Whether it is or is not, it sounds very negative, very sour grapes, very worried about them 'stepping on her toes' like scraper jen said and not having to pay their dues, very making a citizen's arrest and policing the industry. If she wants to do that, let her. I would crumple it up and trash it. They don't sound like serious business people. No equivalent competition, so I wouldn't worry. I'd toss it and go about my real business, where I should be focusing my energy.

Worry about doing the right thing and not what this person is doing. If they are putting fliers out there, either they do or don't know the rule and they do or don't care about getting caught. Pay it no mind.




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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:16:24 AM
Why does anyone report anything then? The authorities can't see everything, someone has to bring it to their attention.




nighthawk
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:50:06 AM
In my county you just fill out a form online for health dept complaints. You could call too.

I would definately snitch...and don't think of it as snitching. By them not using a commercial bakery they are able to undercut other peoples businesses that are following the law. They also could make someone sick.

Report them and then forget about it.

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Posted: 11/15/2012 2:25:40 PM
Id totally call the new place in.



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Posted: 11/15/2012 2:42:36 PM

I'd snitch and not care about it.
I can't stand cheaters or liars.
If she has nothing to hid and it's a legitimate business, then no harm done.
If she is knowingly violating her state's health code and laws, then she should be in trouble.


This is my line of thinking as well. Rules & regulations are in place for a reason. We're "all" supposed to follow them.




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Posted: 11/15/2012 2:45:04 PM
Of course we are all supposed to follow them. But are we all supposed to run around making sure that all the other kids in the schoolyard are playing fair b/c if I am they all damn sure better be otherwise I'm gonna shut them down! That's a big difference.

I'm not saying what the flier people are doing is right at all. But the snitch attitude is a very interesting one.


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Posted: 11/15/2012 3:03:29 PM
There is no moral dilemma in reporting an unethical business, especially one that potentially poses a risk to the public.



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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:15:38 PM
The risk is assumed by the person who purchases the product b/c they know it isn't certified by the health dept just like many other food providers which do not have to be certified. Just like anyone who eats anything made by anyone assumes the risk, whether they pay for hte product or not.

This flier business is not presenting themselves as certified.

Looks like OP and friend want to report and want 'permission' and validation to do so. It could have been done already for all we know. Nice topic for discussion, though. Lots of people just seem to like being snitches and seeing others get their, ahem, just desserts, for kicks. I've seen the way things go on this board. Not so many of you are all about right and wrong. Look how many pounce on wrongly priced merchandise before it's corrected and such. But tht bitch isn't getting away with selling her wares for less when I have to pay overhead! Suddenly everyone is worried about public health. How about you all get your vaccines, keep your own business on the up and up and let flier business fall on her face which will surely happen.


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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:17:45 PM
I wouldn't say anything about it. Your friend isn't REALLY acting out of concern over laws, etc, but because she is feeling slighted by her competition.







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batya
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:20:30 PM
And if the fliers are going out all over the territory and in the mail no less, there is a high likelihood that it will come to the box of someone affiliated with the health dept. No? Either flier cookie maker is stupid or not as shady as OP thinks. Either way, I don't see why suddenly there is a high moral obligation to turn the person in. I just don't see that as the motivation.

It's not the public health. It's the 'I have to pay so this person shouldn't get away with it.' And that sounds bitter, retaliatory. Not a moral high ground. If that's your reason, own up. Do what you want. But don't try to couch it in terms of morality.


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Nyxish
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:58:58 PM

I don't think it's about territory at all. I think it has to do with unfair competition.


This. Very much this.

If they are reported and looked into and everything is legit, then ok: she has competition and should reconsider her own advertizing and maybe work on putting a little extra love into the business relationships that she has already established.
If not, well... also reevaluating her advertizing and putting some attention into those relationships isn't a bad idea.

But yes, in her place, i'd likely call, and i don't think she should feel bad about it.





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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:04:16 PM
I would call. They are not following the rules.


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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:10:19 PM
Call. This gives her the chance to be on the up and up. First there will be an inspection.

And if the person complys or is on the level she will have to adapt to competition.


angievp
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:35:24 PM
ITA with Batya. Your friend doesn't have a "moral dilemma." She has an economic one.

If your post had gone something like this: My friend and I are worried about public health issues, specifically those concerning unlicensed home bakeries endangering the publich health, then I would say report it.

Instead, your post is: this unlicensed bakery is taking away business from my friend. Boo it's not fair. I think she should report her.

Your friend should focus on getting her business up and running and not what others are doing.

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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:21:32 PM
As someone who works for a Health Department, I would encourage your friend to call her local health department or to at least mail the flyer to them. Someone made the comment about the consumer assuming the risk; however, it could be an innocent person who could be affected by improper food handling if the cookies were purchased as a gift or for a child's party. Our home-based bakers follow the rules, and sometimes at a great expense; it's not fair to those who do follow the rules when someone comes in and thinks that they don't have to follow rules. If they truly don't know the guidelines then they will be, or should be, grateful to have the opportunity to rectify their mistake.

ETA: We've had our licensed home bakers call about those who aren't licensed.

Peasville
PeaNut

PeaNut 272,857
August 2006
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:11:32 PM
I work for a state tax agency and I can tell you that underground economy, especially unlicensed, non-tax paying, cash type businesses are a large problem and a good portion of our underground economy "sweeps" are done based on anonymous tips.

I say the report should be made. It's up to the city/county/whomever to decide if the business is worth looking in to.

The rules are the rules and if, indeed, this new cookie company is not following them, they are undercutting a valid, licensed, tax paying business and not only is it unethical, it's against the law. If you saw someone breaking into a business and stealing product or money, would you report that? Food for thought.


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lespea
I Typo & I don't care

PeaNut 270,444
July 2006
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:19:42 PM
ITA with HuskerFan. If there's not a Cottage Food law or anything like that in her state then she shouldn't be baking out of her home. People have got to get legal if they want to be in business.


- - - The glass isn't half full or half empty. It's just twice as big as it needs to be. Downsize your life. <3 - - -

batya
Making the WWW better, one post at a time.

PeaNut 59,094
December 2002
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:44:06 PM
Well, there are two things going on here then.

1-whether there is a moral dilemma. I say there isn't.

2- report or not to report.

If you're going to report, and there have been valid reasons given as to why you would want to report, then just do it. But don't frame it like you have this moral dilemma. B/c that's not what going on here. That's what's really getting me about it.

OP's friend isn't worried about people getting sick.

I'm all for people following the law. I wouldn't cut corners and I expect nothing less from anyone else. I just expect people to own up to what they're doing.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




Cake Diva
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PeaNut 90,802
June 2003
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Posted: 11/30/2012 7:26:47 AM

If you're going to report, and there have been valid reasons given as to why you would want to report, then just do it. But don't frame it like you have this moral dilemma. B/c that's not what going on here. That's what's really getting me about it.


You're right Batya - "moral dilemma" was the wrong choice of words. Maybe "ethical dilemma" is a better wording? Or just plain "dilemma"?

Anyway - bumped for the update!!


Kellie

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GrinningCat
Proudly Canadian

PeaNut 43,061
July 2002
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Posted: 11/30/2012 7:37:13 AM
Good. They need to play by the rules that everyone else has to follow. (For the record, I didn't call).
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