Friday, October 26, 2007

Efficient Breach

Megan McArdle reserved a hotel room at the Comfort Inn in Jamaica, Queens. When she arrived, her hotel room had been given to someone else--probably someone who bribed the desk clerk. Giving away a blogger's room was a mistake. Upon reflection, McArdle notes
it had never occurred to me that when you bribe a hotel clerk for a room, this is what you are bribing them to do to someone. Thankfully, I've never bribed anyone--I lack the chutzpah--but I'd feel pretty awful if I had, and I'll never laugh at it when someone else tells such a story again.
Nearly everyone agrees that the desk clerk (who gave away McArdle's room and then lied about it) was in the wrong. But is it wrong to bribe desk clerks in this way?* If you say it isn't, do you also believe that attempting to seduce someone in a committed relationship is morally neutral? What if both victims were compensated (a room found at another hotel, a setup with someone compatible, money)?

* Presumably there are less problematic bribes; you might want to switch rooms in a hotel that does not assign them at the time of reservation or to upgrade to a better class of room if there is one unreserved. Neither of these would cheat another guest out of something they were entitled to under the benefits of their bargain and thus they seem less unjust.

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