I survive Cape Cod, and I even have recently noticed something of a current trend through which beachgoers claim priceless (and sometimes scarce) real estate by arriving several hours early to establish chairs, blankets and umbrellas before leaving to return (in some cases several hours later) to eventually move into their pre-claimed territory.
I at all times thought that you just needed to be available to occupy some piece of public space. Does an empty chair or blanket constitute actual occupancy? Do such phantom claims have any merit? Would someone have the best to disregard such maneuvers by removing these chairs or blankets? If so, what ought to be the response to the claimant who might return to seek out their items now not claiming possession? — Daniel Burt
From the Ethicist:
The aim of such public space is to permit as many individuals as possible to make the correct use of it. That aim is undermined by absentee claims that prevent others from having fun with a spot on the beach for prolonged periods. It’s superb to go away evidence of occupancy for those who’re just going off to get an ice cream, say, or to go to a restroom. If you do that, though, it may be clever to go away an explanatory note. (“10:15, buying a snack, back by 10:45.”) That’s throughout the spirit of the social convention. But your beach-blanket buccaneers are abusing this convention and effectively privatizing what ought to be public.
At the identical time, moving other people’s things isn’t to be done evenly. You’ll definitely wish to make sure that their owners haven’t just stepped away for a suitable interval. The social conventions about claiming areas in these public settings will not be, in fact, precise. Half an hour or so strikes me as marker in most such circumstances, but take a poll amongst people you already know. If the beach-spot hogs return when you’re around, you may show them where their possessions are and tell them that you just waited for some time and assumed they weren’t returning. (Should you ever mistakenly displace a bathroom-breaker, it is best to apologize and immediately cede the spot.)
It’s best when these issues could be settled through social, slightly than statutory, means. Certain beach towns in Spain, I’ll note, punish such infractions with stiff fines on beach-spot hogs; the Italian Coast Guard has even seized unattended towels, umbrellas and chairs, holding them until their owners pay a penalty. Let’s hope that at your beach, norms and social sanctions will eventually suffice to discourage these parasol-planting land-grabbers.
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A Bonus Question
I live in a city with quite a few clothing resale shops that profit nonprofit organizations akin to charities, schools and cultural entities, including the symphony. I purchase loads of clothing at these venues because I can find high-quality goods at reasonable prices. Occasionally, I buy items whose labels indicate they were made in developing nations. I surmise that these garments are from factories and sweatshops that spew pollutants and have staff that endure horrendous conditions for barely any pay. I wouldn’t buy this clothing recent, because I don’t wish to contribute to such scenarios. But in buying them secondhand with the cash going to support good causes, do I offset or remove myself from the harm that their manufacture entailed? Or am I just kidding myself? — Diane Pepi
From the Ethicist:
You shouldn’t shun all clothing manufactured within the developing world; textile manufacturing has helped lift huge numbers of individuals there out of maximum poverty. (Nor must you assume that garment staff in affluent nations are properly treated.) And buying previously worn apparel, along with helping those worthy nonprofits, reduces the environmental toll related to our “fast fashion” habits.
We should definitely try to purchase goods that don’t encourage bad practices. What will really make a difference, nonetheless, are larger reforms — getting more firms to make sure that the manufacturers of their supply chains meet decent labor and environmental standards. The more of us who commit to purchasing apparel only from such firms, the higher. Even though each such commitment we make has little direct effect, doing so means joining a campaign that’s already up and running. Within that campaign, we’re each a tiny cog, but those cogs are a part of machine.
The previous column’s query was from a reader who for 15 years had been hiding a trust fund from his spouse that gives him $25,000 a month. He wrote: “When we first met, I said that I worked as a consultant, and so they have never questioned this. My spouse, a dedicated doctor, works long hours and doesn’t wish to discuss work when not on the job. … I actively serve on various boards, but I even have never held a full-time job and don’t plan to. Our lifestyle is comfortably upper-middle-class, and I’m content with it. My dilemma is whether or not I should reveal the reality.”
In his response, the Ethicist noted: “Maybe a primary date wasn’t the best moment to bring up your trust fund. Still, by the point things got serious with this person, it is best to definitely have fessed up. As I’ve remarked before, secrets are inclined to grow more burdensome the longer they’ve been kept. Facts that one could have casually revealed on Day 5 of a relationship can develop into shattering on Day 500, let alone Day 5,000. So you shouldn’t wait any longer; it can only be worse in case your spouse stumbles on the situation later. But don’t expect a straightforward ride.” (Reread the complete query and answer here.)
The Ethicist’s advice is superb. I hope the author takes it, although I seriously doubt the judgment of anyone who considers $25,000 a month merely “upper-middle-class.” — Lena
Marriage is a contract, and funds are a part of that contract. In marriage, you promise to share all of yourself, and the way you survive is definitely a part of that. And the way you spend your days, too, is an infinite a part of who you might be. The letter author has been living a lie, and the wedding is unstable due to it. — Betsy
The Ethicist missed the purpose. The only problem here is the letter author feeling that there’s a dilemma. Why are they trying to shuffle the dynamics of a successful marriage? After 15 years, 10 married, it’s obvious the doctor is just not concerned. The two enjoy a cushty life together. Offer truth when asked. Otherwise, don’t search for rain on a sunny day. — William
It is difficult to assume the magnitude of the betrayal, loss and anger that the spouse might feel if the reality is disclosed. The lie doesn’t just concern something from the past, but is an immense deception that has been reinforced day by day for 15 years. Also, the spouse’s lack of interest of their partner’s day by day life is one other red flag that makes me query what actually holds this couple together. — Nina
I used to be in the same situation, where my husband never revealed his trust fund to me. After five years of marriage, I only discovered by accident when his broker called. We’ve been divorced for over 10 years now. That moment was the deal-breaker. As far as I used to be concerned, the trust fund was a trust breaker. — Lynne