A Double Standard, Or Just A Different Time?

There are rules, and then there are rules.  Sometimes, the rules can be confusing because of the way in which they are applied.  Such as the rules about acceptance and disclosure of gifts by public servants.  This is a follow up to yesterday’s post by Robert Reich about the millions in undisclosed ‘gifts’ that Justice Clarence Thomas received from a Republican donor over the years … I think you’ll find a somewhat double standard here … I wonder why?  Have the times changed so much in 30 years?  Has corruption become just a normal part of doing government business?  Has integrity left the room?  Will it ever return?

P.S.: When I had to send a personal check to Bill Gates, for lunch

Robert Reich

14 April 2023

Clarence Thomas’s bizarre claim that he failed to disclose the lavish gifts he received from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow because he didn’t believe he had to brought me back to a day 30 years ago when Bill Gates asked me to lunch.

I was secretary of labor then. Gates was the CEO of Microsoft, and the richest person in America.

Curious and flattered, I accepted his invitation.

I don’t recall much about the lunch except that it was at an expensive restaurant, and everything Gates said struck me as rather predictable.

When I returned to my office, the Labor Department’s chief lawyer stopped by to ask if I had enjoyed the lunch, and if I had paid for my portion. I was embarrassed to tell him that paying had never occurred to me. I was having lunch with Bill Gates, for crying out loud.

The chief lawyer patiently explained that federal law barred employees of the executive branch from accepting gifts whose value exceeded $50 — which would include my extravagant lunch with Bill Gates. “There are exceptions,” he said, “but my advice is that you send Gates a check for the value of your lunch.”

“Really?” I asked, incredulously. “I don’t even know how much it cost!”

He whipped out a piece of paper. “We phoned his office, and you owe him $120.”

“But…” I stammered.

“Oh, and be sure to make it a personal check,” he said. “I can have it delivered to his hotel this afternoon. For safety sake, add $15 to cover the cost of delivery.”

So I did what the Labor Department’s chief lawyer advised I do. I made out a check to Bill Gates for $135.00.

I believe, but cannot be sure (this was 30 years ago), that he cashed it.

38 thoughts on “A Double Standard, Or Just A Different Time?

  1. The NYT has an editorial up about the justices and their ethics. The disclosures about Thomas reveal what he’s been receiving, but many others have as well. Somehow, we’re expected to believe that these humans stuck on a pedestal by our legal system and government are immune to flattery and being influenced by those cavorting with them and paying for their good time. Our system believes these folks can self-regulate themselves, the influence, and activity. Yet history shows just how rarely that works.

    Face it. SCOTUS, like the POTUS, Congress, and corporate executives and the very wealthy, live in an isolation from the society where the rest of us reside. Their concern about us is abstract. It’s more and more about themselves.

    Hugs and cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have that article bookmarked to read, but haven’t had a chance to do so yet (tax deadline is looming, so I’ve been kept busy trying to get about 45-50 returns done). Sigh.

      So, we are basically NEVER going to have a nation where justice applies equally to ALL, where there is something akin to wealth equality, or where we all have an equal voice. Figures. Good thing I’m old.

      Hugs and cheers, dear Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure what to make of this. I’m not sure if it’s a double standard or if it’s just how things have changed over the years. I also wonder if integrity is still a thing in government.


  3. There is no honour among politicians, those who buy them, or those they buy.
    The Supreme Court was just too great a target to not attract attention. All it took were justices who were willing to be bought. Clarence Thomas is only one of them. Now we need to discover who else is on the take. I am sure there are others…

    Liked by 1 person

    • And more than 250 years, during which time there was almost no corruption in the Supreme Court, but then all of a sudden …

      I’d bet money that Kavanaugh is the other one. The rest I think are honest, but Kavanaugh has lied so many times that … I have no confidence in his integrity.


  4. I’m guessing Bill Gates consulted his people who advised him to cash the check and thus sparing Robert Reich from the false-outrage of opponents who ‘would never have done a thing like accepting such amounts.
    We have our own share of corruption over here, but it seems to be a bit of a pastime /spot/ employment to hunt down the offenses and reveal all, causing all sorts of trouble for those in government.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re probably right about that.

      Sigh. Every country has its share of corruption … it’s expected, though not necessarily tolerated. But when it strikes the highest court in the land, the branch that has lifetime tenure mainly to avoid this exact thing … it’s easy to feel that the very foundation is crumbling at a rapid rate. Frankly, I think this nation is … done.

      Liked by 1 person

          • What they delude about for the USA only happens in works of fiction.
            They might try and they might seize for a short while, but they won’t hold. No more than most of the Roman Emperors.
            Or Hitler
            Or Mussolini
            And look how well it worked out for all those guys
            The problem being the paths to downfall being marked with ruination of those not involved in the stupdity.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You are so right that in the long run, they will fail just as Hitler and Mussolini. But … look how many had to die just to get rid of those … I really don’t want to see that again. Sigh. Then again, the world is overpopulated …

              Liked by 1 person

              • I was just saying to Nan, over on Scottie’s page. What the ordinary, normal American should now hope for is a bitter contest between Trump and De Santis which hopefully will split the Republican Right long term and big time.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Agreed … let ’em have at it, and meanwhile President Biden continues to quietly do the work of governing the nation. In the end, it will boil down to: Do you want governance or a clown show?

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • True. It does seem that some prefer the antics of clowns and thus allow those clowns with fluff-for-brains to make decisions that will ultimately affect every person on the globe. Wow, I feel comforted.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • History, Jill shows that politics is also affected by the laws of the Wild. The sharp and the intelligent will prey on and bring down the stupid. Eventually the MAGA herd will be tracked by the patient opportunist predators, broken up and used; their leaders chewed up and spat out.
                      You might get a Not-Nice-Person leader, but one who will be looking for ‘United’ in the USA and drawing everyone into a big tent. Their big tent of course, not perfect, there again better than the MAGA cir-cuss.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That’s true … I guess I’m just impatient … I want it TODAY! Or better yet, YESTERDAY! Sadly, history is a long haul and sometimes things take decades or even centuries to right themselves. Patience has never been my strong suit! 🤣

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • When reading any History of Humanity a lack of patience is to be expected Jill.
                      I’m listening to a book…’The Cold War A World History’ by Odd Arne Westad… occasionally finding myself muttering ‘idiots’ without pause for thought.🤨

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Sigh. It seems right now as if the entire world is falling apart. We spent millions of dollars to launch a spaceship that exploded 3 minutes after launch … how many children could have had hot meals for a month from that much money? The State of Idaho is working to relax child labour laws so that 14-year-old kids can work a 6-hour night shift, and 16-year-old kids can serve alcohol in a bar. We virtually have no gun laws, so people are just shooting at people willy-nilly. A six-year old was shot because his basketball bounced into somebody’s yard. How much crazier can it all get? Sigh.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I see an Iowa proposal on child labour “would shield businesses from civil liability if a youth worker is sickened, injured or killed on the job.”- Jacob Bogage Washington Post 11th Feb 2023. And 16 years olds can serve alcohol but will they be allowed to buy it?
                      Here’s another quote from the same article:
                      “It’s part of a persistent trend in labor economics, experts say. When employers struggle to find talent, many prefer to hire younger, cheaper workers rather than increase pay and benefits to attract adults.”
                      Child Labour in adult environments
                      Yeah, that always works so well.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • These various moves on abortion, gun law, attempts to re-write history and scientific facts through religion/ politics and a drive to increase productivity by employing children actually reminds me a bit of the upheavals of the 1950s / 60s in China under their experiments in styles of their Communism.
                      History loves its ironies.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Hmmmm … yeah, I can see that. It loves its ironies and no doubt laughs as we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again. Isn’t it a good thing that we humans have such big brains and can think so much better than other species? 🙄

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. During the confirmation hearings for Thomas, it seemed obvious that he was lying. This was clear even before the testimony of Anita Hill. I never did understand why there was enough Dem support for him to be approved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. I well remember thinking there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that he would be confirmed, and then … he was. No, I never understood either, but now here we are … and it’s worse than we thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jill, and that is how it should be done. For Clarence Thomas to say he did not know this is beyond poor form and just subterfuge on his part. As my wife would say, “he is a grown ass man” and should know better.

    One thing I have clearly noticed about people with a lot of money is they have a different legal system than others do. In their minds, rules and laws apply to other people. In their minds, their civil rights are more important than yours. It is not supposed to work that way, whether you are Donald J. Trump or Bill Gates.


    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so right, my friend. Money seems to give a person a sense of entitlement, of being somehow superior to others, which is a large part of the reason I am against anyone being a millionaire or billionaire. You and I probably contribute more to causes like feeding the hungry and housing the homeless than 90% of the wealthiest people in the nation, maybe in the world. Ain’t that a damn shame? And they think all those zeroes in their investment portfolio give them the right to rule the world … grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “Have the times changed so much in 30 years? ”
    Oh yes. Totally!”

    “Has corruption become just a normal part of doing government business?”
    Yes. But the Supreme Court and its members should be independent and above the govt, don’t you think?

    “Has integrity left the room?”
    Was it ever inside?

    “Will it ever return?”
    Not if we, the peeps, the citizens of democratic western countries don’t wake up, stand up, and fight for our rights1

    Liked by 2 people

    • Until recently, the Supreme Court was able to avoid the corruption that inhabited the other branches of government, but now a door has been opened and … I doubt it will ever shut again.

      Yes, once upon a time, integrity mattered, truth mattered, values mattered. You’re right, though, if we lie down and take this, it will continue. The only way to combat it is to fight. I just wish more people cared. Sigh.


      • “The only way to combat it is to fight.”
        Easier said than done. It needs to get worse, a lot worse before we shake off our apathy and roll out the guillotines again. As long as I have a full belly and enuff money to pay for me interwebz I will hardly get off my rocker. Also a little bit too old now to get teargassed with the young uns. Did all that in my time, slowly retiring now.

        “I just wish more people cared. Sigh.”
        I guess many people care … but they have excuses much better than mine.
        Also … USA. Not my country, so why would I start a revolution over there?
        LOL, I know it needs a planetary rise, no country is alone or outstanding anymore, so we small peeps have to organize worldwide as well. That was always a strong point of socialism, remember? From Siberian tundra to the South American rainforest, the jungles of Asia or the African deserts: International solidarity was super duper important.

        And look where we are now. 😦

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: A Double Standard, Or Just A Different Time? | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

    • In part, I’m sure you’re right. But the Supreme Court has long had a reputation for being above the political fray and just in the last 2-3 years has sacrificed their integrity, causing them to lose much of the public trust. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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