With general agreement that Congress is bought-and-paid-for by special interests, and with never-ending examples abounding of ethical breaches at the Federal level, I'd like to give you an example of the other side of that coin, and how "rules" can be taken to laughable extremes on the positive side.
This story is about Friend #1, who is the head of a major government agency in Washington. You'd know the name of the agency instantly, and might even be familiar with Friend #1's name. It's also about Friend #2, who we know through an entirely different set of connections, but who works in a high level job at the same agency, and who obviously also knows Friend #1. We are social friends with both men, but they are business associates of each other. Their relationship is cordial, but they don't often see each other socially.
A couple weeks ago we were having dinner with Friend #2 and his wife. He handed me a copy of the best-selling book written a few years ago by Friend #1. He said that he knew we would be seeing Friend #1 at an event this past weekend and he asked us to please have him autograph the book for him.
"Well, sure," I said, "but why don't you just take it to work and throw it on his desk?"
"It's against the law," said Friend #2. It could be considered engaging in commerce for personal gain on Federal property, and that's a no-no." He even put a post-it note on the book asking Friend #1 to add to the inscription, "Not signed at work."
I thought this was completely asinine, but we took the book along to the event and presented it to Friend #1, who really got a laugh out of it. But while he said that he certainly would have signed it at work, he also said that technically Friend #2 had a point. However, he did stop short of adding the "not signed at work" disclaimer to the inscription.
It's amazing that while some loot the public treasury for all they can get, the best and the brightest among Federal workers (like these two men) bend over backwards to avoid even a whiff of wrongdoing--and take those scruples to almost comic lengths.
Just a lesson that we shouldn't paint anything with too broad a brush.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. -- George Bernard Shaw
I used to work as a government contractor. We would have meetings where there would be coffee and doughnuts. We began to charge a "conference fee" to pay for the pastries so it wouldn't seem like we were buying off the government. Many attendees were regular enlisted or non-coms.
All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; John Masefield
Carnival: Glory 2004, Destiny 2008, Splendor 2009, Freedom 2011, Valor 2012, Dream 2013
Celebrity: Summit 2011
Princess: Ruby 2010, 2014, Caribbean 2013, Coral 2014, Regal 2014
Star Clippers: Royal Clipper 2015
When US Customs and Immigration Officials board a ship for clearance, we are required to give them drinks and food before they will work.
But US Government regulations prohibit us giving them food that requires them to sit down to consume it.
So long as they can reasonably stand up and eat it, the food is legal.
Pizza, cookies, donuts, and sandwiches are OK.
A steak or a plate of pasta is considered a bribe, and is forbidden.
USPH Inspectors AND their families are not legally allowed to take any cruise until the inspector has officially retired. Even if they are willing to pay full price for the cruise, the line might have an opportunity to bribe them in some way during the cruise.
Until a few years ago, Customs and Immigration Inspectors would come to the ship on the pilot boat. This gave them additional time to start the passenger inspection before the ship actually got to the pier. This in turn gave the passengers more time ashore.
In recent years, the inspectors have become so fat that they are no longer able to climb the ladder the pilots use.
The union representing the inspectors negotiated with the US Government to no longer allow these early visits by the inspectors.