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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Any heroes here?

I understand the concept of "moral hero." You do the right thing, even if it creates a hardship for you (or "especially if," maybe), and it provides the right kind of example for those who might be wavering on the line between good and bad. But this example chosen by Gov. Daniels might be a reach:

Three Indiana Department of Transportation workers were honored at the governor's office for turning in a cash-filled truck tire. Gov. Mitch Daniels called the workers "moral heroes" because they did not pocket the roadside treasure.

Daniels presented the three with heroism awards and individual $1,000 checks. The workers' full names were not released because they worry they might be harassed by the people who lost the tire or those who disagree with their decision, an INDOT official said. Police suspect the money was part of a drug transaction.

[. . .]

The workers said they realized there would be no benefit in keeping the money.

[. . .]

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Chicago now has the cash. It will run newspaper ads and see whether anyone claims the money -- and explains how it came to be stuffed in the tire. The $130,120 likely will be turned over to the federal government under forfeiture laws.

If the money had been in a wallet with the owner's name on it, that might have been a better case for "moral hero." But this was pretty clearly drug money, and when the workers said there would be "no benefit" in keeping it, they were making a pragmatic calculation instead of a moral one. If you've ever read the book or seen the movie "A Simple Plan," you know how wrong keeping the money could have gone. And even just accounting for the sudden appearance of a large sum of cash in your life can be problematic.

I'm not arguing they were wrong to turn over the money or would have been right to keep it, just over the description "moral hero." But it's an interesting question. I'm sure the government has a thousand reasons why it should have the money, and the legal mechanisms to back up its claims, so there's no point in arguing about that. But who deserves it morally? The people involved in the voluntary transactions of buying and selling drugs aren't going to show up to claim it and thereby admit illegal activity. Why should the government have it instead of the first person who finds it?


Bob G.
Wed, 02/04/2009 - 12:47pm

I agree that even invoking the word "hero" in THIS instance is a stretch.
The men just "did the right thing", morally-speaking.
And they should have goten a bigger chunk of that money.
10% would have been a nice start.
Besides, the gov't would EVENTUALLY wind up with the money, so why NOT award it to those men?

Just a thought.

Michael B-P
Wed, 02/04/2009 - 4:51pm

"Hero" now joins the lexicon of "Formerly Perfectly Suitable Words Now Perfectly Debased and Rendered Meaningless Through Overuse by Grandstanding Politicians" including entries such as "crisis," "terror," "War" (on ______________), "Peace" (everybody wants some), "Security," as well as phrases such as "our childrens' future." Well, every movie script has its vocabulary. Just wish they'd get some new writers now and then.
Interesting scenario for Ethics class, though.