Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen (a Washington,D.C. advocacy group). Ms. Gilbert was referring to the ethical downfalls of so many public officials, a downfall that begins with high-ranking officials asking members of their security detail or staff to pick up their dry cleaning. The act of having someone else pick up your clothes at the dry cleaners seems to be the gateway drug to misuse of pulic resources and funds.
The assignment of errands seems like such a small thing, but it constitutes, in the words of Robin Thicke (or
The critical lesson of blurred lines goes beyond just that dangerous first step. The dry-cleaning assignments are evidence of a character flaw. These officials are asking professionals to be flunkies. The ease with which an official can assign tasks well below the experience, education, and training of a staff member shows an insensitivity to human dignity. They are asking staff members to do things those staff members would be fired for doing.
How we treat those who wield no power over us is a measure of character. Ironically, staff members actually wield the ultimate power; they have information that public officials do not want public. So, the moral of the story is to use caution in how we treat those who we perceive cannot harm us. They hold the trump card.