The following letter appeared in “The Ethicist”, the Randy Cohen advice column that runs weekly in the New York Times Magazine.
It’s wedding season for us kids in our late 20’s. My fiancee and I attended one wedding and gave a (for us) generous check. Is that couple obliged to give the same amount when they attend our wedding? If so, we would have given a much bigger check. Jeff Ryan, Bloomfield, N.J.
To which Cohen replied:
I seem to have received your e-mail in error. Shouldn’t it have gone to the Investment Adviser? Or the Friend Exploiter? One of those columns.
Ok, we get it, sort of. But, um, duh. If the idea is that Jeff’s friend will reciprocate with the exact same amount, then what difference does it make how much Jeff gives? $50, $100 or $10,000: it’s a wash.