Miss Manners: Friend makes six figures and collects welfare for his child

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Dear Miss Manners: A close friend has been living with his girlfriend for a few years, and they have a 1-year-old child. After multiple comments that he was “amazed” he hadn’t paid a penny for his child, I finally realized they’re receiving welfare. He makes a six-figure salary, so they do not qualify.

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After much deliberation, I gently informed him of that, explaining that I feared they could risk serious consequences. He said he was grateful for the advice, but said, “It’s over anyway.” I recently learned they are still taking welfare, and now get child-care vouchers.

I feel bad for being judgmental, but I’m really unsure whether I can continue the friendship. I also feel that, out of friendship, I should not report them. My friend often talks to me about his estate planning and plans to buy a house.

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I feel very strongly that this welfare fraud is unacceptable. I don’t want to ghost my longtime friend or raise the issue again. He knows it’s illegal and made a choice. I haven’t returned their calls because I don’t know how to handle it.

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There is a growing trend of ostracizing people for relatively minor transgressions, but Miss Manners does not think that fraud and theft — even from the government — are minor transgressions.

She will leave you and your conscience to decide whether to report them. Continuing not to return calls is a perfectly reasonable way to show your unwillingness to condone their unlawful behavior.

Dear Miss Manners: Periodically, while walking in my town, I encounter funeral corteges on their way from a church to the cemetery. My parents ingrained in me to stop and stand with reverence as the hearse and the rest of the cortege passes by — meaning, I stand facing the street. I see other people do this as well, some of whom cross themselves as it passes.

Occasionally I am with friends who are astonished at my behavior — I am asked if I knew the person, if they were someone of note, etc. To me, it’s a respectful acknowledgment of someone’s passing and (having been in funeral cortèges myself) a minor source of comfort to the mourners. What is your take on this?

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That it is a lovely and considerate custom that Miss Manners is afraid you will have to keep explaining to hasty friends.

Dear Miss Manners: We are sending a baby gift to our boss, and four ladies out of five are contributing. One does not want to. Should we put everyone’s names on the card, or only those who participated?

If you are hoping to enlist Miss Manners’ sympathy against the lone dissenter, you will be disappointed.

While she does not know that person’s motive, she has a strong objection to dunning co-workers to contribute to gifts — doubly so when the recipient is the boss. The practice is all the more objectionable if you are thinking that some future advantage will accrue to those listed on the card. Nevertheless, you cannot give a present on behalf of a nonconsenting party any more than you could cash her paycheck.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.



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