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Re: A moral question

  • Subject: Re: A moral question
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 22:55:18 -0500

Hi Dan,
        On to you. We are getting a little afield here, but I'll try and
stay in the game.
        What was it you were told you were buying in the first instance? If
it was the OS version of something that was TCed and you found the price a
fair one, what was wrong? On the other hand if you were deceived into
thinking that and just sold one of a batch of a thousand then you got the
wrong end of that deal. There was a time when TC was fairly new that these
things weren't always clear, but OS vs. TC is usually clearly stated in what
you are buying now. That's become a new standard over the last few years. I
don't think it is common now for sellers to try for big money for TCed
plants, unless they had a small batch done privately. The price reflects
scarcity more than anything else, so if they have fifty or a hundred, it's
still pretty scarce TC or OS.
        Taking the gloves off and talking about the fairies in the next
sentence just doesn't work for me. :-) Not sure why. If you mean a plant
that you bought sported into something else, well that's just hostas. They
do that sometimes, and a seller can't know it will happen. There's no known
way to cause it to happen or not happen - it just does. That's not an
ethical issue. Really, how could they know what it would do the next year?
         If you are just saying that $100 is simply more than a hosta is
worth, then you are free to have your own opinion and so are the people who
think it is worth that much. Like anything else, value is relative. That
plant is only worth what someone will pay for it. It may be worth more, but
it is certainly worth it if paying $100 is OK with you.
         If a seller misleads you into thinking it is worth more than it is
because a huge number of TC's are in the pipeline, then you have been
misled. I think we can all agree that misleading your customers to squeeze
more money out of them is unethical. Hosta values are tied to perceived
scarcity, and most people realize that. To mislead them into thinking there
are only a few when there are in fact thousands is an ancient business
trick. See this beautiful urn - it was taken straight from the pharaoh's
tomb and is the only one there is........
        I would think that many hybridizers are poor businesspeople. Most of
them have had little exposure to the amoral business world that Andrew so
clearly painted for us all. Should they be ashamed of their failures as
inexperienced paticipants? Well, should you be ashamed of falling for the
old rare urn trick? I guess they are a little embarassed at least, but I'm
not sure shame is right.
        Where there are no regulatory laws, all dealings depend on morality
and ethics, or possibly street justice. A good seller is ethical, a fair
deal is ethical, etc. Bad ones vice versa. There are those who would like
ethics to disappear from the world so that they would have more freedom to
pursue their own ends. I'll bet Martha is one of those. They don't think
it's fair that they should have to abide by rules that people make up,
especially if they aren't even laws. I've always gotten a kick out of the
saying "You can't legislate morality". Where on earth does the author of
that statement think the laws came from? Virtually all of them do just that.
       Contracts are only as good as the people who sign them, and I've
known unethical businesspeople who would tell you anything to get what they
want then tell you to sue them later when they stiffed you. Let's just drop
the "Bill says all nursery people are dishonest" stuff. That's mere
Chickery, and I don't agree to it. Some are, some aren't, and we all agree
to that. We also all agree that hybridizers have no basic protection under
the current laws. They in effect have no rights to their own property like
photographers or writers do. Once you lay hands on it, you can do anything
you want with it. Oddly, their plants are one of the few things they own
that this applies to, but such is the case. There are a variety of ways
people can and do respond to this situation, from Andrew's version of
morality in which you actually should take them for all they're worth to
others who try to do what's right in life. How people respond in those
situations where they have that freedom tells much about their character,
but more importantly their trustworthiness.
      The current situation is essentially just a loophole in the laws which
are there to protect people's creative efforts from abuse. As stated, most
other forms of creative output are protected fairly under the laws. Without
the legal protection, some will seek to exploit the situation, some even
think they should exploit it. Where morality comes into practical play here
is in learning about the character of the people who do. We all keep an eye
out for this kind of thing, whether we think about it or not. Why? Because
it is how we learn who we can trust and who we can't. Who will try to get
what they can when we're not looking, and who we can trust out of our sight.
     Eventually this loophole will close like all the others do. The only
people who want it there are the ones who profit from having it there. In
this country that means its days are numbered. It may be 20 years or even
100, but it won't stay there, because there is no justification for it
                                                       ......Bill Meyer

> Bill,
> Unfortunately the days of the $100 hosta are numbered for the very reason
> stated. I was one of those collectors, and I was one of those crying into
> towel when the very next year it was $15.00. Now you want to talk about
> morals, let's take the gloves off. You buy a hosta, regardless of price,
> "the fairies" cause it to change into something else. What is morally
> about charging other gardeners $100 for that? What is morally right about
> getting a small batch of TC's of this plant for $5.00 each and withholding
> them, then letting them out one at a time, for a $100 bucks. Worse yet,
> knowing that you have 2000 of them hitting the market next season for half
> that price (if you're lucky), is that moral? Shouldn't you refund some
> quarters to those of us who paid the $100 for the $5.00 TC plant?
> Now there are exceptions, like those plants that do not TC well. Dorothy
> Benedict comes to mind. But to charge $200 for a plant that "cost" $5.00
is a
> tad unethical, or is it? The fact is, this is business. It's business for
> those of us selling hostas, and it's business for those who hybridize
them. If
> either one is a poor business person, than shame on them.
> I'm all for 'agreements' between nursery owners and hybridizers, because I
> recognize that $5 grand for a patent is a bit much. I'm all for sharing
> wealth" (that is a joke). But you gotta realize that the moment you put
> plant up for sale, and you have not patented it, it's up for grabs. If a
> nurseryman goes against your agreement, then go after them. Lawyer fees
> be recouped when you fry their ass in court, or you ain't got a good
> lawyer. I dare say that most of the nurserymen I know are willing to get
> this kind of agreement, they are not your problem. It's the people who buy
> your plant that are your problem, and when they show up at eBay that's the
> problem. To label nursery owners unethical because of a few thieves, is
> silly. You have only one season to make your money from the nursery where
> are introducing your plant. After that, sorry, but you are entitled to
> nothing, unless you spend the bucks on a patent. It's the facts, it's
> business, and making it a moral question is a sad turn of events. Very
sad. Do
> you send the other $7.50 per hour that it takes to make your clothes to
> Indonesia because they are only making a quarter an hour to make them, you
> know....Morals don't enter into this business any more than they do in
> anything else in our existence. The fact that there are nurseryman who are
> willing to get into these agreements, is, as Martha says, a very good
> We are not any more immoral anybody else.
> Funny you mention Xanadu Paisley, we have had it in our garden for a few
> years, and you would never see that plant for sale at our nursery without
> Brian & Virginia's written permission and agreement. The fact is, it was a
> gift plant we are trialing for Southern  gardens, THAT's where morals come
> play.. . Had I purchased it, and propagated it, and had enough to sell, I
> would be selling it. That's not immoral. We will always do what is right
> our customers and our business. We honor all agreements with hybridizers,
> of us here are honorable. Yes, even Chick. We are not the bad guys.
> Lu
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