I'll field that part since I was the one to make the comment. I personally do not see a difference for how it related to the conversation and statement for which I quoted. The one is obviously a more heinous crime, although IMO this is not a matter of evaluation the severity of the crime. It is more an issue of ethics and morals. One big problem I see with evaluating the severity of ethics and morals is it is usually done in a manner to justify the offense. To me this is simply compounding the issue. I think you either choose to hold your ethics an morals to a high standard, or you don't. Does this make EZ as bad as someone who knocks of the local blind panhandler? No, certainly not. But by justifying it as not as bad an offense certainly doesn't make it any more ethical or moral.More generally, comparing this situation to robbing someone off the street is ludicrous. But hey, I'm sure you guys are getting a real moralist high off of trashing ezra's decision not to pay $40.
Kinda like going to church and deciding to take a little back out of the pan. Is that an unspeakable act? Is it still unspeakable if you are an atheist and do not believe the money is going to a good cause? Regardless it is still unethical and immoral in the views of most.
How about the panhandler that is faking blindness and drives a 2007 Corvette as is sometime the case in NYC. Would the act be any more ethical or moral? I guess you need to ask the intent for whom you intended to benefit from the offense. If you answer yourself, I would hold you to no higher moral standard. I guess if you assume all panhandlers are faking it and driving Corvettes you could make a pretty good living by knocking them off and still feel good about what you do.
edit 1 - ... and this isn't climbing up on a high horse. EZ asked the question, I answered it with my honest opinion. Do I think he is despicable for doing so? No. Does it create a question of trust in people that may know him? It certainly may IMO. If you want to try and assign a dollar value, go right ahead. Although that is not something I am willing to do for myself. Personally I think if he felt the need to ask the question, he probably already knew the answer. He likely just wanted the moral compass to stop spinning around, so he stopped to ask directions.