A few years ago, a close acquaintance said to me, “You’re too damned honest for your own good!” What that person really meant was “You’re not making enough money.” You see, at the time, this person’s sister, “Jill,” was married to a billionaire, “Jack,” and I was what the media calls “middle class.” In other words, I was working and paying the bills.
How does this relate to morals and ethics? Many years earlier, Jack told me something that I’ve never forgotten. While we were playing golf, he told me that his employer, the owner of a car dealership, was fond of saying that you can screw anyone and get by with it because only a small fraction will take you to court. The fraction Jack mentioned, as I recall, was one out of a hundred, and I should also say that he was nineteen at the time. Jack went on to say, “If someone does take you to court, spend whatever it takes to beat them,” and he finished by saying, “The only people you can’t screw are the bankers.”
Following that advice himself, Jack went on to become a very successful businessman, and for years he screwed customers and business associates. Today he is sitting in prison for screwing, not customers or business associates, but bankers. But, and here’s the real kicker, he had been defrauding the bankers for years, and they knew it, but they looked the other way because he made them a nice profit on the sales end of his business. That is, until the market crashed and people stopped buying his products. That’s when the bankers wanted their money back, and that’s why he ended up in prison.
And what about his employees and his lawyers, the ones who chose to go along with his unethical principles and, in some cases, even participate? They may have made a good income, but was it worth the price—taking up residence on the dark side of life?