August 02, 2010
Since the esteemed Representative of New York’s 15th district Chuckie Rangel is now on the hot seat for ethics violations, now is as good a time as any to post my two cents on the subject. I have written about ethics before, but this time I’m going to be a lot more judgmental in my approach.
I know several people in this business who consider themselves “savvy”. To them, savvy means screwing vendors out of money owed to them, waiting months to repay past due debts (if at all), and squeezing desperate sellers at the 11th hour to accept less money for their notes. I have witnessed all these things countless times, and I can assure you that once I find out how “savvy” these ethically bankrupt people are, I waste no time getting as far away from them as possible.
What makes people act this way? Are they so financially desperate and unable to make an honest living that they must resort to cheating? Maybe they weren’t raised with a sense of right or wrong, and feel as long as the law doesn’t specifically prohibit it, it’s fair game. Or, they could just be lazy, only able to level the playing field by resorting to the sports equivalent of performance-enhancing drugs.
Similarly, many “savvy” businessmen have no issue with lying. Whether they are trying to buy time, prey on your gullibility, or screw you out of money, lying is their most effective tool against our human nature to implicitly trust. Much like trusting a pilot you’ve never met to get you to your destination safely, most of us will trust someone (even if they are not deserving of our trust) until they prove otherwise.
The most curious thing about a lot of these “savvy” businessmen is that they honestly think they are as ethical as the next person. Since ethics are subjective, this is understandable, even if it doesn’t make it right. If they were raised to “look out for number one”, even if they had to lay waste to those who wanted the same thing, they probably think doing whatever it takes to get it is perfectly OK as long as they don’t break the law. That doesn’t justify their actions, it simply explains them.
There is a four-way test to evaluate a decision when faced with an ethical dilemma:
1) Is my decision a truthful one?
2) Is my decision fair to everyone affected?
3) Will it build goodwill for my company?
4) Is the decision beneficial to all parties who have a vested interest in the outcome?
If the answer to all four questions is yes, the decision is likely ethical.
I have used this self-test in prior writings, and encouraged my readers to print out these four questions and tape them to their computer or tack them to their bulletin board. I suggest you to do the same.
Regrettably, I am convinced the abundance of unethical business people goes hand in hand with the moral decay of this country. Look at the fall of Wall Street a few years back. Ethics was presumably only for the weak and the stupid. Screw, screw, and screw some more until you squeezed every last dollar out of every two-bit investor in America that was ignorant enough to trust you with their money. Then, once you’ve collected your multi-million dollar bonuses, run to the government to bail you out for all your stupidity and leave the investor holding the proverbial bag of excrement. Of course, the government is just as morally bankrupt, so there were no repercussions for this blatant lack of ethics.
I’ve been in this business 18 years. I’ve known almost every broker, investor, and rehabber that’s bought or sold a note over that time. I know who the ethical businessmen (and women!) are, and I know who the unethical sleazeballs…oops, sorry, I mean the “savvy” sleazeballs are. As a note holder, you don’t have to choose to work with me, but I would encourage you to email me any questions you have about other businesses in this industry. I won’t badmouth anyone, but if you give me a couple choices, I’ll tell you who is “ethical”, and who is merely “savvy”, if you catch my drift.
It’s time to put an end to the screwjobs. I’m hopeful that if enough people find out what kind of people these idiots really are that we can drive them right out of our industry. Think about it – do you think we’d be battling legislation to destroy private property rights if the unethical in our midst hadn’t brought undue attention to us? Yet these are the people crying the loudest that their businesses will be hurt. My advice to every “savvy”, “unethical”, “morally bankrupt” business person out there: Buy a mirror – look at it once it a while. Can you stomach what you see in it?
Make it a great week.
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