Why "ethical" people commit fraud


19 Responses to “Why "ethical" people commit fraud”

  1. Spezz says:

    Somewhere along the way, helping your friends to the detriment of the rest of society became okay.

    Society doesn’t work that way.

    • B E Pratt says:

       Er, you should say that society shouldn’t work that way. Because it always has….

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        It depends on the situation, but I’m pretty uncomfortable with the ethos that says that you should rat your friends out to the government. The potential for abuse is high, and history is full of examples.

  2. Paul Roe says:

    I see the comment was removed. At least I tried. Cheers!

  3. tomrigid says:

    In the emissions case, I think it’s an assymetry of consequences. Making someone’s car illegal to drive feels awfully harsh, and folks who drive the cars which fail are often too poor to fix or replace them. I think some unofficial discretion is warranted.

    • chgoliz says:

      But it’s the same sentiment that enables elderly drivers who should no longer be on the road to “pass” their required driving tests.  Oh, we don’t want to force them to be shut in at home; they need to be able to get to the store, their doctor, etc.  After all, they had a perfect driving record for 50 years.

      Personally, I know more people who have been hurt or killed by elderly drivers than by young hotshots or drunks.

      I am proud of my grandpa and dad, both of whom voluntarily decided that they were no longer safe to drive, despite the fact that the state was perfectly happy to renew their licenses.  (My dad still has a functional license, even.  He just uses it for ID purposes now.)

      • tomrigid says:

        Much easier in this situation to see the symmetry of consequences. Passing a failed driver could cause predictable, direct consequences, whereas the consequences of passing a failed emitter are attenuated from the act and only problematic in the aggregate.

        Good on your pops!

  4. jeb says:

    In banking and brokerage, I’ve seen petty thefts committed to even a perceived inequality – shitty hours, low pay, or bad boss.  I’ve seen stupid attempts at fraud committed by otherwise intelligent people to help relatives or relatives of friends in need.  These stick out like sore thumbs and are easy to spot, but difficult for everyone to explain.

    The spookiest forms of fraud I’ve seen would remind you of that scene in “Omen” where the nurse yells, “I did it for you, Damien!  I did it all for you!” Kerthunk – splat!

    Support staff did anything to promote their trader’s interest over customers or institutions.  When I’d call them on it, the response was  “It’s what ______ would want”.

    It made me wonder if there was an unspoken agreement or if there is a point where the boss becomes insulated from crimes committed in his name.

  5. foobar says:

    I’d argue that these are actually the right decisions, and it’s the system that isn’t all that well thought out.

    The emissions tester shouldn’t have to choose between taking away the single mother’s Honda Civic or doing right by the environment, he should be deciding whether or not the guy driving the Ferrari needs to be taxed a little more to subsidize the Honda.

  6. Daemonworks says:

    Also, ethics are lovely, horribly complicated things. It’s pretty easy to find yourself where a given action is ethical from one standpoint, and unethical from another.

    It also doesn’t help that people think that laws and ethics are the same thing. Breaking the law = unethical makes sense if you’e talking about murder, but most people shouldn’t have too much difficulty coming up with laws that are, from an ethical standpoint, made to be broken, in at least some occasions, or things that are overtly unethical but are legal.

  7. Barbara Terry says:

    Ages ago I saw Bill Moyers interview Wendy Beckett.


    Ms. Beckett startled Moyers (and me) by announcing that she didn’t believe in guilt.

     She explained that she certainly believes in regret, because sometimes we do wrong unintentionally, after which remorse is natural.  But she noted that then, after we discover that we have done wrong, the next step is to stop doing it.  Period.

    Then she went on to say that guilt is what we feel when we know we are doing wrong and keep doing it anyway,  and so she doesn’t consider it an honest emotional position.

  8. Anna Christa says:

    some of the “fraud” is really self-defense or doing the illegal right thing like hiding non-arians from the gestapo or helping slaves escape

  9. Preston Sturges says:

    I’d like to see them explain the SAS VP arrested for shoplifting LEGGO sets. 

  10. GawainLavers says:

    The Duke of Sheh informed Confucius, saying, “Among us here there are those who may be styled upright in their conduct. If their father have stolen a sheep, they will bear witness to the fact.”

    Confucius said, “Among us, in our part of the country, those who are upright are different from this. The father conceals the misconduct of the son, and the son conceals the misconduct of the father. Uprightness is to be found in this.”

    To be fair, I think this comes from a very different place for Confucious than the simple human tendency to empathize with the person in front of them over the wellbeing of society at large: for Confucious I think that filial loyalty trumps legal concerns, but that places even more moral burden on the father, who would now be morally obligated not just for his crime, but for the crime he forced upon his son.

  11. Ant says:

    Everyone does bad things! It’s a sin.

  12. HahTse says:


    (Funnier if you keep in mind that it’s 3:18 in the morning in Germany)

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