24 Mar Why are people so blasé to fraud?
Fraud and corruption used to be something that was really shocking and disturbing to hear about. It conjures up images of the mafia or other underground societies. It was not normal and was feared by the general public. It made headline news and anyone in the community who got caught would be forever shunned as a disgrace. But does that still apply today?
Back then, people got their news from much more limited sources generally near their home. Now news is instantaneous and widely disseminated over a variety of free flowing channels from far away places. Is there more fraud and corruption today than there was before or are we just hearing about it more? And, has the increased frequency of news stories served to help fight against it or has it made people become indifferent? Is it now normal and not so scary?
Every day my news feeds are filled with scoops about fraud, corruption, and fines. Implicated are government officials, business leaders, entertainment personalities, community organizers, and corporations. It’s not people who live in the dark underbelly of society, but rather people who are in high places. People who are educated, respected, and well paid. It almost seems like the more known a person is, the greater the probability that they are going to get busted for doing something wrong. It’s kinda like there is this coolness factor to it. If you are a nobody, you aren’t invited to the corruption ring. But if you are super popular, well welcome to the party.
This isn’t a piece about what motivates people to become involved in these schemes. There are lots of different theories on that. What I’m concerned about is why people just don’t seem to care anymore and what impact that has on society. I don’t mean to pick on Martha Stewart, but here’s a person who actually went to jail for fraud. I’m just using her as an example. Did her little time in the clinker hurt her? I would argue no, it did not. In some ways I think it made her more popular. Geez, how many people started wearing ponchos after that? Look at Donald Trump. I mean come on this dude has been the subject of bad stories for decades. He has millions of supporters who don’t care about any of that. Heck, I even just read a story about Disney being fined for unfair labor practices. Are people shunning Mickey Mouse now? No.
What is going on? What does it take to offend people anymore? Kick a dog and you’ll be the most hated person in the world. Steal millions of dollars and rip people off….eh, so what? I’m still going to buy your stuff, or vote for you, or watch you on TV. No, no, no. This is not right. So, let me get this straight. As long as you are benefiting in some way from the fraudulent person, you are willing to turn your head? Well then, what is the incentive to stop any of this?
And let’s talk about how the professional people who bring these scammers to light are treated. Are they held out as a hero or are they put down? Too often the people who have worked hard to uncover information and bring wrongdoers to justice are attacked. Whose side are people on? If the folks who are putting themselves at risk to protect society from fraud and corruption are not supported, how long will they continue to do it? It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what is right and it certainly doesn’t pay as well. I reminded of the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished.” People who put their neck on the line to save others should be respected and given the tools they need, not made out to be the bad person.
I don’t know how to stop all this, but I don’t like the trend. Much of this has to do with morals and value systems that seem to be eroding. Money and fame seem to make people immune from any negative consequences associated with their bad behavior. We as a society need to get our priorities straight and stop worshiping people based on superficial qualities. Time to get back to basics.