Cheating in Business

The other day I was having a discussion about ethics.

My cousin, who lives in southern California and is a successful business owner, had told me she was going to vote for Donald Trump.

“Why,” I asked.  She replied he was a wildly successful businessman and she admired him for that.  I reminded her that he had filed bankruptcy more than once, signed contracts knowing he wouldn’t honor them and pretty much stiffed quite a few people that we knew personally back in New York and New Jersey.   That didn’t seem to matter to her.

Her husband is an Army vet and he too is voting for Trump.  I proceeded to ask him the same question and got the same answer.  “How about what he said about John McCain,” I said.  “He said McCain was no war hero.  Doesn’t that bother you,” I asked.  “Nope, did have a problem at the time, but hey McCain is supporting Trump these days.  I guess all is forgiven,” he said.   I must admit I was very dumbfounded by this exchange.

Speaking to a friend on Monday, I told her of this conversation.  She looked at me, shook her head and proceeded to tell me that I was very naïve.  “Please don’t change,” she said, “after all these years you are still thinking people are basically good.  I love you for that.”  Then she went on to say that business people admire Trump for his business practices and in fact, they wish they could get away with his shenanigans too.

Is it true that most business people would love to cheat in business?  Would they really like to stiff their employees by paying them for a 32 hour week instead of the 40 hours they actually did?  She tells me that this practice happens all the time, especially when jobs are hard to find.

My father used to tell us kids that while we may be living in public housing and didn’t have much money we could hold our heads up high because we lived an honorable life.   He impressed upon us that our good name was the only asset we had to lose by doing wrong.  He also said that any job was a job worth doing as long as it wasn’t illegal or immoral.

I am wondering what my father would be thinking these days.  How did it happen that we treat people with such disrespect?  How did it happen that we don’t seem to care for our fellow man?  When did it become okay to cheat people in business?  And more importantly, when did this become acceptable?

Maybe I am naïve, but I think I’ll continue to believe that the vast majority of people are like me and my Dad, at least here in Auburn.

-Rosalie Wohlfromm, Auburn Resident