A Business of Cards
About a week ago I was driving myself to an appointment. As is typical, I was on the verge of being late. My minivan was idling nose down on a rather steep hill waiting for the light to change. When the light turned green I let go of the brakes and my engine died. It took me a second or two to realize that I was just rolling down the hill, instead of going. So, I had to hit the brakes, turn off the car and re-start it. While this isn't typical of my newish van, and I still don't know why it happened, I've had cars that had this problem in the past and I'm pretty quick about it from having plenty of practice.
However, this time was different. Somewhere in those fifteen seconds it took me to get my car started again, I heard a...
While the truck behind me stopped, the little car behind him did not. So, I pulled into the gas station on the corner and called the cops. Luckily someone involved had a cell phone, because I didn't have a whole lot of information. So, after hanging up the phone I walked back to the site of the crash and made sure everyone was alright. The truck bumper was a little worse for the wear, but the little car definitely took the brunt of the accident. Still, both vehicles were drivable and they got off the road as soon as they'd cleaned up some of the worst of the debris. Of course, they pulled over to the other side of the street, kitty corner to where the accident had taken place. I had to wait at two separate lights to get to the other drivers. By the time I had, the police officer was already there and had gotten the basic details he needed. When I arrived I told him my part it in, but he just jotted down another fact and waved me on my way. He didn't even require my name or liscense plate number.
I had known I wasn't liable, but being a stickler for the rules, I also knew I should stop. Some of my fellow bloggers call it Authoritarianism. Me, I simply consider it a matter of civil ethics to follow the rules and the rules are simple when it comes to involvement in a car accident: All participants and witnesses should stop, whether they "have time" or not.
Now, I have a friend who I shall call Joe. Joe works for a company I shall call CriminalType. Joe is usually both an ethical and moral person. Yet, there's a problem. Joe keeps telling me about the business practices of CriminalType, and I don't like what I'm hearing. Neither does Joe, but he doesn't seemed inclined to do much about it.
Briefly put, CriminalType's business practices involve forgery, blackmail, fraud, lots of fraud, and some other things less easily classified but obviously both unethical and illegal. Now, I've never had any doubt in my mind that these activities were wrong, from the first time Joe started telling me about them. However, now even with only my Accounting 101 class, as basic as that is, I'm starting to get a better idea of just how many businesses and people are being or are going to be hurt by these practices. I mean, we're not talking about Enron here, but the false information on their financial statements has led to a loan in which my mortgage, and all the other debt that weighs so heavily on me, could be dropped into it without even making a *plink*. And that's just one of the investors that's getting screwwed, or will be screwwed when this business of cards collapses in on itself.
Now, Joe does bring up the ethics of these matters to his bosses. They shrug it off and, when they do anything at all, they merely change the manner of their crime without changing the nature of it. Joe is looking for a new job, and trying to get out of there, but has no intention of blowing the whistle. And, that's where I really start having a problem with this whole situation.
As I said, I'm a stickler for the rules. As per the rules that I know and believe two things are true: 1) This company should not be allowed to continue doing business in this manner, dragging in as many businesses and people as they possibly can into their imminent destruction. 2) Joe should be the one to turn them in, because Joe has access to the necessary documentation to prove the criminal activities, and Joe has witnessed the criminal activities himself.
Not only that, while Joe has never directly instigated them, Joe has participated. He didn't forge the signature, but Joe did take the check to the bank...small consolation for the business it hurts that he was shaking his head in dismay all the while.
Also, the fraud involves a certain somebody getting paid under the table, so that he can continue to receive food stamps and medical assistance, despite making a rather high salary when it's all factored together. So, the state of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin tax payers, are being hurt by this.
The whole mess is just...aggravating.
So, what I pose to my reader is this: What the heck should I do? Do I call it in? Do I further pressure Joe to call it in? Where do I start? I don't think I can sit back and do nothing on this. Nor do I think I should. Yet, it still comes down to this: Joe should be the one to act, and so far he's refused to do so.