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Is wealth and conscience related?

August 12, 2009

This is related to my previous topic about lying for your boss.

If you were presented with an opportunity to make $10 million illegally, like hacking into some bank’s system and fudging some numbers around, would you do it?

I popped this question to my friends before, just for fun, and the answer I got was mostly yes! If its $10 million I don’t mind going to jail for a few years! they would say.

Let’s do the math. Spend 10 years in jail and walk out far richer than if you had worked for 30 years in that slave camp of an office. Both are equally painful but at least if you rob, you have 20-30 years left to enjoy the loot, the argument goes.

(Somehow they always assume they’ll manage to hide the loot and that its still there when they get out of jail. 😀 )

Call me strange but personally I wouldn’t do it. Its not the jail. Its the conscience that stays with me my whole life.

I think similar questions cross many business owners paths every day, although in different degrees. For instance, would you overcharge someone for a product if you can get away with it? (Some hawkers practice daylight robbery and they get away with it.) Or would you keep silent on a payment due if the supplier didn’t say anything about it?

While these aren’t exactly stealing, you’ll need to bury your conscience to do it, just like stealing.

If you get busted, you simply lower the price a little or tell your creditor your check probably got lost in the mail, you’ll send him another check next week. Life goes on but the motto stays: if I can get away with it, I’ll do it.

So the question in my mind is, is unscrupulousness a silent requirement to success? Can people with a conscience ever become rich?

(This question also applies to investors who I suspect did more to contribute to the financial crisis than people realize.)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2009 10:43 pm

    Sudden wealth is a dangerous thing. We’ve seen bad things happen to people who acquired it whether legally or otherwise.

    The Chinese say, ‘if you ride on a tiger it’s impossible to get off’. The moment you touch dirty money, you’d be stained for life. Worse, if you’ve successfully hacked and gained $10 million, don’t dream about living with it peacefully. Or you think it’s so easy your greed will overtake you. The underground grapevine would have taken up the news and soon they’d be after you to do bigger jobs…

    Haha, absolutely. Sometimes you even get rewarded by society. Some of America’s most celebrated hackers got million-dollar book deals after they spent time in jail. I know one who was offered a partnership in a computer security firm. 🙂

  2. August 13, 2009 8:08 am

    Mm, i wouldn’t do it. First, i don wan to get sodomized in the prison. LOL. Second, why do something which I know i will regret for many years to come? Third, maybe due to inflation rate, the money will worth 30% lesser by the time i come out.

    And most importantly, i feel people should work to enjoy the work, not just for the rice bowl. It’s the process of acquiring wealth which should be fun. At least, that’s from my personal opinion la.

    Speaking of having fun while creating wealth. I wonder how much people will pay me for playing drums. lol 😀

  3. August 13, 2009 10:55 am

    hmmm..what about ..you tell your clients you can deliver top class drum performance ? sign the contract , collect the payment before the show ( yeap , in entertainment industry , its pay first then only work)

    then later give him a shitty show ..is that work and conscience related ?
    hey , i answered your question on how much people will pay you for playing drums ..your conscience 😛

    If I gave a shitty performance, that’ll be the last gig I get before they run me out of town. Or I’ll be “promoted” to playing in cheap hotels. But I like the pay-first-play-later model… I think the working girls in Vegas do the same as well. 😀

  4. August 15, 2009 10:44 pm

    Haha… give shitty performance and you can also end up playing at funerals…

    Yeah, that’ll be something funky to have on your CV wouldn’t it. 😀

  5. August 17, 2009 8:08 am

    u can play drums? :O ask gapnap, maybe he have some opportunities? LOL

    Well that was a looong time ago, before I took up martial arts. 🙂

  6. August 21, 2009 8:20 am

    =_=” what martial arts? don tell me chinese kung fu.

    Yeah, wing chun. You seen that in the movie Ip Man.

  7. August 22, 2009 10:02 am

    WAH! o_o u kidding me.

    Yeah, no kidding. Even got some scars to show. 🙂

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