The March Wood Industry e-letter on standards violations by Lumber Liquidators had barely made it out the door when the second shoe dropped. Apparently, some of the board members of Lumbers Liquidators, when they found they were under criminal investigation, sold off shares in an action being portrayed as insider trading.
We don’t have an opinion on Lumber Liquidators’ guilt. That has not been established. However, selling off your shares to unsuspecting suckers when you can see the collision coming seems to exhibit bad judgment, and bad judgment is something shareholders don’t appreciate in board members.
Thank goodness none of us has invested in shares in the Ontario Provincial Police Association. Or have we? The RCMP is investigating allegations the officers (not beat officers, corporate officers) of the OPPA are guilty of fraud, theft and money laundering. Some of the RCMP’s questions revolve around the union’s purchase of vacation properties in the Bahamas, one at $1.5 million and the other at $625,000, plus shares in an investment offered through a high-risk firm in the Caymans. The properties are represented as an investment. It would be worse if they were just buying up high-value executive retreats for the “elected” leaders, as seems so common among other unions.
I think we are all aware that corruption in law enforcement is the worst fate that can befall a society. You can find this sentiment expressed in the Magna Carta. The problem, of course, becomes severe if those charged with enforcing the law (police) decide to make it up while they go along.
Further, the actions of the OPP union, if true, would make any reasonable person wonder whether the RCMP could be “proved clean” in the presence of corruption in provincial law enforcement. After all, our federal governmental institutions do have a history of legal deviance that renders them as suspect as any provincial authority, with the possible exception of Ontario.
Therefore, if we accept that the corruption of law enforcement affects society, we can look at whether corruption in business sectors has an effect on the sector. This may seem obvious to some, but a typical attitude among violators, whether the violations are of law or of standards, is that rules are a moral matter, and business is amoral (not immoral), so the rules don’t apply to them.
For example, what if using cash-only transactions to keep revenues off the books (the topic of the March e-letter) became the standard? As noted in the e-letter, this can cause manufacturers that report their revenues to carry twice the tax burden as their competitors — at least until the dodgers get caught.
Or, what if people representing themselves as advocates of a sector, such as union bosses in the OPP, television evangelists or one-man charities use their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of their claimed constituents?
That is not a rhetorical question. In small sectors or in weak constituencies, successful frauds take up the trappings of legitimacy and continue to bleed the sector until it collapses. Despots make lousy parasites, since successful parasites keep their hosts alive. Despots do not.
Which brings me to my last point. It seems only an idiot would instruct all the cops in the OPP to use one travel agency exclusively — that being an agency in which the despots were owners. I know a few cops, and they don’t seem stupid, criminal or subject to being pushed around. In fact, one of my cop friends told me that ALL crooks are idiots — that if they were not, they could make an honest living instead of the extreme effort required to commit and then avoid penalties for crime. I have studied this hypothesis for some time, and I can’t seem to disagree. In fact, I would bet (if it were legal) that one of the OPP members blew the whistle on the union bosses. The divine right of kings was set aside about 800 years ago.
If you are not getting the e-letter, please visit www.woodindustry.ca and sign up. We never spam you and only send the e-letter once a month unless in the future there is some pressing need — late-breaking news and the like. We will leave the daily spam bombs and nonsense to others more competent in those areas.