One of the few, big lessons I constantly hammer home is that money should work for you. It is a tool. You should not sell too much of your life for it in the form of time. You should not trade your integrity for it. In a prosperous society, money proper doesn’t even really exist; it is an idea – a word we use to describe a legally valid and socially acceptable claim check that we use amongst ourselves to trade goods and services. You amass money based on past contribution to society by giving individual men and women what they want at a profit, or in a small percentage of cases, inheriting it from someone else who did this.
Over on a frugal board I read, there is a discussion going on about a person whom posted pictures of WF Sirloin Tip Oven Roast – 1.048 to 1.212 kg – for between 8¢ and 10¢. The person then labeled this post “Clerical error in your favor, collect $200“. Here is a screenshot of the discussion:
If you think this kind of behavior is okay, you’ve already lost. You work for money. You’re a slave to it. You’ve sold yourself, and your integrity for it. It’s not shrewd. It’s not clever. You’re a thief.
If I knew a friend did this, I’d slowly isolate them out of my life. If I knew a coworker or employee did this, I’d get rid of them. If I were doing business with someone, perhaps a vendor or a customer, and I found out they did this, I’d watch them like a hawk and move swiftly to sever all activity. Why? Because I can’t trust them. They can be bought for a few dollars. You do not steal from people. If someone makes an honest mistake, like dropping a wad of money in front of you or accidentally giving you too much change back in a transaction, you return it. The same goes for mislabeling in a business.
For something like this in an advanced economy with food security through welfare programs, there are no exceptions. There are no mitigating factors. You either have integrity or you do not. This clearly falls under the Golden Rule – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It doesn’t matter if you are legally required to or not, do it, anyway.
If you encounter someone who retorts, “You won’t get very far in life taking that approach,” realize that is only true if you are particularly stupid. Intelligent people don’t have to resort to stealing. Not only is it wrong, it’s boring.
Surround yourself with people of integrity. Those who sell themselves for such a pathetic price will are not the type of people with whom you want to associate. They will justify things to themselves, not realizing how disgusting their behavior is. Someday, you’ll be on the bad end of the bargain. That’s a business, and life, lesson that can protect you. Never forget it.