Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mo Money No Conscience?

So, Mark Thoma links to an interesting article. Although, I have to say I'm not surprised by the result. In my professional experience people quite regularly throw their morals right out the window to make money on a regular basis. I know I've done it. And Felix Salmon points out that in some industries it's even a business model.

To give an example, quite moral people do shoddy and unsafe work all the time in the construction industry. Those walls in your office might not hold up as well as you hope when the big mother earth quake comes... I have a friend in Seattle who was working on a job when an earth quake struck and he said the walls were flopping around like a flag in the wind. And this was a minor quake; it just happened that the building he was in was right on the fault line. When the big one hits I wouldn't be surprised to hear that people were injured by sheetrock that was literally popping of the walls and hitting them on the head. 

And to give a personal example, I remember working on a church and participating in cutting some corners on work that is concerned with fire safety issues. Nothing major, just a little fast and dirty on the workmanship and, unfortunately, very common in the industry. Now, I'm agnostic so I don't care that it was a church. It could have an abortion clinic for all I care. I've just always felt a little uneasy about doing work that poses a potential safety issue for others. And I hate to think that people are sitting there thinking they're perfectly safe when they're actually just pretty safe...

But what could I do? If I didn't do the work for union wages and benefits it's almost certain that some scab would come along and do it for less. So, I went ahead and did it. 

But the kicker to this story is that I groused to the foreman - as, to my credit, I always did - that what we were doing was pretty assholic. And he told me that he totally agreed and that the worst part about it was that the church was where the boss of the company (who told us to do the work that way) goes with his family every Sunday... Think about it. People will not only put the safety of strangers at risk to make a little more money but also the safety of their own family! 

 Markets in everything! Sell your kids! Sell your wife! It's only someone's life!

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