Is It Wrong to Cheat a Sucker? The Gloucester County Office of Consumer Affairs, in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, is launching a new onslaught against telemarketing fraud and other means of solicitation tomfoolery. Individuals are contacting people on the telephone claiming to represent a charity or fund-raising organization, when they either do not represent a charity at all, or only a small percentage of the money will actually go towards the charity. Other scams involve 900 lines, dating services, and travel packages. The telemarketers use a variety of tactics to persuade the consumer to purchase the goods they are trying to sell, ranging from slightly sneaky to undoubtedly unscrupulous. The question of ethics comes in to play here when one must ask himself whether or not it is all right to cheat someone not smart enough to check all the facts and educate themselves against being cheated? Looking at todays society, people tend to marvel and sometimes even cheer at those who are able to take advantage of the intellectually challenged and turn a profit. One of the most successful businessmen in the world, Bill Gates, sits at the top of his throne only because he was smart enough to steal programming ideas from his peers.
Microsofts Windows is based on technology created by Xerox, yet Gates is hailed as the genius who created the program. Was it wrong for Bill Gates to exploit what he saw was an opportunity to skyrocket to the top? It was not wrong if he looked at the example set forth by our forefathers. When Christopher Columbus first sailed to the New World, he found it inhabited by a race of people who had been here for many, many years. The Native Americans held claim to and inhabited the land that would soon be taken over by Europeans and changed completely forever. The Europeans cheated and swindled the Native Americans and used many means of trickery to obtain the land.
Soon the Native Americans had no land and nothing to show for it. This has come to be the example on what America has stood for over the years. The old line of “survival of the fittest” still manages to ring true today. If one man is smart and another is not, then it seems only proper that the smart man would try to educate the man who is not smart. Sometimes words are not enough, and lessons can only be learned by experiencing consequences.
There is an old proverb that says: “A fool and his money will soon part.” A dumb man who is swindled out of his money may be broke, but in the process he gains something more valuable than cash knowledge. In essence, the smarter man who cheated him actually earned whatever money he received as a teacher to the other man, because the next time that man acquires money, he will be a little more careful with what he does with it. Another proverb says: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Only by making mistakes can people learn about life and how to be better people. The solicitor often will give the consumer the hard sell and try to pressure him into making an on the spot decision.
Peer pressure and pressuring people into taking advantage of “one time only” opportunities may not be looked at as the most ethical methods of salesmanship by all, but the fact remains that if a person is too weak to say “no,” then it is no ones fault but his own. If anything, experiences with telemarketers such as these will act as exercises in building a strong will and in the future will enable a person to either refuse the offer or simply hang up the phone. No one is holding the consumers first born child hostage, but instead simply makes his or her offer seem like a better deal than it may in fact be. Rash judgments are dangerous, and telemarketers are doing a good job of helping those ignorant of this to finally become aware. Certainly it would nice to live in an ideal world where no corruption and no evil existed.
In a perfect society, people would need not be bothered by telemarketers and would not have to be weary when making a business transaction. But a society such as this does not exist and never will in the real world. That is why television characters such as J.R. Ewing are a lot more realistic than characters like Donna Reed. In order for there to be day, there must be night, and in order for there to be good, there must be evil.
In fact, if there were no people who ran shady charities, there would be none to run the good charities as well. As long as there are people who are only out for themselves, there are going to be kind-hearted people who will try to help those in need. One of the most heralded heroes of literary history was Sir Robin of Locksley, often better known as Robin Hood. Robin Hood was famous for stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood was crafty and sometimes used schemes and less than honest hijinks to shaft the greedy rich out of their money to give it to the starving and deprived.
No one ever questions the integrity of Robin Hood because it is viewed that he was doing what he did to help people, so it is OK. What if the people running the telemarketing scams are really poor and starving people and the people they are running the angles on are rich and greedy? Would it then be all right in the spirit of Robin Hood for them to continue with their cause? In some cases, charities will hire a professional fund-raiser to solicit funds on their behalf. Often, the professional fund-raisers will keep a large percentage of the money for themselves instead of it all going to the charity. This seems to distress many people who feel that all of the money should go towards the charity. But it was the charities themselves who hired the fund-raisers knowing full well of the terms of business, and why should those fund-raisers not be compensated for their hard work? People with a good work ethic recognize that only those who work hard will benefit, and if the charities are not doing any of the work, then they should not be the sole benefactors.
The needy are still going to be helped so no crime or harm is being done. If those up in arms want to do something useful, they should donate their time free of charge to helping to raise money for the needy. That however, is the problem with the righteous; they are quick to point out the faults of others but are slow in actually doing anything constructive to remedy the problem. The true villains are those who hide behind the guise of the respectable and profess to be for the common good of all mankind, and then do little or nothing to change the corruption that they see. So while the media may enjoy proclaiming telemarketing and phone solicitation as fiendish acts of degenerate, those doing so seldom realize that traffic tends to run two ways down the street.
While out and out lying and blatant fraud is definitely wrong, accepting money from a person who fails to read the fine print is not. It is the consumers responsibility to ensure that he is not being taken advantage of by asking questions and not making rash judgments. All the facts are usually present, if one is intelligent and ambitious enough to look for them.