Friday, September 5, 2008

It's all right to break the law.....

This is perhaps a bit off-topic, but in the area of ethics, so I will put it in.

Since Berlin is close to Poland there are many (usually Vietnamese) sellers of untaxed cigarettes on choice street corners. And since smokes are expensive, they have many customers, who don't mind breaking the law.

I see them every morning on the way to work, and this morning I saw a guy
purchase five packs, the exchange of cigarettes and money being quite open. Since he was going my way and didn't look to be a knife-carrying druggie, I spoke to him.

"You just committed a crime," I stated. "What are you going to do about it, tell the cops?", he retorted. "The state makes me pay tax twice on cigarettes, once for the cigarette tax and once for the VAT added on to that price, so it's okay for me to get my cigarettes here. They are cheating us, so I cheat back." And he turned into the next street.

Is this one of the reasons that so many people think that it is "all right" to cheat, lie, and plagiarize? Everyone does it, and "they", the state or the university system or are cheating you anyway, so the only way to get even is to cheat back?

A popular book by Ulrich Wickert some years ago in Germany was titled: Der Ehrliche ist der Dumme: Über der Verlust der Werte. The honest person is the stupid one.

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