The Trouble With Lawyers

I was having a family conversation the other day, and happened to quote something I found in a book a long time ago which explained why people complain that a lot of lawyers have no ethics. I like to give credit where credit is due (Stages students know I have hundreds of footnotes in their materials), but unfortunately, I can’t remember where it’s from.

It went somewhat as follows (and you have to excuse my memory for the exact wording): "Since lawyers are basically trained to take any side of an argument, it’s not that they are trained to be open-minded. It’s that they are taught to lose their moral center."

Think about it — you’re taught to take any side of an argument, not the RIGHT side, and thus some take this as a lesson to lose their moral center….which is often why many will take on all sorts of cases, even unjust ones, just for the money.  Not everyone, of course, but some — yes.

That explains some of the negativity people hold about lawyers, including a claim about a lack of ethics, aside from their tactics and other items. Don’t take this as me badmouthing lawyers as a group, because I have plenty of fine, outstanding lawyer friends and have no such conceptions. I just want you to think, in a wisdom way, about how exposure and slow acculturation works. To everyone - no. To some - yes. Hold on for the rest of the teriyaki sauce lesson…

What about salesmen?

Motivated by pressure or income or bonuses or the need to sell to keep their job (or whatever — greed or survival), Salesmen are taught to go to extremes/do whatever it takes to sell goods and services, and therefore it is not surprising that they often fall victim to exaggeration or eventually outright lying in order to sell products.

Same for marketers who fall too deep into their field of practice, and don’t watch themselves. The net result is slipperiness, or just outright lying. This "slipperiness" or "greasiness" factor is an interesting choice of words, because in facial fortune telling, one subset of characteristics for some liars is that they sometimes do extrude excess oil from their skin in conjunction with this liar-prone character.

Another interesting facial fortune feature of empty talkers and even liars or just boasters — no fine/defined lip line for their upper lip (hard to describe this - you need someone to show you). Of course if you want to spot people lying, watch where the pupils of their eyes go versus when giving factual responses, see whether they touch their nose or face, and so forth. For instance, Clinton’s blinking rate when denying his affair with Monica Lewinsky went up to 120 times/minute versus the normal 35 times, and he also ended up using a hand and arm in exclamation which he never uses normally. But enough of the body language lesson …

Someone once told me, of the police who turn to crime, "In being exposed to crime day after day, at first they are appalled and repelled by it, but by-and-by they learn to tolerate, accept and then embrace it." 

Hmmmmm. Stage (1) be appalled, stage (2) acclimate to it, stage (3) accept it as normal, stage (4) embrace it as a normal way of life.

Similarly, in Communist China, lying was essential for survival and promotion, so this habit (and other related lacks of ethics necessary for survival) became accepted as normal and many Chinese still carry this over into today’s world to the consternation of all who deal with them, even though Communism, for all intents and purposes, is dead (and thankfully so).

By the way, socialism, which is trumpeted by many "elites" today, has its own set of problems leading to no good ends that they just cannot understand because they brainwash themselves with crazy thinking just as idealistically wrong, Utopian, Messiah-like, impossible and spirit-numbing as believing in Communism. I suggest they go read Intellectuals by Paul Johnson to show how wrong the intellectuals are with all their wishful thinking that throws aside an understanding of basic human nature.

What about corporations?

"Corporations act to make profits, and in pursuit of profits (or corporate employees running after bonuses), are willing to destroy culture and communities, human rights and even attack (in order to destroy) helpful competing items in society in pursuit of more profits. All that matters is profits –  anything in the way of higher profits is crushed or destroyed if possible, even if it serves a societal function."

Corporations do not ask, "Is it ethical, is what we’re doing right?" Corporations ask, "Is it profitable, is it profit maximizing?"

The amazingly outrageous fact to realize is that sometimes individuals within corporations commit gigantic-mundo magnitude scale crimes and their personal benefit is a meagre  $10,000 bonus within the corporate gears. It simply amazes me the damage people will do not for BIIIIIIIG MONEY, but for a relatively minor amount of money. A common heard justification to help the self-talk numb out the conscience, "It’s Okay if it’s legal." Along those lines, when governments pass  laws to persecute various religious groups, that makes it right????

Frankly, the profit motive of corporations has done so much to destroy so many things in pursuit of profits that it’s amazing. I’m a big promoter of business — without it no one has work, or income and there is no money for services and taxes etc. , but just warn you of the excess when corporations make the rules. The pure profit motive destroys humanistic concerns. It actually imperils a nation.

Witness, as two examples, seeds with terminator genes designed so an agribusiness can have monopolistic control over food supply. That’s a recipe for disaster (and a concern at the level of strategic national security no one seems to be addressing, as is the lack of adequate government seed banks spread throughout the world - we can spend billions on war but not a few million to protect our seed supply in case there ever is an attack on us - stupidity supreme) when finally some crop disease or blight comes along, and then and only then will politicians wake up and say "Why didn’t they know this might happen?" Well, I’m telling you now it’s just a matter of time….use your common sense and legislate against this as otherwise you imperil the nation and put it at risk.

Or, how about the corporation push for water privatization? I am pro-business and champion business inthe extreme, but I seriously question whether business entities should be allowed to make political campaign contributions because  of the wellproven principle and track record of money corrupting politics to no good ends.

You must always practice introspection, and have a business objective other than just "to make money," because frankly "to make money" as an objective without any other purpose for existence justifies selling drugs, products that don’t work, financial fraud and so forth. If you are in business, you have to think about what you are doing, including the karma of a situation. Buddha actually spoke of this and the need for ‘"right livelihood." Confucius spoke of this as well, as did Mencius. Confucius said:

Wealth and high position are what men desire but unless they can be obtained in the correct way, I will not dwell in them. Poverty and low position are what men dislike but if they are obtained by following the correct way, do not avoid them. If the True Gentlemen abandons benevolence, how will he be able to make a name for himself? The True Gentleman does not act contrary to benevolence even for the short time it takes to eat a meal. He must hold to this when in favorable circumstances as well as in times of difficulty. …

 The True Gentleman thinks of virtue, the inferior man thinks of land [wealth]. The True Gentleman thinks of the law [acting contrary to ethics], the inferior man thinks of profit.

Of Szuma Chien, the Grand historian of China, it is written:

As the Grand Historian was reading Mencius, he unconsciously put the book down and sighed when he came to the place where King Hui of Liang asked Mencius, ‘How will you profit my country?’ The historian said, ‘Ah, profit is truly the beginning of disorder. That is why Confucius seldom spoke of profit, always shoring up the source.’ The source is the beginning. Whether it is found among the upper classes or the lower classes, the degeneracy of lust for profit is basically the same. When those in public office profit unfairly, then the law is disordered. When those in the private sector profit by deception, then business is disordered. When business is disorderly, people are contentious and dissatisfied; when law is disorderly, the citizenry is resentful and disobedient. This is how people get to be so rebellious and belligerent that they don’t care if they die. Is this not a demonstration of how, ‘Profit is truly the beginning of disorder’? The sages and saints were deeply cautious and aloof from profit, giving honor and precedence to humanity and justice. But in later times there were still those who deceived each other in hopes of profit; what limit is there to those who destroy morality and ruin education? How much the more serious is the problem when the path of adventurous profiteering is publicly espoused and pursued; under these conditions, how could we hope for the world’s morals and customs to be upright, and not be thin and weak?

From Good to Great discusses the need for a corporate purpose other than just profits (highly recommended), and for years I’ve struggled with the outline of a book on this topic and entrepreneurship, etc. but so far, no luck.

For instance, we have drug companies that try to crush, destroy and eliminate any helpful natural alternatives that are in the way of higher profits. (As Master Nan said, beware if you’re a pharma exec instituting such policies and strategies because one of the karma side effects of so doing, despite whatever beautiful sounding label you put on your efforts, is that in some life you will be denied access to the medicines you need.)

In pursuit of profits,  mining companies and  timber companies have been known  to strip mine or cut down all trees on a mountain and destroy the land. The history of banking in the world shows that bankers have been known to start  wars because of the profit potential - not finance wars because of profit potential, but help START them, initiate them in order to make money from the interest that must be paid on the debt that will be accrued. I’ll leave it to you to go read the dozens of books on this topic. 

We also had the famous baby formula case I was taught in my MS Nutrition program where as a profit maximizing strategy in poor countries, baby formula  companies gave away their product for free during the early stages of a mother’s breastfeeding but stopped the free samples after their lactation dried up, which led to hundreds of thousands of babies dying in impoverished countries when the poor mothers could not afford the milk (and now could not feed the  babies because they no longer produced milk).

This is the problem with corporations that only act as profit maximizers. And by the way, this is why some CEOs wisely hire external consultants as their ethical consultants and voice of conscience, because they are often too close to the situation and get involved with their own group think. A good strategy to consider –

On to intelligence professionals …

We absolutely need intelligence agencies – you’d be crazy to think a country can survive without a CIA-KGB-MOSSAD-MI5-etc. You’re crazy to just blindly criticize a CIA or MOSSAD. All countries need intelligence agencies, and you’re probably not qualified to rule/lead if you’d think otherwise (the question of their abusing their power is a different issue entirely). But the problem with spies is that after lying for a living, lies come too easily in life. They cannot be trusted for almost anything anymore in regular life. Lying becomes ingrained as a way of life, and people can sense this. Same goes if you become an undercover agent.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts along the lines of "lawyers are trained to take either side of an argument, right or wrong, and so are taught to lose their moral center."

Not all, of course, but and interesting viewpoint…don’t misconstrue it and say I’m anti-lawyers, anti-salesmen, anti-police, anti-corporations, anti-profit making, anti-anything. Just teaching you one of the principles you can apply to your thinking at times to understand how things eventually develop over time.

Moral: If you soak the meat in teriyaki sauce  a long time, after a while it tastes like teriyaki sauce. That’s all you need to know.


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