Don't get me wrong, I believe in doing right. I forever seem to be doing myself out of money because to make the money (in certain instances) just doesn't feel right.
There are many filters you can run to test whether an action is ethical - utilitarian, disclosure, if everyone did it etc. But sometimes it can simply be an economic decision.
A place I work seems to have dozens of 1 litre cartons of milk at any one time. They seem to always look like they're ready to go out of code. Nobody would notice if I took one, or two.
But what the fuck? Even beyond the fact that it would simply be stealing, I'd have to be the biggest dick in the world if I was to endanger an ongoing relationship (worth many tens of thousands of dollars a year) for a few dollars of "free" milk.
Barry O'Farrell was probably set up. But when he received that mysterious $1000 bottle of wine from a building contractor he could have said "fuck that, perhaps the intentions are good but I can't let this happen". He was probably too busy to cover all that minutiae in his early days in office, but it ended up being a fatal error.
Even beyond right and wrong, ethics can be a sensible economic decision in the long run. But right and wrong matter, even if doing right comes at a price.
I was taught a few years ago (by practical demonstration) that a person's reputation is the only asset that matters.
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