Business the Right Way
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
One of my all time favourite movies is the source for this week’s quote and I apologise now for the profanity in it but in the 1992 movie Under Siege the Tommy Lee Jones character talks about the straw that broke the camel’s back or in…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
One of my all time favourite movies is the source for this week’s quote and I apologise now for the profanity in it but in the 1992 movie Under Siege the Tommy Lee Jones character talks about the straw that broke the camel’s back or in this case, turned him rogue:
I got tired of coming up with last minute desperate solutions to impossible problems created by other f###ing people
But is turning to the dark side really an option? This week my wife and I have been at a Business Blueprint conference run by Dale Beaumont and his team. One of the speakers was Brad Cooper, disgraced businessman and longest gaol sentence recipient from the fallout from the HIH collapse some years ago. In a contrite and hirsute address he spoke about his experiences and he left us with another quote “It seems OK at the time – but it’s not”.
There were interesting reactions to his presence. Here was a person who denied his guilt strenuously and to the hilt, and only after he had been found guilty and sentenced did he allow himself the realisation that he had done wrong. Some in the crowd were less than welcoming prior to the speech but after it one person actually apologised for their “disrespect” noting how could she be indignant when she did everything she could to avoid tax.
Where was the line, and had it become so blurred that the difference between right and wrong can be debated?
There are clear distinctions between tax minimisation, avoidance and tax evasion. The Tax Act actually says we are able to arrange our affairs in such a way so as to limit the effects of taxation on our businesses but the black (cash) economy as part of the perennial “game” against the fiscal fiend (the Taxman) is actually illegal. Morphing or polluting the ideal of minimising taxation affairs into outright illegal activities at times seems the norm rather than the exception and to apparently too many an almost “respectable” form of business.
Taking this to its ultimate expression there of course is the Brad Cooper example and we can be quick to condemn his actions, but as I am sure, we are all open to a little bit of corruption, perhaps that cash deal or that cash price that saves us money. A little bit here – a little bit there, who does it really hurt?
But what is the consequence. It can be as Brad found out – gaol time. At a personal level it can mean tax audit, fines and penalties. At the ultimate level, the concept of the level playing field being so altered so as to ruin industries. Add to that reactionary errors to bring down entities like Reed Constructions or Southern Cross Constructions, large builders who because of the GFC, contraction in their industries, large debt to service and work forces to protect start cutting margins and not only die themselves but leave the remaining competitors with a market expecting cost bases they created, untenable to maintain.
We allow monopolies and oligopolies to grow in a free market economy and in what is effectively bullying their fight for market share ends up driving up costs in the long term. Is there really market competition in the grocery or retail fuel markets?
Getting back to our own businesses, can we afford to cut corners striving for that edge? Is that cash deal here or that graft we do there, really worth it in the long run? It might seem like we need to remain in step with the next guy but at what cost.
It seems OK at the time – but it’s not – Brad Cooper.
There endeth the sermon.