Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A mountebank is a derogatory term used to label someone a cheat, a charlatan. Someone who specializes in devising scams or schemes to steal money from other people. Snake oil salesmen, whose skillful charade is all promises without delivery. The old flim-flam, sleight of hand, and bait-and-switch. If you look at the news on any given day, it is becoming more and more likely that you will run across a modern day version of the mountebank. Looking at the headlines just today I found the following stories:
  • Johnson and Johnson agrees to $2.2B settlement for false marketing.
  • Hedge fund tychoon to pay $1.8B fine for misleading investors.
Is America becoming a society of cheaters? Is the almighty dollar outpacing the basic underpinnings of living in a society, of looking out for your fellow man, of respecting others? Nobody looks askew at another person who makes money with hard work, ingenuity, and good fortune. Yet swindles and business practices that skirt the rules or are dubious at best have become part of the corporate paradigm. Look at what I stumble across every day:
  • Mail disguised to look like a bill or a government notice that is designed to trap us.
  • email scams trying to get our passwords or to get us to send money.
  • Online retailers whose webpages are designed to build in subtle and/or hidden charges and fees.
  • Well produced television ads with exhorbitant "processing" charges.
  • Unreadable small print on TV commericials. White text on a white background with a blurry small font even on a high-definition monitor.
  • Unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen or telephone solicitors.
Where will all of this darkness end? If we have to look to our government to legislate basic maxims of decency, honest, and respect, I fear the battle to restore society cannot be won.