No. 1087



Several months ago Janis and I were talking with one of the many sales reps that call on us at Pickles Gap Village, and somehow we got off on the subject of stealing. In the course of the conversation, this man made a comment that really hit the nail on the head. He said, “If you are going to steal, make sure you get enough the first time to last the rest of your life.”
To be sure, no one likes a “thief” unless maybe another thief, and this man’s statement was true. Once we learn that someone steals, it is all over in terms of their credibility, something we must have if we are going to be successful in any venture, career, job, marriage, or station in life.
While it has been a long, long time ago, I still remember a boy back in my high school days who was caught going through pants pockets in the locker room while the rest of us were practicing basketball. I don’t know how he finally turned out, but I do know that he left school with at least one strike against him. Now, fast forward with me more than 60 years and think about the breakdown of our society in terms of morals, ethics and personal character. It seems like everyone is stealing, including our government, and there seems to be little or no negative consequences for those who are caught, even down to shoplifting.
Well, it may seem this way but that is really not true. Any time we break God’s laws, we are going to pay a high price for doing so. Here I would remind you of one of the Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus 20, “Thou shall not steal.” While many of us have strayed, He is still on the throne and there will be a price to pay.
While we don’t have to look far for someone who is paying, one of the most famous thieves in recent history is Bernie Madoff, who was convicted March 12, 2009, of 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft, and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Madoff was a well-respected financier and he convinced thousands of investors to hand over their savings, falsely promising consistent profits in return. Here is how he conned his investors out of $65 billion and went undetected for decades: He used a so-called Ponzi scheme that lures investors in by guaranteeing unusually high returns.
The name originated with Charles Ponzi, an Italian businessman and con artist in the 1920s who promised 50 percent returns in only 90 days. What Ponzi did was appeal to our greedy nature by promising a lot for a little, and this technique short-circuits our ability to reason and use common sense. Here is how it works: Ponzi schemes are run by a central operator, who uses the money from new, incoming investors to pay off the promised returns to older ones. This makes the operation seem profitable and legitimate, even though no actual profit is being made. Meanwhile, the person behind the scheme pockets the extra money or uses it to expand the operation.
There is much more information about Ponzi schemes on the Internet, and if you would like to know just Google it by typing in Bernie Madoff or Ponzi schemes. By the way, Bernie’s scheduled release date from prison is Nov. 14, 2139.
While I have no way of knowing who will read this column or what action, if any, will be taken as a result, I do have a strong feeling of love for my fellow man and a wish for success for each one. A successful life is made up of a series of successful days, and this means making wise decisions. The main problem as it relates to stealing is making poor decisions that lead to debt, and stealing looks like the only way out.
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