Is Honesty Out-Of-Date?
UPHOLDING honesty as a way of life—is that out-of-date in the modern world, abandoned as no longer practical or of any real value? It would seem so. Just consider a few examples of how widespread dishonesty is, the forms it takes, the levels to which it has penetrated, and how costly a burden it has become.
In recent years, West Germany’s tax-fraud cost has been estimated at $10 billion (U.S.) a year, and in Sweden the annual cost amounts to $720 (U.S.) per person. So if you live in either land, dishonesty affects what you pay in taxes. Cheating on income-tax payments is so prevalent in the United States that the government loses an estimated $100 billion in revenue annually. Think what a help all that money could be in paying off the staggering federal budget deficit! Moreover, illegal businesses cheat the U.S. government out of another $10 billion. Shoplifting and pilfering in the United States cost stores $4 billion a year, raising the prices on goods. Dishonestly charging long-distance phone calls to someone else’s number is costing Americans $1 million annually.
In Canada “time bandits,” those who waste time on the job, cost their employers $15 billion (Canadian) a year, “more than three times the total lost through sticky-fingered employees, embezzlement, insurance fraud, vandalism, kickbacks, arson and other actual crimes against business.” According to a 1986 study, the burden for time theft in the United States is $170 billion annually.
Successful multimillion-dollar firms greedily steal from their own governments. How? By selling them tools and parts at exorbitant prices: 12-cent allen wrenches for $9,606 (U.S.); 67-cent transistors for $814; 17-cent plastic caps for stool legs for $1,118. “You’re talking about billions of dollars” of loss to the government, a U.S. senator said.
Added to the above, bad examples on every hand by prominent persons discourage honesty. As you may have noted, leaders in some lands lie, misrepresent, cover up, and evade their responsibility—yes, even murder political rivals and make it appear that someone else is to blame.
So is being honest out-of-date? Is it no longer the best policy? Is honesty best only because God’s Word tells us that we must be honest? The following article is important to you if you want answers to these questions.