Why People Steal

aspects of ethics

Aspects of ethics

On a recent trip to the grocery store, the security alarm went off as a customer attempted to exit the store. My checker was in view of the security guard. She said in a whisper to him (so he could read her lips) that the person had not paid and it was the second time they had attempted to leave the store with goods for which they had not paid. They had an exchange. She explained to the guard (now standing near her) that the activity was repeated; in no instance were the goods paid for.

The checker then looked at me and sincerely asked, “Why do people steal? Don’t they realize God can see them?”

My focus at the time was on several matters not related to being accused of stealing. I still needed to quickly pack the goods into my bags, load them into my cart in a manner that would not cause the bus driver to accuse me of being an indigent. Then there was also being able to manage the cart without causing undue strain on my disability. My focus was on other matters.

Since then, I’ve had two separate instances of having my laptop hacked because of fraudulent downloads masquerading as necessary, harmless software. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me, they were not from the publisher one would expect and were loaded with malware. And in both instances, the malware were set up to induce the user to purchase increasing amounts of goods while never reaching the product that was expected – that was supposed to be free. In both instances, the customer service and technical service representatives seemed to be (because of their distinct accents) of the same nationality.

My disability is now at a level where undue stress leaves me bedridden for some days. During that time the opportunity to contemplate various matters becomes available. Learning through analysis of the various transactions happens because there’s a safe time to view the cause and effect scenarios. There’s also time to compare the activity being considered to other similar situations to see where the similarities occur. Those situations where it was more reasonable to simply put the matter behind me and move on become lessons of the past that are like puzzle pieces shoved into a corner that will fit together when more of the picture is available.

What I considered were several factors, namely:

  • Who are the targets of theft
  • What are some possibilities for their being chosen
  • Are there any considerations with regard to how the loss will impact the target
  • Is there a particular identity (race, gender, age, ethnicity, position, location) for how the target is chosen

Those were just a few of the things considered with regard to victim identity. But there were also thoughts about characteristics of the perpetrator.

  • Financial status
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Ethics
  • Inclusion in some type of organization
  • Regard for laws and punishment

With regard to any type of theft or crime, the type of crime attracts certain types of criminals. It’s a bit like looking for the right job. And there are instances where extenuating circumstances beg forgiveness. A prime example is the fictional case of Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. He stole some bread in order to feed his pregnant and dying sister. Had it not been for the compelling circumstances (as well as the economic depression of the day), he probably would not have acted in that way. But what about when the priest regaled him and he chose to steal some pieces of silver and then slip into the night, hoping not to be discovered? The priest gave him all of the silver; Valjean changed because his circumstances were vastly improved. He became a pillar of the community.

So today we still have bank robbers, car (instead of chickens or horse) thieves. People now steal mail in search of some parcel that has street value or various types of checks still sent through the mail. And there are now protocols for making online orders and payments. What I came to realize is that if a hacker gains access to an account where the user has made a purchase, the hacker then has access to the user’s personal identification information, online profile for social media, and a whole series of opportunities to visit mischief on the victim.

What I also came to realize is the typicals of criminals. They have little to nothing and few to no resources of their own that are available to get what they want or need. Whatever is stolen provides them with more wealth in order to gain what they want or to add to their coffers. They do not care about the status of their target. What they realize is the target has more than the perpetrator has, even if it’s minuscule. The access to the item is relatively easy. With proper planning, avoidance of punishment should be easy or attainable. Consequences to the victim are of little consideration; in fact, consequences to the victim are not important at all. The only afterthought is whether they may still be a ripe source in the future.

These are just the beginnings of the thoughts about why people steal. There’s more to say.

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Censorship: Balancing the Interests

It doesn’t matter what type or what size it is, an organization needs a leader. It needs a person who will develop a vision that ignites a fire in the hearts of others who want to be part of that vision. And the person who carries that flame of inspiration also needs to develop a plan about how to make that vision a reality.

Censorship as a barrier

Censorship as a barrier

A vibrant organization has a free flow of communication – talking, reasoning, listening, making recommendations and suggestions, responding to input, and encouraging input. A dictatorship has one-way communication, from the top down, sans feedback or comments about where a plan has a flaw or suggestions that can make the plan even better. It’s as though the members of the group merely exist for the sake of their numbers, not for what they’re able to add to make the plan not only a reality but the best outcome for all under the leadership of the organizer.

Sometimes a twist in circumstances arises when things are done out of order. It can appear that one of the team members is pushing forth their own agenda. That happens when they’ve not had a private conference with the leader about their ideas. Perhaps that missing, private conference was because the team member feared reprisals for saying something that goes contrary to the expressed ideas of the leader. That’s a pity for many reasons. But embarrassing the leader before the world is not a good idea. Expect that there will be no further input from that member, no matter what the quality or the abilities of the one who spoke out of turn and at the wrong time.

Some people simply don’t know where they are and don’t recognize that others take the meeting place with the discretion they would expect in their own home. Certain types of speech are acceptable. Desecrating the venue with distracting content that isn’t at all related to the mission can cause more than discomfort. It’s obvious that a rational person would not do such a thing but what would cause a person to feel it is appropriate? In a professional gathering, it will seem out of place to begin screaming expletives and threats at all those present. It also sends a message to the rest of the group when one person begins publicly ranting about inappropriate behavior by the leader when the information isn’t true. In these scenarios, is outright censorship appropriate?

No matter how egregious the sin, it’s a good idea to use due process, that is, tell the person what they’ve done that is an offense to the group, to the leader, to their own self, or to all. At least they will go forward with an awareness. If the offending conduct is repeated, it can be deemed that it was repeated with knowledge and was deliberate. They’ve already been advised that the behavior is not appropriate and will not be condoned.

But what if the conduct that urged insurrection is a belief held by more than just one? We go back to the logic of private counsel. A delegation of one or as many as three will want to talk with the leader and explain that the group is dissatisfied and wants to see certain changes. The changes can even be outlined in order to show where the group would like to be led.

Some people are authoritarian, others are focused on the good of the group. The authoritarian will not hear good counsel or new ideas, no matter how they are structured, no matter how courteous or compelling the conversation. A leader who is focused on the good of the group will see the areas where they need to accede and either do so or will negotiate a new position.

Censorship is a tool. It needs to be used judiciously and the circumstances dictating its use need to be carefully evaluated. It’s helpful for warding off negative behavior that can lead to the demise of the group. It can only make things worse if it’s used without good judgment.


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Just Say “No”

There are times when it becomes so easy to swallow the social acid of society’s platitudes and sophisms. The logic sounds so valid that it’s only natural to follow the line of reasoning. Just like a ball of string, it just keeps winding onto itself. But if put to the test, it would fall apart like a watermelon dropped from four feet in the air onto concrete.


Some people go to church. They are certain that the fact of their following that ritual has saved them from going to Hell. They are much more righteous than others. Besides that, they are ever so anxious to do Christian acts toward those who are so pitiful and needy – people in need and not at all like the pious ones. When the pitifuls come to the sacred doors in order to become one with the congregation, they are treated with various forms of politeness only to be sent on their way. There is no invitation to return and become part of the congregation. Why? Because they are merely the ones whose existence and bedraggled state provides a reason for bestowing gifts of food, used clothing, temporary shelter because without the generous donations, these pathetics could not do anything for their own selves. The visitors are a reason for feeling superior to someone else. And besides that, they simply don’t belong in the same company as the congregants. Unfortunately, the congregation is oblivious to their hypocrisy.

Protection from Violence

When one who has been beaten (like the traveler on the road to Damascus) and calls for assistance to escape the dangerous environs, it would be expected that there’s comprehension that wounds make the victim less able to care for their own self. But if the one who is called for help doesn’t comprehend the dynamic, they will rise to superficial gestures of accommodation such as taking the victim to a food pantry. But they simply do not comprehend that the victim’s life is at risk. The sacrifice of time that could have been devoted to going to the gym has far more value and they are not hesitant to express their dissatisfaction with the waste of their time and preferred activities.

Likewise, police will sometimes show up for a domestic violence call. But if it is not a matter of “intimate partners” and the perpetrator files a false cross report, the victim will no longer get protection nor assistance in escaping the environment. The false report(s) will follow them.


One of the tools of the abuser is creating fear in the mind of their target. It can be fear of failure, fear of loss, or whatever is meaningful and will spell a setback if it comes to fruition.

This is also a tool of de facto racism. Keep the minority marginalized through lack of access, poor or no education, persuading them that they are not qualified or that their input is lacking (if not useless) and not worth being explored. Another aspect of racism is finding reasons to reject input from the minority with objections of one type or another. Meanwhile, alternatives to the already offered information or ideas are developed in the background, then published as the new agenda. There have been no objections to the agenda put forth because few to none were aware of them.

Yet counter statements to observations about the backwater actions deny the repression of the original contributions and denial of participation of the entire group. Everything is fine; everyone is making valid (and validated) contributions.

Evidence of Negative Intent

Sometimes those who bar the door of opportunity in order to create a class of disenfranchised unwittingly expose their folly. They will express their desire to exclude to another. Many times the speaker has some instrument of power – a title, money, status or position, influence over others with absolute power – that causes them to wield their scepter with integrity.

Historic Ways to Overcome the Bar

There are many instances in history when these various forms of repression have been handled through alternative avenues. Some have been breakaway organizations. The difficulty is that those fledgling organizations start off on skimpy budgets of finance and available talent. Sophistication about various types of markets and networking are also challenges. These can result in diminished expectation and poor brand identity. It takes a lot to move forward with low credibility. Still, it’s necessary to realize that Life is about growth, not remaining stagnant. So one important step is to face the challenges, learn as much as possible, develop good alliances, and see each obstacle as an opportunity to either succeed or learn a new way to address opening the locked door.

The Manifesto

All of these situations converge onto our lives and build to an explosive averment that begins to sound like a manifesto. However, the manifesto may be the answer to rejecting the unacceptable.

I no longer . . .

I no longer . . .

by Jose Micard Teixeira

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About Thought Leaders

We had a teachable moment back in May when thought leader Keith Halperin put forth his ideas about why some individuals should be discounted and not considered recruiting thought leaders. There were assertions about various characteristics of people he considers unqualified. Perhaps it was more an opinion piece than it was actual fact. Still, his words predominate the opinions of many in the recruiting space. For those who struggle against these opinions and find their efforts are suppressed or repressed while others avail themselves of taking credit for the innovations, let us look at the factors that create the foundations for being considered a thought leader.

getting direction for being a thought leaer

Getting direction for being a thought leader

“Becoming a thought leader is about making money and making history.” “[A] thought leader has earned his or her title because that person’s ideas have gone viral.”

There are those who, like the unethical used car sales person, will make disparaging remarks about the competition in order to promote their own wares. Sometimes those are just as flawed and lacking (or more so) that the alternative. Just as an abuser uses circular reasoning, those who ‘do not’ qualify for the designation of a desired title will use their form of persuasion to cast aspersions and persuade others to come to their shop. It seems Keith is exercising that tactic to promote his theory.

In “What Is a Thought Leader?” the attributes of a thought leader are examined. Brilliance is one of those attributes that can be hard to pin down at certain times. According to authors Prince and Rogers””, “Brilliance is a function of acclaim, created where others bestow the accolades.” That is true. However, that type of brilliance is very transitory, here today and gone when you leave the auditorium. It is also as valid as how well the lead blankets are at repressing the “voice” of the leader. For example, how many women (or people of color, for that matter) throughout history truly were/are thought leaders but because of their position in society, their voices are muted or their words were stolen by others who could not measure up to the concepts? The source of those tactics is typically akin to what drives an abuser: fear, envy, awareness of inadequacy, lack of knowledge about how to learn, unwillingness to take direction from someone who is deemed subservient, manic need for control. When those propensities are made manifest, the logical path is to spend as little time in the acid pit as possible. Is it any wonder then, that those who could be considered deserving of being called thought leaders are sparse? And there is another tactic that has a lot of popularity in the more competitive industries (as well as abuse). Discourage others from associating with the source of the jealousy. If that isn’t effective, threaten financial harm or even exact it.

Let’s consider Carly Fiorina who started her career as a receptionist. But she used that position to gain the knowledge necessary to network (in a very subtle way) with the people she needed to know while also working her way through the jungle that ultimately led to her being the leader of a publicly-traded Fortune 500 corporation. She was an exception but she also had tenacity, which is also a mark of a thought leader. How many others are not and is there room in the leadership space for them to stand in the limelight?

Martin de’Campo talked with the industry through a series of articles he wrote about recruiting luminaries, the first of which appeared in 2002. He took the time to outline what in each person’s character made them unique and deserving of recognition. What is fascinating about the profiles he presented is that he found aspects about the people that did not duplicate the others yet they exemplified practices to aspire to claim as one’s own. (You’d probably find yourself in a very enjoyable milieu if all of them were present in the same room at the same time.) He cited accomplishments that denote an exception to being among the throng and that tend to distinguish for positive reasons. The practices are enduring and good. People walk away from conferences and other industry confabs with the names of these people on their lips and in their minds, striving to deliver their business card into the hands of the “leaders.”

The interesting thing about being a thought leader is its transitory nature. It means the “leader” inspires. Once the inspiration is reduced to implementation and execution, there is no longer leadership because it has become managing the execution and practice of the concept. “[L]eadership is about the initiation of new directions. Implementing them is a managerial undertaking.” The interesting thing I’ve noticed about many industries, and especially in the recruiting space, is that there are so many who are avid to claim ownership of the ideas generated by others so that the practice of those concepts can be executed by the envious wannabes. As with plagiarism, attribution is late or never arrives; evidence of the source is quick to be destroyed. It’s worth pondering how many more-than qualified individuals are passed over in deference to the lesser candidate because of the unrecognized abilities, suppression, or even repression of the former’s viability. Censorship can rob us in many ways on a social level because the ideas and advancements that can lead to a better life are not allowed to emerge. The flimsy, purloined imitation fails and is then discarded as worthless.

Authors Prince and Rogers offer a two-part definition of thought leadership that is quite telling and supports the notion of unattributed source of ideas. Part one of the definition explains: “what we’re talking about . . . is “brilliance.” What’s essential to understand is that brilliance doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it’s a total waste of time to debate whether it’s authentic or not. Brilliance is a function of acclaim, created where others bestow the accolades.” The second part of the definition holds some provoking concepts and a possible reason for the suppression of those who actually originate the innovative ideas. “A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.” Being able to “profit” from something doesn’t always mean financial gain. “Profit” can be derived in many ways. But the imitators seek the wealth – especially in lean times. They will quickly abandon what requires time and nurturing in deference to the quick payoff.

“Whenever you advocate a new idea to your colleagues or boss, you show thought leadership.” Self proclaimed thought leaders are full of flushable content, eh? To the extent that others want to claim ownership of the ideas and credit for the innovation, bespeaks the fact that the idea has merit enough to encourage adoption. To disparage the practice, especially because another didn’t come up with it or misunderstood, failed, and didn’t ask for guidance from the originator shows the fraud. Self-proclaimed thought leader? I don’t think so. Incidentally, what happened to all those articles and other things that mysteriously got deleted or lost? Who’s the “Cinderella” in your space?


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Re-electing the Convicted

I’m upset.

Meet the Press featured a special segment about former legislators who served prison terms. Their convictions involved fraud and racketeering, among other matters. Now that they’ve been released, they’re running for office again (Published October 19th 2014, 10:43 am).

The former Governor of Louisiana is among those who served at least five years in prison for racketeering.

There’s also a clip of him on the campaign trail. He talks with an elderly Black woman. She expresses her favorable impression of him and promises to support his election because she’s aware that he’s focused on the good of the people and wants to help them. Perhaps she isn’t aware of his on-camera quip elsewhere: He’s just fine under the sheets. And there he’s a wizard. The implications of that statement are frightening.

It hints at his private life activities. It seems to forebode a return to old-style practices that seem to be budding throughout all of the Obama administration and especially in light of the anti-Obama tactics being used to put Republicans into office. Collectively, there is a presage of socially returning to practices of a national historic nature.

What is unclear is why these three men are eligible to run for office. They have been convicted of felonies and served time for their crimes against society. At least one has admitted he believes he’s above the law and cannot be caught at involvement in his activities. Again, the former Governor says he can’t be caught unless he’s found with a dead woman in his bed or with a young boy and neither, he says, is likely. Do the others have similar attitudes? It would be good for the Press to devote more focus on these people, to investigate the legitimacy of the candidacies. Usually, one loses their rights of citizenship after being convicted and serving prison time.

Is anyone aware of these previously convicted legislators who appear to still have the same intents and propensities?

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More Than Being the Female Candidate

The District 3 Supervisor debate between Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver just aired on ABC television.

Based on what I heard and understood, this is going to be a close and difficult race. There are very few issues on which the candidates differ. Both come from backgrounds that have built these leaders. Both understand the processes and systems that need to be used, modified, or operated in order to serve the needs and interests of the population.

Both emphasized service to the population.

As I listened to the debate a particular thought struck me that was never an observation before. We have a woman running for a County leadership position. There were no histrionics, no wailing or weeping, no seeking sympathy for whatever feminine shortcoming (or status).

Both candidates were in a flatfooted race. Both were surefooted. They were well researched on their subject areas. It was obvious that when issues arise that are outside of their platform, they will have the vision to adequately address those concerns or be aware of the tools that can be used to address them.

Each knows how to talk with people in order to reach consensus and solutions. Each knows how to carefully listen to what’s being said. This was an extremely civil debate. There were occasional barbs and citing of questionable interpretations that occurred in the past. But there were not aggressive attacks. There were no efforts at character assassination.

Both cited the portions of their career histories that provided them with their strengths that make them qualified to receive the constituents’ votes. They respected the time limits and judiciously used their time allocations.

There was a comment in closing statements that asserted that Kuehl is from Sacramento. In other words, she is not closely affiliated with Los Angeles County (local) issues but is instead more attuned to the broad state government perspective. Both candidates live in the same city, Santa Monica. Kuehl countered the “not local” comment by asserting for the fourth or fifth time that both of them are from Santa Monica. She also pointed out her close affiliation with Los Angeles County throughout her work in film, law, law school professor, and local city college instructor. In other words (and within 15 seconds) she put herself back on a par with being closely attuned to local issues and concerns. As I said, there were no attacks.

Most significantly, it was a woman going toe to toe with a man. And it wasn’t a question of whether a woman is the better candidate. It was a question, pure and simple, of who is the better candidate.

Yes, this will be a very close race. It is not about whether we put a woman on the Board of Supervisors instead of a man. It’s about which candidate can serve well.

The midterm election is on Tuesday, November 4, and also encompasses election of a new Sheriff, as well as other officials and measures.

These candidates also had a radio debate on KCRW on October 15 that can be found on the station’s website.

Learned and Hard to Prove

Bias is an interesting facet of life. It leads to prejudice and, in some cases, discrimination. Some people think of discrimination as a horrible social ill. But it’s good to be discriminating about things, depending on what they are. You can use judgement to not choose a style that does not flatter your figure. You can choose not to live in a place that incorporates materials to which you know you have an allergy. You can (sort of) choose not to eat peanuts if you have an allergy to them or some food that causes you to be ill.

I’ve highlighted certain segments of the definitions of these terms below for the reader’s convenience and to facilitate this conversation.

We tend to think of prejudice in the negative when we hear the word as it stands on it’s own. In that state, it’s considered to indicate bigotry. And we all know that being a bigot is a horrible state of existence.

It’s Taught

How many of us are aware that it’s taught? It can be taught by practices in one’s culture. It can be used for the sake of preserving safety or even heredity. The first lessons come as we are small children taking instruction from parents or care providers. At these tender ages, there is no questioning of the trusted “adult” in our lives. The concepts and practices become deep rooted with practice. As they are put into daily practice, there is little need to consider what is done or said; there’s little to no questioning of the psychology. After a time, choices that are made almost on an instinctive basis.

But some children are a little more precocious than others. They will eventually consider why they are taught to be courteous and considerate of some people but others who are treated with less respect than the neighbor’s pet. One poignant example is the story of the multiracial child. The mother was White, the father a mixture of Black and French. Both parents carried several Native American heredities. One day the mother told the child, “I don’t like people with blonde hair. I think it’s ugly. People with blonde hair aren’t nice.” The child determined from those words that they should feel the same about people with blonde hair.

Of course, the mother had green/hazel eyes and some of the family members had grey and even blue eyes. The lesson avoided disdain for people with certain eye colors. But of necessity, there was some inclusion because it is more likely to find a blonde with blue eyes. But this was a thinking child who learned from others as well as from reasoning out situations and problems. The child realized that they actually liked the look of blonde hair. They admired the fact that pictures of blonde models showed them wearing black ribbons in their hair. The child wanted to emulate the models but was told they could not wear black ribbons. The reason was because no one would be able to see the hair decoration. And the child resented the restriction based solely on the fact that their hair was black.

The child was also taught to dislike people who speak with a Southern accent. The lesson with that was that people from the South did not like Negroes and treated them in an unkind manner. That lesson was reinforced at every turn, in movies, in most of life, in books.

Eventually both lessons were cast aside when the matured person who was then responsible for developing their own value system began to work and associate with many types of people – even blondes with Southern accents. It was discovered that many of those people were not unlikeable. The lesson that replaced the childhood training was that you need to take each person on their own merit and their own proclivities. But no matter what, it is imperative to treat each person with courtesy and respect.


Prejudice and bigotry are taught. They can become so ingrained that the reason for the bias becomes obscured. It takes inclusion and association with others to dismantle the myths that strain to maintain their hold on social values and opportunities. Because the manner of dealing with others in a biased manner becomes so fundamental in our dealings, when the one suffering the unfair treatment objects, they suffer further punishment. Their position is further compromised and made even worse than before speaking. In fact, they can face the very real consequence of being barred from the opportunity – or worse. These days, the phenomenon is occasionally referred to as retaliation.

The Rise of Civil Rights

Is it any wonder that our nation heaved a heavy shoulder at the practices that excluded the talents and recognition of those who were not White? The age of the Civil Rights Movement arrived. Movements and demonstrations to advocate for equality in all things. By the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act was born. It’s most commanding aspect are Title VI (having to do with businesses that receive federal funds for the services they provide and under the purview of the Department of Justice) and Title VII (having to do with matters relating to employment with oversight from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Although the Act has changed much of how we behave toward one another in our daily lives and business dealings, although its initial impact was significant in opening doors that were barred, many have either forgotten the basis for its enactment or have never learned about the opportunity it provided for us to flourish because of our many attributes, both instinctive (derived through specialized, repetitive training) and innate (occurring in one’s makeup naturally by birth).


  • Bias: A particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. Also defined as: mental tendency or inclination, esp. an irrational preference or prejudice.
  • Bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
  • Discrimination: 1. treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit:
    2. racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
    3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment.
    Archaic. something that serves to differentiate.
  • Discrimination: 1. unfair treatment of a person, racial group, minority, etc; action based on prejudice
    2. subtle appreciation in matters of taste
    3. the ability to see fine distinctions and differences
  • Prejudice: A hostile opinion about some person or class of persons. Prejudice is socially learned and is usually grounded in misconception, misunderstanding, and inflexible generalizations.


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