Integrity Matters
July 30, 2003

Low life scam artists prey on trusting people

Question: (E-059)

Dear Jim:

On June 14, the following was printed in the San Jose Mercury News: "The head of a charity that once claimed to have brought Croatian children to the United States...faces allegations she scammed the Italian family of a 6-year-old with leukemia by making false promises she would get them medical help at Stanford. The girl eventually died." What has happened to integrity? How can we allow innocent children to be victimized by such individuals?


There is no integrity when scam artists raise hopes for critically-needed medical services that will not be delivered. Low-life crooks will take money from anyone, including financially-strapped families. Fortunately, such dishonest behavior is still the exception. But, when it happens to those less able to cope with these damages, righteous indignation becomes justifiable anger.

Second, integrity is alive and evident in your own feelings of outrage.

Obviously, human values were nurtured in you by your family during your formative years and you have maintained a social consciousness. You care. We all should. Integrity in relationships, medical care standing at the very top, must never be compromised.

Third, we must continue to learn intelligent ways to navigate the complex roads of life. Twenty-four years ago, during my first months of not very successfully launching a new business, Dimension Five Consultants, Inc., my father was listening to me describe a long list of disappointing meetings with potential clients.

Promises, promises

One person after another had made a promise, only to let me down - not returning calls, failing to meet with me as promised, and refusing to fulfill promises they had made to utilize my consulting services. My fear of failure gave way to dismay. These powerful individuals, in responsible positions, were behaving badly. How could that be? Then I offered my question: "But, Dad, you said that cream rises to the top. And these people are pretty high up in companies. Why is it that they are not acting like the top-quality human beings?" Then came the long, fatherly pause.

"Son, you have no experience on a farm. You see, when I was a young man, often I was up early in the morning milking cows. And, yes, the cream did rise to the top. However, when we made our way from the cow, milk bucket in hand, to the separator - and just before we poured off the cream - we were always careful to scrape away the ring of scum that rested at the very top of the cream."

Good advice

Fourth, my father offered this guidance: "Whether it is separating cream and milk from the scum or distinguishing top leadership from the pretenders masquerading as power brokers, it is always wise to remember that upon first glance, differences may be difficult to discover. Never assume that money, power or prestige guarantees either quality or integrity."

Fifth and finally, we know down deep that to save the lives of children, we must continue to monitor the reckless and criminal behaviors of those who make false promises and destroy lives. Scum, so it seems, will always be there and we are challenged to remove it before it sours the cream that is the best of who we are and what we can provide.

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