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Honesty and Fairness Matter

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Reading The New York Times on Sunday (my long standing custom), this article caught my eye. From my days as a Field Artillery officer in the 101st Airborne Division, I remember Gate 5 and Ft. Campbell Boulevard quite well. Forty plus years ago it was lined with businesses catering the mass of young enlisted soldiers who populated the base and the surrounding community.

It still is.

Soldiers often got in deep financial trouble. As a young lieutenant I frequently dealt with my men having such issues. My wife, Ann Rawls, was an MBA student when I was in the Army. She was also a volunteer financial counselor with Army Emergency Relief. The stories were heartbreaking at times and it was frustrating that there was usually so little that could be done to help.

The article references financial counselors. What they deal with now sounds very much like what used to be so familiar to us years ago.

Just as in 1980, there are still businesses whose practices might reasonably be described as predatory. That's wrong. Period.

What to do about it is a tougher call. Being a free market believer, I will say that the fix for such problems is almost never easy. Heavy handed government regulation often "solves" one dilemma, but creates other ones. Mandating morality is always problematic.

Reading about this is a reminder to me that basic decency is not suspended in the quest to make money. Honesty and fairness matter, whether you are a lawyer or running a used car lot or lending money.

All of us have an obligation to do the right thing - to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves.

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