Friday, April 6, 2012

Wealth is a Jealous Master

I was reminded today of a classic quote by a former BYU Professor, Hugh Nibley. Here is the quote:
Wealth is a jealous master who will not be served halfheartedly and will suffer no rival—not even God: “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) In return for unquestioning obedience, wealth promises security, power, position, and honors, in fact anything in this world. … The more important wealth is, the less important it is how one gets it.
My reminder came when reading a story in Bloomberg Businessweek about a fraud in France involving breast implants. Here is the rest of the story from Bloomberg Businessweek...

Investigators say French medical device maker Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) in the 2000s developed a simple way to pass the required annual inspections of its manufacturing process for breast implants. To keep its outside auditors from discovering that PIP was filling implant casings with cheap, industrial-grade gel to shave costs, workers hid barrels of the unauthorized substitute for medical silicone in a separate warehouse and on a truck during the auditors’ visits, former employees told French police according to transcripts obtained by Bloomberg News. One employee told police he was asked to erase evidence of the unapproved substances from the computer system before the audits and to reintegrate the data afterwards. Each year after the auditors left, another former PIP employee told police, workers celebrated with a round of drinks toasting another successful deception.

Apparently, the company was putting industrial grade gel in their breast implants and selling them to unsuspecting doctors who then put them in unsuspecting women. However, the company didn't stop there. They also skimped on the casing that kept the gel from leaking. Sadly, this combination may be jeopardizing lives by causing cancer in the users of PIP's implants. Here is a quote discussing this: "Last year French health regulators recommended that all PIP implants be removed after a woman with ruptured implants died of cancer in November."

In my opinion, someone at this company--probably top management--was a slave to wealth and did not care about what they did to get it. Unfortunately, the corrupt culture in this company had apparently infected much, if not all, of the organization. In this regard, the article says the following:
PIP employees have told police they repeatedly deceived the German technical review company hired to certify its quality control, TÜV Rheinland Holding ...“No one at TÜV ever imagined that the whole company was involved in covering up the fraud.”
I'm astonished to think that numerous employees went along with this. Were they also slaves to wealth?

The founder of the company apparently did this to cut costs and, thereby, make more money. Here is some quantification from the article of how much he would save:
PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas, 72, began using industrial-grade silicone years ago, say police, cutting the cost of the filling to as little as €5.10 ($6.67) a kilogram from the €41.54 a kilo for the medical silicone PIP claimed was used. The thinner casing PIP used made ruptures and leaks more likely, says Christian Marinetti, a Marseille plastic surgeon who for years had complained to Afssaps about PIP’s high rupture rate.
Sadly, great havoc occurs when someone becomes a slave to wealth as it appears many of the people at PIP did. We see this thread in many frauds. To restate Hugh Nibley, when someone allows wealth to be their master, they lose a sense of right and wrong in making decisions of how they earn their money. This causes great havoc to those around them. In this case, about 400,000 women in Australia, Brazil, Germany, and the U.K. may soon be dying of cancer.

No comments:

Post a Comment