July 2020: 4 stories in 2 publications

COVID-19 is leading to interesting changes in the business world.

Sometimes it’s for the best, like the wine companies redesigning their labels or the start-ups updating their supply chains. But sometimes it’s not, like the airlines exploiting passengers by refusing to issue refunds.

Worse, the pandemic is creating fresh opportunities for organised crime, whether it’s government officials exploiting their political connections to get rich, or coronavirus mask traders taking advantage of the global shortage of PPE, even if it costs people their lives.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising. Just looking at spectacular collapses at MedMen and WeWork (not to mention all the news about financial fraud and bitcoin scams) makes it clear that we’re living in the golden age of white collar crime.

House of cards

There are con artists and chronic cheaters in plenty of industries, from online dating and ancient manuscripts to college admissions and phishing scams. Is this just the nature of capitalism, where some people win and most people lose? Or can we choose a better way?

The mere fact that we know so much about these stories makes it clear that the more you try to cheat the system or break the law, the faster you get caught and things come crashing down. The same applies to so many people ignoring lockdown regulations, even though it puts them and their loved ones at risk.

Italo Svevo says it well in Confessions of Zeno, the book recommendation of this month (also available on Audible):

One is neither good nor bad, just as one is not so many other things besides. Goodness is the light that in brief flashes illuminates the darkness of the human soul. A burning torch is needed to light the way, and the human intelligence must choose by its light the way it will have to take afterwards in the dark.

Do the right thing.

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'Repatriation' flight on CEM Air (Copyright: Eugene Yiga)
‘Repatriation’ flight on CEM Air (Copyright: Eugene Yiga)