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Friday, October 30, 2009

DEADBEATS

I recently saw a local merchant close his doors after only one year of operation. I don't want to get into the type of business he was in, but suffice it to say it could have been successful had the proprietor tried a little harder than he did. Instead, he chalked the defeat up to the recession and simply walked away from the business without clearing out his shelves and equipment, or paying his bills. In fact, his mail piled up at the door unopened, and creditors hounded the landlord to let them in the building to retrieve their unpaid equipment. What I found most interesting from this experience though, was the proprietor's attitude who couldn't have cared less. He wasn't the slightest bit embarrassed, apologetic or ashamed of himself. In fact, if you talked to him, you would get the impression that everything was great and he had no problems. He literally just walked away from the company leaving behind a pile of bills and stiffing his creditors.

As a Floridian, this attitude is not exactly uncommon and we have seen many people happily declare bankruptcy at the expense of others. We have some of the most liberal bankruptcy laws in the country. One moment a guy is declaring bankruptcy and leaving his creditors in the lurch for considerable sums of money, and the next moment he wants to be their best friend in a new venture. There is no guilt, no shame, no embarrassment. And I guess I really don't understand this attitude. I don't care if he has a tune on his lips or a song in his heart, a deadbeat is a deadbeat.

I don't consider someone a deadbeat if they have failed in business, yet want to genuinely make amends for their actions. A deadbeat is someone who feels no guilt in abusing the system to his advantage. Even a beggar has honor if he acknowledges his own deficiencies. In contrast, a deadbeat is only interested in one thing, himself. He has no concern for his employees, his vendors, or his customers. He just moves along to his next scam.

I don't know where this mindset originated from. Years ago, declaring bankruptcy would be considered a scarlet letter in society, but it's not like that anymore. Now, people are congratulated for outfoxing the system and leaving a trail of debt in their wake, regardless of the people hurt along the way. Is our society so perverted that we applaud bankruptcy as opposed to success? I'm sorry, I just don't get it, and most likely never will.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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