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Everyone's a Whistleblower

Everyone of us has had reason to be. But would we have the courage to follow through?


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Whistle-blowing - or at least the occasion or reason to engage in whistle-blowing - may be more common than many people realise. Staff here were talking about it just the other day.

One staffer used to have a job as a title clerk at a luxury car dealership. Great job. But she was asked to disappear when inspections took place, and she finally figured out why.

The autos in the showroom weren't actually owned by the dealership. The dealership got paid for every month they stood there unsold. The title clerk's job was to transfer the title of ownership to the purchaser, at which time the monthly payments would cease.

But the dealership cleverly waited several months after each sale before issuing the notification, meaning they picked up money on the sly for autos that were already sold.

The staffer didn't blow the whistle, but she quit the job, even though she really loved the job, because she couldn't work in such a corrupt environment.

She told her family and relatives the whole story, but no one was sympathetic, instead griping that she was foolish to give up a good paycheque at an ideal place of work.

Another dealership nearby got raided a few months later, and everyone in that office - including the title clerk - got to do hard time. Now her family and relatives came around, and granted, albeit reluctantly, that she may have done the right thing after all.

Another staffer found himself witness to a complex financial scam involving several corporations and a number of B&Bs. The idea was to run the B&Bs at a loss, hiding most of the revenues, and then use the loss as a write-off on the other corporations (which were highly solvent). Guests at the B&Bs 'helped' the owners cook the books by asking more money from their employers than actually exchanged hands, and fake receipts in duplicate were issued to all parties.

This staffer did try to blow the whistle - and lived to regret it. People clever enough to cook the books and not get caught for years are clever enough to exploit the system to not only get away scot-free but to implicate the whistleblower too.

Another staffer had a temp job as a telephone salesman. He was shown how the big sales really came in: the company used phone listings to find retirement homes for the filthy rich, then rang up everyone, pretending to be 'old friends', talked to each mark for half an hour or more, then only in closing innocently seemed to remember to mention that the parcel they'd asked for so many times was finally on the way.

Of course no such parcel had ever been requested, but the old folks were generally too timid to offend what seemed to be an old family friend they were afraid to admit they couldn't remember, given what they reasoned to be the failing memory of old age.

Nothing was done at this point, but soon after, our staffer encountered the owner and a famous artist in a back room at work on the lithograph machine. The artist was famous for his realistic paintings, with a type of 'wide angle' view of the world, rich in flawless realistic detail.

The staffer saw how they did their work: they literally used photographs with wide angle lenses, then applied layers to the lithographs in the printing room.

The staffer went back to his office, sorry he'd seen anything at all. The owner came in shortly after, together with the painter, both trying to explain what had been seen was not what had been seen. The staffer feigned disinterest but rang in to quit the job the following day.

The Insider shows what happens to whistleblowers when they're found out. It's not pretty.

Everyone of us has encountered corruption. Sometimes some of us will blow the whistle, sometimes not.

There's a little whistleblower in all of us. The question is whether we'd ever have the courage of our convictions shown by the Binneys, Browns, Drakes, Hammonds, Kiriakous, Mannings, Radacks, Snowdens, Wigands, and all the countless others who really put it on the line for our sake.

See Also
US Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
NWC Statement on Edward Snowden

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