Decision-making 101

Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russell Wasendorf, in his non-suicide note explaining twenty years of fraud and embezzlement, wrote that he had been faced with “a difficult decision” when all this mess began: “close the business, or cheat.” Hello, Russell? Why is it somehow difficult to see the difficulty there?

Decision-making used to be more straightforward. There’s good, or bad. Logical, illogical. Right, wrong. Go out of business v cheat seems not such a dilemma. One would hope most people would choose going out of business.

There is also, in the case of today’s material world: Useful, or crappy. Today’s materials are not designed to be useful more than 15 minutes after the PayPal payment clears; after that, crappy. One is supposed to accept this reality.

Early in the internet-deprived hell into which Earthlink plunged my household five long days ago (thanks, Starbucks, for the wi-fi) I purchased a new modem. People who know all this stuff better than I had said I needed a new modem. (If you’re an Earthlink customer you can’t just go buy a new modem, you have to get them to mail you one from Bangladesh or wherever, but that’s another story; I have now taken my new modem back to Best Buy. This post comes to you from Starbucks.)

At the Best Buy check-out counter, the young lady asked if I wanted a two-year protection policy. On top of my $89 modem, this would only be another $14 and change. I declined. She persisted. “But… if you have to bring it back within two years, they will replace it free!” she said. I declined. She was aghast. “Are you sure?” Well, yes. I spared the checker the whole, insufferable spiel about my being a child of the Depression, who could remember when, if you paid $89 for a nondescript little tiny black plastic box you could expect it to last for two years. As she dropped my packages into a non-recyclable bag she murmured, “You have 24 hours to change your mind and buy the protection policy.”

I hasten to say I do not equate my decision not to buy a $14+ insurance policy on a teeny black plastic box with Mr. Wasendorf’s decision not to close his company. But he could’ve saved a lot of people a lot of grief if he’d considered the fact that there is no 24-hour grace period on the decision to cheat.

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