Right, Wrong, and Technically Legal

Quite a bit of my reading lately coincidentally has had a similar theme. What is right, what is wrong and what is technically legal. Two stories that I am working on have the same kind of theme, but I did not realize it until yesterday.

It really eats at my hope in my fellow man, because this theme has shown up more in my nonfiction and current events reading than it has in the fiction I have read. Politics, Wall Street, business contractors, insurance companies, billing services and the guy on the corner all seem to have some justification for not doing what is right. It has gotten bad enough that I am actually thinking that those that do wrong, and are up front about it are better people than those that squeak by yet remain technically legal.

Perhaps I should explain the theme a little better.

It is wrong to steal, and most people seem to abide by this truism. Yet there are those that for whatever reason, steal. They may be hungry or need to support a drug habit, or whatever. When these people get caught, they may do everything they can to ameliorate their punishment, but by and large they end up accepting their punishment and in some cases make reparations to those they have harmed. It is the third category of people that are leaving me with a bad taste. Those people for which nothing morally, ethically and compassionately humane can get in the way of their quest for greed, power, status or pleasure. Those that twist things to remain technically legal to get what they want, even if they do not need it, not caring who or what they break along the way.

My personal big brushes with the technically legal mindset has come from dealing with insurance companies.  The biggest involves my Med-Flight from Waverly to Columbus when three Pike County doctors thought I was having a massive MI. (No heart attack.  I have a natural arrhythmia that mimics an MI.) Because the flight originated at a hospital the flight was considered an ambulance run, and the insurance company would only cover the amount that a on road automobile ambulance company would charge.  But that wasn’t the worst part.  Because my insurance will not consider ambulances or med-flight companies as providers, they will not send any money directly to them.  This would be fine, except they also have a policy to not send the insured a check when the amounts reach a certain level.  And while they did not pay much of the Med-flight bill, the part they had to pay was still a large amount.  When confronted about why they did not send me the money they eventually told me that they were afraid that I would not send it to the med-flight company.  They would not send money to me or to Med-flight.  It took months to convince them that they had to send it to me because they were refusing to send it to med-flight themselves, and med-flight was pressuring me for the money.  I was living my own Catch-22.  Then they shorted me by a few percent, and it took about six months to get that cleared up.  Their reasoning behind this is that if they withhold payment as long as possible, they can still earn money on the interest.  And I was told more than once when I threatened to engage the services of a lawyer that what they were doing fit within the insurance laws and regulations.  It was technically legal.  It was okay with them if they screwed up my credit and finances to earn a few more dollars.

I despair about the goodness of my fellow man because this attitude has permeated our society.  You would think that after the Dot.Com crash, and the fall out with Enron and WorldCom, that people would wake up and realized that unabated greed is not good.  And I’m not just talking about money, but greed of status or power or even personal gratification.

It is not okay to cheat just because it is technically legal.  Cheating is cheating no matter how you dress it up.  So, yes.  I believe in doing what is right simply because it is the proper thing to do.  Shouldn’t everybody?


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