It seems everywhere we turn these days, lawmakers are opting to demolish basic rules of society. In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn discusses the troubling trend of a world without consequences and why it can only get worse unless we address the problem. (Click Here to Watch Video Podcast)
Rob Artigo: Welcome to the Tough Things First Podcast, your indispensable source for business, leadership, and life advice with the longest serving CEO in Silicon Valley. I’m your guest host Rob Artigo, and he’s Ray Zinn. Hello Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hey Rob. How are you today?
Rob Artigo: I’m doing well and-
Ray Zinn: Great.
Rob Artigo: ... it’s one of my favorite days because it’s a special edition of the podcast, we’re doing it for your YouTube channel. And if the folks out there aren’t listening or watching the video already, they can go to this link at your website, toughthingsfirst.com, and we will have a chance to click there and view the video. So if you haven’t done that already and you want to go ahead, it’s always an option when we do these special podcasts.
Ray Zinn: Also hit the like button too. That gives us more-
Rob Artigo: Oh yeah.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, definitely-
Rob Artigo: Follow, like, all those things.
Ray Zinn: Right.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. Well, there’s been a lot in the news lately about consequences or the lack thereof for lawbreakers out there in our society, particularly in the area of shoplifting and these mob attacks on stores. It’s like anarchy out there and there do not appear to be any consequences
Ray Zinn: That is the problem because that just encourages them to continue. For example, I remember when I was younger and heading off to school and I was traveling from Desert Center up to Las Vegas, and I was trying to get to school as quick as I could because of a 700 mile drive. And so anyway, I was speeding doing over 100, and so I got stopped. The highway patrolman stopped me and he said, “Let me see your driver’s license and proof of insurance,” and stuff like that, which I did. And I said, “Well, now why did you stop me?” And he says, “Well, you were speeding.” I said, “Well, I thought the speed limit was unlimited here in the desert. There’s no cars and there are no vehicles that were on the freeway.” I said, “So I don’t understand why is it you’ve got stopping me for speeding?” And he said, “Well, there’s a sign that says maximum speed 70 miles an hour, and you were doing 100.”
And I said, “Well, okay, I understand. But again, I just felt that since there’s no cars in the road that I could do that.” He says, “These speed limit signs are for your protection, and if you don’t obey them and then something happens, then I feel guilty.” This is what the highway patrolman said. So anyway, he wrote me up this ticket, man, it was expensive. Back in those days, it was like $300. It was like $100 for every 10 miles an hour. So anyway, so I was back in the ’50s. That was a lot of money for me. So that taught me a lesson, and I tell you what, I don’t think I’ve broken the speed limit since then.
Rob Artigo: I had a similar experience and I was driving with a permit and in a friend’s car, and we had the car loaded up. We were driving from Southern California to Northern California after a cycling event, and the guy’s speedometer was broken. I was doing 90 and CHP pulled me over and he was nice and gave me a ticket for doing 65, I think in a 55. Because at the time it was the 55 only in California. And so I lucked out, but I learned a similar lesson because it was still kind of a traumatic experience being a young driver and getting pulled over.
And so I learned a lesson there. It’s interesting because you see that sort of the progression of the types of crimes that are occurring. Carjackings in DC are going up exponentially because people are finding out that they’ve changed laws regarding what is considered carjacking. It used to be considered bad. Now they’re saying, “Hey, well, it’s not that bad. It’s not like they’re committing murder or something like that.” And so what’s troubling is the slow degradation of those consequences, which makes it easier for people to say, “I’m willing to chance it.”
Ray Zinn: Well, because they think they’re being unfair to them because they’re underprivileged or they’ve had some, for example, whether it’s the shoplifting or some other theft. They say, “Well, they needed the money,” or it is kind of like that Jean Valjean and Les Misérables, he stole a loaf of bread, he was hungry and they put him in prison. So that’s kind of the extreme. And I remember telling you the story about my eighth great-grandfather back in 1789. He and a friend… By the way, my grandfather at that point was 43 years old and he had eight children, and this is back in Virginia, and they stole a couple of horses, and they went on a joyride as you would for horseback riding back in those days. Anyway, he got caught, and so he went to the head of trial. I actually read the transcript of the trial.
It’s very much like it is today, all the detail they go through. They had the prosecutor and then they had the defendant’s attorney and so forth, but he didn’t actually have an attorney. He had the prosecutor who was presenting the evidence, and then he was responding either yes or no or whatever. Anyway, he got convicted. He and his cohort got convicted and he was sentenced to death at Richmond, Virginia. And so they hung him in 1791, they convicted him. They hung him and he left eight children at home. His brother ended up taking care of the family, but here he was hung for stealing a horse and let alone committing murder or something like that.
I thought that compared to today, that was pretty severe punishment. But they were trying to discourage horse thievery, I guess, and he paid a huge consequence for his theft as you would. But anyway, purpose this podcast to talk about if you don’t have any consequences, how are you going to change behavior? For example, if you don’t eat the right foods or don’t get the right amount of sleep, if there’s no consequences for that, then of course you would not change your lifestyle, whether it be gaining weight or whether it be lack of sleep and causing other issues. So there are consequences. Maybe they’re not legal consequences in the sense of worried nobody’s going to put you in jail for the way you eat, but certainly if taking care of yourself, there are consequences. So in order for a behavior to change, you have to have consequences.
Rob Artigo: And don’t you think it goes the other way too, that if there aren’t consequences, it changes behaviors so that they get worse. If they change the laws, for example, in California where they changed the shoplifting, grand theft amount to 900 and something dollars said, “If you shoplift $950,” I think that’s the number, “$950 today and $950 tomorrow, they don’t add those together and say that’s a total crime of over $1000.” So when you do that, then it inspires a change in behavior, which is then people think, “Oh, now I have to plan what I’m doing and make sure I only take the certain amount.” So you’re actually creating a negative change.
Ray Zinn: Mm-hmm. That’s true. And it just escalates as you would. And they do that. They actually plan the amount of stuff that they steal in order to limit the consequences as you would for their action. So no, I’m agreeing with you. Our society today has totally gone berserko on consequences for crime. So this has to change, or crime is going to continue to escalate. It’s not gotten better. It’s gotten worse. They’ve gotten rid of the no bail, or they’ve added, I should say, they’ve increased. They went to no bail and no cash bail, I guess it is. And crime just has escalated. And so we have to have a change in our consequences in this society or things are just going to continue to confound and get worse.
Rob Artigo: Well, really quick, and I want to cover two things really quick with you to end this out. First of all, I would argue that there’s corruption in government and in business that can occur among the powerful who have influence to avoid consequences, don’t you think?
Ray Zinn: Sure, absolutely. That’s the other problem. In fact, we’re going to talk about that a little later in another podcast. So the interpretation of the law is the other problem. If we don’t have the proper interpretation of the law, then of course this is going to breed more and more bad behavior.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. And I said there were two things, but frankly, I can’t remember what the second one was now, but Oh, I was going to ask you, does what’s happening with the No Consequences Society right now affect our abilities as entrepreneurs, as business operators, and does it affect our businesses even if we’re not in retail?
Ray Zinn: You mean as far as coming into work late or?
Rob Artigo: Well, no. Yeah, we could go there, but I think that to keep us in our timeframe here, is the no consequences for crime and costs and things like that that are associated with crime and society. Does that impact businesses in general, even if they’re not in retail?
Ray Zinn: I’m trying to think of an example. Do you have an example that you can think of, Rob?
Rob Artigo: Well, yeah, if you look at what we’ve seen, the cost of goods have gone up. The cost of everything has gone up, and partly there’s an inflation aspect of this that is the consequence of allowing people to steal everything. So then everything that we are paying for becomes more expensive, and that goes under your balance sheet.
So you’re saying because we’re justifying stealing because of inflation, and that does hurt businesses, is that what you’re referring to?
Rob Artigo: No, I’m talking about because we’re paying more for goods, it’s coming onto our balance sheets, and we’re having to spend more of our company’s money to buy the things we need because, and that’s a consequence of the crime that’s going on out there.
Ray Zinn: Oh, I see. You mean-
Rob Artigo: So an aspect of inflation is the crime inflation.
Ray Zinn: Mm-hmm, right. That impacting the cost of goods. Certainly. Absolutely. And we know in certain cities, some of these stores are closing down and moving out of the cities because they’re the danger to their employees, and some of them can’t even resist thievery. I remember hearing one time this person called 911 to report that there was a theft going on in the store and she was suspended. Now she got a job back, but she was suspended for contacting the police because their store policy is, “Don’t interfere, just let them do it.” Well, all they’re doing is just adding to the cost of the goods that you and I have to buy by letting thievery actually occur. And then again, it encourages bad behavior and it won’t stop until the consequences becomes severe enough that this bad behavior will stop.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. And we know that if it affects the bottom line of corporations and they have to close stores, so their revenue drops, that affects the stock market, so it has a ripple effect. Anyway, great conversation, Ray. I do think there’s a lot to this story, and we’re going to continue to be able to follow this topic of no consequences to see if it changes in the near future. Who knows? I’m not really optimistic, but I’m generally optimistic, but I’m not really optimistic about that right now.
Ray Zinn: I’m hopeful it will change. I’m hopeful that the public will see now because it’s going to hit them in their pocketbook or their family members are going to go to jail if they don’t change this behavior.
Rob Artigo: I think so. I agree. As always, you can reach out to Ray Zinn with your questions at toughthingsfirst.com, continue your education and the conversation with all the podcasts, blogs, and links to information about Ray’s books, Tough Things First and the Zen of Zinn series. The Zen of Zinn series. I put two Ns on Zen, so that confused me. The Zen of Zen Series one, two, and three. Good books. Thanks, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thank you, Rob.