Internal consistency is an important BS filter; a useful method for ferreting out things that just don’t add up. There can be too much of any good thing. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Perhaps the same can be said of narrow definitions; another useful BS filter popular with those who value clarity of thought over phantom fields or some celestial voice. I, of course, want the best of both worlds; the touchy feely social vision minus the thought-stopping new agey BS. While I suspect the purveyors of broad definitions of subterfuge, I fear the hobgoblins of narrow definitions are trying to corner me into a rhetorical trap. So it is with the “force or fraud” notion to cover the category of “all things impermissible.”
Concerning the “fraud” part of the “force and fraud” mantra, what would be an example of non-fraudulent deception? François Tremblay issues a Prime Directive in three parts: “Do not impose harm. Do not attack free agency. Do not lie to people.” Of course, deception is a large part of the ecosystem, so if economics is modeled after ecosystems (as contrasted with machines) perhaps the caveat emptor economy is the best of all worlds. I’m not quite that pessimistic.
Consider business models built around the exploitation of ignorance. As with so many phenomena, there is no clear-cut boundary between those that are and those that aren’t. Arguably, the market niche of any type of “consulting” practice arises due to the fact that not everyone knows anything. I can live with trading on relative expertise, and I suppose most can, although I wouldn’t entirely mind a world with more teachers and fewer consultants. Anyway, a not-unusual role for a consultant might be helping a client optimize their outcomes within the beaurocratic constraints imposed by the tax system, legal codes, contracts, and other forms of outside micromanagement. While perhaps a cynical trade to ply, I’m enough of an anti-statist to recognize that the micromanagement, to which it is a reaction, is more cynical. What does trouble me is the idea of a business model built on the assumption of gullibility, or dementia, or illiteracy, or even lack of assertiveness (concerning actually reading the contract, for example) on the part of the marktarget market.
Assuming that impairment of other people’s ability to look out for their self interest is your bread and butter, and you’re OK with that because your definition of fraud is sufficiently narrow and precise, is it a livelihood to take pride in? By this I mean describing it without the tone of public relations.