Former Broker Tells Cautionary Tale About Criminal Past, by Brooke Southall, March 5, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — A former bad apple held the crowd captive at the Investment Management Consultants Association conference here last week.

Patrick J. Kuhse, a former stock broker and supervisor at Planner Independent Management in San Diego, riveted the IMCA faithful with tales of defrauding clients and paying his debt to society in penitentiaries and a Costa Rican "dungeon."

"Everybody in [prison] looked like people in this room," Mr. Kuhse said. "That startled me."

In 1972 a high level director of parole and probation in my state asked me to give a talk before a large audience of police and justice-type folk. I've forgotten my text, but do remember I said the very same words as Mr. Kuhse said to his audience. That is, "Everybody in prison looks just like everyone in this audience." They laughed in disbelief, as if physiognomic comparisons could not be made.

They had a belief that people who don't like the laws that have been made, and so violate those laws, are in some way distinguishable by appearance.

Marion Dreyfus adds:

Robert Mitchum spent some time in the clink for possession and use of controlled substances. When asked later by a reporter what it was like in prison, he deadpanned, "Like Palm Beach, but without all the riff-raff."

Michael Olds writes:

I hope Ken will forgive me if I suggest that the phenomena he and the others mention here is somewhat more complex than the simple bias he suggests.

First of all the humor/shock expressed by the statement that everyone in the room looks like a criminal is more than likely a reaction to self-recognition; virtually everyone here today is a criminal or thinks that something that they are doing is criminal behavior for which they have not yet been caught.

Do I need to make a list?

Workers take product and tool. Twenty percent of your children are criminals because they are stealing your prescription medications and using them. Millions are made criminals as a consequence of activities that 'ain't nobody's business but they own.' Every New Yorker is a criminal when he j-walks. All women in California are criminals when they talk on their cell-phones while driving and putting on their make-up. It is illegal here in CA to drive in the rain without turning on the windshield wipers. Etcetera.

We call our politicians "law-makers." Naturally it is their conclusion that they are not doing their job unless they make laws. So what could be accomplished by one righteous king, three laws and a wise and educated judiciary is instead done by a massive self-serving misguided and ethically corrupt bureaucracy spewing out laws absurd in both number and quality.

The self-serving, misguided and ethically corrupt lawmaker, being dependant to some extent on an electorate that would desire its leaders to be high-minded, ethical, and altruistic, encourage the confusion of the legal with the ethical. Those in the position to offer moral leadership decline to pass judgment on the law.

The confusion of the legal with the ethical has in turn resulted in the corruption of the ethical standard and a population that largely acts unethically without reflection because what they are doing is not illegal.

Do I need to make a list?

I read a survey a while back that said that some 70 percent of people lie (I suspect some 29.9% of the rest lied to the survey-taker). The police are allowed to lie to trap criminals. Scott Brooks is allowed to coach children to hit other children because the rules allow it because it's the elbow or hip, not the fist. It's not just ok, it's something admirable! An indication of the sort of character we seek in our future leaders, that is to say, training in the interpretation of the letter of the law so as to permit unethical behavior.

Coffee sellers can call it Kona when it has as little as 10% Kona beans in it. That's just one example of what advertisers can say to deceive deliberately. I'd hate to tell you what may be called "organic" food today or what is called a "natural ingredient." There was a time in recent history where Jews and others were arrested, their property confiscated, and they were exterminated without popular outcry because it was all done legally. Here a while back it was OK to kill Native Americans and steal their land because it was legal. Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera.

So the man sitting in the audience listening to Ken say that he looks like a criminal smiles and gives an involuntary laugh, because he is not sure if Ken is referring to his unethical behavior that is legal or his legal behavior that is unethical.

But where Ken is missing out on the lesson to traders is in the fact that he has identified the man as a criminal through his appearances; that little involuntary laugh gives him away.


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