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Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure: Instructive and Funny

The Department of Defense doesn't want to retire employees prematurely because of their moral lapses. To instruct them in right from wrong, DOD compiles the Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, short object lessons that retell the real-life shortcomings of their own workers, and those from other government agencies.

The surprise is that the newly updated compendium can be laugh-out-loud funny.

Here are three examples, verbatim, from the latest edition:

Dept of Defense
Employees Fail to Profit from Red Tape

Two workers at the Veterans Affairs' Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy, which mails prescriptions to veterans, were charged with taking kickbacks for purchasing a product from a supplier at more than twice the normal price. The product? Red tape. The employees were charged with purchasing 100,000 rolls of the tape, which is stamped with the word "security" and is meant to deter tampering, at $6.95 a roll rather than its $2.50 retail value. In return, they received kickbacks of more than $1 per roll.

The duo will have plenty of time to appreciate the irony of their situation, as they face a sentence of 15 years in jail.

The Godfather

A former Department of Defense employee [age 64] used to refer to himself as "The Godfather" because of his ability to influence the awarding of construction contracts. However, like all great crime bosses, this employee was arrested for extorting a $10,000 bribe. The Godfather accepted a $10,000 installment of a $40,000 bribe from an undercover agent in an attempt to secure a flooring contract. The Godfather was taken into custody.

The Ultimate Deceit

A military officer [age 43] was reprimanded for faking his own death to end an affair. Worthy of a plot in a daytime soap opera, a Navy Commander began seeing a woman that he had met on a dating website. The Commander neglected to tell the woman that he was married with kids. After 6 months, the Commander grew tired of the relationship and attempted to end it by sending a fictitious e-mail to his lover - informing her that he had been killed. The Commander then relocated to Connecticut to start a new assignment. Upon receipt of the letter, his mistress showed up at the Commander's house to pay her respects, only to be informed, by the new owners, of the Commander's reassignment and new location. The Commander received a punitive letter of reprimand, and lost his submarine command.

A tip of the hat to the public radio program Marketplace and the folks at Freakonomics Radio for letting us know about this hilarious and useful government initiative.


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