Should Breaking Rules Cost Money?


In Jim Romahn’s March 23/2012 blog post, Mr. Romahn describes recent actions being taken by Norman Bourdeau, the whistleblower in the egg industry lawsuits.  Mr. Bourdeau is accusing L.H. Gray of essentially not following the rules.  Are there consequences for not following the rules?  There are consequences in my household when rules are broken.  My long-suffering kids can attest to that but from Mr. Bourdeau’s point of view it appears that there haven’t been any consequences to the alleged rule-breaking behaviours of L.H. Gray and others involved in the egg industry lawsuit.

So let’s apply this ‘rule-following’ exercise to the egg producers themselves.  When Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) wanted egg producers to implement more stringent barn sanitation methods, now known as HAACP, EFO sent all producers a letter outlining what new protocols were expected.  At this point, the ‘rules’ were voluntary and therefore most producers took the approach of ‘it ain’t broke, don’t need fixin’ approach and changed nothing.  It wasn’t until EFO made HAACP mandatory and tacked on a quota reduction (can you hear those $ signs?) before egg producers ‘willingly’ conformed to the new HAACP rules.  So until there was a monetary consequence, nothing changed.  A similar pattern of behaviour occurred when EFO suggested that cage density for the birds be decreased – nothing happened until a monetary consequence was applied to the lack of action.

What I’m trying to say is that unless egg producers (and in general, most humans) are going to suffer a monetary consequence, behaviours won’t change.  The same holds true for businesses and organizations like Gray and EFO.  They’re going to continue to behave and, in some cases, get away with what could be illegal or unethical behaviour, until a monetary consequence forces them to do otherwise.  Society has come to expect dishonest and unethical behaviour in our business and political leaders.  A study during the most recent provincial election showed that the vast majority of voters expected the political candidates to lie.  It has now become the voter’s responsibility to determine which candidate is lying the least.

The same can be said for the judge’s job in the egg lawsuits.  The judge has to determine which side is lying the least and apply a monetary consequence to stop this behaviour.  It should have been stopped years ago but egos got in the way and a proposed solution was discarded without proper consideration.

A consequence for this ‘rule-breaking’ should be implemented immediately.  It’s up to the egg producers to take that action.

As I get older, it becomes easier for me to tell the truth, let the chips fall where they may and suffer the consequences if I’ve broken the rules.  At the same time, as I age, it’s imperative that I tell the truth because my memory is lacking and I’d forget what I had said if it weren’t the truth!  But the egg industry lawsuits are still a long way from being over, however I’m certain that many of the accusations are true and I hope the monetary consequences are enough to change behaviours (and maybe a few faces?) but realistically human beings are going to continue to break the rules as long as there are no consequences for breaking them.


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