Watching the historical indictment and subsequent arraignment of a former president of the United States was indeed shocking. Yet, given the goings-on in Washington over the past eight years or so, and the hyper-destruction of norms we had hitherto taken for granted, I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising.
For the past few weeks, the Donald Trump-Stormy Daniels hush-money payment has been front and center in the minds of even the most casual news observers. And while I would love to have never heard about this sordid issue again, reality dictates differently.
Interestingly, this morning, I heard from one reader (Sam S.) who reminded me that he liked my take some years ago on the deeper issue involved when someone doesn’t keep their word, whether it’s a former adult film actress or a group of people who want to breach the agreements made by the Constitution and its citizens.
Frankly, I hadn’t even thought of what I had written nearly four years ago to the week. But as a refresher, I reread The Deep Woods issue that Sam reminded me of. Today, I want to republish that piece for you, as what it said about the sacrosanct concept of “word is bond,” and the failure of so many to live that principle in earnest, is one of the deepest wounds afflicting society. And those thoughts still very much apply to current events of the day.
So, the following is my article, “The Recent Storm of Contract Dysfunction,” which was originally published March 28, 2018, (all references therein apply to that time period)…
Word is bond.
That’s the phrase that keeps coming to mind for me amidst the two most prominent political stories of the day — the Stormy Daniels affair and the latest push to restrict gun rights.
Now, “word is bond” is urban slang shorthand for the longer phrase “your word is your bond,” meaning that if you give someone your word, then you also are giving them your solemn promise.
In the case of Stormy Daniels, the former adult film actress gave her legal promise (which included the signing of a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA) that she would not reveal the details of her alleged affair with Donald Trump. In exchange for that promise, Daniels would receive the sum of $130,000.
That payment was made, yet Daniels still talked.
Her recent appearance on “60 Minutes” was just the latest violation of the word-is-bond ethic.
Now, I want to go on record here as saying that I think the whole Stormy Daniels/Donald Trump incident is repugnant on many fronts. And I am most definitely not arguing for the propriety of Mr. Trump and his associates in this matter.
I also am not an attorney, so I can’t attest to the relevance of any lack of signature on the agreement by Donald Trump via an alias, or to whether that legally invalidates the contract. These legal intricacies are all extraneous to my ethic.
What I am saying is that when you make an agreement with another party, and then you violate your part of the agreement, you are guilty of what I consider the most serious ethical breach… i.e., the breach of “word is bond.”
In my own business career, I have signed many NDAs having to do with the trade secrets, methods and practices of my employers. And if I were to violate those agreements, I would rightly deserve the social and legal scorn coming to me.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe the principle that “word is bond” is sacrosanct.
I also believe that when it comes to our rights as Americans, the word-is-bond ethic also applies.
That’s why it’s been disturbing to me to see the latest push for a restriction of our Second Amendment rights.
The March for Our Lives protest last weekend in Washington, D.C., and in dozens of cities around the world, has focused attention on ending the horrific gun violence and mass shooting incidents that afflict our society.
And while I sympathize and agree with the need to make our society safer for all Americans, I also can’t help but think that the focus on restricting gun rights is a violation of the word-is-bond ethic in the United States Constitution.
You see, the Founding Fathers were intent on creating a nation free from government tyranny.
That’s why it is no accident that the ability to speak freely (the First Amendment) as well as the means by which to protect oneself from government-initiated physical force (the Second Amendment) are bedrock foundations of a tyranny-free state.
I see the Constitution as a kind of word-is-bond agreement between the Founders and future generations of Americans. A word-is-bond agreement that ensures and safeguards our liberties better than any other document in world history.
Now, however, there are those who wish to essentially default on that agreement because they think it will make society safer.
Indeed, even a former Supreme Court justice thinks we should alter our Constitutional bond, arguing that the Second Amendment is a “relic of the 18th century.”
Of course, part of the brilliance of the Constitution is the provisions in it that allows Americans to alter that agreement provided there is enough consensus.
So, if we want to have that debate, then we should have it.
If we do, I suspect we’ll discover the true wisdom in the concluding text of our Founders’ promise, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Word is bond.
A Jeffersonian Preference
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
— Thomas Jefferson
We all want freedom, and we all want peace, but the world is such that both are not usually open to us equally and at the same time. Freedom offers us the capacity to succeed and to fail, and there is no guarantee of either outcome. Of course, you can submit to a higher authority, give up your freedom and become a slave, and if your masters are so kind, perhaps they’ll grant you peace in the process. Unfortunately, history is a long and ugly odyssey of the enslaved suffering under neither freedom nor peace. And so, I choose freedom, despite its peril.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
P.S. My colleague, Jon Johnson, will be holding a free teleconference on “How We Closed 19 Winning Trades in a Row.” The event will take place on April 12 at 2 p.m. EST. The event is free to attend, but you have to register here to be able to attend. Don’t miss out!
P.P.S. Come join me and my Eagle colleagues on an incredible cruise! We set sail on Dec. 4 for 16 days embarking on a memorable journey that combines fascinating history, vibrant culture and picturesque scenery. Enjoy seminars on the days we are cruising from one destination to another, as well as dinners with members of the Eagle team. Just some of the places we’ll visit are Mexico, Belize, Panama, Ecuador and more! Click here now for all the details.
In the name of the best within us,