Loopy about Loopholes

Permit me please to mount up on my soapbox for a moment.  I’ve been thinking about loopholes for a while, now and I’ve decided to exercise my first amendment right to free speech to express my frustration. 

If any of you are the parents of teenagers, you will no doubt be familiar with the practice of trying to constantly find and close loopholes in your rules.  Ours are brilliant at finding them and exploiting them.  I swear, if we had the money for law school, I’m sure we would have a pair of future Chief Justices on our hands. 

Us: “We blocked those numbers on your phone for a reason.  You are being punished.” 

Teenager: “You never said I couldn’t trade my phone for an iPhone and then download Skype and talk to my friends that way.” 

They’re right.  We didn’t.  Truth is, we didn’t think we had to.  As soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to look up the definition of conniption, because I’m pretty sure I had one.

But I guess I shouldn’t blame the teens.  Finding and exploiting loopholes is a time-honored tradition in this country.  The definition of loophole, via Merriam Webster, is; ” a means of escape; especially : an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded”.  The practice of finding and exploiting loopholes goes back hundreds, maybe thousands of years.  It is a common practice in business, politics and the law to find and exploit loopholes for the benefit of your share holders, candidate or client.   Forced to pay income taxes that drain your profits?  Easy.  Incorporate in another country where they are not subject to income taxes.  Tax laws don’t say you can’t.  Your client committed murder in front of hundreds of people?  No sweat!  The Police forgot to read him his rights.  Facing perjury charges that could lead to an ugly impeachment?  Just tell them it depends on what the definition of “is” is (ok, that one didn’t work so well).  Credit card companies are another example of creative loophole finding.

I can honestly say that we have never been forced to find a loophole in our company.  The following conversation has never taken place:

Customer: You completely forgot to dust the bookshelf in the office.

Us: We just said we’d dust in the office.  We never said what we’d dust.

It would be pointless.  We made a mistake and we will correct it.  Trying to find a loophole here would only end up losing us a customer.

For now, I have decided not to fight loopholes anymore.  It’s exhausting, frankly trying to close them all.  So, since it’s almost spring and my kids need summer jobs, send us your rules and for a nominal fee, our teens will find the loopholes in them so that you can close them.   The loophole in this is that, also for a nominal fee, we are offering to tell your kids where the loopholes in the loopholes are.

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3 responses to “Loopy about Loopholes

  1. When it comes to kids, you mostly just want them to have common sense. My usual questioning is: “Was this a good idea or a bad idea? Why?” Then discipline accordingly 🙂 They’ll figure out which loopholes aren’t worth testing.

    The same general idea should work with most businesses.

    (I must say in some cases “loopholes” are more than exceptions to the rules, and there for a reason, usually to protect someone, but that’s a different discussion.)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jennifer. Good advice.

  3. Mike, have all the conniption fits you want when it comes to teenagers. Especially when it comes to phone calls. When my son was 15 he also found loopholes with his communication devices … ran up a $450 bill on my home phone in one month … so I blocked it from dialing long distance. You know what loophole he found? His cell phone! I never thought about it until I was hit again the very next month with another $400 bill … oy!!! I know how you feel standing atop that soap box … you are not alone!

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