The card was apparently used to obtain many other non-work related services, and there’s $100,000 in cash withdrawals unaccounted for. Thompson continues to insist that his signature was forged.
The Union has now, somewhat belatedly some might consider as problems were first detected in 2008, referred the matter to the police. Fair Work Australia have also been investigating for this period, at a glacial pace it would seem.
As the inimitable Barnaby Joyce put it, if Thompson is the victim of a fraud this would have entailed someone breaking into Thompson’s house, stealing his wallet and credit card, using it for nefarious purposes, breaking into the house again and returning the wallet and card, all of which must have gone undetected by Thompson. Or he’s lying. Take your pick, said Barnaby.
Around the age of two we usually begin to understand that other people and their minds are separate from us. This is the precursor to lying because in order to deceive someone, we need first have some understanding of what they might be thinking.
The tendency to lie is a natural one: as soon as we learn we have language with which to defend ourselves, we use it in order to avoid trouble and punishment. Part of the process of maturation is that we hopefully learn more useful and rewarding ways to deal with difficulties, rather than resorting to lies.
Lying can also be a sign of intelligence and cognitive skill. An accomplished liar convincingly creates an alternative version of reality, and maintains it. This is most effective when the liar convinces him or herself that this version is truth. This isn’t difficult: if we tell the same lies often enough they gain authority within our own minds and lying becomes easier.
The motives for lying are usually tied up with self-esteem and self-preservation. We want to create the best version of ourselves, we don’t want to face the consequences of our actions,we want respect. We lie about mistakes to avoid punishment, we lie because it often works, at least for a time, and brings benefits.
However. Lies can be self-perpetuating: more lies have to be told in order to maintain the original deceit. The more serious the lie, the more it erodes trust in all social relations. Truthfulness and straightforwardness are the glues that hold society together and allow us to function: not everything can be governed by written contracts.
For example, Tony Abbott‘s declaration that his word means nothing unless it is recorded and signed is a profound breach of public trust. Whether or not he maintains this same position in his intimate life, I don’t know. One would hope not, and it isn’t unusual for a practiced liar to engage in the kind of cognitive dissonance that allows him or her to be highly principled in one area of their lives, and a complete scoundrel in another.
Clearly not everything a politician says can be formalized, and Abbott’s admission is a warning that he cannot be held accountable as he is a self-professed liar. In this he differs from Thompson, who insists that he is truthful against mounting evidence that this is either not the case, or he is part of a bizarre conspiracy that requires him to protect a guilty party by stoically shouldering the blame and humiliation of serious accusations. Somebody used the credit card. Somebody made large cash withdrawals. If not Craig, who?
Either way, Thompson is involved in a serious deception.
Lying isn’t always a bad thing and sometimes it’s necessary. The wise lie with awareness and care, and they know when to come clean. In general, it’s less complicated to tell the truth, and some research indicates that while people can forgive a lie when it’s confessed, they find it very difficult to forgive serious and repeated deception that involves extended violation of trust. Nobody enjoys the shock of discovering they’ve been lied to. It can change a relationship permanently.
In general, human beings have positive expectations about another’s behaviour. We tend to take things at face value unless we have a reason not to, or have already been seriously damaged by a liar.We survive on the assumption that others are co-operative and trustworthy. If we didn’t we’d grind to a halt, because the energy required to stay constantly alert to the possibility of lies and to check everything, would detract from our ability to function. There’s a balance between being ludicrously naive and reasonable wary, and it pays to be co-operative.
Deception causes enduring and significant harm. This may be why politicians are frequently so despised. “Lying politicians” has become a tautology. Politician’s violations of public trust have long-lasting effects. They seem to have very little idea of their enormous responsibility for constructing and maintaining the kind of society in which we all live, and they apparently don’t care, with a few exceptions.
When the rot starts at the top, that sets the tone. If a country is governed overwhelmingly by liars and deceivers, nobody should be surprised if lies and deceit are the order of the day in all parts of its society.
Of course, in the Thompson matter there’s always the possibility of an evil twin.