Note to the The Currency Holders And Store Holders;The Disease Of Desire by John Ruskin

While I have traced the finer and higher laws of this matter for those whom they concern, I have also to note the material law—vulgarly expressed in the proverb, "Honesty is the best policy". That proverb is indeed wholly inapplicable to matters of private interest. It is not true that honesty, as far as material gain is concerned, profits individuals. A clever and cruel knave will, in a mixed society, always be richer than an honest person can be. But Honesty is the best "policy", if policy means practice of State. For fraud gains nothing in a State. It only enables the knaves in it to live at the expense of honest people; while there is for every act of fraud, however small, a loss of wealth to the community. Whatever the fraudulent person gains, some other person loses, as fraud produces nothing; and there is, besides, the loss of the time and thought spent in accomplishing the fraud; and of the strength otherwise obtainable by mutual help (not to speak of the fevers of anxiety and jealousy in the blood, which are a heavy physical loss, as I will show in due time). Practically, when the nation is deeply corrupt, cheat answers to cheat, every one is in turn imposed upon, and there is to the body politic the dead loss of ingenuity, together with the incalculable mischief of the injury to each defrauded person, producing collateral effect unexpectedly. My neighbour sells me bad meat: I sell him in return flawed iron. We neither of us get one atom of pecuniary advantage on the whole transaction, but we both suffer unexpected inconvenience;—my men get scurvy, and his cattle-truck runs off the rails.