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There's a fine line between conspirators and schemers

A lot of my friends believe in conspiracy theories.

If you don't believe them, just ask.

Anyone who has had to drive around looking for gasoline lately has most likely heard the reason for the problem -- a distribution line somewhere in Alabama had a leak, causing all sorts of gasoline shortages in the Southeast and along the East Coast.

Well, when I most recently had a conversation with a close friend of mine, she immediately blurted out conspiracy -- as in someone is behind this, pulling levers and cutting strings, making sure the price of fuel goes up and someone's pockets are getting padded.

A few years ago, I was minding my own business, sitting in an auto shop lobby, waiting to get new-to-me tires when one of the employees began filling me in -- unsolicited, mind you -- on chemtrails.

In my, at the time, 40 years of life, I'd never heard the term, but after my 30 minute wait, or so, I think I knew everything there was to know about the conspiracy.

I swear, I am not making this up. The chemtrail conspiracy goes something like this:

• Those long-lasting white, smoky trails, you sometimes see in the sky, are left by high-flying aircraft and they consist of chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed for sinister purposes undisclosed to the general public.

Now, I have all sorts of issues with most conspiracies in that, at their heart, they are based upon some super secret group of people -- sometimes the government, sometimes by people who are pulling the strings of leaders -- are behind some nefarious plot.

The big hole in that theory is that, for the most part, we get to know our leadership on a fairly intimate basis.

And no, no one has to be a genius to be an elected official, but I do believe these types of conspiracies require a level of planning, preparation, patience and execution that many of our leaders lack.

Sure, it could be argued that our leaders appear to be bunglers to throw off said suspicion.

If so, then many of them deserve Emmys and Oscars.

Now, while I may not believe in conspiracies, I do believe in scheming.

And there is a subtle difference.

Conspiracies, in my estimation, require sinister thinking on a broader scale, like, I don't know, having people think a fuel line is crippled so that the fuel industry can flourish.

It's subtle, but schemes are different to me.

Sure, the definition of scheme says that it's a large-scale affair, but, I think, at its root, it is spawned by sneaky, underhanded people who probably slink away from the sun during the daytime.

The reason I bring that up is because of a headline I came across this week.

The CEO of Wells Fargo says he's sorry, but actions by bank employees to open false, secret accounts in customers' names, was not a scheme.

In full disclosure, I am a Wells Fargo customer.

The practice netted the bank millions of dollars in fees generated from the unauthorized accounts.

Wells Fargo paid $185 million in penalties earlier this month.

Some folks got fired, but not really the big wigs.

My guess is the thousands of employees who were fired weren't sitting around one day and figured it would be a good idea to open false bank accounts to generate fees.

There was probably someone behind a curtain orchestrating the action.

If you can imagine the Wizard of Oz orchestrating a plan, then, in my opinion, that's a scheme -- and the difference between a conspiracy.


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