If you pay someone in cash, if you treat your workers as independent contractors, or if you just toss a few dollars on the bill when you eat out, you're participating in this gray economy. So are the people you give the money to.
It doesn't matter why you do this -- either because you can't get another job, or you think government payments and paperwork make it necessary -- it distorts our view of what's going on, and forces other, more honest people to pay your taxes.
As an investor, all this means that things are much brighter than they appear. It means the economic recovery is real and sustainable. But it also means we're becoming more like Greece: a nation of scofflaws.
How would you suggest we get a little law and order? That's the real economic mystery.At the time of publication, the author had no investments in the companies mentioned here. Follow @DanaBlankenhorn This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.