Saturday, May 22, 2010


We still get "US News & World Report". The magazine has been coming to Sam Page Road since the mid 1960s. It is but a shadow of what it once was. Over the years it's twice a month publication has dwindled first to once a month to now I guess maybe 4 or 5 times a year. I have always liked it because the articles were brief and to the point in words that made complex issues easy for my simple mind to understand. The magazine has morphed from a general overview of the World and what's happening to single topic publications that dig deep into one or two topics.

A recent issue was dedicated to Graduate school. Who's good, who's not so good. What jobs are hot, what jobs are not. What kind of pay to expect....blah, blah, blah.

One article caught my eye. It was about ethics. Specifically the notion of ethics as taught or not taught in the various MBA programs at the top universities. The set up was that for years, American MBA programs were focused on maximizing profit in the shortest time or way possible. A nice way of saying I guess, we taught our grad students the "quick buck" approach to business. Any notion of ethics and business being given the high hat and laughed at.

Anyone who has even paid the slightest bit of attention over the years knows this is definitely true. The article points out that the recent financial crisis is directly related to the mentality our business leaders carried out of school when they hit the bricks looking for work.

Okay fine. The article points out the obvious. What I found interesting was the opinion or is it wisdom of one old guard business professor who disagrees that the lack of any ethical base in the teaching model had anything to do with creating the greed mindset that permeates the top tiers of American business.

His argument was based on the misguided notion that if something is legal, it is also ethical. In my opinion, his defense or denial of his role in molding our future business leaders points up one of the major weaknesses of the American business model. Legality is not often ethical. The two can co-exist, but when laws are business related, ethics sit in the back of the bus. Business laws, or laws in general, are about control. Ethics, more often than not, have little to do with it.

This professor's mindset is unfortunately a very common one found throughout the collective outlook of America. We have become so reliant on the government telling us what is right or wrong through the legislative process, we can't even see the unethical aspects of what some laws do to our lives or other's lives. No better example exists than the professor's comment regarding the business world of this nation.

We figure if there is no law against it, whatever it is must be okay. We also base our condemnation of certain actions or activities solely on the legal status of that action or activity. Happy as if we have brains, we assume ethical reasons exist for the specific law or lack of law. And in the meantime the ethically challenged leadership of our nation snicker and roll their eyes over what morons we are.



The Blog Fodder said...

Some years back, I attended a one day course in St. Louis on ethics for Agricultural Consultants. One of the participants was a California consultant who worked with the huge rice producing corporations.

His role was to help them maximize the amount of subsidy dollars they could receive for growing rice from USDA. The ethics course focused on HOW he did his job, not on whether what he was doing was ethical.

Randal Graves said...

Ethics are for patchouli-smelling pantywaists, not the educated vanguard of the twenty-first century. If you bow to ethics, the Chinese win!

How's that? Think I got a future as an MBA student?

Beach Bum said...

His argument was based on the misguided notion that if something is legal, it is also ethical.

My tax attorney wife told me she was taught the very samething. I remember several other things she told me about law school and they all sent chills down my spine. Namely that many lawyers look down upon those in what can generally be described the "lower castes."

BBC said...

Ethics, in America?


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

One of my favourite expressions is, "It might be legal, but it ain't right." How in heaven's name could any jurisdiction possibly codify in law all right and wrong?

BBC said...

I like the cartoon, it's spot on. We are all whores, we just need to settle on the price and how to go about it.

A Midnight Rider said...

Every once in a while I overhear some kid who is relatively new to the business world. I really have to bite my tongue. Occasionally I need to put my hands in my pocket to stop myself from slapping them.

I have seen a very distinct decline in ethics in direct relation to the decline in unions. The unions were our watchdogs.

BBC said...

A man was shot in the testicles Sunday afternoon after a gun in his waistband accidentally discharged, police said.

The man was shopping at the Lowe's hardware store in Lynnwood around 12:30 p.m. when the gun went off, said Shannon Sessions with Lynnwood Police.

Aw nuts!!!!!!!!! Cleanup in lumber.