Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Ethics is for you and me, not for banks or government
by Larry Geller
Irony: Palin Used Official State Website for Private Rebuttal to Latest Ethics Complaint
See the story here. It’s too convoluted to repeat here, but if you’re into celebrity politicians, you won’t want to miss this latest installment in the Palin soap opera.
Speaking of ethics…
Last night I attended a seminar at the UH Law School on “Corporate Governance and Ethical Behavior in both For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Charitable Organizations.” The presenter was Mary G.F/ Bitterman, a person with truly awesome credentials. Her bio was even more extensive than this one I found on line. Attending the seminar was a worthwhile experience in many ways.
At the end Bitterman accepted questions. The one before me concerned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so I figured our economic crises is fair game, and offered my own question about the class aspects of ethics. I asked something like: “You spoke of transparency, accountability and executive compensation this evening, and I agree that these are important for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. But what about our government and the giant Wall Street banks? They are transparently untransparent—they openly say they won’t tell what the money has been used for, and our government won’t even say who got how much. No one wants to be accountable for anything, and Obama’s people have embraced just looking forwards and not back, so there is no accountability. Speaking of executive compensation issues, Goldman Sachs is about to pay out huge bonuses, averaging $700,000 per employee.
So how come ethics seem to apply to us and our small organizations, but not to Wall Street or our government, and what do we do about it?”
That sounds like the kind of question I’d ask, right? Bitterman replied at length, and said that we have to do is (paraphrase) chase after Obama and get him to do the right things.
She didn’t say how that could be done, but I guess it’s fair to leave that to us. First, though, we need get upset enough do take any sort of action. Nor is just sitting in a chair blogging or twittering about this going to do a bit of good.
I don’t see the outrage, yet, and it’s long overdue. Foreclosures in Hawaii and in the rest of the country are accelerating. Nothing, or almost nothing, has been done to assist the average person in this time of crisis. A tiny sum is needed to provide medical care for everyone, compared to the bank bailout, but we can’t get it. Banks could have been instructed (since we own major chunks of them now) to restructure loans, but no one did that.
So how we are going to get after Obama to instill ethical behavior in his government or the banking industry shall remain a mystery. I don’t believe it will happen unless we first can work up a really strong sense of outrage.
All I know is first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a human being. God Dammit, my life has value." So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Things have got to change my friends. You've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
—from Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky