Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sometimes You Just Want to Swear!

I am sorely tempted to swear, but I will abstain, even refraining from using acronyms that you might have seen in some phone messages.

There was a poll reported in Time magazine that showed that nearly one in four Wall Street executives say that you have to act illegally or unethically in order to be successful. Should we really trust these guys? This is the pool of people we draw from to be presidential economic advisors, Treasury secretaries, Fed Reserve people, SEC regulators. This is the pool of people to whom we listen for financial advice.

This is like being lost in a land where some people lie and others don't. How do you get good directions? You have to figure out first who's lying to you. You can't ask, "Would the other guy give me good directions?" The answer will be the same for the honest and dishonest person.

So if many Wall Street execs think they need to cheat in order to win, they believe:

  • they're not good enough to succeed without cheating
  • everyone else is doing it and it's the only way to compete
  • they won't get caught, so why not?
  • The ends of being more successful are more important than how you got it
  • It doesn't matter that others may have 'lost' or gotten hurt, it's all about me
  • they know the rules and regulations are bad, so why not break them? Just like many people break the speed limit on the roads when conditions allow it.
Are these really a set of values we want to have at the head of our most important organizations in the US? I hope not. I hope that future surveys find the percentage shrinking.

To screen Wall Street execs for any other job, we need to have two of them and then ask each one: "Would the other guy tell me that you would advise me to cheat?" The one who answers "Yes" is telling the truth.

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