Ethical Guidebook

A discussion of the difference between our personal values and our public ethics, how mature citizens can support both, and why our love for public ethics must trump our love for personal and group values when they conflict in the public space. Ethics offers a guidebook for evaluating public issues and finding multilateral solutions to endless cycles of values centric conflicts and unilateral violence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ethical AIGnst

The values-based (incentive driven) behavior and it's collapse at AIG was the outcome of an operating environment lacking the buffers and capacitors of public ethics rules and oversight. Self-restraint is not the heart of the problem or a sustainable solution, as much as we might denigrate the participants for lacking it, and blame the problem on it. The fundamental civil problem was that those charged with oversight applied a values-based metric that is the definition of untenable ponzie schemes, basically "as long as somebody is making money and it could be me, it's ok". Higher scores by relaxing rules does not mean a fair game, or a sustainable sport, and in fact quite predictably results in the opposite.

The solution to AIG starts with reapplication of strong public ethics rules and oversight, that will buffer extreme behavior regardless of values-driven motives and self-restraint or lack thereof on the part of individual participants. That solution also provides a framework for civilly satisfying and ethically fair evaluation of infractions and application of penalties for both past practices and current behavior. We can hopefully encourage mature citizens to put their love of public ethics and fair play above their love of personal values and the home team. But we must look to good government oversight and multilaterally arbitrated laws, and better business ethics in business charters and shareholder votes, to get us out of this mess.


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