Monday, April 10, 2006

Ethics and Easter

One of the things that I do for a living is speak on ethics so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this week before Easter makes me even more aware than usual of the ethical "state of the union."

I suppose that you might expect me to vent now about the state of ethics in politics. I could but it seems to much like shooting fish in a barrel to write about DeLay, Cunningham, et al. and their increasing claims to piety as more is revealed.

No, what made me think of this topic was the report in yesterday's New York Times on executive compensation and the increasing gap between the executive suites and the shop floor. I'd pose the question of whether it is ethical to spike one's own income by eliminating thousands of jobs and reducing the income and benefits of thousands more but the answer is a self-evident and resounding NO.

I once heard that when Andy MacPhail was with the Minnesota Twins and negotiating a contract he said that he understood needing to provide for one's family but for how many generations? The amounts made by athletes pale when compared with the numbers in yesterday's Times and athletes and their salaries are connected to performance while, according to the Times, executives are getting bonuses even while augering their companies into the ground.

Ethics and business are linked. One either leads an ethical life or not. One cannot be personally ethical while committing ethical atrocities at work.

I can only hope that, should they find themselves at a sermon this weekend dealing with a great and selfless sacrifice, these executives not only fell shame but set about correcting the behavior.

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