Monday, September 27, 2010

What Ever Happened to the Good Old Universal Value?

What Ever Happened to the Good Old Universal Value?

HONESTY is undoubtedly one of the very few undisputed universal virtues. Every sane adult raises their children to honor, respect, and appreciate this vitally important virtue. I have yet to meet anyone who wasn’t strongly admonished as a child, by the adults who influenced them, to be honest, no matter what. Who didn’t occasionally get in trouble for being dishonest as part of their growing up process?

Then we grow up to become adults in our own rights and assume positions of power and influence. Regardless of what you do, you must realize that you are in a position of influence because your actions and interactions affect others around you. Our various positions require and assume that we haven’t abandoned our call to be honest. In fact, I would argue that even if we didn’t sign a contract specifying it, it is assumed, required, and demanded that we will be honest.

Think about it. How often do you rush to do business with someone you believe to be dishonest? You simply don’t. People just wouldn’t patronize a lawyer, doctor, financial planner, teacher, plumber, mechanic, politician, pastor, or you name it that they believe to be dishonest. Likewise, professionals in these areas promote themselves by telling consumers they are better than their competitors because these professionals have the consumer’s best interest at heart. And isn’t that just a code phrase for honesty?

Okay, I did not just fall to Earth from the skies above. I am aware and agree that it would be na├»ve to believe that 100 percent of folks are honest 100 percent of the time. But lately, the repeated incidences of what I’ll term gross systemic dishonesty from certain quarters has caused me to wonder what happened to that virtue we were all raised to cherish – HONESTY!

According to a recent report, federal investigators went undercover and collected audio and video evidence that some school counselors have been blatantly lying to would-be students about things like how long it should take them to complete a program and potential starting salaries after graduation. They’ve also been teaching the prospective students how to literally lie on their federal student financial aid forms. And these are school counselors, the supposed good guys!

And what about Bernie Madoff, who lied with a straight face for years, while ripping off people’s life’s savings? Or the campaigning politicians who tell lies left and right with absolute impunity, and then claim they simply “misspoke” (whatever that means) only after being caught?

You may have heard about the bizarre cases of some city officials in the California towns of Bell and Vernon. How can someone running a small town, where the average resident earns only $25,000 per year, pay themselves a yearly salary that is more than double that of President Obama’s?

So Now What?

It is my humble opinion that there will always be a few immoral jerks who believe it is much easier and somehow “smarter” to be dishonest, push the envelope, and get away with as much as they can. No question about that. I also happen to believe that no amount of monitoring, coaching, legislation, or rules can ever dissuade those who want to be dishonest. For goodness’ sake, Bernie Madoff was the Chairman of the Board of the very organization that regulates financial professionals to ensure they are clean – the National Association of Securities Dealers, now called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – while running one of the biggest ponzi schemes of our times. How do you make sense or explain that, except to understand that there always will be dishonest people, even in positions of power?

BUT here’s the good news! There are also folks who understand that the only ones who will be left standing tall at the end of the day are those who CHOOSE to be honest every day – no matter what! I always tell people that we don’t train or encourage the staff at Laser Financial Group to be honest – we just hire and associate with honest people!

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