If there is anything we have learned so far from the recent economic mess, it is that:
GREED IS UNSUSTAINABLE.
I remember back in 2002 having a writing assignment on ethics in response to the Enron and WorldComm debacle. It seemed that ethics was a major point of discussion in the public realm during this time. Yet, somehow we ended up going down that same road again a few years later.
Can we learn a lesson from the last two occurrences? Or do we need to continue down these paths and continue to call it heedless blunder?
If GREED IS UNSUSTAINABLE then why do we perpetuate it?
We need to answer these questions over the next few months because the alternative is too costly.
I will leave you with the conlcusion of my paper "Does Ethics Exist in American Corporation?":
Finally, there is a quote that says: "The bureaucracy is a circle from which no one can escape. The highest point entrusts the understanding of particulars to the lower echelons, whereas these, on the other hand, credit the highest with an understanding in regard to the universal; and thus they deceive one another." It is this deceit that allows us to continue to function and it is the culture that compels us to conform in order to perform.
But on an individual basis, some form of ethics does exist, however, as a whole there is something to be desired. There are individuals that are selectively small that show up the rest and make the whole collectively look bad. Thus, to answer the question of the existence of ethics in American Corporations, it does exist. However, when work begins and it is business as usual; it is often forgotten.
Post Update 11/14/2008:
Here is an interesting post on Greed from Blogger Robert Hacker of Sophisticated Finance. The Blog Post is called Humility. He also wrote a follow up post that can lead to further understanding. It is called The Richness of the Internet. Both are good reads.