I was on the New York Times online earlier today and an article heading caught my eye. The article is called “S.E.C. Refers Ex-Counsel’s Actions on Madoff to Justice Dept.” and it is about the Madoff scandal and the ethics involved with it. The article was a bit dry to me but I saw it as just another example of how people get too tied up with money and all ethics seem to fly out the window. Executives seem to be treated differently in some cases since they make a lot more money than other employees of a company, but once they can have certain ties to events or cases, that’s when things can go awry and get complicated. I think once people see themselves as having more privileges and having a higher status than others, they believe they can disobey the rules and not get caught.
As we have seen in the previous cases we have read for class (AIG, Enron), disobeying the rules and regulations can lead to dire consequences. I don’t think executives will ever truly believe their actions have consequences, not only for themselves but also for their company, until something happens to them. I am probably generalizing right now and maybe there are executives or companies out there that are industry leaders and follow the laws and regulations, but it seems as though there are too many out there that don’t at all. If our economy is going to change, maybe companies should change themselves and the way they act.
Throwing all ethical responsibility out the window when a company has a large stake in the economy is only making their situation worse. There are too many examples out there that show how people get caught breaking the law, making faulty financial statements, and disobeying codes of conduct that there shouldn’t be as many cases of these now. But there still are. And it seems as though nobody is learning. Do executives just think they are all above it and they can do whatever they want without ever getting caught? Or will they someday learn to look at others’ mistakes before making the same ones and having even worse consequences? With all of the company failures and bailouts, maybe the government will just have to run more parts of businesses in the future to prevent all of this, but how good/bad would that be?