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Public and private ethics 17 May 2009

Posted by cooperatoby in Uncategorized.

Hurray for Steven Fry who puts the witch-hunt in perspective by reminding us that it is not only MPs who readily get used to over-generous expenses regimes – or ones that are under-enforced, according to Menzies Campbell.

Why the extreme public anger? Joe Public clearly blames not the system, but the individuals. But why pick out politicians above journalists, business people – or even European bureaucrats and consultants? What seems to put MPs in the hot seat is two things: first they are their own judge and jury, and secondly it is public money they have been so spectacularly absorbing.

The solution on the system side would seem to be to install checks and balances – a genuinely independent external auditor, not a toothless commissioner answerable to those very people he or she is meant to be policing. The rules need to strike the right balance between compensating for different needs (where judgement is involved) and the simplicity of flat-rate allowances.

As for the individuals, should they resign – or be sacked? True that MPs are in a particularly exposed position when it comes to charges of hypocrisy, as it is their job to set the rules for other people’s behaviour.

But this shouldn’t blind us to the broader case for honesty. What Steven Fry has done is remind us that we need to be honest when it’s private money that’s at stake, not just public money. Our own karma is on the line when we steal, but society as a whole is diminished too. After all, distorted incentives and a sense of being an unpunishable elite in the private sector is what has given us the financial crisis and bank collapses.

It’s another piece of evidence in favour of a value-led approach to business, as exemplified by the social economy!


1. ZAREMA - 21 March 2010

arthur@fenrislyrlenon.ddns.me.uk Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit. http://odessacity.net/

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