by Charlie A. Webb, CPP, CMC
Staff Writer

As I mentioned in a previous article, I believe that the American value is quickly waning from the mid century handshake model to a mutual distrust policy that the Internet scammers have fortified. Our world is full of scammers and con artists that seem to fall under an emerging ethical model that seems to state, if you make a profit, it’s ethical. Perhaps the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has us all asking hard questions once again about business ethics. Sadly however, business is not the epicenter of ethical follies. Consider what the average guy or gal on the street is doing.

Finding accurate welfare fraud statistics is challenging since the only time the government finds out about welfare and unemployment fraud is when the cheater is caught. But one report claimed, the state of California paid $280 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims last year, nearly four times the amount paid out in 2000.

I know most of us would like to vilify the Martha Stewarts as the evil black villains but that is just a comforting vision for the nation’s rank and file. At a recent trip to the In-N-Out Burger chain in San Bernardino California, I watched as two separate patrons request a water cup only to proceed to take it to the soda fountain and fill it with soda. Customers purchase suits and dresses to wear for special events only to return them on Monday saying they were unhappy with the fit. Throughout our day many of us cheat and steal in the name of prudence. Make no mistake about it, this is unethical and it is why many companies have had to institute draconian policies as a firewall to push back against this mindset that big business is a faceless monster and these are victimless crimes.

As individuals we need to begin practicing ethical behavior. Not because it’ll put us into heaven or at higher graces with our boss, we simply should do the right thing because it’s the right thing, and doing the wrong thing has a terribly corrosive effect on your character.

At 6 years old, my dad and I would walk the grocery store parking lot near his apartment looking for nails. Why? Because my father didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire from a nail because no one wants a flat tire. There was no profit in this act. It was for the sake of simply doing the right thing and teaching a small boy an important lesson about values, and collective living. If you’re an ethics centered person, share your lessons of value with others. Let the word spread. Teach your children and teach your employees the value of The Golden Rule. This is not a religious message in any way. Good behavior and playing by the rules is grounded in a secular world and it’s a waning missions statement that needs to be rediscovered and implemented back into our companies and lives. Teach everyone the value of picking up nails.