But is bigness per se really to blame for the absence of ethics among our senior executives of businesses? Somehow, commercial entities have grown apart from their customer base. When they seem to care, it almost always is a charade. But why, I keep asking? Was it always like that? Maybe I am just getting really old. I think that businessmen used to have actual ethics and practiced it. I know that the Rupert Murdoch’s of the world—total sociopaths—have always existed, but they represented aberrant behavior. The old “rotten fish in the barrel” seemed more accurate. Now, it just seems a joke (on us). The Penn State mess seems typical of the problem. Protecting the Franchise was viewed as simply more important than protecting the kids—the Catholic Church line of thinking.
On the other hand, maybe bigness is a major contributor. Perhaps, the more distant executives get from their customers and from the people whose lives they touch, the easier it is to rationalize away their criminal behavior. When bankers joke about manipulating interest rates in order to increase their pocket change, and their own internal systems either fail or are simply missing in action, perhaps those entities should be shut down. Whenever I hear some business entity whining about some regulation, I think, “maybe you need to get a real job. Shut up and quit whining, or you will need to go out of business.” Perhaps had the Catholic Church forced its pedophilic priests to enter jail cells, they might have been able to hang on to some of their moral standing. Perhaps if Joe Paterno had arranged to send his buddy to prison ten years ago, a lot of kids would have been spared a lifetime of grief.
And perhaps somewhere pigs are flying, hell is freezing over, and the moon really is made of green cheese . . .