Thursday, December 02, 2004

Blowing in the Wind

In the culture that secretly subscribes to the piratical ethic of "every man for himself"...the logical culmination of this ethic, on a person-to-person level, is that the weak are seen as the natural and just prey of the strong.
Eldridge Cleaver, writer and civil rights activist

Public and private corporate America should provide incentives for employees who have a conscience and ethics to speak out about such abuses. Mom and pop shareholders, Jane and John Doe consumers are generally the first to feel the pain of greedy executives whose crime eventually surfaces. Shareholders lose retirement money and consumers pay higher costs.

Unfortunately, there are no rewards for employees, except knowing they did the right thing, which is a very satisfying feeling, but it won’t put food on the table or pay the rent. Sure, there is legal recourse if unfairly terminated, but most don’t have the money or time to pursue justice.

For employees who report government fraud there is big money available to them, but not so in corporate America. The False Claim Act allows whistle-blowers up to a quarter of the money recovered by the government. According to a New York Times article, whistle-blowers have been at the root of federal fraud cases against Tenet Healthcare, Lockheed Martin, TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. and Boeing.

If there were such laws and rewards for corporate America not doing government business, Enron may not have occurred. Who knows how many other such crimes could have come to light before too much damage was inflicted to innocent bystanders.

The Misanthrope salutes those whose conscience and ethics matter and speak up about such lapses in greedy executives.

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