Integrity Matters
March 30, 2005

Don't let life be just about the 'Benjamins'

Question: (E-164)

Dear Jim:

Is everything about money? Television provides a cesspool of programs that make big profits. Some sports superstars are out of control and still make big bucks. Corporate scandals haven't hindered fat paychecks for unproductive executives. So, where is the integrity?

Money itself has never been the problem. The love of money is a different story. When individuals and cultures are driven by the need to show off wealth and power, (often interchangeable in the eyes of observers), then values are conveniently compromised and integrity suffers.

Our society often appears to worship those who have lots of money, celebrity and power. Check out the list of top-selling books and you will see that one near the top concerns the crime and conviction of Scott Peterson, an unfaithful husband who was convicted of killing his wife and unborn child. Amber Frey, Peterson's "mistress" has produced a bestseller. Who spends money for a "pulp" rag like this? Answer: a large number of people.

Publishers, program directors, product developers and advertisers know how to respond, profitably, to the appetites of the marketplace. Millions cannot wait to become part of the lowest common human denominator - a frenzy that enjoys the agony, degradation and misbehavior of others.

Back to money: One more example is the Fannie Mae scandal emerging from a private, shareholder-owned company.  This organization, operating under a Congressional Charter, was created to increase the availability and affordability of homeownership for low-, moderate-, and middle-income Americans.  

In December Fannie Mae ousted its CEO, Franklin D. Raines, but not before he received $140 Million Golden Parachute including $19 million severance, an annual salary (lifetime) of $1.37 million. And the board approved it all. So much for public-spirited executive accountability and responsible board leadership!

So, what might individuals do? Identify quality organizations whose integrity-centered priorities build trust and respect. These companies put customers first. Let your dollars to do the talking. Click off smut and dribble and boycott culture-destroying products and programs. Your decisions about spending can have a positive impact. Money can shape society, constructively. Act now.

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