Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Honesty needed for business

George Trefgarne, city edito ro the Daily Telegraph says that post-Enron, INtegrity is demanded more then ever before:
In the Noughties, many people suspect those in power tell porkies. Teenagers are especially cynical. You might think it rich coming from a generation that is itself pretty untrustworthy, stealing mobile phones etc, but according to a new survey in the latest issue of The Face magazine, around 80 per cent of 16- to 29-year-olds reckon you can't believe corporations or the media.

Such sentiments are not confined to yoof. The Daily Telegraph's poll by YouGov last week found more than half of all voters don't trust the Government.

You could be forgiven for thinking the world is run by gangsters. Well, would that it was, some might say. At least they have standards, which is more than can be said for an executive selling shares in his company even as he knows the whole thing is about to go down the pan; or a dodgy accountant; or a spin doctor trying to stitch up Black Rod; or advertisers making wildly exaggerated claims; or the ex-directors of Equitable Life, who disgracefully tried to wriggle out of a promise of guaranteed annuities.
But government failure is as much to blame as market failure for this phenomenon. Leaving aside the issue of spin, our poor education system is not much help in the development of "social capital" - the human values and skills on which a market-oriented economy rests.

But, generally speaking, the last thing we want is the Government sticking its nose in and interfering. Far better for individuals to take responsibility for their own conduct and dust down the values on which the market is, once again, putting a premium: honesty, self-restraint and personal integrity.

Is your word really your bond? It had better be.

A call for Gonzo Authenticity?

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