Richard S. Davis’ column (TNT, 7-28) about the importance of carefully scrutinizing government activity was, for a change, very well done.
A functioning society operates best when we can expect good faith on the part of all members. The failure of government to sometimes meet that standard is not surprising when we look at the larger society.
While many businesses are good citizens, the news often makes it clear that big business shows no remorse in not disclosing the truth about its products or their defects. Pitting states or municipalities against each other to leverage the biggest tax breaks is the norm. Safety and maintenance are optional if it might hurt the bottom line.
Drive down labor costs – at all costs. Environmental protection of even basics, like water and air, is scorned and disregarded when convenient. All this is usually justified by the need to maximize shareholder profits.
Yet the need for maximizing shareholder profits fades when the focus is on executive compensation. There seemingly is no limit to executive benefits. If the company stumbles, there is no shame possible in creating an opulent severance package for the failed executive.
On a more personal level, consider whether employees give their employer the benefit of a full effort every day. Think about how the employer’s property is easily used for personal purposes.
Perhaps government simply reflects the norms of the larger society. Fortunately, good-faith behavior is still the expectation rather than the exception.