Are you evil? A quiz

I am annoyed by the perception that if you’re profit minded, you’re evil and Up To No Good. I don’t know why I bother writing about it; this is far from being an impartial audience. What business owner is going to admit they’re evil? It’s only everyone else, not us. Those who lobbied for CPSIA agree that you are, so are we? In our camp, many have decided special interest groups are stupid (Hanlon’s razor). Marginalizing -an attempt at rationalization amid insanity or inanity- prevents a meeting of minds. The end result is that popular culture is imbued with the idea of business owner as scoundrel, it seems to be the default setting of most consumers. Even business owners splinter amongst themselves, deciding an importer or large firm is evil just because.

The average person isn’t very honest. I suspect business owners have similar average integrity and ethics. A recent story in the NY Times suggests that most business school graduates cheat (56%). It’s shocking.

Still, there have been signs that all is not well in business education. A study of cheating among graduate students, published in 2006 in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education, found that 56 percent of all M.B.A. students cheated regularly — more than in any other discipline. The authors attributed that to “perceived peer behavior” — in other words, students believed everyone else was doing it.

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as extenuating circumstances that justify compromised integrity. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a small evil. Peck says “Evil is the exercise of power, the imposing of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”. What concerns me more is the dramatic increase in narcissism among young people because Peck asserts evil is by its very nature, ego-centric. What most frightened me about Peck’s book were people who purport to be good and right, discouraging others to think independently. In short, nannyism. We know what’s best for you. If you don’t agree with us, you’re a profit minded evil-monger. The biggest problem in arguing with smart people (CPSIA proponents aren’t stupid) is that they are smart, meaning better equipped to argue their points solidifying their opinions if only to themselves (Confirmation bias) and having thus publicly stated it, less likely to withstand potential loss of intellectual face by admitting their errors -even to themselves. Perhaps they resent our ingratitude.

So what happened to integrity and ethics? Or is the idea that we ever had it illusory? We know it’s not just business owners. In case you’re wondering, this is what inspired this entry. She has a point. If we don’t police ourselves, others will do it for us. Or to us as it happens.

Here’s my quiz for today.

Edit 11/23/12
Vizu polls have closed down. Below is a screen capture of the poll results.

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