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David Boulton to John Vasconcellos re DAN YANKELOVICH 'TRUST'/INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP FORUM - 4/28/02 - Institutional Morality = Ethics - Ethics 13

From: David Boulton 
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 1:32 PM

Aloha John,

From your notes and comments it seems this was quite an event.

I want to comment (somewhat soapbox) on the threads of 'institutional morality' and 'internationality'. My view is that the deep fulcrum for liberating healthy change here is to address the 'ethic' underlying and organizing the 'morality'. I think that the corporate behaviors we are concerned/outraged by are merely the logical consequences of an underlying ethic we take for granted.

Our most fundamental business ethic assumes that businesses have the right to pursue their economic interests even to the extent of directing the thoughts and emotions of people with the clear intent of manipulating their purchasing behavior. Think about this. Its considered business as usual, 'nothing personal' for business to manipulate our behaviors to serve their profit interests. We take it for granted.

When this ethic becomes empowered by modern behavioral sciences and information technology and excused from responsibility by multi-national legal status, its frightening. We have seen what Madison Ave. can do with tobacco company ethics, Lucasfilm's multimedia, Spielberg’s masterful attention direction and with the right 'star attractions'. We have a semi-hypnotized society - hypnotized into accepting manipulation as normal, hypnotized into a lack of respect for their own learning and discernment.

What happens when these incredibly powerful interests, who place the right to make money above the injustice of manipulating people's lives, have access to the kind of intelligence powers tomorrow's information systems will provide?

Its this ethic, in my view, that we must challenge out into the open. So long as it remains the 'American way' we will live in a world of predatory economics where the economies of scale will favor the interests of the corporations.

We abolished slavery in the overt sense. We agreed people shouldn't own people. Every human being has rights as a human being. I think this ethic is the underlying mechanism of today's economic slavery.

------------- relatedly -------------------international ethics of America-----------

Why not treat the citizens of the world the way we treat the citizens of the United States? - treat all citizens of the earth as if they have the same rights as US citizens? We obviously don't grant them the financial support entitlements of US citizens. But why not treat them as if their rights as human beings are no different than our own. Regardless of whether their governments do, shouldn't our ethic demand that we do?

Why should products, prohibited by law in the US because they are harmful or dangerous, be sold to people in other countries simply because their governments haven't caught up with our standards?

In the US, no matter how 'wanted' the mass murderer in one house the police wouldn't think of getting him or her by using weapons that would kill people walking around the neighborhood. Why does this sensible, ethical restraint to the use of lethal force stop at our borders? Does not being a citizen of the United States, change the rights a human being is entitled to in the conscience of the United States? WHY?

Developing an international ethic for our governmental and US based corporate behaviors would, I believe, go a long way toward opening up the international dialogue - would -precipitate the beginnings of our trustworthiness beyond our self-interests.

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