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an important reminder: “everybody’s got a sacred story” August 18, 2018

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From Jeanne Marie Laskas’ article in the Guardian, Dear Mr President:

“I learned in that process that if you listen hard enough, everybody’s got a sacred story,” he said. “An organising story, of who they are and what their place in the world is. And they’re willing to share it with you if they feel as if you actually care about it. And that ends up being the glue around which relation­ships are formed, and trust is formed, and commu­nities are formed. And ultimately – my theory was, at least – that’s the glue around which democracies work.”

the meaning of integrity July 17, 2011

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The Independent has the full text of Sir Paul Stephenson’s statement on his resignation as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. It contains the following sentences:

As Commissioner I carry ultimate responsibility for the position we find ourselves in. With hindsight, I wish we had judged some matters involved in this affair differently. I didn’t and that’s it. However, the issue of my integrity is different. Let me state clearly: I and the people who know me know that my integrity is completely intact.

But the Commissioner did accept a stay at Champneys in Tring which news reports value at around £12,000. It seems to me that people in charge of police forces should not be accepting this sort of hospitality from anyone, and that the fact of accepting such hospitality raises real questions about the recipient’s integrity whether or not he realizes there is a problem.

why isn’t every day an anti-corruption day? December 10, 2009

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Yesterday was international anti-corruption day (some events are listed here). I guess that today we can get back to our normal corrupt ways. Well, that’s probably not the intended message.

ethics and finance September 3, 2009

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Dr Duvvuri Subbarao, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, gave a speech the other day which included the following passage.

John Stuart Mill said that if we make men honest, good and decent, then they will make themselves honest, good and decent engineers, doctors and teachers, and may I add, financial sector professionals. The financial sector is, after all, a reflection of the society in which it operates. So, the approach to bringing ethical values into finance has to begin not by special efforts to enforce or regulate ethical standards in finance, but by fostering a value system in society at large.

I think he is absolutely right on this one, but approaching the issue from this perspective makes it even more difficult a problem to solve than if we could just change a few rules here and there.

ethics in government May 19, 2009

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The UK expenses scandal has forced the resignation of the speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin. Meanwhile, Helena Kennedy argues forcefully for some real, rather than cosmetic, changes to British governance:

The temptation for the parties will be to sack a few people and redesign the allowance system but if public trust is to be restored there has to be a much more radical rethink. There has to be root-and-branch reform of parliament, both the Lords and the Commons, a written constitution, proportional representation, proper funding of political parties, a real curb on commercial lobbying, extended powers for select committees and fewer powers for the whips, a proper pay structure for MPs, more participative democracy and a re-ignition of local government to create new avenues for people to enter the world of politics. Any and all reforms must be guided by the knowledge that what people most want is an ethical political system. It is a moment to be seized and if the government is courageous enough it could even change its fortunes.