Paul Krugman’s says “ethics” need to be legislated (CDT, 9/26). But, ethics are a moral code and our government is not empowered to legislate our morals; only to create laws that define and limit our behaviors.
But, there’s more wrong with Krugman’s article. To start, Krugman uses extreme words to make weak points. When he says Reagan insisted “government was always the problem …” he exaggerates and misleads. Reagan never insisted this; in fact the government grew in size and scope under his leadership. Here, Krugman is guilty of using “language for effect and manipulation” where a speaker talks in wild generalities to get you to think like he does without telling you what he wants you to think. His focus is clearer when you read his examples that are a series of attacks on Jeb Bush. But, there are more problems with Krugman’s thinking.
Krugman states that corporations “do whatever it takes, including fraud that kills people, in order to make a buck.” But, he fails to point out the purpose of business is to “make a buck” and, if it doesn’t, the business closes. Nor does he mention government needs business to “make a buck” in order get taxes. Nor does Krugman point out these businesses are operating under extensive laws the government created for more than 200 years and, if there are problems, maybe the blame needs shared by the government. Nor, does he mention the government has “ethical violations” of its own including such recent scandals as the IRS targeting conservative groups, a Veterans Affairs department that doesn’t fulfill its mission, an Environmental Protection Agency that causes stream pollution, officeholders who don’t follow government security guidelines and lie about it and candidates who promise us lower premiums before an election only to watch them (in my case) double shortly thereafter and more.
To Krugman, I say misrepresenting the truth and misleading your readers is not “ethical.” Instead, follow my father’s advice to always tell the truth, the whole truth.
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And, I encourage CDT readers to remember the adage that says, “All that’s necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to stand by and do nothing.” And, I mean this for both sides of the political spectrum. We are motivated by our political beliefs to point out the failures of the other side. But, it’s just as important that we monitor the behavior of our own chosen leaders and point out when they make mistakes.