Guest Blog: It Depends On What You Mean By “Transparency”

January 8, 2010

As a business ethics speaker, I, from time to time, am pleased to have guest blogs featured on my site.  Ethics, by definition, are actions whose motivation is based on ideas of right and wrong.  In politics we hear, when someone is seeking election, a litany of ideas who have a fundamental ethics base.  Yet, when push comes to shove, it seems that ethics flies out the window and the politician is face with reality of accomplishing their agenda or operating ethically.  Guest blogger – Rick Krug – shares this in his piece entitled:  IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “TRANSPARENCY” featured below:

As the Obama Administration continues to “duck and cover” over the attempted Christmas Day Boxer Bomber, it now finds itself searching for that Cloak of Invisibility regarding the health care debate. Having successfully locked out any Republican opposition by sheer numbers alone, the White House and both chambers of Congress have decided to have “informal” discussions on just how to craft the final health care overhaul. Now, when you read “informal”; this word is roughly translated “secret.”

For months before the 2008 election, candidate Obama was demanding the entire health care debate would be broadcast over C-Span, the cable station dedicated to all things US Government. By now, we have all seen the 8-10 video clips of Obama making this same promise to various rallies across America. When Nancy Pelosi was chosen as Speaker of the House in 2006, she stated, “This will be the most open and transparent government in history.”

Today, on CNN, John Cafferty essentially called Obama and the Democratic leadership liars as he pointed out the American public would not get to see the final outcome of the health care takeover until the secret meetings were over. In case you missed it, read the first sentence of this paragraph again: I said CNN made that charge – I know, you were thinking I said Fox News, right?

In fact, what was supposed to be the crowning glory for Obama and certain to place his face on Mount Rushmore, is now becoming the unmasking of what seems to be nothing more than a Chicago-style thug politician. Seriously, when Obama said the whole heath care debate would be on C-Span, I thought to myself, “wow, how would MCCain ever top that!” For starters, he might have simply kept his word. Is it just me, or does anyone else think the White House and Congress simply don’t care what Americans think….about anything?

So, just what am I missing about the word “Transparency?” I swear I thought it had something to do with being able to witness things in real time. Silly me.

I suppose I should have been suspicious when the 500 page starter yeast of the health care bill bloomed into a 1000 page bill, which, it seems, all those who were to vote on this thing admitted they had not even read. There probably should have been a couple of alarms going off in my head when the Senate version of this takeover sterioded out to over 2000 pages and nearly a trillion dollars. But it took this latest failure of truth to really get my attention. To be sure, there will be enough pork in the final healthcare package to make even Oscar Meyer jealous. But I can guarantee that there will be no Senator nor House member who will have ever read the final version.

We all know that health care is the main focus to the Obama agenda, while, it seems, national security is a minor annoyance, but come on, what in the world does the Pelosi, Reid, Obama product have to hide? Look, when you have a network who, second only to NBC, was as much as throwing palm branches down while the Messiah rode in on the back of Biden, begin questioning the integrity of the man’s promises, now you have a news story. To be fair, CNN could use a boost in the ratings, but Cafferty was no happy camper. Nor should he be, nor should any American be.

We all know campaign promises are usually only hopeful suggestions – “Read my lips, no new taxes” – but this outright lie is in fact an outright lie. One legitimately wonders if Obama ever planned on telecasting anything on C-Span. Then Pelosi said, “This is the most open process ever…” with a straight face. So I ask again, do these folks care even a little about what the American people think? Are we that stupid to them? This issue has carried elitism even farther than Hollywood could imagine.

I suspect the real reason the final debate on the health care plan remains secret is summed up in one word: truth. The Obama administration, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House simply do not want America to know the truth. They want it secret and they do not care.

All the while, Democrat after Democrat is running for the tall grass – shifting their registration to an ‘R”, or somehow coming to the conclusion it is time to retire. I believe this is the first time I have seen the rats leave the ship before the ship even left the harbor.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME! Or to comment directly you can find Rick Krug on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/RickKrug


A State Ethics Law Violation – Report Says Palin Abused Power!

October 10, 2008

There is nothing easy about politics – not state politics and certainly not presidential politics. Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was cited in a state investigators report today for abuse of power and a violation of state ethics law. Palin is accused of trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the state police.

Now, this investigation was already on track before John McCain made his surprise announcement that Sarah Palin was his choice as running mate. Palin certainly brings spice to the election as McCain (clearly a powerful and smart man) lacks in the spice department. But what McCain does not need at the crucial time in the election is to have any part of his campaign (which appears to be dying) fail.

“Gov. Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,” the report states.

Now, let’s face it…Alaska is a small state when it comes to politics and perhaps without national media attention Palin could get by with attempting to exert undue pressure to influence who is hired or fired as the case may be. But, Sarah, this is the big league and every move you make will, no doubt, be under heavy scrutiny.

According to a CNN report:

Palin and her husband, Todd, have consistently denied wrongdoing, describing Wooten as a “rogue trooper” who had threatened their family — allegations Branchflower discounted.

“I conclude that such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins’ real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family reasons,” Branchflower wrote.

The Branchflower report states Todd Palin used his wife’s office and its resources to press for Wooten’s removal, and the governor “failed to act” to stop it. But because Todd Palin is not a state employee, the report makes no finding regarding his conduct.

The bipartisan Legislative Council, which commissioned the investigation after Monegan was fired, unanimously adopted the 263-page public report after a marathon executive session Friday. About 1,000 more pages of documents compiled during the inquiry will remain confidential, the council’s chairman, state Sen. Kim Elton, said.

Here’s the question – did, in fact, Sarah Palin violate state ethics law. While she may have been vindicated of the allegation of an improper filing, that does not mean that she walks away scott free. Of course, the McCain camp says that this is a democratic ploy in a hotly contested election. Others, however, might say that the report is accurate – ethics laws were violated.

The full report can be found here.

With all that is taking place in America right now, one thing we do not need is a newly elected official being tarnished when entering office. As an ethics speaker, I am reminded daily of how easy it is to make the wrong choice in the heat of the moment – only to find that the consequences are far worse than you could every have imagined.

What do you think – Ethics Violation – or not? Your Comments are welcome!


Government to INCREASE Credit Limit to Fund BAILOUT – Does That Make Sense?

September 27, 2008

McCain, Obama, Bush and other leading lawmakers are talking about a bailout of our credit markets – and with some exception all seem to feel that it is needed.  Perhaps!  But does it make sense to increase out debt ceiling in order to fund non-government bad debt?

According to CNN – “Rep. Barney Frank, a high-ranking Democrat, said he is convinced that by Sunday, lawmakers will reach a deal on the proposed $700 billion bailout of the nation’s financial system.”

The source said that when a plan is reached, Congress will not authorize a full $700 billion expenditure at once. Instead, it will be broken into a series of smaller transactions. The amount of the initial allotment continues to change, the source said.

The talks had stalled after House Republicans said they couldn’t go along with plans devised by the White House. Later, congressional leaders on both sides said they would send representatives to take part in negotiations.

Regardless of comments from private citizens, it appears that we, as a country, are hooked on debt and this bailout will happen.  The concept of paying for what you consume is dead.  The increase in the debt ceiling would make it such that (if it had to be paid back) each American would shoulder some $38,000 each to pay the debt.  Nothing is free and make no mistake that a bail out is nothing more than the Government propping up failed private business failures.  The whole process is much like maxing out your credit cards – having collection agents call – and solving the problem by getting a new card with a higher limit.  The problem isn’t solved…it’s only an illusion.

It’s not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem – the problem is we don’t have, as a nation, the will to be fiscally responsible and until we do so – we will continue to burden ourselves and our children with debt.

As a business ethics speaker I often say: Every choice has a consequence.  That is true for individuals, company’s and governments.  Debt must someday be paid or we will be owned by the lender.  Maybe someday our politicians will have the ethics to stop our policies that continue to increase our debt and begin to operate in a manner that respects those who are governed.

Your comments are welcome!


Clinton, Obama, McCain, Romney – Are There Ethics in Presidential Campaigns?

January 8, 2008

With New Hampshire behind them and other states primaries staring them squarely in the face – I wonder if the population feels that the front runners in this presidential campaign are ethical?

As I began to ponder that question, a larger more important question loomed. What is the definition of ethics or ethical behavior?

The copyrighted world wide definition of ETHICS involves two parts:

  • Doing specific things to make yourself and the world better, and
  • Avoiding doing other things so that you don’t needlessly hurt yourself, or others with bad personal judgement.

While I am sure that those who have clearly found the candidate they wish to support in this 2008 presidential election will have a strong opinion, the question is – do the front running candidates (thus far) have the ethics or ethical foundation to stay the course and make American’s proud?

All the candidates (as far as I can tell) would meet the first qualification for ethics – doing specific things to make yourself and your world better.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won New Hampshire’s Democratic primary Tuesday night, pulling out a stunning victory over Sen. Barack Obama in a contest that she had been forecast to lose.

“I come tonight with a very full heart and I want especially to thank New Hampshire,” she told a jubliant crowd at her campaign headquarters in Manchester. “Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice.

Clinton has stated that she is an agent for change. She clearly wishes to get the message out that she desires to do something good for America.

Barack Obama speech excerpt: “We are choosing hope over fear. We’re choosing unity over division, and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

The time has come for a President who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who will listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.”

Obama, likewise, has a vision and passion for where he sees America headed. Clearly the first definition of Ethics – meet.

Senator John McCain speech excerpt: “We live in momentous times. We face a global threat from enemies for whom no attack is too cruel. The world is changing in profound ways. We need to make those changes work for us and for all people who share our beliefs in free markets and free people. Our government has failed to meet some of its most basic responsibilities and the American people have lost trust i n their leaders. This election is about big things, not small ones. We can’t muddle through the next four years, bickering among ourselves, and leave to others the work that is ours to do.”

McCain – ethical – yep – as far as the first definition goes as you can see from his remarks above.

Mitt Romney comments in a speech: “My campaign is about changing Washington to strengthen America: I want to build a stronger military, a stronger economy, and stronger families. I call these the three legs of the Republican stool. These three unite the coalition of conservatives that Ronald Reagan championed – defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and social conservatives.

“We won’t win the White House with only two out of three or one out of three. Republicans win the White House by motivating all three parts of our coalition to carry us to victory. We’re not going to beat Hillary Clinton by acting like Hillary Clinton.”

Well…by my account much less vision here with Romney than with the others, but it might be in appropriate to judge based on a quote from a speech.

The real issue with ethics won’t necessarily be found in the first part of the definition, that’s the easy part for most. Rather, it will be found in the second part. “Avoiding doing other things so that you don’t needlessly hurt yourself, or others with bad personal judgment.”

When the heat of the campaign arises – the real test will be who sticks to the VISION for the future of America or who gravels in the mud to sling the most dirt.

Chuck Gallagher - The Ethics Expert

Speaking of Ethics a little advertisement:

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