Sunday, December 23, 2007

Confucianism and Economics

I believe America can benefit greatly from Confucianism. I am thinking more and more that Americans interested in Confucianism should want to see Confucian ethics make inroads on Wall Street.

American finance has suffered many shocks from unethical business. How many shocks can the economy absorb before the harm becomes irreparable?

A few years back we suffered a crisis in the savings and loan industry and many savings and loan banks were driven essentially into bankruptcy. Then World Com created a bubble in the internet business with a false report about projected internet usage. Now we have the sub-prime mortgage scandal. Dishonest businessmen have probably inflicted more financial losses upon America than the Al Qaeda attack of 9/11.

In the Dec. 23, 2007 issue of the Sunday New York Times, Ben Stein wrote in his "Everybody's Business" column an article entitled: "Tattered Standard of Duty on Wall Street."

Here is his concluding paragraph:
"... are we a nation if there is no meaningful restraint on what people can do with an offering statement and a computer screen inside our borders? We surely cannot remain a republic under law if there is no law except the axiom from "Richard II" that "they well deserve to have, that know the strong'st and surest way to get."

His point is that businessmen at reputable companies are violating their fiduciary duty and getting away with it.

Confucianism cares about the prosperity of the people and about moral leadership. The salt and iron debates and Mencius's discussion of the Well-Field system prove that Confucians have historically cared about economics and taxes when the people's prosperity was threatened.

The people's prosperity is threatened today. Confucians can and should work to restore fairness and ethics to Wall Street.


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