Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Ethics" and a newspaper full of scandals, again.

"Ethics" is a word that means nothing, because it means
too many things.

I went to a talk yesterday evening entitled,
"Ethics reform, What is Happening in Albuquerque?"

It wasn't about ethics reform at all, it was about election reform.
The word really means nothing anymore.

I have been deeply involved in "ethics" training in the APS for
more than a decade. I have the training and the experience to
offer, if not an "expert" opinion, at least a very "informed" opinion.

I submit; if the word "ethics" has any honest meaning at all,
it means telling the truth.

Yet, no one who is talking about "ethics" reform, is talking about
telling the truth. No one is talking about telling the truth, at all.

I defy anyone to point to a "problem" in government that would
not be alleviated if the entire truth were on the public record.

I defy anyone to point to a legitimate agenda that does not move
forward on the day that we know the whole truth about
the spending of our trust and treasure.

The difference between ethics and laws, centers on ownership
of the truth.

Under "ethics", the truth belongs to stakeholders,
all of it*.

Under "the law", the truth belongs to its custodian,
and will be shared with stakeholders according to the law.
And the law allows the truth to be hidden from stakeholders
by means of loopholes, technicalities, and other forms of legal

It is time to abandon the use of the word "ethics" entirely,
and instead, start using the phrase "truth telling".

Ask any public servant if they are ethical, and their answer
will be, "Of course I am."

Ask them if they are telling the whole truth, limited only by
the spirit of the law, and they will say, "No comment".

I rest my case.

*There are a very few exceptions, they are defined according
to the "spirit" of open government laws.

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