Don’t let the pundits or politicians tempt you into believing bogus reasons for this week’s Wall Street meltdown in specific, or our current financial crisis in general. One reason alone stands at the top of the heap for causing this utterly inexcusable debacle: lack of financial integrity.
Lack of Financial Integrity has at its foundation three insane assumptions:
- A healthy society’s most important and over-riding goal is economic growth.
(It isn’t. To understand why click here.)
- The individuals, companies and industries responsible for generating the greatest economic growth should therefore have the most power to influence government officials.
(The founding fathers did not have it in mind that corporations should be treated like individual voting citizens and they certainly didn’t have it in mind that corporations and industries should have easier access and greater influence over congresspeople than the citizens who elected them!! Do you know what this preferential access is called? Lobbying… and massive campaign bribes that are mislabeled with the politically correct term, "contributions");
- Accumulating ever-increasing amounts of debt is a perfectly acceptable strategy for maintaining the appearance of economic growth
(Despite the US government being trillions of dollars in debt and continuing to approve deficit budgets, it is now bailing out Wall Street for investment bank meltdowns caused massive debt that reflects their equally massive lack of financial integrity).
Lack of Financial Integrity in government and businesses legitizimizes lack of Financial Integrity in citizens.
Government models, citizens follow. Here are four damaging delusions fueling lack of Financial Integrity in everyday citizens:
- The amount of life fulfillment I can attain depends on the amount of money I can accumulate (my own endless economic growth);
- Accumulating massive consumer debt is an appropriate alternative to wealth as a way to achieve the life fulfillment I seek (if the government and businesses do it, why can’t I too?!);
- Reckless investing strategies are acceptable ways to accumulate the wealth that will buy me life fulfillment (banks and investment houses are looking out for my best interests, aren’t they?);
- I am entitled to be bailed out by the government when my corrupt tactics bankrupt me, because all I was trying to do was pursue my constitutionally granted right to happiness. (After all, if they’ll bail out Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, why not me too?)
So, you see, understanding the cause of our massive financial meltdown is is not rocket science. It’s as simple to understand as breathing is to anyone without a lung ailment that prevents them from knowing what normal breathing feels like. Lack of Financial Integrity is not the equivalent of an allergy, asthma or a cold. It is the equicvalent advanced lung cancer. And we need to stop denying this in order to avoid this having to get worse before we finally become willing to wake up.
The good news is it’s not yet too late for the patient (individual citizens, our country and our economy) to be restored to health. But, as Aldous Huxley said, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." In other words, we will never recognize what we need to do to save the patient until we truly understand what is killing him/her.
Now is not the time for us as individuals, citizens and leaders to continue to "reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting," as HL Menken put it.
Rather, now is the time to bring ourselves back into Financial Integrity as individuals.
Now is the time for leaders in business and especially on Wall Street to restore Financial Integrity so that they stop forcing the government to over-regulate them because they refuse to rein in their own unbridled greed while claiming they are simply following the laws of capitalism in a free market economy that makes everything come out right in the end.
Now is the time for us as citizens to elect politicians who understand enough about the basic economic truths I have stated in this post to bring our government back into Financial integrity.
We will not know what to do or who to elect until we stop investing our belief in the delusion that economic growth is the key to our wellbeing and fulfillment. We will not co-create the solutions we need as long as we believe that the imperative of stimulating economic growth justifies us sacrficing our own integrity and our children’s futures in order to achieve it.
Once you are ready to understand all of this, you are ready to help restore personal, relationship, societal and financial integrity.
Once you are ready to do your part to help restore all of these aspects that comprise true integrity, the second thing you need to finally embrace is that integrity and life fulfillment are inseparable.
The third thing you need to know is that integrity is not simply a good intention or a high ideal — it is a specific set of actions that require a specific set of skills that few of us have but virtually all of us can learn.
My two-award-winning book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World, maps out precisely what those behaviors are and how to develop the skills necessary for integrity-centered life fulfillment.
So, yes there’s plenty you CAN do about all of this, beginning today. Get your copy and get started!