Ethics Newsline

Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, last week examined the global economic crisis and the accompanying angst over the future of capitalism. In a wide-ranging essay titled “Greed is Good: Up to a Point” Zakaria concluded with this observation about the difference between law and ethics as it applies to capitalism: “Most of what happened over the past decade across the world was legal. Bankers did what they were allowed to do under the law. Politicians did what they thought the system asked of them. Bureaucrats were not exchanging cash for favors. But very few people acted responsibly, honorably or nobly (the very word sounds odd today). This might sound like a small point, but it is not. No system — capitalism, socialism, whatever — can work without a sense of ethics and values at its core. No matter what reforms we put in place, without common sense, judgment and an ethical standard, they will prove inadequate.”