The Death of Ethics on Wall Street

Cal Thomas | Syndicated columnist | Thursday, June 27, 2002

The Death of Ethics on Wall Street

Some years ago I wrote a book called The Death of Ethics in America. Given what has happened at the top of some of our corporations, the title seems more relevant than ever.

The telecommunications giant WorldCom has admitted fraudulently cooking its books in an attempt to hide $3.8 billion in expenses. It was a gimmick that boosted cash flow over the past five quarters and lead to the illusion of greater profits. Without this financial fakery, WorldCom would have reported a net loss for 2001. Of course, now that the truth is out, heads are rolling and the company stock has tanked.

Haven’t these people heard of the verse, "Be sure your sins will find you out"?

Naturally, the stock market continued its decline, fueled mainly by unethical behavior at several companies -- beginning with Enron and Arthur Andersen.

Some of this is due to government over regulation. In the recent past, just the threat of a hostile takeover seemed enough to keep CEO’s straight. We don’t need more federal laws, but a return to market forces. What a mess! I’m Cal Thomas in Washington.