Who Has Integrity,The Indispensable Element

March 30th, 2010
Jim Thomas

A great many people.  Forces at work in modern life may threaten the First Great Virtue, but they have not defeated it.  Irrespective of everyday accounts of greed, scandal, ethical fiascoes, and moral indifference, this country is full of upright people.

W ho are they?  Quietly, often unknown outside close circles, they practice the ancient, sovereign virtue of integrity—in their personal lives, professions, enterprises, and organizations.  .  They stand up and are counted in the face of opposing views.  They hold fast to the right kind of principles, standards, and in public view.  Sports Illustrated once gave an account of yacht builder Robert Derecktor.  In his boat works at Mamaroneck, New York all that is slipshod is eliminated.  Only the best of workmanship and material are tolerated.  No vessel is released to its owner until Derecktor himself is satisfied it measures up to his ideas of what a “first-class craft should be.”ideas.  They place a high premium on self-respect, and they embody the better elements of our nature.

Stuart Chase described businessman Jolyn Forsyste, as one “who ransacked the world for quality tea products, sold only the finest, took a good round profit on the deal, apologized to no one, had no animistic corporate god to serve, and called his soul his own.”

n January 31 of this year, the National Football League established the Don Shula Award.  In announcing its creation, Commissioner Goodell stated the award would go to football coaches who display the integrity and positive impact demonstrated by former Miami Dolphins coach, Don Shula.

And then we have Brooksley Born.  A brilliant lawyer who graduated at the top of her class at Stanford Law School, and an expert in commodities and futures trading, she became Chair of a lesser known federal agency, the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission.  She and her staff began studying the rapidly expanding, unregulated, largely undocumented, over-the-counter derivatives market.

The evidence convinced her the situation posed great risk to the entire financial system.  She concluded certain regulations were mandatory and urged their adoption.  She repeatedly appealed to the highest authorities in the administration and in testimony before congressional committees.  Her proposals were rejected.  The financial collapse of 2008 ensued, with derivatives one of the chief culprits.

Born  resigned.  Today, financial reforms are likely to contain her proposals.  She herself demonstrated unimpeachable integrity in standing fast on the right ideas, even when met with opposition.

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