Ethics, according to Webster, is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad under a moral duty and obligation — the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group. In addition, morals usually connote an element of subjective preference, while ethics tend to suggest aspects of universal fairness and the question of whether or an action is responsible.

Ethics involve some weird stuff. For instance, most of us aren’t sure what they are until we experience one. As well ethics cut both ways, you know when you violated one and you know when you clung to one.

There are all kinds of ethics, professional, work, Christian and among many others, business. Ethics are not laws but violating them has a similar effect in defining one’s character, and that’s where ethics become tough to define. Each of us has ethical boundaries, lines we won’t cross and lines that we don’t allow others to cross. As well most of our ethics evolve based on our experiences with others, thus most ethics are found/created/used when interacting with the world around us.

In essence ethics are the unwritten rules that govern our lives and it’s here where I wonder about the concept of business ethics and their effect on how we govern ourselves. Either of my loyal readers might disagree but I think the concept of business ethics is an oxymoron. Stay with me here.

Most academics I know appreciate that business ethics entail the concept of whatever the market will bear — rephrased it means whatever the free market can get away with. It seems to me that when you couple this with our capitalist free market uneducated consumers get taken for a ride. Ever felt you got ripped off by one of your purchases, bosses, co-workers, friends?

Thus unlike many of my political cronies I can’t help but wonder why we allow business to literally govern us. It seems to me that our latest example of this would have to be our current president. Here’s a guy who made his fortune in an incredibly unethical manner (check his bankruptcy business record; it seems rather ruthless to me) and he seems to have convinced our electoral college that he’s just what we need.

I find this rather incredulous, we know less about him and can’t find out much more than we already know (think tax returns) about him than any president in my lifetime. This insults my sense of public service. You and I are that public and the leaders we elect need to have a better type of ethics than “whatever they can get away with.”

I realize that most folks around town will pummel my thinking here, but even with all his supposed accomplishments I am beyond angered about this Trump and Russia thing.

There isn’t any doubt that Russia meddled in our election, Trump’s people made some promises about Russian sanctions, and rather than help us figure out who did what, Trump has convinced too many of my neighbors that it’s all “fake news.” The bottom line here is that Russia has affected our ability to not only mistrust our electoral system but each other as well. Round 1, Russia has won.

Yet our president is acting like the time my mom caught me smoking in the basement. I had just inhaled a drag when she came around the corner asking, “Are you smoking?’” To which I said “no” while exhaling smoke into her face.

May your ethics be above and beyond reproach.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, non-profit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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