Our View: Greed versus integrity

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:02 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

There is an integrity-deficit in this nation, and it’s without prejudice; it affects the rich, the poor, the well-connected and the forgotten.

Extremely ugly events occurred in two Walmart stores in Louisiana. Shelves were cleared by a Black Friday-like influx of shoppers who discovered that their electronic benefit cards (EBT), used for food stamps, had no limit. Those with the EBT cards cleared Walmart’s shelves, packing their shopping carts with as many products as could fit. When the EBT glitch was finally fixed, shoppers abandoned their carts and left the store. The situation was so bad that police had to be called to keep order. The chaos is captured, of course, on YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHJkH34zUyQ).

Those shoppers were not confused. They knew what the dollar limits to their EBT cards were. They simply lacked the integrity to do what is right. They see the government as not someone giving them a hand, but rather handouts.

Of course, they are not alone in choosing greed over integrity. Moral deficits exist at every level of American society. The Great Recession was caused — in part — by “regulators” allowing big business to get way with packaging investment tripe with a Triple-A rating. Businesses sold innumerable homes with loan terms that even a 12-year-old could see were wrong. As a result of the past several years, the once-popular idea that Wall Street represented solid, honest investment principles has been shattered forever.

Even today the greed-over-integrity mantra exists. Banks charge outrageous fees — 2 percent to 4 percent — for credit card swipes. For debit card swipes, banks charge 24 cents a swipe. Those are far higher than the 24 cents, for credit cards, and 12 cents, for debit cards, that were once proposed by the Federal Reserve. These excessive swipe fees cost each family in the U.S. about $400 annually on average. The banks do this because they can, just as the EBT users cleared Walmart because they could.

There is a huge integrity deficit in this nation. If not stemmed, it will continue to corrode our values and harm our society.

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