"No Capitalism Without Conscience"

Bush gave his long-awaited corporate accountability speech today. Not much was said that was unexpected, but that doesn’t negate the effect of the speech. President Bush is turning this from an issue of corporate accounting and turning it into a morality issue. In essence, President Bush is taking the same take on the issue as the great Peggy Noonan piece from a few weeks ago.

President Bush is doing is taking the right take on this issue. Personal responsibility issues tend to be Republican issues, and these corporate scandals are personal responsibility issues. President Bush has taken the right steps to prosecute those who condone such accounting abuses, but when millions of dollars are on the line, preventing such abuses, especially when the accounting firms are complicit, will be difficult. The penalties for violating disclosure laws should be strengthened to ensure compliance, but increased government intervention won’t necessarily be any more effective than the current regulations. The problem lies with a basic lack of ethics in business, and until businesses start practicing basic principals of moral capitalism such as honesty and transparency, these problems will only continue.

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