According to Dictionary.com, shrewd is defined as astute or sharp in practical matters, keen, piercing, and artful, while corrupt is defined as guilty of dishonest practices, lacking integrity, crooked, debased in character, wicked, evil, to destroy integrity of, and to lower morally. The shame is that corrupt practices can be seen as shrewd when in fact they are not. Are some supporting corruption because they think they’re supporting shrewd?
The United States of America has been known around the world for its virtue and its commitment to democracy making it difficult for autocrats to take over the world. We had a reputation for honest dealings, morality, respect for the common good, duty to God and country, helping others, high values and scrupulous ethics. This statement may be seen as a naive sense of morality that no longer exists or that may have never existed, but it was an ideal to live up to.
It seems that corrupt acts have become more acceptable to mainstream Americans in both business and politics. In an article called, Despite the recent scandals, ‘business ethics’ isn’t a contradiction in terms by Janna Thompson (The Drum, 10/5/2015), the author states that “…virtue generally rewards companies, at least in societies where corruption is not rife.” That is good news for us, unless we are becoming rife with corruption. Are we in danger?
We must be vigilant by creating a system that supports ethical behavior. The author continues, ethics, however, may fail “…when there is a direct conflict between the needs of a business and doing the right thing. If the survival of a company depends on cutting ethical corners, then the temptations to do so will be very strong. Unethical behavior is more prevalent in small businesses or franchises where profit margins are small and survival is always in doubt. Big corporations are generally in a better position to act ethically. But their ethical probity can be undermined by a culture that encourages, aggressive, risk-taking behavior. It is ironic that the competitive risk-taking, unregulated economy that many politicians want to encourage is an environment conductive to unethical behavior.”
We must hold our business and political leaders accountable by rewarding ethical behavior and punishing corrupt practices. Corrupt practices are unacceptable in our democracy! Is our current leader shrewd or corrupt?