All is fair in love and war and, well, pretty much everything else it seems. In fact, do we even know what ‘fair’ means anymore?
By Jamie Adams
Actually, I think we seem to have run straight past the concept of ‘fair’ and left it behind us in the dust like a long distance runner fuelled on a cocktail of steroids and stimulants.
It isn’t the taking part, it’s the winning that counts, and that now seems to be the mantra from sport and politics through to business.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a charming 1988 film where Steve Martin and Michael Caine played two conmen, loveable rogues hurting no one other than themselves. They were the south of France equivalent of ‘Del Boy Trotter’ and we looked kindly on their ducking and diving and feckless attempts to make a dishonest quid.
But the year before, Gordon Gekko had told us that ‘greed was good’ and we listened to that, and took it to heart. “The point is,” said Michael Douglas in ‘Wall Street’, “greed is right, greed works.”
Gimee, gimee, gimee.
The stock market and the ballot box began to tell us that the end justified the means and once we bought into that the brakes were off and, it seems to me, we have slid downhill ever since. The question that gets asked isn’t, ‘are we right to do this’ but, ‘will we get caught if we do this?’
Five banks have just been fined £935m for clubbing together to rig the foreign exchange market. Banks. Thirty years ago banks were places that criminals broke in to, not places they worked at.
And it certainly seems as if advances in technology have outstripped any thinking we might have done about the moral implications of the same.
Facebook started as a way for college kids to stay in touch with each other. 2.3 billion members and over $600 billion later it faces moral questions that it seems completely incapable of answering.
Other Silicon Valley giants like Amazon and Uber seem to be much better at looking after their bottom line than caring for the people who work for them.
The sheer scale of the numbers that web based companies can generate seems to blind them to the fact that those numbers represent people. Treat an individual badly and you are a poor businessman, do the same to ten million and you are an internet entrepreneur.
Greedy for votes.
Politicians are meant to reflect the will of the people and it hasn’t taken Westminster or Washington long to catch on to the new morality, or lack of it.
‘Post-truth politics’ was a phrase coined in 2015.
Social media and the ability to publish, share and promote content that appeared to be news – to have been checked and proven to be true when in fact it hadn’t – helped politicians and political parties say pretty much whatever they wanted. It all came to a head in 2018 when Cambridge Analytica was caught misusing Facebook data to influence the US elections.
Of course, politicians value the human touch and are perfectly capable of lying for themselves. In today’s political arena, opinions are presented as facts and history is rewritten so quickly that the ink doesn’t have time to dry.
Whatever side of the Brexit divide you sit on, we can all agree that facts on the subject have been few and far between.
Show me the money.
And what seems to drive most of this dirty rotten behaviour is money, lots and lots of money.
Arms companies’ reckless sale of weapons to countries that flout humanitarian law.
The stock market throws a fit if profits aren’t up year on year.
VW install cheating software to pass emissions tests.
Americans buy their way in to the top universities.
Elizabeth Holmes was the youngest self-made female billionaire thanks to her blood-testing company, until it was discovered to be a total fraud.
The Fyre festival. The Jeremy Kyle show.
The list of behaviour that no one should be proud of is almost endless.
Why has this all come about?
In the late 90’s the media began to glorify the machismo and aggression of avaricious management styles. ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu was read as a training guide for executives and managers and people were encouraged to believe that business was a zero sum game.
The fact the some villains were successful was taken to mean that you had to be a scoundrel to succeed.
But business isn’t war,
and you don’t need to be aggressive to get on.
Golden Coast has been in business for 42 years, our word is our bond and we are proud to have established and developed our business on the solid bedrock of good values and service. Does that make us old fashioned? Well, if it does, I’m happy for us to be seen that way. I can be proud of what we do and I sleep well at night.
I think that’s fair.