“Ethics Training”: The Feds (and My Corporate Welfare Queen Employer) Have Some Nerve!
Anyone who pays any attention to current events is no doubt familiar with the brewing Abramoff scandal, which is merely the tip of a massive iceberg of inside-the-Beltway corruption that grows ever larger in direct ratio to the American public’s apathy and ignorance. If you work for or are subcontracted to any company that does business on any level with the federal government, you are required to take part in an annual ritual called “ethics training.” I’ve just done so, and it was an absolutely surreal experience. In fact, mere words probably are not adequate to describe it, but I’ll do my best.
“Ethics training”, while it takes as many forms as there are beltway bandits and opportunists feeding at the government slop trough, consists basically of a pedantic lecture on the evils of conflict of interest, kickbacks, and violations of export controls, followed by a “test” reemphasizing the key concepts (a test, incidentally, that the individual can take over and over again until they arrive at the “right” answer and achieve a perfect score). What strikes the “indoctrinee” (that is, the hapless employee having to sit through this mind-numbing insult to one’s intelligence) hardest, other than the rank hypocrisy behind the very idea that the federal government has any business lecturing others on ethical behavior, is the vagueness that permeates the feds’ concept of “ethics.” Many of the terms written into current federal law pertaining to government procurement, contracting, and exports lack any meaningful definition. While this is typical of most legislation-turned-statutory law, it is especially blatant in those laws pertaining to federal procurement and export controls. Why is this, one might ask.
Well, for one thing, the elected class of thieves who write what today passes for law in this decaying shell of a nation are in a very sticky spot. They have to offer up some pretense, however transparently flimsy, of upholding the highest standards of law and order while helping themselves to the lucre that is part and parcel of the process of feeding the avaricious monster that is
A couple of things related to export laws really stick in my craw. First is the whole idea of “export controls” over “sensitive” or “dual-use technology.” The idea is that certain products with “dual uses” –that is, products or technologies that can have both commercial and defense uses—cannot be exported to certain “restricted” countries without an “export license” (which, by the way, is basically a bureaucratese term for “Mommy, the all-knowing, all-powerful federal caregiver, says that you may sell your product or service –THIS TIME-- to the little boy on the other side of the globe who Mommy thinks is a bad influence and whom you should generally avoid”).
First of all, name one product mankind has ever invented that can be positively said to NOT have “dual use.” I’m hard pressed to think of a single one. Hell, a can opener can be considered “dual use” without too much stretch of the imagination. Secondly, for every product to which Uncle Sam says “No, thou shalt not export thy product to [insert rogue nation du jour here]”, there is at least one other nation waiting in the wings to sell the same product or technology to the willing buyer at a price they can afford and on terms mutually favorable to all parties concerned. Thus the prohibition against exports, whether in the form of legal controls or political acts such as sanctions and embargoes, has done exactly nothing to keep “prohibited” technology out of the hands of a “rogue” nations (See “Iraq”, “North Korea”, and “Cuba” for textbook examples). The only loser in this case is the American firm, which is robbed of both competitive opportunity and revenue, although I suppose if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that loss of revenue to the company also equates to lose of tax revenue to the
Even more presumptuous is the feds’ assertion that a non-U.S. firm can be held criminally liable under U.S. export laws for reselling a piece of technology or service to a “prohibited” country, even if the product they are exporting is not a product of U.S. origin and even if the non-U.S. firm’s government does not consider the purchasing nation to be “prohibited” under its own laws. Just how Uncle Sap thinks he can enforce this arrogant and probably unconstitutional law is never explained. But no matter, since it appears that very few foreign firms really give a damn about what edicts Rome-on-the-Potomac issues anyway. If the French want to sell Mirage 2000 fighter jets to
Finally, there is the prohibition against
Let’s just say that the “knowledge” gained from this training is yet another reason that I’m accelerating my preparation to change jobs in a future nearer than I had planned for. I simply cannot continue to waste years of my life working for a company that spits in the face of everything I believe in. The private sector (or what little is left of it in this fascist-national socialist hellhole) beckons.
Oh, and by the way: I wonder if the former CIA director now on the payroll as a senior managing partner has taken this training as well. I also wonder if he’d like to lecture on the subject matter, telling the rest of us with a straight face that ethics are “non-negotiable” (a direct quote from our training course).
I didn’t think so either.