I just finished by Master's Degree in Information Management at ASU - congratulations to me! - and was a little surprised at one of the convocation speeches. If I remember correctly, it was the Dean of the School of Business, and what was surprising was how many times he talked about ethics and being ethical. He spoke of President Obama's commencement speech that blamed the current financial crisis on Wall Street and urged all of us to conform to ethical standards so that we do not have these sort of crises in the future.
I was struck at how true those statements were. Many on the left are blaming our problems on under-regulated capitalism. Their solution is more regulation. I don't think that's the case. Our current financial problems have been caused by greed and lack of ethics. More regulation may or may not have slowed the descent but as long as greedy and unethical behaviour continues, we will continue to have these issues. Capitalism, like democracy, can only function well in honest and ethical hands.
One of the great things about capitalism is that it's self-correcting. Businesses run by the greedy and unethical tend to collapse in on themselves (Enron, Worldcom, large banks, etc). This clears the way for other businesses to step in and take their place. Unfortunately, our government has decided that certain businesses are too big to fail and are propping up those companies with taxpayer money. This seems to send the message that it's OK to lie, cheat, and steal as long as you know that the government won't let you fail. I don't think that's right.
We live in difficult times. We are suffering from the aftermath of unrestrained selfishness and greed. I hope that as a society, we can overcome this and start bringing ethics back into business and government alike. That is the only way we will be able to weather this storm.