Monday, January 19, 2009

Ethics for Sale: Geithner’s Selling, Obama’s Buying

It seems that ethics in government are somewhat flexible depending on economic circumstances of the nation. Mr. Obama’s nominee for the job of Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, just forgot to pay his payroll taxes while he was an employee of the International Monetary Fund. Certainly a mere $40,000 in underpayments could slip even the most vigilant taxpayer. But you see Mr. Geithner did not pay the taxes until he became a nominee for the Treasury job.

But Democrats and Republicans in the House, Senate and in-coming Obama Administration are arguing that in this very, very treacherous economic time, we must not saddle nominees with needlessly high hurdles. It is argued that we can ill afford to lose this individual with otherwise impeccable credentials. That is if we also turn a blind eye to the fact that he employed a housekeeper who was in the country illegally.

However, I argue that there are two issues at work here. First, ethical standards should not be this malleably and salable. Second even if we wish to abandon our ethical standards, should we do it for this candidate? He has been working behind the scenes during this economic meltdown that began on September 18. Thus far, I think we should all have some doubts regarding his capabilities.

Is this change we can believe in?

Ernie Goss

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