On "ethics".

PositionFROM READERS - Letter to the editor

I am writing to object to a strategy recommended by Erik Assadourian under the banner "The Living Earth Ethical Principles" [January/February World Watch].

Where is the ethics in Mr. Assadourian's recommendation to employees of "foot dragging, an effective tactic to imperceptibly slow down, whether by moving just a bit more slowly, filing papers incorrectly, or entering data with a small error (just a few examples). If done right, managers won't detect it's intentional (or you!)"?

If Mr. Assadourian and, by association, the Worldwatch Institute, advocate subterfuge and deception, let it not be under the banner of "Ethical Principles." I am truly dismayed by the lack of personal integrity and ethics put forth by this staff member of Worldwatch.


Kirkland, Washington, U.S.A.

* As a donor I hold your organization to high ethical standards. World Watch disappointed me in a part of "The Living Earth Ethical Principles: Just Livelihood and Mindful Consumption" by Erik Assadourian: "If done right, managers won't detect it's intentional (or you!) and the company's productivity will decline." One of the boldest signals of unethical and quite possibly illegal activities is when you are hiding what you are doing.

In addition, the reality is that this behavior is counterproductive to the stated goals of consumption reduction. The cost of achieving the company's mission will be increased, and cost equals consumption. Others' time will be wasted and wasted time is consumption. Innocent parties will be impacted because the perpetrator(s) have taken it upon themselves to be the prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury deciding that they know and understand everything and therefore it is appropriate to give their employer and the customer they are serving less than an honest and fair day's work.

We face real challenges restructuring our lifestyles and adapting to environmental realities. One of those challenges is to maintain a level of motivation through compensation and incentives that do not destroy our world. However, if everyone is going to live in the same tiny space, eating the same food, and wearing the same second-hand clothes, then who wants to be the manager who has to deal with childish staff who intentionally destroy what the group is trying to do? Behavior of this type is harmful to the process of moving the herd toward "mindful consumption."


McGill, Nevada, U.S.A.

Author Erik Assadourian responds: In his book Rules for...

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