Financial Versus Ethical Decision Making in a Masters of Finance

The last five or six years have not been great for the reputations of those in finance. Be it Wall Street scandals or corporate finance meltdowns, finance and ethics are under closer scrutiny than ever before. If you want to go into finance, it is still a good time – jobs are still out there. If you are pursuing higher education, though, you should use that opportunity to consider the ethical impact of financial decisions.

Recent Events and You

Those going into the financial sector are under much more ethical scrutiny than in the past. Whether those outside the field are becoming more savvy as to the amount of power wielded by those in finance or the fact that recent scandals have shed light on some of the more unsavory practices of corporate finance, more people are looking at those with financial responsibility than ever. As such, it is next to impossible for any individual pursuing a degree to consider the field one of simply numbers. One must take the time to examine not only how one can fulfill his or her fiduciary duty, but what makes an individual a model financial citizen. Doing so, as you might imagine, is more complex than many realize.

Broadening Your Scope

One of the better ways to consider ethical decision making when pursuing a master’s degree is to make sure that you keep yourself open to unique course opportunities. Most schools that offer a finance course will offer at least one course of financial ethics, usually to those finishing the degree. While these courses are invaluable, it might be wise to consider ethics courses outside the finance department if they can help you to fulfill your credit requirements. Having the ability to look outside your field for ethical guidance may help you as you pursue your career in finance.

Within the Field

There are many great opportunities during class to discuss the ethical ramifications of certain actions, a fact that teachers and students alike should consider. You should always be on the lookout for an explanation to the “why” of an action, not just the “how”. This can help to keep you grounded in the real world even as you explore theory and allow you a chance to stay ahead of the curve set by your peers.

If you want to pursue a master’s of finance, you need to think about the real world. Balancing numbers is not enough – you have to realize that those numbers represent very real parts of human lives. If you can balance your ethics and duty, you can excel. If you cannot, though, you might be caught in the same problems as some of the former leading stars of the financial world.

Work Ethic and Attitudes of Entitlement

A Short History of Education

We in the U.S. view education is a “right” because the laws mandating required attendance give parents no optional choice, other than homeschooling. What most people don’t understand is that education is federally funded to develop a workforce that meets the needs of the national economy and businesses’ needs for a skilled workforce. These laws began when manufacturing was located in cities where there was an abundant supply of unskilled workers. Manufacturers employed children for reasons of size (fingers, hands, bodies that could reach into small spaces) and economics (children would be paid less).

Businesses wanted a workforce that could follow directions and do repetitive tasks. Sometimes those tasks developed into skills not associated with machines. An example is that mechanics became experts on machine maintenance and repair. Imagine living in our current world without a mechanic! As machines become more complicated, employers wanted employees who were at least literate to some degree. By requiring children to attend school and learn to read and compute, fewer children were employed. The growing number of adult workers, many of whom were immigrants, took advantage of the situation.

What has pushed the age at which a child can legally drop out of school was the need to stop children from taking jobs potentially for adults who had families to support. The body of laws governing the labor force under age 18 is called the child labor laws. These regulate the number of hours and the times during which adolescents can work during the school day, on weekends and during the summer. They also regulate the type of jobs younger workers can have. An example is someone may work in a fast food restaurant between the hours of 4 pm and 8 or 9 pm and for 8 hours on the weekends, no later than 9 or 10 pm; the same individual cannot drive a vehicle. Insurance regulations usually limit heavy equipment to those over the age of 25.

Current Education

Employers became used to having responsible, skilled adults as employees. The standards for literacy increased and jobs that once were designated as manual work became skilled. Labor unions started demanding specific training programs: apprenticeships and journeymen were stepping stones to full membership. The vocational and technical schools, once at the high school level, became post secondary. Because students had higher levels of education, text books required higher levels of reading which sounded the silent death knell for people who would rather physically do than academically achieve.

The prevailing logic on student achievement is that everyone can achieve at grade level. Grade level is the average achievement of students at a particular age. Average, of course, means that there are students achieving above as well as below. Enrollment in school according to birth dates creates a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional maturation (hence, readiness) for skills instruction in any given classroom. Beginning in kindergarten, grade level instruction means the students has achieved certain developmental milestones. What happens when the instructional content requires specific developmental stages to master it, but the child is not at that developmental level? Remedial instruction has been replaced with “intervention” strategies (more, longer, harder) rather than finding and teaching any missing skills to provide a strong foundation for higher levels of instruction. Children develop attitudes toward their assignments: do it and get it done, who cares if it is correct?

The student begins the failure syndrome. Policies regarding retention for students ensure everyone is promoted, regardless of whether or not they have attained skills mastery at any grade level. This tends not to happen in high school where credits must be earned, although students are placed in their age appropriate grade even if they have few credits to warrant that placement. Students have become accustomed to being entitled to be promoted to the next grade or graduated to the next school level. The logic against retention is that it causes age and/or maturation difficulties for the student and his peers. Social relationships suffer with maturational differences, especially in elementary school. There are psychological stressors on the child because there are misunderstandings as to why he was retained. An additional problem is what would teachers do differently the second or third time around?

Developing a Work Ethic

Promoting a child with his age group (social promotion) enables him to carry the attitude that he will progress no matter what he does or doesn’t master. The initial shock comes in high school where he must earn credits toward graduation. Students, unaccustomed to work completion and studying, come into conflict with state requirements for graduation. Unless they adapt and develop those skills, they will fail both in school and in the workplace. Unfortunately, many haven’t learned the basic skills and attitudes on which to build a work ethic. Employers are disenchanted with the workforce because fewer individuals have the skills that employers want: self-discipline; ability and willingness to be responsible for standards levels of performance by the self and the group; ability and willingness to solve complex problems; ability and willingness to communicate appropriate with others, both peers and supervisors.

The work ethic, the belief that doing one’s best on a job at all times, has been disappearing from this country. In part, our social welfare programs are responsible, because individuals’ basic needs are assured. When individuals do not qualify for those programs, as illegal immigrants do, the worth ethic is alive and well because there is the need to work and remain employed for survival. Fewer people have that inner drive to achieve and be proud of what they accomplish.

The work ethic and achievement values have been replaced at school by social attitudes and fairness. Mediocrity at school and work has been rewarded. Peers view work achievement and a strong work ethic with suspicion because those qualities make others look “bad”. Social pressure prevails unless the individual changes jobs often.

Work Ethic, Education and Parenting

All the furor about education reform does not address the work achievement or work ethic attitudes. It tries to establish standards for basic literacy and/or information. It does not address what should worry employers most: work ethic and workplace skills and behavior. Those skills most easily manifest in children when they are successful in school tasks and take pride in their accomplishments. That means that children need parental support to help them master the basics so they can comply with requirements at school. A work ethic begins at home: compliance with parents’ directions for chores, achieving praise and rewards for special achievements, and seeing the parent taking his/her jobs seriously. Parents needing more support can visit Parents Teach Kids for help.

Ethical Issues in the Pauline Epistles

Ethical Issues in the Pauline Epistles (Part 2)

Introduction

This article is a sequel to Ethical issues in the Pauline Epistles (Part 1) which dealt with such ethical issues as-Jewish and Gentile Christian relationship; and The believers’ conduct. Here, in part 2 of this same topic the discussion continues by taking on board such additional vital ethical aspects as- The Abuse of Christian liberty; Public worship; Household codes. The Universal ecclesia must have a clear attitudinal understanding of these issues in order to be the true ecclesia of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ibid, pp. 521-2.

The Abuse of Christian Liberty

The Corinthians, in their letter to Paul, raised questions concerning the propriety of eating the meat of an animal offered in a pagan sacrifice. According to David Lowery, the Corinthians’ questions apparently concerned: a) the acceptability of buying meet from pagan sacrifice sold in the market; b) the acceptability of eating the meat as an invited guest in a friends home; c) the acceptability of attending one of these pagan sacrifices and enjoying the meal of celebration, which followed in the temple precincts.13 These issues have to do basically with the Corinthians’ freedom and rights. For the more mature Corinthian Christians, as Paul explained, ‘an idol is nothing at all and there is no God but one, and as such eating food offered to idols was, in itself, inconsequential. However, not all Corinthians agreed that an idol was nothing. The weaker brothers who were led participate with the stronger brother have their conscience defiled. So, Paul’s response was that even though the stronger brethren can be justified for exercising their freedom, yet they failed to observe one basic and underlying principle – that is, love. Even though their knowledge about idols gave them freedom to participate, yet because of love for their weaker brother they should have refrained from eating. Therefore, Paul advises that the example of Christ should be followed. In this situation, it will involve giving up one’s freedom or right for the sake of the weaker brother.

Public Worship

With reference to public worship, three of the issues the apostle addressed were as follows: a) The state of the woman in worship (I Cor. 11:2-10); the state of Christians as the Lord’s supper (11:17-34); and the state of spiritual gifts (Chap. 12-14).

a) The State of Women in Worship

The problem concerning women in the Corinthian Church was about head covering. As David Lowery observed, ‘It seems that the Corinthian slogan, everything is permissible; had been applied to meeting of the Church as well, and the Corinthian women had expressed that principle by throwing off their distinguishing dress. More importantly they seem to have rejected the concept of subordination within the Church (and perhaps in society) and with it any cultural symbol e.g. a head covering), which might have been attached to it.’ From the above quote it could be seen that the issue is not simply about head covering, but rather the behaviour of insubordination of women in public worship. Lowery further observed that Paul first laid down the theological basis of his counsel concerning this issue. Paul stated that for a woman to throw off the covering was an act not of liberation but of degradation and she dishonors her spiritual head, the man. Paul argues that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man and the head of Christ is God. The woman therefore had to put on her head covering to honour the man.

b) The State of Christians at the Lord’s Supper

Ibid, p. 529
Ibid, p. 530.

According to Lowery, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper with his disciples, the bread and cup were part of a meal, with the bread probably broken near the beginning and the cup taken at the end. By the time Paul wrote, the Lord’s Supper was celebrated in two stages, which consolidated the partaking of the bread and cup at the end of a communal meal. The worship with the bread and cup came to be called the Agape. However, in the Corinthian celebration the agape meal had become an occasion not marked by love for fellow Christians but one of self-centered indulgence. Paul noted that an experience meant to build up the Church was actually having the opposite effect – ‘your meeting do more harm than good’. The Lord’s Supper should be the remembrance of a pre-eminently selfless act, Christ’s death on behalf of others. Instead, the Corinthian have turned this memorial into an experience of selfishness and brought disunity into the body. Paul made the theological significance of the Lord’s Supper very clear to the Corinthians. They were to celebrate in memory of what Christ has done for them – his death, burial and resurrection, and also in hope of his return.

c) The State of Spiritual gifts

The Corinthian believers manifest in their worship service the manifold gifts of the spirit. But the way in which believers used their gifts causes problems and brings disorder in their services. Especially the spectacular gifts, like tongues. They consider these gifts as sign of spirituality gift.

Household Codes

J.D. Douglas rightly observed that one of the distinctive features of Paul’s Epistles is the recurrence of the so-called household codes (Eph. 5:22ff, col. 3:18ff, I Tim. 2:8ff, Titus 2:2ff) though as Douglas stated, they are conservative in tone, yet they are clear indications that there were issues in the Churches which demands these codes.16 One of` these household codes, which deal with the relationship between ‘masters and slaves’, will be discussed. This particular relationship has been selected because Paul had to address this issue in a concrete situation between Philemon a slave master and Onesimus his runaway slave.

In his commentary on the Epistle to Philemon, Edwin C. Deibler Wrote, ‘Onesimus a slave of Philemon had runaway having evidently robbed the master (Phil, 18). His travel somehow brought him to Rome, where in the providence of God, he came in contact with Paul. Through this contact, Paul led Onesimus to know Christ as Saviour.’ Paul decided to send Onesimus back to his master, but was very much concerned how Philemon will react. So, in his letter to Philemon, he challenged him on the basis of their relationship with Christ to receive Onesimus as a brother.

Conclusion

In this article and its counterpart some of the ethical issues raised in the Pauline epistles have been discussed: 1 Jewish and Gentile Christian relationship. 2. The believers’ conduct. 3. The abuse of Christian liberty. 4.Public worship. 5.Household codes. The format used was as follows: first, the theological basis for Paul’s ethical teaching was examined. In this examination it was found out that Paul based his teaching on the doctrine of Christ – his death burial and resurrection, and on his example of humility and love. The underlying principle in Paul’s ethical teaching is that the church or the ecclesia of Christ is a new community of believers who can only influence the world positively and make disciples of all nations by their consistent Christian witness.

J. D. Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962), p. 354.

Edwin C. Deibler, Philemon: The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Illinois: Victor Books, 1983), p. 769.