Today, I attended an optional lecture hosted by my professor. The lecture started halfway through my regular lunch period and lasted for an hour. Professor Mesznik explained how unethical business procedures are often cost-efficient and less risky than doing what's morally correct. One example he used was GM's malfunctioning cars that would kill a very small fraction of people. It would be much cheaper to pay the dead people compensation than it would be to recall all the cars and admit that they had done anything wrong (which would hurt their public image). Most people would probably pick the economic decision when faced with a challenge like this, but what if someone was on the receiving end? How would they feel? Would they be happy with getting $50,000 in exchange for their dead spouse, parent, or child?
It's extremely hard to be faced with tough questions that put money and morals in the same arena. If I were faced with something like this, I'd probably take too long to make the decision and by the time the decision would be made, it might still be the wrong one. My actions in a situation like this would be highly dependent on the situation, but I'd like to believe that I'd choose morals over profit.
Another example of a company placing money over concerns of their customers was the Lehman Brothers issuing mortgages. They would issue mortgages to people they knew weren't able to pay off loans and kept issuing the mortgages to others over and over which made them a lot of money at first. When people had to stop paying their mortgages because they couldn't afford them, the whole system collapsed which caused the bank to file for bankruptcy. This is one of the most outstanding exhibits of how greed can corrupt a system and I can apply this lesson to my everyday life. I always remember that what I do can have negative side-effects that I might not be able to predict but I have to accept my mistakes and move forward.