Integrity

What is integrity?  The dictionary definition is simply– “The quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.”  This was the third definition listed and this is the definition I would like to discuss.

I was just watching Glen Beck on the Fox News Channel.  He is a new commentator whose programs have only been running for around two weeks or so.  (Give or take a few days), I did not start recording it until recently.  A pity, really.  But, I digress…

…He was explaining on a giant screen about government spending.  It was wonderful!  I finally understood what all the fuss was about.  He started the chart at 1910 and took it to 2008 and beyond.  Boy, were my eyes opened!

This is the perfect time for me to discuss integrity.  While we were on the Gold Standard, we had integrity.  We had to have it because we could not print more money than we had gold to back it up.  Despite the  depression, through the New Deal,  and through all the wars, (1st, 2nd, Korea, and Vietnam, we stayed very stable economically.  Again, we had to.  We were held in check by the Gold Standard.

Then came Nixon…bless his heart!  He decided that if we did away with the Gold Standard we could print as much as we needed.  And, we promised the world that we would be careful and not print too much money…(famous last words), and here we are talking about Trillions of dollars in future spending.  Sigh.  What ever were we thinking?

I can hear the printing presses spin!   Even at that, the year 2000 and the Y2K scare, the rise was but a blip on the chart.  Then came 2001–9/11.  There was an even smaller blip on the chart.  From there to 2008 it rises gradually but steadily.  Then in 2008 we see this spike that goes all the way to the top of the chart, (which can’t accurately reflect the extent of the graph spike because the screen is not big enough.  The spike just keeps going.  This spike represents all the bail outs and programs that our new President is implementing right now.

Let’s go back to the definition of Integrity… “The quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity–”  We now have no financial integrity.  Our Presidents, since Nixon, and all our Senators and Representatives  were elected on more than their popularity.  We expected them to act with integrity.  We elected them to be Stewards of our Nation, our economy, our legacy to our children and grand children.

Who was watching the front door when our government was shoveling it out the back?  I have to accept a certain amount of responsibility for not keeping an eye on things.  Just voting someone in to do that job for me is not enough.

One of the things I teach my clients  is that they need to live their lives in such a way that no matter what others do, it doesn’t affect their lives.  Example:  My grand daughter had a cell phone account with Cricket.  When she left home, she asked her parents to close the account for her.  She was technically still a minor and trusted that they would follow through…BEEP!

She just recently went back home to transfer her money here where she is now entering college.  She went back to get her remaining personal items and visit with friends and family a bit because it was unlikely that she would be able to get back to Utah until graduating from college.

While she was there a collection company tracked her down…(thank heavens for this).  Her account had not been closed and someone, pretending to be her had been using her account, had added several new phones to the account.  As well, the imposter had run up a tremendous bill in her name.  What money she had planned to bring home from her savings account, (she was going to help pay for some of her college expenses), disappeared in a fiery explosion.  And, if things were not going south in a hurry, she found out that her parents had not collected her things from her school locker.   She had to take care of that also.  She’s lucky that these were the only lessons she had to learn while she was there.  Let’s just say that it affected her relationship with her family in a negative way, as well as with her friends because there is no way of knowing who had stolen her identity.

When I say, that you live your life in such a way that no matter what others do, it does not affect you, I am saying that you have to take sole responsibility for every part of your life.  After all, it was her responsibility to close her accounts and empty her locker.  Had she done that herself, she would not have had to experience this financial disaster.

So, here we are now looking at our government’s fiscal policies all these years…dang, I should have gotten involved!  It was my responsibility and your responsibility to keep an eye on these things.  It was my and your responsibility to question and make our elected official account for what they are doing.  If we don’t we often get what we asked for because we relinquished the reins.

Yes, you trusted them.  Yes, you elected them.  Yes, you expected them to act with integrity, honesty, and sincerity when they made those campaign promises.  But we didn’t hold their feet to the fire.  We didn’t keep our eye on the ball.  We sat back and let others do it… and what did we get?

What we got were representatives who are human…who bring all their weaknesses, foibles, and faulty ideas with them into a position of power.  And, if you haven’t noticed, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”… I don’t know who said this quote but it fits.

So, let’s discuss Integrity…

Some of the actions that denote lack of integrity are taking out government or private loans without intending to repay them.  It doesn’t matter whether they are student loans, housing loans, or any other type.  Just because we pay taxes doesn’t mean we are entitled. I think this entitlement thinking is a real problem and we are passing it on to our children.

How many of us have bought more than we need.  The emphasis is on the word, “NEED”.  All these toys we feel we must have to keep up with the Jones’ fosters greed which leads to lack of integrity.

Have you ever gone into debt knowing full well that you could not possibly pay it back?  This then leads to ignoring our debts.  I can remember my father saying that he would put all the bills in a hat and draw from it to see who got paid that month.  He would laugh but in the eyes of a child, (mine), his image was a little bit more tarnished after that.  He didn’t seem to stand quite as tall.

How many of us have stolen time–given less than a full day of honest labor for a full day’s compensation?

How many of us have stolen commodities from our employer–a pencil here, an eraser there…?

How many of us have taken unreal exemptions?

A young man of about the age of five found a check book on the floor of the restroom at the local YMCA.  He brought it to his councilor who then brought it to the front desk coordinator.  When the man came to retrieve it after being called, he insisted on seeing the child in person.  When the child approached him the man explained how much he appreciated his honesty and  thanked him for returning it to him.  He also handed the young man $2 as a reward.  This was a moment in time that not only will be indelibly imprinted on the boy’s mind forever, he had a glowing report to share with his mother when she came to pick him up.  I can honestly say that I spent the rest of my day uplifted and hopeful because of this small, unexpected act of integrity, obviously instilled in him by loving parents who, by example, taught him about honesty.

3.  Have you ever agreed to do something even though you knew that you had no intention of following through?  Telling people what they want to hear instead of saying no leads to not following through and affects your integrity in the eyes of the person who is left hanging.

4.  Have you ever borrowed money from a friend or family member and then felt unmoved to repay the debt?  After all, they are just family.  After all, they owe you.

5.  Have you ever gone into debt even though you knew you could not afford it?

6.  Have you ever lied to save face?

7.  Have you ever borrowed a car and brought it back with an empty gas tank?

8.  Have you borrowed the proverbial cup of sugar and then only brought back the empty cup–and then it took you a couple of months hearing the neighbor nag you for it before you finally returned the cup?

9.    Do you pay your full and honest taxes?

10.   Do you keep your promises and commitments no matter what?

11.   Are you honest in your business dealings?

12.   When you borrow something, do you return it in good condition?

13.   Do you pay your bills on time?

14.   Do you live within your means?

15.  Do you teach your children the meaning of integrity through your words and deeds?

16.  Do you send your children to the door to tell people that you are not home?

17.  Do you accept that your child misbehaves and you teach them the true meaning of restitution and making amends?  I remember one summer when my children were small.  The house across the street had been set on fire by the owner for the insurance money so it was vacant.  It had a set of stairs int he back that led up to the kitchen.  The kitchen had a big picture window.  The kids had decided that it would be a perfect club house so they broke the window and would climb into the kitchen to play.  when I found out, all hell broke loose in our house.

The first thing we did was call the bank that now owned the home.  We reported the broken window and asked what the cost was of replacing the window.  The man laughed and basically shrugged it off.  I did not stop there.  I could have, but I didn’t.  I contacted the other child’s parents that was involved.  They denied his involvement and refused to do anything about the broken window.  However, I knew my child was involved and so we grounded her from the summer movies at the local theater.  We explained that the cost of the window had to come from somewhere and that she would have to give up the weekly movies to pay for the window.

I am so glad we did this because the next week, children in the neighborhood broke out all the windows in the back of the house and had I not reported the picture window, my child might have been accused of breaking them all.  I think what bothered me more was the way the bank employee shrugged it off as kind of funny that we would report it and ask to be billed for the damage.

18.  Do you protect your children from the consequences of their actions?

19.  Do you teach your children the meaning of service and honesty?

20.  Do you love our neighbor even if they drive you crazy?

21.  Do you take advantage of others?

22.  Do you depend too much on others to take care of things that you should be doing yourself?

23.  Do you take advantage of the government dole system for no other reason than that you can? (need is much different than greed).

24. Do you use others?

25.  Do you replace things you borrow when they break while you are using them?

26.  Do you return things promptly?

27.  Are you competent with your money by saving for a rainy day, preparing for emergencies, and not living beyond your means?

28.  Are you respectful of the hard work of others by not being a burden on them.

29.  Do you teach your children the benefits of hard work and that money doesn’t grow on trees?

30.  Do you cancel prior commitments because something better has just popped up?

31. Are you a good example for others?

I was raised, I guess, the old fashioned way.  If we borrowed a cup of sugar from the neighbor, we returned two cups.  If we borrowed a car, we returned the gas tank full.  This shows respect for how hard the other person worked to pay for the item that was borrowed.  It shows that we value the other person.  This is something that is not taught as much today.  It has certainly been forgotten by our politicians.  Do they show respect for how hard we work to make the money that pays our taxes and helps support our government?  I know I feel like they have no respect for the working people of this country.

And, dooes our country’s businesses appreciate and respect how hard their employees work to make the products and services that create wealth for them?  Probably not.  Do we realize that without us, the worker, they have no business?  Perhaps we need to rethink things.  I know that I don’t want wealth.  I really don’t relish having to always worry about how I am going to keep it.  But, I do want to be comfortable, financially secure.  I want to have enough to enjoy my life and my retirement.  I don’t need a big fancy house.  I don’t need a boat in the driveway.  I don’t need a vacation home in the mountains.  I don’t need a Mercedes Benz in the driveway.  What I do need is reliable transportation that fits my lifestyle needs, healthy food to eat, the basic necessities, and an opportunity to be creative and innovative.  I need adequate health care, a home I can fix up and be proud of, a dining room table to get all my children and grandchildren around at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a job that I can work at and retire from, and a few weeks each year of vacation time.  Most of us can live nicely with a little less, however, life is quality, not quantity.  I could give up a little to secure my job and that of others.  But I refuse to be taken advantage of by big business.

This is my opinion on the housing market: All of us probably bought too big a house.  We spent way too much for it.  We let the Jones’ decide how we would spend our money and what was important to us.  We fell for all that hype about image and living the Good Life, and forgot about fiscal restraint.   After all, both spouses were working…but it took both incomes to pay the mortgage while we went on spending and buying more stuff.

Then, one of the spouses could not work any more.  They got sick.  They were in an auto accident.  You got a divorce, a spouse died, or maybe one of them lost their job.  Now what?  No savings, the stock market just took a nose dive.  Your income went from $150,000.00 or more per year to living on one income and unemployment–or worse, just one income.  Bankruptcy is looming in the distance and you can’t make that bloated house payment.  The kids can’t attend private school any more and are forced to go to a public school.  The cars are not paid for, you have an expensive boat in the driveway that you can’t even afford to use, let alone pay for…do I need to go on?

What were we thinking?  We were thinking about how cool we looked to everyone.  It didn’t matter that we couldn’t afford to buy furniture for that big house with the postage stamp yard.  It didn’t matter that you haven’t been able to take a vacation  in ever so many years because you can’t afford to take the time off.  It doesn’t matter that you live on peanut butter sandwiches and koolaide.  It’s our image, after all… Hooey!  What good is all that if you can’t even enjoy it?

So, how is your integrity?

Chris

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~ by womenstudycenter on January 29, 2009.

2 Responses to “Integrity”

  1. If there are 3,000 tons of gold in the society, all 3,000 tons must be owned and held, at any one time, in the cash balances of individual people. ,

    • Thank you so much for your comment. We as a people are fast becoming personally bankrupt. It’s time to make some deposits by taking responsibility for ourselves.

      Chris

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