All the Feb. 11 Mailbag letters seem to admonish Plastics News: “Shhh! don't publish any more information about questionable or unethical behavior in our industry.” I don't share that view.
Where will news concerning unethical conduct in our industry be disclosed, if not in a trade publication like Plastics News? The law and the courts aren't concerned with business ethics; it starts and ends with us. As with the terrorist situation, we need to understand that we can't continue to ignore the scoundrels that wreak havoc on us. Theirs is an attack on how we are to do business. Though they don't take lives, they do destroy them. We need to look at and discuss them, especially when it is happening in our own back yard.
Some say it's best to avoid these uncomfortable topics. The same people might tell us that all we need now is to ignore the growing bankruptcy-related executive corruption and it will disappear, as will the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. I don't think so.
What are we showing the next generation of professionals? About our company codes so prominently displayed in our lobbies, about our fundamental beliefs in ethical business conduct? They see how things really work. Unless business people are finally willing to stand up on behalf of our rhetoric, how we say we do business, refuse to fold to coercion and intimidation, our silence will continue to add to the hypocrisy they already see.
Practicing individual ethical conduct isn't enough to be certain integrity becomes a reality of the future. If we continue to close our eyes, in the end we will all be significantly harmed and the vipers will win.
Those who forgo basic business ethics don't need help (shhh!) from us. They have their self-righteousness, lawyers and accountants to hide their devious actions and their dishonestly misbegotten fortunes. They have bankruptcy laws that will try to hide them.
But what about us? We had better understand that “our” laws don't restrict their ethically deplorable conduct. We had better understand that this is a serious, growing cancer on our way of doing business.
Why some believe it's best to just let the scoundrels hide in anonymity is beyond me. To avoid the public focus is precisely what the rascals want and need. It's the fear of personal exposure that will serve to discourage them and the others who may plan to follow in their footsteps.
Speaking with a 35-year perspective in the plastics industry and having personally paid a price for my trusting, outstanding and loyal service, I believe the time has come to expose the con artists among us. It's time we discuss and examine the specific acts of unscrupulous people.
We have to be able to learn more about the individuals who perform dishonorable deeds in our industry. That would seem a good place to start.
James L. Campbell
Orchard Lake, Mich.