Ethics are generally considered to be the moral practices of a culture. Morals are the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong and are founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities or custom. Morals can be taught, but they have another source also. This source is that voice within you which you can either decide to listen to or to ignore. Here's one reason to behave in an ethical fashion:
The bank's training director sent a memo out to all staff members that said "In next month's training session, I plan to address ethics. To help you prepare for the session, please be sure to read Subsection 215(e) of Title 18 (United States Code). Title 18 is where the Bank Bribery Act is located."
The next month, as the training director began the training session, she asked for a show of hands of all those who had read 18 USC Section 215(e). Every hand went up.
She smiled, then said, "Section 215 only has four subsections - a through d. There is no 215(e) in Title 18. Now, let's talk about ethics."
The laws of a country, state, or municipality are an attempt to codify many aspects of our behavior and our lives. They are sometimes associated with morality, sometimes associated with commerce, and so on. They are not necessarily moral in and of themselves though. In fact some laws can be inadvertently immoral. This is due to the fact that they are written by men.
Otto von Bismarck is the author of a rather famous saying, "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." He was quite correct in that the process is messy and full of compromise in order to satisfy various political factions which mostly exist to satisfy various factions with money to spend on lobbying efforts.
As Realtors, we have our own Code of Ethics. We've proven that we are capable of exercising pretty good control over ourselves with that guideline. Of course we do have federal, state and local regulations that we have to abide by also. On the whole, I tend to believe that well-informed and thoughtful adults are capable of controlling their behavior without having recourse to a massive body of law which governs and dictates every aspect of their behavior.
The exponential increase in bureaucratic regulation promulgated by our Federal government is starting to have some real impact on business. It's pretty difficult to run a business and concentrate on serving your customers and making ends meet while having to spend much of your time filling out paperwork to comply with regulations. Sometimes the paperwork burden is ridiculous.
The thing that has set me off on this topic is that the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service has raided the Gibson Guitar Factory. They confiscated a lot of the wood that was set aside for producing guitars. Apparently, it is now the case that if you try to take a guitar across our international boundary, you'd better have complete documentation stating where every piece of wood in the instrument came from and proving that it was legally harvested. An importer who brought in a number of old pianos was fined over $15k simply because there was inadequate documentation. I guess that this means that the Feds think musicians are terrorists. Why can't we just use a little common sense in things like this?
If our elected officials can't get control of this sort of thing, we need to change them as quickly as possible.