Discovered by Dr. Beerel
16th October 1986

The Lord has seen that the wickedness of man was great on earth and that man persisted in obeying one master, money. And God regretted having made man and his heart grieved. And it came to pass that the Lord decided to speak with the men of conservatism and integrity. He wished to know whether corruption and greed had filled their hearts too.

And the Lord walked among the men of the City and he came upon Sir Siegfried, and the Lord asked: “Why are you dealing in money for money’s sake? Why are you not making goods, developing the land, caring for the environment and sharing with thy neighbor? What is it I hear that the investor is cheated, the borrower no longer holds his word, and fraud and insider trading abound? Despite my teachings you have built a house on a bed of sand in order to experience speedy comforts. Only a house built on a rock of wisdom, strength and fidelity to all stakeholders can withstand turbulence, inflation, volatile markets and trading advantage disparities. You are selling more than you own; you are lending more than you have to lend; you are earning more than you deserve to earn; you are regulating yourself at the expense of the uninformed – thus you are acting as judge and jury.”

And it came to pass that the Lord’s word came true. The house built on sand was washed away by the next great tide; the forces of recession, deregulation and excessive arbitrage. The young men knew no age, no wisdom and no peace. The old men pondered their tradition. The poor were rich as they held nothing that did not have physical substance and the rich were poor as “paper” no longer had any intrinsic market value.

And there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. And loud was the lament from the underworld:

‘The Lord has taken his pound; I have to be franc, I have left not a mark and have no yen for a dollar. Oh, for some peso!”

So began my presentation to the International Strategic Management Society in Singapore on October 16th, 1986. Black Monday occurred exactly one year later on Monday October 19th, 1987. At that time I gladly fled the City of London, thankful my stint as an investment banker had come to an end.

Barely ten years later, our financial system was back at it again. “It” being creating booms, bubbles and busts. We claimed the dotcom era was ushering in a “new economy.” This short-lived fantasy ended rapidly as our favorite dotcoms soon became “dotbombs.”

The beginning of the twenty-first century brought with it further turbulence in the form of Enron, Worldcom, Tyco and a host of financial scandals across the board. Still, we continued in our old ways. We manufactured a quick and very expensive fix, by way of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002). But nothing fundamentally changed. Despite the warnings of the good Lord, we persisted in building our house on sand.


Thomas Friedman’s latest book impresses upon us why America needs a Green Revolution as the world becomes ‘Hot, Flat, and Crowded.’ Friedman provides dense pages packed with data supporting his arguments around climate change; the dark side of America’s energy consumption and policies, along with growing world-wide urbanization and population expansion especially in the less developed countries.

The picture Friedman paints is not totally bleak, but certainly calls for a radical response, some exceptional leadership and a huge mindset change for our part. The illusion that we can have our cake and eat it and own the bakery is being dispelled with new realities every day. Along with being hot, flat and crowded, we are broke. While the Federal Reserve continues to print more and more money in an attempt to meet daily bailout demands, the creation of money perpetuates further illusions of well-being. The reality is that America is broke. Not just broke from a financial perspective, but our socio-economic paradigm is broke. Our version of capitalism is broke. Our model of government is broke. Our education system is broke. Our health care system is broke. And our understanding of the pursuit of happiness is broke.

The good news is that we may be broke, but we are not broken! We have a beautiful country. We have vast and untapped resources of energy and creativity. We are resourceful, innovative and adaptive. We have faith and hope and above all, we have one another.

All endings usher in new beginnings. The New Year invites us to consider a new paradigm of well-being. The opportunity before us is not to fix what has been broken but to change, to transform, to find new mindsets, new ways of being in the world and new pursuits of happiness. Infatuation with the bottom line belongs to the old paradigm. Huge wealth, soaring stock markets, spacious houses, and limitless materialism belong to the old paradigm. Individual heroism and success based on scrambling over others are also outdated ideals. Individualism, excess and quick fixes are over. We can no longer do it alone. The best way to move forward is to realize we are in this together.


The new paradigm calls for new types of grass roots leadership. It calls for working together for the good of the community rather than for “my organization has to survive” or “my welfare is all that matters.” This is the time to support each other. This is the time to set limits; to respect balance, and to give an opportunity for the “invisible hand” to do its work. This is the time of humility; a time to set new visions; new benchmarks and new goals.

The old paradigm has gone and a new one is in the making. This is the time to help shape the new one. This is the time to set aside our fears and open our hearts. This is the time to rethink wherein true happiness lies. This is the time to be grateful for what we have – which is a great deal – and to open our hearts to others. This is the time to bring forth the enormous power that lies within each one of us to be humane, compassionate, thoughtful and above all generous. Let me be more specific:

1. Can we request that the media, all media, for one day (if not one week) cease from relaying to us how much money we have lost or how much has been stolen and instead focus on stories of kindness, generosity and compassion? Yes we can.

2. Can we impress on the leaders of all organizations that their future depends on the quality of their relationships with their employees, customers and suppliers and that taking care of those relationships at this time is paramount? Yes we can.

3. Can we insist that our politicians take the path of diplomacy recognizing that violence never suppresses violence? Yes we can.

4. Can we encourage our families and our communities to celebrate and share what they have rather than bemoaning what they have lost? Yes we can.

5. Can our classes and programs emphasize the greatness of the human spirit with the intention of inspiring others to act out of their greatness too? Yes we can.

6. Can we recalibrate the notion of the American dream to be an attainment not just for you and me, but to be a swell of greatness that raises up all Americans? Yes we can.

7. Can we realize that even if we have no material possessions to give, an even greater gift we can give one another is a positive attitude, a generous disposition and an open heart? Yes we can.

8. Can we demand that the leaders of our country leave their bipartisan squabbles behind and role model the new paradigm? Yes we can.

Can we do this with one another and for one another? YES WE CAN!

Annabel Beerel, Ph.D.
Christos and Mary Papoutsy Distinguished Chair in Ethics
Southern New Hampshire University
December 27, 2008

(Posting date 2 January 2009)

HCS readers are invited to view other articles about SNHU or business ethics at our extensive, permanent archives under the Business Ethics section at the URL or the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics at Southern New Hampshire University at

The purpose of the disguished chair in ethics is to promote and enhance students’ and community members’ awareness of ethics in personal and professional settings through teaching, community lectures and conferences. These events will foster understanding and assist in the application of lessons taught by current and classical ethicists to 21st-century settings.The chair serves as the cornerstone for an integrated university program in business ethics that encompasses the undergraduate and graduate levels. For more information about these events or about the ethics chair, contact Jane Yerrington at SNHU (603-668-2211 x2488) or visit the webpages of the ethics chair at

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