Are the Moral Values of Americans in Decline?
Disconnect Between Democrats and Republicans
Moral Values are inter-linked with ethical standards and establish a framework for right behavior in society. Morality in the U.S. is on the decline, which is the topic of today's blog.
Is there a disconnect between the Democrats and Republicans with respect to how they view the trend in the moral values of Americans? The results of a recent Gallup Poll seems to suggest just that. Here is a summary of those results.
- Americans overall see U.S. moral values in mostly negative terms
- Record-high 66% of Republicans now rate moral values as "poor"
- Record-high 46% of Democrats say moral values are improving.
Americans' Outlook for U.S. Moral Values
Here is a depiction of the overall results for the U.S., and not broken down by Democrats and Republicans.
The following chart shows the views of Republicans with respect to moral values. Ninety-two-percent say moral values are getting worse while only seven percent say they are getting better. This is a stunning result. What might account for the "getting worse" results? I think it's due to the increased violence in our streets, the recent smash and grab incidents about which I have blogged, increased fraud in all segments of society including COVID funding and bogus COVID tests, and so much more.
With respect to Democrats, 22 percent say moral values are excellent or good compared to seven percent of Republicans while 77 percent say they are fair or poor (see below) compared to 92 percent of Republicans that say moral values are getting worse.
What might explain the comparatively better results for Democrats with respect to moral values? I believe it is due to the election of Joe Biden as President, the passage of an infrastructure bill, the hope that a "Build Back Better" law ultimately will be adopted by the U.S. Senate, and the expectation that more progressive programs will be forthcoming.
Causes of Decline in Morals
Looking at the bigger picture, the U.S. is living through a time when the perception of Americans about moral values is not good to say the least. I've already mentioned increased violence in our streets. Add to that increased murder in big cities, efforts to defund the police, the need for increased sensitivity by the police for different cultures and cultural values, cheating at all levels of society including sports, and so much more.
I've also mentioned fraud in COVID programs, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is fraud almost everywhere we look, including in Medicare and other health and welfare programs.
According to the FBI, white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.
These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three). Today’s fraud schemes are more sophisticated than ever, and the FBI is dedicated to using its skills to track down the culprits and stop scams before they start.
The FBI’s white-collar crime work investigates public corruption, money laundering, corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, mortgage fraud, financial institution fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, fraud against the government, election law violations, mass marketing fraud, and health care fraud.
FBI special agents work closely with partner law enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, among others, targeting sophisticated, multi-layered fraud cases that harm the economy.
The majority of corporate fraud cases pursued by the FBI involve accounting schemes designed to deceive investors, auditors, and analysts about the true financial condition of a corporation or business entity. Through the manipulation of financial data, the share price, or other valuation measurements of a corporation, financial performance may remain artificially inflated based on fictitious performance indicators provided to the investing public.
The FBI’s corporate fraud investigations primarily focus on the following activities:
Falsification of financial information
- False accounting entries and/or misrepresentations of financial condition;
- Fraudulent trades designed to inflate profits or hide losses; and
- Illicit transactions designed to evade regulatory oversight.
Self-dealing by corporate insiders
- Insider trading (trading based on material, non-public information);
- Misuse of corporate property for personal gain; and
- Individual tax violations related to self-dealing.
Fraud in connection with an otherwise legitimately operated mutual hedge fund
- Late trading;
- Certain market timing schemes; and
- Falsification of net asset values.
I like to be optimistic but I see no reason to do so given the rising crime rate, fraud in all aspects of society, and the decline in morals of Americans. Yes, it is the minority of citizens who commit such crimes, and act wrongly, not rightly. However, they have a major effect on those caught up in the crime who are innocent of any wrongdoing. These are crimes against all of society.
On a basic level, ethics and morality in the U.S. is constantly under attack as most of us get bogus phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication that aim to steal our confidential information including access to our bank accounts and other sensitive data. Hardly a day goes by when I am not one of those targets. Is this the act of people in a moral society?
We need to turn our attention to ethics and civility if we are to survive as a Democratic society. I may sound like an alarmist but the truth is we are now a divided country like never seen before. Once Americans take sides the likelihood of one side or the other imposing its will on the other is greater than ever before. That would be un-American, where we should act for the common good, and possibly lead us down a path of no return to the days when we were called a "Shining City on a Hill."
Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on February 8, 2022. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.