Is there trust anymore? We are caught between Obi-Wan Kenobi saying, “Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me,” and Eric “Otter” Stratton in Animal House declaring, “You [Delta House language] up. You trusted us!” Heck, the civilized world still shakes hands to show we aren’t packing daggers. In business, “trust me” often turned out to be the two most dangerous words in America.
Joe Nacchio is the latest trust-destroying manager, convicted on 19 counts of insider trading and dumping Qwest stock while smiling to shareholders. Names like Ebbers, Kozlowski, Skilling, and Martha are now synonymous with fraud, scandal and even in polite conversations are likened to the thin film that covers standing ponds. (I did meet Martha once, and she gave me a recipe for flourless waffles, so let’s give her a pass, shall we?)
Wall Street research was long ago disgraced, but add to that mutual fund late trading, options backdating, onerous interest ratings and insurance premium overinflating, and what you have is a lot of folks whose reputations have been shredded into scraps finer than Arthur Andersen documents. And the government? Given all the lying in D.C. on both sides of the aisle, you would think Scooter Libby’s defense would have been selective enforcement.
So here I am at my Carrie Bradshaw moment: Will we ever trust anyone again?