A Case for Institutional Ethics

Someone wants to start a small business selling green ice cream.

He may open a stall on Independence Avenue. At best the business may survive a few weeks.

But if the business relocates to the coast and sells to the big cruise ships, it’s a totally different case: About 2 000 guests on an ocean liner need a lot of ice cream when traversing the sea.

Avocado ice cream may become a hit on board.

As economics is ethics with other means, we can actually make positive use of the relativity of moral values.

We know of many people who want to do well, but create misery because they act at the wrong place or moment in life.

A person needs to be placed in a set-up adequate to fulfil their good deeds.

In Namibia we observe many situations where people can’t perform well because the social framework is just not right.

This letter wants to make a case for an adviser on institutional ethics placed at the highest office to look at this cross-cutting issue.

There is a large gap between formal businesses, parastatals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Public goods are not taken care of properly, SMEs and resettlement farms are left to struggle for themselves, not to speak of the fate of the unemployed.

The main churches are not doing well economically. Lengthy annual general meetings or synods only create fights and fractions. Progress is minimal.

Apparently democratic structures are not always appropriate to solve critical economic issues.

More importantly, the health and education sectors do not consist of the right mix of private and public institutions. Reducing the public wage bill is absolutely possible if private and public tasks are well defined.

Many community-based programmes drop their equipment in settlements without initiating the appropriate social structures.

Some of the existing community committees need to be adjusted regularly.

An advisory function at the highest level may provide the right mix of convincing, yet not commanding, authority.

It may assist in getting out of a number of troublesome dilemmas executing officers find themselves in.

Andreas Peltzer

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