Sunday, October 02, 2005

Michael Bruce: A lesson in personal integrity

Growing up, I was taught that personal reputation and integrity was the most valuable asset you can have, and here is one story.

The Legend of Michael Bruce

It’s sad that ordinary honesty becomes extraordinary in light of our decaying social mores. An acquaintance of mine from New York, Michael Bruce, is renowned for his personal integrity and honestly. There was a story that Michael found a rare Newcomb pot under a lady’s sink, and he could have bought it for a song.

Instead, Mr. Bruce told the woman that this single pot was worth thousands of dollars and helped her get a fair price for it. The story circulated, and Mr. Bruce’s reputation made him the “go to” person for anyone wanting to sell their goods at auction.

As a licensed auctioneer myself, I’m strictly regulated and all North Carolina auctioneers are required to pass a criminal background check with a focus on acts of moral turpitude (not honoring credit contracts, paying bills late, &c). I’m all for the regulation, but it’s sad that these regulations are required in the first place, in a society that places such low value on personal integrity.

Real Profiles in Courage

As Teddy Roosevelt said (I read this on the wall at the entrance to the Museum of Natural History in New York City last week, and felt compelled to write it down):

“A man's usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals in so far as he can.”

The sad state of unregulated professionals

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of integrity that I see in business today. I’ve had business competitors lie, harass and interfere with me, and it’s really sad that there are no licensing requirements for computer consultants. The industry is rife with unprofessional people, and the problem has gotten so bad that I have to keep a list. Here are the standards from my job page:

“In lieu of an active US security clearance, candidates must pass a background check and be free of any criminal convictions (except minor traffic violations). Further, any acts of moral turpitude (history of drug use, dishonesty, lying, cheating, theft) are grounds for immediate rejection, and all applicants must sign a waiver to disclose personal information and agree to submit to a polygraph exam.”

I’m all in-favor of some sort of government regulations, the same sort as other professions such as engineers and certified accountants.