... My view is that there just is no substitute for a system of social morality like those in eastern cultures of old. Modern society has the attitude that "if it's not illegal, do it". Unfortunately, the law will never be able to codify in black letters the rich spectrum of behavioral regulations imposed by morality, developed over thousands of years of human behavior. Thus, individuals conforming only to the law and ignoring ethics and morals will inevitably breach their moral duty, and the damage they do is limited only by their "creativity" in using the law and the social power they wield due to their position, wealth or influence.
In short, we need to disabuse ourselves of this trend to consider ethics and morals some hokey, freedom-fettering construct that has become obsolete. It is very much necessary, and Wall Street is a great place to look if you want an example of why.
You may find him regressive, and he is. Eastern morality has failed even in the East. But, and this is the important question, now what?
Everybody knows morality is a moderation of our "instincts" which can wreak havoc. The modern world has outsourced morality to institutions. To regulatory bodies. "If they say this is acceptable, there's nothing wrong in it." Law is not a substitute for moral behavior. But what other option do we have?
Value education in the face of 24 hour Television? You must be kidding.
The existence of the "market" exacerbates this tendency of evaluating all behavior in terms of where it stands financially and legally. The prevailing Gods of the modern Have's are the rich and famous. "That's who I want to be."
The saints and scriptures are for the Have-nots.
George Soros says: "It's not whether you're right or wrong, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong."
He's in tune with the times. (Though to be fair, he may be asking you to put your money where your mouth is)
If you return the extra change that you got from a shopkeeper, you are a moral person, who believes in doing the "right thing". If you don't, you are a modern man, and you will win. An environment of distrust will develop, of course (as any ethologist will tell you), but how does that matter anyway, as "I am mortal", "I have but one life to live", "I live for none but myself", the slogans of modernity.
Poor Richard ("Honesty is the best policy") didn't have a clue about how the world works.
Or maybe he did, and we are doomed.