Opinion  

Moral decay

Hal Austin

There is something grossly obscene about the way some people, who under normal circumstances will describe themselves as decent and law-abiding, even moral, yet are prepared to dip their hands in the cash pots of some institutions as if it were their own piggy bank.

There is something even more reprehensible in the way others jealously observe this awful behaviour all the time wishing that they were the “fortunate” ones with a chance to pilfer their customers.

Recently I have been trying to pinpoint that historical juncture when public morality started to collapse – the brutal ending of queuing, the death of please and thank you, the casual use of the word ‘hate’, and the savagery of people swearing in public, especially teenagers.

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All this we can put down to the lack of good parenting, or moving with the times, or even to that portmanteau term ‘young people’.

But the real measure of the way society is going is that this collapse has now become part of institutional culture – once highly regarded organisations selling on our personal data to make a few pounds, doctoring their records to cover-up bad behaviour and incompetence, outright lying and cheating, now using so-called private detectives to rummage through people’s private lives for dirt.

This is Britain in the early 21st century, and no one, not even the church, is prepared to call a halt to this steady decline.

However, if you really want to see a putrid example of this corporate integrity just look at the way some banks are dealing with mis-sold payment protection insurance.

It is now part of their organisational dishonesty to delay, prevaricate, reject as many complaints as possible, and in the process deliberately over-loading the Financial Ombudsman Service.

It is wrong, amoral, dishonest, yet we continue to deceive ourselves that these well-known organisations have some kind of rectitude, a collective moral standing on the eyes of the general public. They do not.

In the old days we used to have bank robbers in balaclavas, armed with sawn-off shotguns, and driving clapped out old cars risking life and limb to make an easy living.

Nowadays they wear sharp suits, sit behind computers and rip off their customers, elderly old ladies and all.