Those who work on issues of ethics are among the few professionals not suffering from the current economic downturn. The last decade has brought an escalating supply of moral meltdowns in both the for-profit and the nonprofit sectors. Corporate misconduct has received the greatest attention, in part because the abuses are so egregious and the costs so enormous. Chief contenders for most ethically challenged include former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO John Thain, who spent $1.22 million in 2008 to redecorate his office, including the purchase of a $1,400 trash can and a $35,000 antique commode, while the company was hemorrhaging losses of some $27 billion.
Still, the corporate sector has no monopoly on greed. Consider EduCap Inc., a multibillion-dollar student loan charity. According to Internal Revenue Service records, the organization abused its tax-exempt status by charging excessive interest on loans and by providing millions in compensation and lavish perks to its CEO and her husband, including use of the organization’s $31 million private jet for family and friends.