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Transparency in Employment-How Much?

Mpls. Star and Tribune Reporter Dan Browning captured my attention with his May 9, 2011, article  titled  ”Ex-cons make a killing selling coins”. Apparently, the theme of his article is that the precious metals investment industry is rife with unsavory characters who, while selling gold coins , have engaged in unethical practices.

Mr. Browning’s investigation into  this wide-open industry exposes some shortcomings that seem to be typical of most businesses. The article is peppered with such terms and phrases as “convictions,” “criminal records.” Reference to U.S. Rep.A.Weiner, D-N.Y., who has previously introduced legislation to rein in this industry seems plausible.

Transparency is important. But how far does it get us? 

Two days after Mr. Browning’s article appeared, I read in the New York Times the explosive story of billionaire  Raj Rajaratnam, the manager of Galleon Group hedge fund with 7 billion in assets, who was found guilty of numerous counts of fraud. 

What would transparency have told us about Mr. Rajaratnam? That he was a graduate of  the prestigious Warton School at the University of Pennsylvania and  an accomplished invester and trader. How would the investors in his hedge fund been put on notice that he was engaging in unethical practices?

The point is that regulation of an industry does not assure the average consumer that he/she will be insulated from exploitation. But the bigger issue for me is that Mr. Browning takes a broad swipe at one of the most maligned and easily exploited groups in society: convicted felons. Surprisingly, working for one of the most progressive  newspapers in the country,  Mr. Browning defines this group by historical reference to where some had been in life: prison.

How does defining these employees by their past move the discussion forward regarding protecting the public? Maybe  we can protect the public by marginalizing convicted felons and restrict even more their employment. Hell, they don’t need to have lawful, gainful employment. They have a family- children-to provide for? Their street skills should allow for a steady income for the necessities of life.

Unless, of course, we acknowledge that no matter how flawed, these “ex-cons” are like the rest of us. I’d go so far as to say that one major difference between “ex-cons” and others working in many of our loftier professions is that the “ex-cons” have been caught. What was Bernie Madoff’s criminal background before he was brought to justice?

Quite simply, until we move beyond this label of “ex-con,” any dialogue regarding protecting unsuspecting investors and allowing for fair employment is meaningless.

I mean, if this country can look past Pres. Obama’s associations that would have  undoubtedly prevented him from clearing a background check to be an FBI agent, and yet be elected president of the United States, then we can surely look past a felon’s transgressions and allow him/her be a contributing member of society.

129 thoughts on “Transparency in Employment-How Much?

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  3. It’s pretty interesting that the mainstream media has changed the way it looks at this recently dont you think? What once seemed like a never discussed issue has become more prevelant. It’s that time to chagnge our stance on this though.

    • There are certain fundamental, inalienable rights. One of these rights is the pursuit of happiness. Another is the god-given right to pursue your dreams, including providing a comfortable life for you and your family. How can you live out your dtreams, desires if artificial roadblocks are placed in your way? I say artificial because many of the constraints, restrictions are not necessary for many types of employment.

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  13. It’s pretty interesting that the mainstream media has changed the way it looks at this recently dont you think? What once seemed like a never discussed issue has become more prevelant. It’s that time to chagnge our stance on this though.

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