Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In Nurses We Trust

I loathe telemarketers. The interruption of my time is irritating. The idea that I would be interested in whatever they have to say is presumptuous.

When I read the recent Gallup Poll regarding “Honesty/Ethics in Professions” it hardly surprised me to see telemarketers at the bottom of the list. The poll asked the question:

“Please tell me how you would rate the honest and ethical standards of people in these different fields.”
Nurses topped the list as most trustworthy and principled, telemarketers hugged the bottom as the least.

Nurses 82%
Pharmacists 67%
Medical Doctors 65%
High School Teachers 64%
Police Officers 61%
Clergy 54%
Directors 44%
Bankers 41%
Accountants 39%
Journalists 28%
Real Estate Agents 20%
Building Contractors 20%
Lawyers 18%
Senators 16%
Business Executives 16%
Union Leaders 16%
Congressperson 14%
Advertising Practitioners 11%
Car Salespersons 8%
Telemarketers 7%

I found it intriguing that we trust police officers, pharmacists, and high school teachers more than we do clergy. Funeral directors are considered more ethical than bankers and business executives.

Gallup Polls over the past five years had similar results. It’s not too surprising that helpers and protectors such as nurses, doctors and police officers are considered the most ethical. It is easy to recognize that their careers are dedicated to serving other people. In addition, the nature of such professions requires them to follow specific standards that are strictly scrutinized.

People who sell for a living are all ranked near the bottom. Those that work on commission seem to be considered less honest than those that charge a flat fee. Otherwise why would 24% more responders think that coffin sellers are more ethical than house sellers?

We know that a salesperson’s income is in some way based on their selling an item for the highest amount possible. Our society values reliable, resourceful hard workers. We reward initiative, ambition and dedication. If a telemarketer, real estate or car salesperson follows those standards they will be rewarded. Eventually it might make them wealthy. We certainly value wealth. If you don’t negotiate as well as they, or educate yourself enough to know what you are purchasing—is it their fault? Some occupations are deceptive by their nature. Can we really rate these with the other professions on the same scale of ethics?

Telemarketers and salespersons may be unscrupulous at times.

But they don’t deserve to be at the bottom of the list. Not when we have so many models for dishonest and unethical behavior leading our government. Both the executive and legislative branches seem to be overflowing with men spouting denials of bribes, leaks and lies. I’m not sure why we don’t see President, Vice President or Secretary of Defense listed below telemarketers. Perhaps their numbers were so low they went into the negative.
The underside is a natural place for bottom feeders.

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