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Profiles in Courage Blowing the Whistle

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 22, 2012 2:01 PM |

I have crossed paths with some exceptionally interesting people while navigating our economic landscape and writing Sense on Cents over the last few years. These individuals encompass a wide swath of our American population and include investors, economists, lawyers, consumers, small businesspeople, bankers, students, and so many more.

While I admire and respect most of the people with whom I interact, there are a handful who truly occupy a very special place in my heart and in the Sense on Cents Hall of Fame. Who are these people whom I consider true American heroes? 


A select number of people with whom I have interacted have distinguished themselves as true profiles in courage. They have displayed an exceptional set of principles in blowing the whistle and exposing real fraud and corruption within financial companies and our nation’s top financial regulator. I welcome highlighting a few whistleblowers in the public arena, and linking to my commentaries here at Sense on Cents which highlight their courageous stories: Gary Aguirre. Peter Sivere. Sherry Hunt.

Whistleblowers who I do not know but who have clearly displayed extraordinary courage also include Harry Markopolos and Darcy Flynn.

These heroes, and others like them, took very real professional risks and stood tall and on principle in exposing very real fraud and corruption which abused our system of capitalism.

Do not think for a second that there were not and are not forces at work within financial companies, other corporate entities, the halls of our financial regulators, and atop Capitol Hill which would prefer to silence these heroic voices in an attempt to advance personal and professional gain. Why do you think I bang so hard on the corrosive and destructive nature of the Wall Street-Washington Incest?

None other than Mr. Markopolos warned us two years ago “Don’t Trust Your Government”.

To that end, I welcome promoting the courage displayed by the aforementioned American heroes and simultaneously the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability sponsored by the Government Accountability Project:

GAP’s American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability is a new, dynamic campaign that seeks to educate the public − particularly our country’s incoming workforce − about the phenomenon of whistleblowing. The 2011 – 12 tour is the first incarnation of what GAP plans to institute as a yearly effort focused on college students around the country.

What’s Whistleblowing?

Basically, a whistleblower, under most legal definitions, is an employee who uncovers evidence of corruption or wrongdoing at his/her workplace, and makes the difficult decision to disclose that information to the media, organizational executives, lawmakers, government authorities, or others.

The perception of whistleblowing has drastically improved over the last 40 years, when the phenomenon began to be recognized. Brave truth-telling employees from all sorts of enterprises − governments, corporations, international organizations, nonprofits − have shown the American public how essential this practice is to a functioning democracy. Just since 2000, whistleblowers from all walks of life have exposed:

1. Medications responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands 
2. White House officials’ wrongful tampering with climate science data
3. Defective HIV-testing kits being issued to Indian hospitals (showing AIDS-tainted       blood as being “ok” to distribute)
4. Dog-killing pet medications
5. Unsafe food production practices at a peanut butter plant, which led to multiple deaths
6. Grossly unsafe practices at a nuclear facility in Washington state
7. Multiple problems at the SEC, including hedge fund oversight corruption and overall incompetence in heeding whistleblowers

The fraud and corruption exposed by the whistleblowers which I have highlighted and which the GAP has also highlighted are not some form of mere garden variety thefts. These transgressions have impacted the lives of so many and were an assault on the very tenets of a just society and free market capitalism.

Corporate and government forces may often silence the media which could embrace and promote the good works of whistleblowers while also advancing the cause of whistleblowing in general.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have blown the whistle. They have acted often in the face of enormous pressures. May they be examples for others to do the same. I welcome promoting them, their courage, and their good works.

Additionally, let us also put on notice that those who would look to curtail the courage of our modern American heroes should be thoroughly exposed and dealt with accordingly both in the public and private arenas. I look for opportunities to do just that.

Whistleblowing promotes the Sense on Cents virtues of truth, transparency, and integrity and elevates the principles and the nation I want for my children.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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