BP #3: Illegal Activity at Wells Fargo


Since 2011, Wells Fargo Bank has been illegally opening secret and unauthorized credit cards and deposit accounts for customers. They became one of the most profitable banks in America. When the illegal activities came to light, the head executives, especially those on wall street, blamed lower level employees and did not discipline those in the higher ranks. One of the wall street executives, John G. Stumpf, admitted to not disciplining the high level employees and said he himself did not give money back. In fact, those who were very high up did not return a dime of the money they made during the criminal years. Instead of facing criminal charges, the high ranking employees did not take responsibility for the part they played in the illegal activity and instead ignored the problem or resigned to avoid accusations.

This is closely related to Aristotle’s views on virtues. Aristotle says a virtue is a acquired or practiced skill that is morally or intellectually good that are used to help in various situations. Aristotle also says that being virtuous is “feeling that the right time, in reference to the right object, to the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way.” By knowing this, we can compare the idea of being virtuous to the wall street head of Wells Fargo, John G. Stumpf.

Stumpf completely lacking in the virtue department. He did not follow Aristotle’s ideas on being virtuous and possesses a large group of “bad virtues” that he is displaying. Virtues that most people would strive to practice and acquire would be honesty, responsibility, trustworthy, and caring. However, Stumpf’s actions show he does not possess these virtues. Instead, he possesses dishonesty, the inability to be responsible, untrustworthy, and selfish. He showed dishonesty by lying about the illegal activity for five years. He showed he was not responsible by not taking claim to his part in the activity and instead blaming it on thousands of lower level employees. He showed he couldn’t be trusted through his lying. Lastly, he showed he was selfish because he didn’t give a dime of his money back and let the lower level employees suffer.

While Stumpf may have done a few virtuous acts in the past, he is not a virtuous person. As Aristotle explains, there is a big difference between “doing a virtuous act and being a virtuous person.” To be a virtuous person, you have to consistently have knowledge of the situation, choose the act for it’s own sake, and you must have a firm and unchangeable character. You must also choose to consistently make the right decision. Stumpf’s decision making in the last five years has shown he is not virtuous because he actions shift and are not consistently good. In all, there is a lot to Aristotle’s ideas on virtue and not everyone can live up to the standard, including John G. Stumpf.


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