Today on the show, I told a story about how my father helped teach me about the value of integrity.

When I was growing up, my father (a municipal attorney in the Chicago metro area) used to buy a new car every few years from a car dealer located in one of the municipalities he represented. When I got old enough to understand the process, I asked him why he didn’t shop around. Dad told me that he always paid list price because he never wanted anyone to think he got a “sweetheart” deal from this company, or that they had special access to him and the local government.

I asked him why he didn’t just go somewhere else, in a place where no one knew him. He said the community received part of the sales tax of the purchase, which went toward paying his fees.

So, my father paid list price for our cars, which were those huge Lincoln Mercury station wagons.

It was a great lesson on the price of integrity, and how it isn’t worth selling out at any price.

I was thinking about my Dad and his car-buying trips when the news broke that Jim Johnson, former head of Fannie Mae, got a sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide. He wasn’t alone. Plenty of other people with wealth and in positions of power were “Friends of Angelo,” and also got sweetheart deals.

Is the perception of compromising your integrity ever worth saving a few bucks?

Happy Father’s Day to all of my listeners. I hope you can tune in.

June 15, 2008