EconTalk host Russ Roberts spoke with Leonard Wong, research professor at the U.S. Army War College, about the honesty and ethics among officers complying with various reporting and training requirements.


1. The military is not the only organization that struggles with the issue of requirements that are hard to satisfy while remaining honest. Where have you worked where you had to deal with similar issues raised in this episode? Why do you think such requirements persist given that many of the participants up and down the chain of command are aware that the information being gathered is flawed?

2. What does Wong mean by “ethical fading?” How does a culture of ethical fading emerge? Have you witnessed ethical fading in any of the organizations with which you’re familiar? What does Wong suggest can be done to mitigate or prevent this phenomenon?

3. Information is necessary for good decision-making. What are the lessons from this episode for the challenges of decision-making? How do these challenges relate to the Hayekian “knowledge problem”–the challenge of coordinating knowledge that is scattered across people within or outside an organization?

4. In this episode from 2012, David Rose explains what he views as the moral foundation of economic behavior, which enables more widespread trust. How do Rose’s “golden opportunities” compare to the sorts of dishonest instances Wong refers to? To what extent can the principles which Rose believes engender trust be applied to military situations? Explain.