I was recently offered employment at an investment bank in London, to which I respectfully declined. The agent I was dealing with was somewhat surprised and wanted to know why. I told him that I couldn't bring myself to work for the banksters. He was amused and replied "should my moral compass change..." the offer still stood. Interesting.
I never considered my moral compass to be so fluid, to actually consider assisting corporate criminals rape the general public. What? Bigger? Better? Faster? More Efficiently? I suppose I could find a way to justify it, but I couldn't see myself telling someone that is what I did for a living.
I, like the next guy, seeks to be well rewarded for their work. That doesn't automatically mean I do anything just because the rate is high. I consider my services to be valuable and the products I produce hopefully forward the goals and aims of my client. I mean, why do it at all if some good doesn't come out of it?
I was discussing this point with some friends; where do you draw the line? I knew where my line was. But it occurred to me that I shouldn't assume everyone has or is even aware of "The Line". That there may be some people in the IT industry who will simply work on any project provided the price was right.
Would you design software which assisted a pharmaceutical company to develop new mind-altering drugs which may result in suicide or mayhem?
Or how about software which controls a guided missile that has an impressive kill-ratio? (no, it's not the X-Box)
No? Well somebody does.
Now, these are not new questions. While at engineering school we had a Technology and Ethics course, but it never delved into these types of issues (which may have had something to do with the Department of Defence contracts). Maybe no course can answer these questions, maybe only you can come up with an answer you can live with.
So, in addition to the legalised drug pushers and the war-mongers we add a new villain (well, not new, just newly exposed) - the Banker, purveyors of economic chaos and destruction. The respected banker, pillar of the community. Lovely.
If your love of banking is so strong, why not work for the Financial Services Authority? I hear they're quite busy and need all the help they can get.