In a fascinating move, the US House of representatives just defeated the financial bailout bill by a vote of 238-205.

I’m not at all convinced that they are coming fully clean with the American public about why they could not get the majority needed in order to pass this legislation that they themselves had helped to write.

Regardless of whatever undisclosed motivations they may have had, here is the message that comes through to me loud and clear, whether they intend it or not: it is high time that we finally end the era of over-the-top entitlement and greed that has dominated economics and politics beginning during the Reagan era.

To me, the House defeating this bill gives me hope that enough government leaders might finally be realizing that it is high time for them to stop rescuing businesses — and citizens — from the consequences of greed-based and self-centered choices that callously disregard long-term sustainability and the common good.

Whether or not this is what those who defeated the bill in the House had in mind, I am certain that the time has come for an open discussion about how government leaders are role models that businesses and citizens follow, whether or not they know it or mean to do this.

This is also true of the policies government leaders create. For instance, when a government role-models that it’s perfectly okay to accumulate massive debt, this tells businesses and individual citizens that it’s perfectly fine to do this too. When a government role-models that it’s okay for spin-doctoring to drown out truth and facts, this tells businesses and individual citizens that it’s perfectly fine for them to lie too.

In other words, however much or little integrity a government demonstrates directly influences the amount of integrity businesses and citizens embody, to a far more dramatic extent than most people realize.

Psychologically speaking, people have a natural need for role-models. The decline of religion’s influence on ethics, integrity and character has placed unprecedented pressure on government leaders to role-model all of these things to a far greater extent than has ever before been necessary.

As religion’s influence over people’s ethics and integrity has waned since the 1960s, they have unconsciously looked elsewhere to meet this natural need.

Some have looked to atheletes as role-models, but there have been so many sports scandals in recent years that more people appear more reluctant than ever to look to atheletes for role-modeling.

Others look to Hollywood for this, of course. And, even though an awful lot of people have enough sense to not to use most stars as role-models, I am observing that more people than ever are resorting to using as role-models fictional characters from movies, TV shows and even video games. I find this trend extremely revealing because this would not be occurring in such a widespread way were we so lacking in real-life role-models.

This brings us to the last major societal influence that I believe more people than ever have unwittingly modeled their ethics, integrity and character after: their government and its leaders. People have done this whether they have meant to or not, for the reasons I describe further above in this post. Because of this, governmental integrity matters now more than ever, and for role-modeling reasons that far too few people yet apreciate.

I urge you to contemplate the implications of this!

At the same time, people need more than role-modeling. We need the integrity education we never received, in order to develop the clarity and courage to model ourselves after those who do embody true integrity. My two-award-winning book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World, provides the first complete Integrity Education Curriculum for the 21st century! It illuminates how we fall out of integrity in the first place and reveals the completely learnable life skills all of us need to in order to upgrade our integrity.

Isn’t it time for you to upgrade your integrity so that you select better role models and so that you develop a clearer picture of the kinds of integrity start that you need to start demanding that government leaders embody and build into the policies they pass? start upgrading your integrity intelligence today with the help of The New IQ!

[Here’s a little side note about the House defeat of the bailout bill: as a psychologist, I also can’t help wondering whether some voted against this plan as an indirect, and perhaps unconcious, way of taking revenge on President Bush for having used this same kind of "the sky is falling" tactic to midlead America into war in Iraq.]