Frank Rich wrote a column in the New York Times a week ago entitled "No one is to Blame for Anything." Boy, is he right about that. When the Washington ferry system wasted millions of dollars a few years ago, no heads rolled. When the Port of Seattle was exposed by the Seattle Times for it's waste of money and incompetence, nothing really happened. When corporate heads are exposed for their stupid and expensive errors they are given a golden parachute with a pat on the head. It seems the more money corporate CEO's lose, the more they are paid. Of course, some body way down on the totem is blamed, but the real villain dances away scot free.
Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, told the Congressional committee that he "was right 70 percent of the time, but was wrong 30 percent of the time." As Rich points out:
"If the captain of the Titanic followed the Greenspan model, he could claim he was on course at least 70 percent of the time."
Rich points out that Greenspan was at the wheel when the American economy was "driven at full speed into its iceberg" but pictured himself as an innocent bystander. He further excused himself by claiming that everybody missed the danger. However, Michael Burry, an investor who made something like a billion dollars by investing on the premise that economic disaster was obvious and many others were warning about the impeding disaster while regulatory agencies slept. But, as Rich notes, this ducking responsibility is not limited to economics. As I have discussed in this blog many times, the bishops and Vatican have been doing the same when it comes time to pinning the tail on the donkey for the sexual abuse scandal. Even now, Vatican spokespersons and bishops blame the situation on "anti Catholic" bias, greedy trial lawyers and anyone else they can point their finger at other then themselves.
And, lets not forget the great monumental blunder of this century when George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and his crew decided to start an unnecessary and ill advised war by invading Iraq. They were full of assurances of a quick victory ("Mission Accomplished") and elimination of all those W.M.D's which they claimed existed and justified their decision. When it turned out there were no W.M.D.'s and there certainly was no quick victory they immediately began to sing another tune. They invaded in March of 2003. Now, some seven years later and after some 100,000 civilians have been killed along with some 4,000 U.S. military dead, there is still no end in sight. No one, not Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney or Mr. Rumsfeld or anyone else in leadership in the Bush administration has been willing to accept any responsibility for this tragedy or the deaths of all our sons and daughters. Instead, we had outright lies, excuses of faulty intelligence and untrue claims of justification, but the buck never stopped with any of them. As Rich says "Many of the Bush national security transgressions, including the manipulation of the case for war, are rapidly receding into history and America's great memory hole."
The Bush administration's decision to conduct the Iraq war without imposing taxes to fund it has come home to roost. The economy is under the weight of the enormous cost of the war. This in addition to all the death and injury. All of this is quite real to most Americans, but no one has stepped up and admitted they made any mistake or have any responsibility for what has and is happening.
It's not just Iraq or corporate wrongdoing. It's not just the celebrities and politicians whose sexual misconduct became public. Nor is it just the criminals who when caught refused to admit they did anything wrong. It's a whole national attitude among people today. "Never admit you were wrong and never accept responsibility for anything" seems to be the new attitude in this country.
It was President Harry Truman who was famous for the sign on his desk that read "the buck stops here." Too bad we don't have corporate and government leaders with the same courage. I think all of us are tired hearing excuses for very major errors and sometimes deliberate wrong doing. I think Americans would like to see wrong doers be accountable and take responsibility, but I fear there has been a breakdown of morals and character that doesn't make that very likely.