When it comes to accountability, whether in the public or private sector, we have a lot to learn from other countries. I often hear the accountability talk but I sure haven’t seen much walk even though there’s a lot of walking needed these days.
Let’s start off with government. Iceland’s government was dissolved within the last week because of the financial mess there. The Commerce Minister fired the top financial official before resigning and accepting partial responsibility for the country’s financial meltdown. A protest rally drawing over 5,000 persons helped convince the government to step down. That’s accountability!
Now think about how our government has failed to exhibit any similar level of accountability. Does anyone believe that had there not been an election last November any high ranking government official would have resigned or been fired over our financial meltdown? In America, you only get one chance, every four years, for regime change no matter how much FUBAR the government brings on.
With the possible exception of Alan Greenspan’s mea culpa before Congress, who in government accepted responsibility by stepping down? The last time I recall any high ranking government official possibly embracing accountability for his actions was when LBJ announced he would not run for re-election after losing to McCarthy in New Hampshire. And that may have just been wounded personal ego, not accepting accountability for the Viet Nam debacle.
When European politicians bring about a FUBAR, they resign. When American politicians bring about a FUBAR, they bring in the spin meisters and tell us how they opposed it before they voted for it!
And then there’s accountability in the private sector. Why don’t we emulate China in that regard?
Perhaps you read how the Chinese government has responded to the tainted milk scam? Two folks sentenced to death; another two given life sentences; and others sentenced to anywhere from 5 to 15 years. That’s accountability!
In this country, we have the tainted peanut butter mess. A number of folks died and hundreds have been sickened. What do you think will happen to those responsible? Another government slap on the wrist and maybe a fine?
How much more tainted peanut butter do you think we’d see if some of those folks went to jail for a few years and it became known that next time any tainted peanut butter showed up a few folks will be executed, others would get life and still others would get up to 15 years?
And then there’s our own financial meltdown. Some Wall Street execs had their bonuses moved up just before they received their government bailout. That’s accountability American-style!
Do you think those Wall Street financial alchemists might have some incentive to do the right thing if they knew that the “bonus” for putting their short term profits ahead of financial prudence might be an express check out from this world? I think so!
But that won’t happen. Because this is America. And in America, the common folk get to grab their ankles while the usual suspects take their bonus millions and retire to Costa Rica, leaving tens of thousands (almost 100,000 in the last week) to line up for an unemployment check. Don’t you love the American way?