Today I encountered two interesting articles in our local paper. First was a piece by William D. Cohan of Bloomberg View. He wrote about Pope Francis and his blaming of greed for the economic woes throughout the world. He cited the multi-million dollar penthouses of the Wall Street types versus the $40 Billion dollar cut in the food stamp program (he blamed on Republicans). Although I found myself certainly agreeing that the greed of Wall Street certainly led all of us into the horrible meltdown of 2008, I also noted that heaping all of Wall Street into the same feeding frenzy driven by greed is not completely accurate. The bankers and investment organizations were more at the root than the typical Wall Street investors.
The second article was by Charles Krauthammer where he compared how a 17 year old can easily learn from visits to the DMV about how big government bureaucracies fail to fulfill the duties that are expected of them. He singles out President Obama for growing government with Obamacare. A new bureaucracy of exchanges and navigators apparently without a clue of how such a bureaucracy might suffer a catastrophic failure, and adding how Obama was oblivious to the fact that all those talking points used for campaigning for the healthcare bill were lies.
The first point I would like to make in reference to these articles is that where big business is concerned we also find charitable foundations, yes perhaps even the banks, where funds are directed from the organization to fund their foundation which in turn funds their area of interest through grants to non-profit organizations. They give back to the community. Billions of dollars every year flow to the needy.
The second point is that some government agencies actually do work well. Lois Lerner and Kathleen Sebelius are not representative of the majority of government employees. Unfortunately they are examples of everything that is wrong with government bureaucracies.
Millions of taxpayers will get their refund checks soon after filing their returns, thanks to other dedicated employees at that agency. That in spite of the likes of the Lois Lerner’s throughout the organization. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each have many dedicated employees working to keep Americans healthy daily in spite of the likes of the Kathleen Sibelius’s found throughout HHS and government in general.
I found it tougher to find innocence among the banking and securities companies however. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide with insider trading and securities fraud. But those were civil charges, which Mozilo settled with $67.5 million in fines and a lifetime ban from serving as an officer of a public company. A criminal investigation was dropped.
A fraud prosecution of managers of two Bear Stearns hedge funds resulted in a jury finding them innocent. Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre was found liable for misleading investors in mortgage securities issued by his firm, Goldman Sachs, but it was a civil case. The CEOs — including Lehman’s Richard Fuld, Bear Stearns’s Jimmy Cayne, Merrill Lynch’s Stan O’Neal, Citigroup’s Chuck Prince all found apparently “too big to jail”.
Our society really needs to have an understanding that both government and business (yes, even bankers) have a role in today’s society. However, both government and business need to learn how to keep the sleazy, greedy, arrogant, corrupt individuals from managing anything.
Yes, there is a role for government, but it should not interfere with individual freedom and free enterprise. Regulation and accountability are desirable to protect the innocent. Too much regulation or misguided regulation can hurt business and interfere with free enterprise. Laws to hold individuals accountable are needed as well. Banking and securities are regulated, -how did that work out for us…? We had them in place but the bad guys still got away. It probably didn’t help that the empty suit, Attorney General, Eric Holder, was leading the prosecution. Government lets us down again.
Business and government need to clean up their act. Republicans and the right would be quite pleased to be rid of political incompetents such as Lois Lerner, Kathleen Sibelius, Susan Rice and Eric Holder. Democrats and the left would be quite pleased to be rid of the likes of Angelo Mozilo, Fabrice Tourre, Richard Fuld, Jimmy Cayne, Stan O’Neal and Chuck Prince.
Each should police their own house. Each should be fight to be rid of the sleazy, greedy, arrogant and corrupt. I actually witnessed this house cleaning at work a few times in a union setting. If you understand some of the history of how unions loosely grew out of trade guilds you can understand that the guild instilled a high degree of pride in their trade and their work. The apprentice learned from the journeyman or master tradesman, and was accountable to uphold the high standards of the guild. Great pride was taken by the journeyman in his students and likewise by the student in his journeyman.
Where the standards were not upheld, journeymen of the guild needed to address the individual who was injuring the reputation and standing of the guild. They had to police themselves to preserve their good reputation in standing the community.
What I witnessed in the union setting was an accusation by one union brother against another. It was brought to the union because the first brother understood that it should rightfully be handled by the union brotherhood rather than the outside community (companies using the union labor). They policed themselves by investigating and then placing the second brother on probation, warning he would be thrown out if he did not uphold the standards.
This is how business should work, government should work and unions should work. They should police themselves. Based on pride, not ego. Based on dedication, not arrogance. Based on honor, not deceit and corruption. Unfortunately, the Eric Holders, Richard Fulds etc., gain leadership positions and given the helm, they take their ship to the bottom.
With this illustration you can understand there is a place for government, a place for business and a place for unions. We know there are great leaders in government, and great leaders in business but where are they? No one is taking ownership. No one is taking pride. No one is there to stand up for the honor and pride within these entities and represent all of the parts of the whole which are needed to keep the whole entity alive and thriving. If people within the whole of these entities don’t take ownership and stay engaged with the matters at hand, we will always have this pattern where the sleazy, greedy, arrogant and corrupt rise to the surface in leadership positions. Unless WE (you and I) get engaged and work to change this pattern, the sleazy, greedy, arrogant and corrupt will be at the helm, take the ship to the bottom, and take all of us to the bottom with them. Please let’s work to get government and business to police themselves!