( – promoted by buhdydharma )
The current global economic crisis has taken us into an extraordinary new realm of irresponsibility. It is being depicted as a man-made calamity so vast and complex that nobody can be held accountable for it. This makes sense only to those who are afraid of being held accountable. As James Howard Kunstler puts it in his current blog post:
In the typhoon of commentary that’s blown around the world a step behind the financial tsunami that’s wrecking everything, two little words have been curiously absent: “fraud” and “swindle.”
The usual suspects in the authoritarian, “conservative,” and libertarian precincts of the blogosphere are united in proclaiming that this global meltdown, which may end up costing taxpayers trillions of dollars, is one big accident, in which no punishable acts have been committed. The reason for this strange claim of global amnesty is that that the most powerful players in government and business committed so many potentially punishable breaches of trust that nothing less than a wholesale turnover of the world’s leadership elites is called for. Because the commentariat works for these elites, they have declared that the guilty parties are effectively too big to jail. Here is a summary of the sophistries that are being deployed.
1. No individual/company/government is fully responsible.
2. The global financial system is too complicated for a cause to be found.
3. All political parties were implicated.
4. Everyone was doing it.
5. Nobody could have predicted the magnitude of the disaster.
6. Punishing people will not do any good.
These claims echo back and forth to drown out the rising buzz of anger from ordinary people who will be paying taxes and tightening their belts for years to pay off bad bets made on Wall Street to rack up big bonuses. None of these excuses holds up under close examination. It is of great importance to assess blame and punish malefactors in this disaster because that is the only way we can prevent it from recurring.
We can re-regulate all we wish, but until potential malefactors know that they will be punished for misrepresenting the value of investments, this will happen all over again. The taxpayers of the world are entitled to extensive investigations, trials, and punishment of the grifters who blew up our financial system in an orgy of greed. No criminal is too big to be jailed. At a minimum, anyone who was materially involved in this mess should be stripped of any financial management responsibilities.
Beyond the issue of official punishment of the guilty parties in the financial meltdown, society must take a much more stringent attitude toward the valuation of honesty in leadership. People who have a record of making false statements should be barred from leadership positions of all kinds. There is no room for “spin” in a fast-moving, tightly-coupled, global economy dependent on accurate information.
Until truth and transparency are elevated above spin and deceit, we will never see the end of predatory financial booms and brutal busts. We owe our children more than a comfortable lifestyle; we owe them the truth.