First, Assess Blame

As everyone argues about who’s to blame for the mess, the economy continues to implode. I know, I know–this isn’t a party-line take. To which I say, I’m not a party-line guy.

Fix the thing first. Jail CEOs second.

10 Comments. Leave new

  • It's not like the CEOs are doing anything illegal OR doing anything different from what they have always done. The reason there is no discussion of jailing CEOs is because we all tacitly know that our system rewards their behavior and accepts it as legitimate.

    We need to sit and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING until WHITE MIDDLE CLASS "joe the plumbers" are standing in the now non-existent (or rather hidden) breadlines. Until "real Americans" learn that hard work does not equal success, that sometimes you can work your fingers to the bone and not be successful, or even more, sometimes there's not even an opportunity to do that…the 1930s gave us substantive change for a generation because the government was staring down a socialist revolution.

    We need this to purge our minds of cold war ideological garbage. Now if you will excuse me….'I' still have a job!

  • Baron von Feldspar
    October 30, 2008 12:46 PM

    It is not unusual or unexpected to blame road design and construction for role in accidents. And Nadar pushed for car design that minimized death and injury. WSIB in Ontario has been running a series of gruesome ads that blame "accidents" on people, design and safety procedures.

    Many accidents are followed by lawsuits to divide the blame and costs among many different people and organizations as possible.

  • I would like to add, Ted, that I think this is a remarkably deep cartoon. "He was going under the speed limit" is a great line from the cop, and analogous to "nothing was done illegally"

    The idea that because something is legal it is not only moral and ethical, but encouraged, is outrageous. What percentage of the American population would own slaves if it were legal to do so? I suspect a good many of the same people who believe that being pro-choice is being pro-abortion……"you want it to be legal so that you can do it!"

  • Ted,

    I respectfully disagree. It is important to asses blame. The people most directly responsible for the disaster are directing the response. Its a clear conflict of interest.

    Hank Paulson invented many of the "innovate" financial instruments that allowed banks to believe they were secure until these securities tanked. Greenspan endorsed these securities as an original way to spread risk and diversify.

    Paulson is an insider and he may even be looking at personal legal problems if the securities he sold while he was a banker fail. Greenspan's easy money and no accountability policies live on in his disciple, "Helicopter Ben" Bernacke.

    When you fall, look where you tripped, not where you landed.

  • How about we jail the corrupt democrats who took favorable loans from Countrywide and blocked Republican legislation to regulate fannie and freddie. And lets arrest DEMOCRAT franklin raines.

  • Why not re-purpose Gitmo? We could just let the crooks chill until we got around to having trials and stuff like that. It's not like they are part of any solution. If you give them any money, they feel morally obligated to steal it.

    As to fixing things, you're channeling Keynes. One of his radical ideas what that if the need and resources were there and all that was missing was a little organization and money, then add a little organization and money.

    Aggie Dude, it's not just the cold war (really: we must dominate the world… oh, I mean "protecting" American interests… sorry) mentality, it's also nearly four decades of Chicago School "economics."

  • I agree, let's assess blame and punish the evildoers (and expropriate their assets). But our first priority should be getting the economy moving again. That requires leadership from the government in the form of vast public works projects, massive new welfare programs, printing some money to counter deflation, etc.

  • Happy Halloween, Ted…I wanted to go as a McCain volunteer, but as we all know they pulled out of Michigan so I couldn't find any paraphernalia.

    I like the sentiment of fixing the problem and then assessing blame. But the second part never comes. We know this from history. What's Kenneth Lay doing these days? Sen. Ted Stevens convicted just in time for George W Bush to give him a pardon. Or maybe just commuting his sentence.

    Jail spaces need to be kept available for young black men, not cluttered with old white men.

    Assessing blame is one step in fixing the problem, they're not mutually exclusive. The first step should be removing those who caused the problem from positions of authority where they can continue to be in control. Taking your advice is like hoping that George W Bush impeaches himself.

  • Ted,

    I fundamentally agree that taking care of the casualties–really, ensuring the well-being of all–should always be the first priority. That's not a hand out. It's sound economic policy.

    Aggie also has a point too. His point made me wonder if the nature of the news (and cartoon) cycle is such that we can only do one thing at a time. Neither of these tasks is rocket science and they don't compete for the same resources except for the attention of the public, given that oxes, real and ideological, would be gored.

    In other words, is the need to prioritize real or does it reflect a systemic problem? There may be a better way to put it but I think we could do both and more quite well and we would if were not for ???? I could say political will, the public's apparent belief that national politics is just a long running reality TV show, people don't know who has the loot and think the solution will come out of their (empty pockets), what?? It is insane.

    Oh how I wish people would realize how effective national strikes would be. The pols would pay a lot more attention to what people say they wanted if they knew everything would come to a halt if they did not get off their asses and legislate and implement. Votes would start to mean something other than a place at the trough and locker in the gym.

  • Anon 12:08, I agree 100%. This is the sign of a failed (or never actually existent) democracy, one in which the only people who vote do so in their leisure, meaning that this is just a sporting event for the wealthy. Democracy was always simply a populist scheme to placate masses, it doesn't necessarily lead to the best outcome, and actually rarely does. It simply makes the participants feel that they've been accounted for through a ritualistic process of public hearing.

    Our position in the world is part luck, and part the benevolence of oligarchs (also luck, I guess), it's not because we're democratic per se. I know, that's heresy.

    Media singularity that focuses on one story each day is a product of 1) consolidation of the market, 2) forcing the news department to compete for ratings with entertainment and sports, and 3) the use of a passive medium (television) that requires nothing of the audience. We live in a society that systematically isolates each individual through technology, and then overwhelms them with all the trouble in the world, and then blames the individuals of the world for not all independently acting to fix those troubles.

    This occurs because words like "communalism," "socialism" and "community organizing" are demonized as the new Red Scare. McCarthy chose the ideology, and not the tyranny, of the Soviet system to attack. In so doing, he and those like him condemned the United States to strive for ideological purity, rather than focus on institutions of governance that expand individual well being. We can't even say 'common welfare' anymore because welfare has been demonized.

    General strikes require two things that Americans don't have: Mechanical Solidarity (the strength of a community that can support itself independent of the larger system for any extended period of time), and a lack of fear of the government.

    Our military does many things, one of those things is to constantly remind Americans that they can't get out of line or they might become "them," those devalued "others." The enemy.

    We police ourselves.

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