Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Much Could You Get Away With?

Whether you are a supporter or not, we are currently fighting a war in Iraq that is tremendously unpopular with the American people. The biggest inequity for some individuals is not just the war itself, but the justifications that were used to rationalize the invasion. The allegations of WMD's and secret meetings involving Iraqi agents and Al qaeda elements - which have been thoroughly discredited - have resulted in vast expenditures of American resources, the most important of which are the lives of our servicemen and women. Those are irreplaceable. Now we face the difficult task of stabilizing Iraq and fortifying its government, military and infrastructure - amid waves of insurgent assaults - before withdrawing our forces. Has there been any serious consequences for those individuals who ill-advised President Bush?

Then, in 2005 came Katrina - one of the deadliest and most expensive hurricanes in the history of the United States. After the levees failed in New Orleans, the bodies floated, and the size and magnitude of this disaster materialized in every television set for everyone around the world to see. After the incomprehensible aftermath of Katrina, came the investigations and the finger pointing between federal, state and local authorities over culpability. The subsequent investigations revealed that the levee system in New Orleans was in decrepit condition, and poised for inevitable collapse. It is estimated that over 1800 people died when Katrina slammed into the U.S., causing damage that topped $100 billion dollars, with New Orleans suffering the bulk of the damage. Out of all the parties that can take responsibility for this catastrophe, how many were actually held accountable? Just the FEMA director?

Do you recall this from January 26, 1998:

He was lying then and also lied under oath when asked that same question. His deceptiveness initiated an impeachment process that consumed and distracted both the House of Representatives and the Senate for nearly two months, not to mention his own Executive office. In the end, President Clinton admitted to having a "relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate" but was nonetheless acquitted of all charges - perjury, obstruction of justice, etc. - along party lines.

On the last day of his administration, President Clinton pardoned Roger Clinton, Jr., his own half-brother, who had been convicted of selling cocaine in Arkansas in 1984. Within a month of his presidential pardon, Clinton Junior was back in jail for driving under the influence.

Now we face the possible collapse of global financial markets unless the United States Congress authorizes a $700 billion dollar bailout plan. This because some very greedy individuals - salivating over the prospect of making a quick buck - initiated transactions that were wholly unstable and reckless. You, the taxpayer, the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas living on a fixed incomes, who are already feeling the sting of higher food prices and energy bills, are going to flip the bill for this whopper of a blunder, the likes of which have not been seen in history. And despite the fact that the FBI is investigating the major institutions whose collapse lead to this meltdown, there is no way of either incarcerating or in some way punishing all the parties that contributed to this mess. We'll be lucky to see these companies pay back the majority of this bailout.

Hundreds of billions of dollars lost and thousands of lives destroyed because key personnel - in both the public and private sectors - were too wrapped up in their own political agendas, or were blinded by limitless greed, or were completely derelict with responsibilities that fell well within their province. How many of our government leaders will ever be held accountable for involving our country in a quagmire over baseless and fabricated accusations? Nine times out of ten the most any of these individuals will face is some kind of public castigation or forced resignation over failures of unimaginable proportions. And, get this: there is probably some poor schmuck in jail right now, somewhere in the U.S., for unpaid parking tickets.

No, I'm not arguing that people who break the law should continue living their lives unpunished if someone guilty of something worse escapes justice. But I'm asking, how can so many people in our country commit offenses of extraordinary severity and operate with impunity, while other individuals guilty of much, much lesser offenses face their consequences?

How many of us could go on to spend seven full terms in the senate after a Chappaquiddick?


Shirley said...

Good post, Tom. No matter what country you live in, the rich and powerful will take care of their own. In the long run they are the losers, however, because "their rewards will be only in this world". I'd rather be poor and persecuted than miss out on Heaven- I'm in it for the long haul! Not that I am poor and persecuted; I'm just sayin'.

Kimberly said...

I am in for the long haul as well. Thank you for this post. Hey, I have posted an award for you on my blog. You are so awesome and I thank you for your friendship. Please pass the award along to 7 others or more. GOd bless and Blessed be God forever!



paramedicgirl said...

Just the sight of Bill Clinton makes me nauseous. (Not to mention having to look at Hillary) that's double nausea! I once found an internet program that warps people faces, and I had a little fun running pictures of Bill and Hill through it. LOL!

Kirk said...

A thoughtful post Tom.
I was just reading about this topic in the Herald Tribune today and thought to myself that all this money is being given to these concerns to keep them afloat and I suppose that the people who got them into this mess in the first place will continue to draw their large salaries out of it!

Adrienne said...

Good one!!!

Terry Nelson said...

Why you little....

Kidding - excellent post. The inequity is beyond comprehension sometimes.

Tracy said...

As always, great post Tom!!

Terry Nelson said...

Tom - I just realized - you forgot to mention when Bill admitted he smoked dope - but didn't inhale. LOL! Why did he even bother to explain it?

dawn said...

I just discovered your blog, thanks to Kimberly giving you the award..this particular post gives much food for thought. I agree with your analysis that greed was the driving force behind this current economic debacle, but we can't forget that "regular" folks were greedy as well. Buying homes way out of their budget, not reading contracts and hoping to make an enormous profit when they sell. The "real" homeowners, those buying in their budgets and continuing to pay their mortgages and other bills are the ones that will suffer from all the greediness by so many. It isn't just the big guys who are at fault..It's a sad thing, greed. Thanks for the post.