Sunday, April 29, 2012

They broke it, we must fix it

In this cynical age, we must look again to our ideals to repair the broken government, the hopeless press, the overburdened courts, and the abject failure of just about every institution of repute in the last ten years.

Short sighted greed is to blame for most of our troubles. This is why Wall Street sold crappy financial products they knew were crappy. This is why professional athletes took performance enhancing drugs, why college coaches looked the other way while their assistants and/or students did terrible things, why reporters made up stories or copy and pasted press releases, why compromise became a dirty word on Capital Hill and lobbyists wrote bills. Why people remain willfully ignorant of climate change. But now the future is not so far away after all, and the proverbial day of reckoning has come. and yet, it seems that most have yet to learn their lessons.

Wall Street is still egged on by callous recklessness and disregard for their supposed clients. The press still prefers to "balance" rather than report what is actually happening and prefer coziness with power over digging to the bottom of a story. Sports are still dogged with people prizing short term success over all else, including the welfare of children. And politicians prefer "winning the week" over passing meaningful legislation, regulations, or treaties that actually makes their constituent's lives better.

I don't know how to lure people from the quick high of short term rewards that come from leveraging the future. But one would have thought the last four years of a painfully slow economy, where everyone is seemingly one false step from financial ruin, would have made people think twice about how they have been acting.

Having narrowly escaped the abyss myself, I must say not only do I appreciate what I have more, but I also think about how my actions will play out several more times down the road.

As a lawyer, you realize the cheap route to victory will come back to bite you one day, and without your credibility, you are not worth much in court or in business. At least some of us do. Other lawyers saw a chance to be famous or wealthy or both, and seized it, laws and ethics be damned. and they, like the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson have became a footnote in history. a lesson of what not to do.