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Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 in Economy, Politics, Society | 4 comments

Leadership Failure? Try Decency

The time for euphemisms is running out. What we are seeing is more like a social meltdown.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning economic journalist writes about “The epic global leadership fail,” but the symptoms he cites, along with so many others, add up to a loss of the moral responsibility that used to be taken for granted as common decency:

“The global financial system teeters on the edge of collapse because European politicians refused to tell citizens of their crumbling economies that they could no longer guarantee them ‘la dolce vita’– the sweet life–they had come to expect.

“Top executives at Olympus, one of Japan’s leading companies, resign in shame after acknowledging that for nearly 20 years they used a complex accounting scheme to hide billions of dollars in speculative trading losses.

“A revered coach and a respected president at Penn State are fired because they were more concerned about protecting their own reputations, and that of their school, than protecting young boys from an alleged sexual predator.

“And a former governor, senator and head of Goldman Sachs resigns as chief executive of MF Global after bankrupting the broker-dealer with overleveraged bets on European sovereign bonds.”

Yet this is only the tip of a moral iceberg as traditional values sink below what the late sociologist turned Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed two decades ago:

“We are getting used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us,” he wrote in 1993 in his now-famous American Scholar article, “Defining Deviancy Down,” arguing that society keeps adjusting for the amount of unacceptable conduct it can tolerate.


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