Nov 16, 2010

Who needs accountability?

One of the shortcomings in our current view of human ethics is a seeming absence of accountability in certain endeavors. While we certainly put the hammer down on a guy that murders his neighbor, at the same time we tend to give free passes to those that 'blow it' in less violent cause & effect actions.

That stockbroker who advised us to invest in a penny stock that is now worthless? We're broke, but he's still living comfortably, partly due to commissions earned from our buy/sell action. Or how about any one of many scandal plagued politicians, forced to retreat from the public view but still keeping the taxpayer-funded pension and health care benefits until death.

The cottage industry of futurists is another case in point. Walk into the bookstore and wander thru an online bookseller and you'll see many dozens of titles that offer predictions of just where we're headed, be it of the economic, political, social, scientific or metaphysical variety.

This hit me today as I was clearing out the bookshelf. There was a formerly popular mega seller titles Next - Trends for the Near Future, penned in 1999. Among the gems offered in that title:

- A worldwide recession will be caused by next year's (read: 2000) Y2K 'computer bug'

So, how'd that work out? Fact: Y2K actually served up a mini-boom in the IT sector, forcing corporate america to upgrade technology infrastructures that they might not have done ordinarily. This resulted not only in job creation and innovation on the supply side, but also a mass realization of efficiencies and productivity throughout the economy.

This was just one of many which was a total miss, by the way.

But the authors weren't forced to refund the purchasers of these books, were they?

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