Saturday, December 13, 2008

Personal responsibility in the Bush era

For the last eight years the buzzword from President Bush has been personal responsibility. Prosecutors tell me continually that my client needs to accept responsibility for his actions.

But, when it comes to the executives running the major banks and brokerage houses in this country, personal responsibility means going to Washington with your hand out and asking for the taxpayers' (it's our money, after all) money so they can continue to pay themselves obscene salaries, perks and bonuses. These so-called financial experts gobbled up risky investments without taking the trouble to hedge their bets. The partners and shareholders ate it up. No one stood up and questioned the strategy. And then, when it all came crumbling down, no one wanted to take responsibility for it.

And what do our elected officials do in response? They open up our checkbook, hand it to the bankers who lost the money in the first place and don't ask for any accounting of where the money's going.

It's all part of the privatization of gain and the socialization of loss in our society. The profits from these schemes find their way into fewer and fewer hands while the costs of bailing out the banks is spread among everyone.

There's not enough money to provide health insurance for the nation's uninsured children. There's not enough money to expand social services in our inner cities. There's not enough money to make college affordable for everyone. But there's enough money to hand the banks and brokerages a blank check for $700 billion.

There's no sympathy in the DA's office for the kid who makes a very bad choice. There's no sympathy for a young adult looking at a charge that could make him virtually unemployable. There's no sympathy for a citizen accused with a family facing the prospect of years in prison. There's no sympathy for the ever-growing numbers of young African-Americans and Latinos being institutionalized in our jails and prisons. There's no sympathy for the working poor who can't afford legal representation.

No one on Franklin Street, or in Austin or in Washington wants to accept any responsibility for the situation. But everyone will continue to chant the mantra personal responsibilty as the assault on the working poor and minority citizens continues.

P.S. I'm certain that some of y'all have posted articles dealing with this subject. Feel free to notify me on Twitter, e-mail me or leave a comment with a link and I'll be more than happy to include it.

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