Let’s Play The Blame Game

I don’t know about you, but personally I’m ecstatic that election season is over.
Not just because I don’t have to see the commercials either.
This year we seemed to have bigger Blame Game tournaments than in previous elections.
Of course, there were a number of issues that prompted it.

I believe that The Blame Game’s popularity is rooted in the fact that we’re a Pop-Culture society.
Media and Fiction alike have trained us to look for that one individual who is the cause of the grief.
Television shows have taught us to look for that culprit, and when we find them, eliminate them.
In The Fugitive it was the One-Armed man.  In GI Joe it was Cobra Commander.  In Harry Potter it’s Voldemort. Joss Whedon even came along and assigned a label that stuck, “The Big Bad”

In reality we have now taken to looking for “The Big Bad” so we can pin the blame for all of our strife on that individual.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that well.

One of the biggest issues this time around was responsibility for the Corporate Bailouts.
Large groups of people took to pointing fingers at Obama and Congress while fixing the elected officials with their best angry eyes.
I can even understand this to a point.
Our elected officials are familiar faces.
They made promises, we trusted them to fulfill those promises.
They also have a responsibility to protect us, their constituents.
When it comes to the spectacular disaster that the bailouts turned out to be it’s also easy to feel that they have failed us.
That tends to be when people stop looking for answers, well, real answers at least.
It’s too easy to feel satisfied that the first culprit you’ve identified is the right culprit.
Which is very wrong of us.
Heck, even in most TV shows the first guy caught for the crime is the wrong guy.
Even the politicians that didn’t support the bailouts started catching flack.
Which, in turn, made the bailouts the largest piece of fodder used in the campaign mud slinging matches.

This, I think, is what really turned my stomach about this election year.
I became extremely agitated over the bailout accusations.
Seriously, it was over the top, and very misdirected.
Never in any of the arguments I heard regarding the elections did I hear anyone stop and accuse the Corporations of any wrong-doing in reference to the bailouts.
Now, prior to the election there was talk of Big Business and it’s liability.
much of that was ignored because it was said by Occupy, Independents, and Anarchist type individuals.
Very few mainstream people stopped to think, well, the businesses were given the moneys to stimulate their business via growth, marketing, and hiring and they somehow pissed it all away while many corporate officers received raises.
Somehow the game of politics has removed any culpability from the part of the Corporations.
Despite the fact that they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Nobody wants to think that the bailouts might have been a radical plan that the politicos might have been hoping would be a tremendous success so that they could brag about it and skyrocket in the popularity polls.
No, people would just rather assume that the officials decided to screw over the populace at the command of their capitalistic overlords.
Here’s what you have to remember about politicians, they know what side their bread is buttered on.
It’s buttered on one side by big business, and on the other side by Middle America.
They figure that if their bread is buttered on both sides and they should fall, at least they’ll land standing.
What it really means is that when they fall it’s in an uncontrollable spiral and they have no idea how to land.
…As they’re now finding out.
In one light you can see why they’d attempt something like this.
Successful radical actions have proven quite prosperous in the past.
People still talk about how FDR saved the country* (despite how many laws he broke doing this)

I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
I don’t go digging up the hidden agendas.
I like looking at the links that are visible to us all and letting common sense and logic guide me.
That hasn’t been so easy with the bailouts.
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
There are companies that were bailed out that gave campaign contributions to Obama and Romney.
Yes, you read that correctly, Corporations that needed money to prevent themselves from failing had enough cash to spare to help hedge some political bets.
Isn’t that absolutely mind boggling?
Something like that is almost enough to make me reach for my copy of Catcher In The Rye while adjusting my tinfoil hat.
Sure, you’d think that the candidates might have noticed that and seen a conflict of interests.
Then again, they are the candidates, they may have just had an accountant handling the numbers and the Politicians in question only saw the totals.
But wouldn’t the Accountants have recognized the names of those contributors?
Who knows, they may be the type that immerses themselves in work and ignores society.
And even if it was noticed and brought to the attention of the candidate why wasn’t the contribution returned?
Did they think it was okay, or might it have caused too much political and media based uproar that they couldn’t afford to have?
The thing is, we can’t know, and the possibilities make the brain all hurty and squirmy.

What we can do is sit back and look at the facts available to us.
We know the corporations didn’t deliver on the promises they made.
From that we can also see that the corporations don’t think that they have to do what the elected officials tell them to do.
To top it all off, we, The American People, have proven that the corporations can do what they want and expect someone else to take the blame for it.
Don’t believe me?
By now I’m sure that most Americans have seen reports of the massive layoffs and firings that immediately followed Obama’s re-election.
You have probably also seen the angry posts blaming Obama for this loss of jobs.
Did Obama go and fire all of these individuals?   No.
The Corporations did.
Yeah, yeah, I know that you’re about to tell me that they did it in response to his re-election and what it will mean to them.
Go back several lines and re-read what was already said…the Corporations don’t give a rat’s ass about what the politician’s say or do.
So we already know that piece of blame is pure poppycock.

I just hope that the Politicians realize that they can’t rely on Big Business and avoid this kind of mistake again.
If they can’t, then the circle of accountability widens to include them, and they must accept responsibility for their actions.
As the old saying goes, Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me, and prepare to suffer the consequences.

In my opinion we should consider Corporate Bailouts to be a flawed experiment which we will never repeat.
Instead, when a company is in dire straits they need to go the Bankruptcy route.
In that case, one of three things usually happens;
1- The business collapses and fades into obscurity
2- The business identifies and fixes its problems, rising to a productive state once again.
Or
3- The business fails to repair itself and another company buys them in order to successfully rehabilitate the ailing entity through restructuring and a new business model.

Many people argue that bankruptcy leads to loss of jobs and a further burden upon the community.
In reality, it removes a business from being a burden.
Plus, if, as in option 3, another company purchases it and revives it more jobs are created, more taxable revenue is generated, and society is generally benefited.

The perfect example is when K-Mart declared bankruptcy for the last time only to be purchased by Sears Roebuck.
Sears rebuilt the image of K-Mart while maintaining K-Mart’s reputation.
They did this by targeting the weak spots in their competition’s marketing strategies and devising counter-strategies to take advantage of these weaknesses.
Now K-Mart is thriving and holding its own in the retail race.

On another note, any company that declares bankruptcy, regardless of the final outcome of said bankruptcy or means by which they achieved this final outcome, should be prohibited from making campaign contributions for a period of six to maybe eight years following the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings.
This will alleviate the potential for both actual indiscretions and perceived indiscretions.

Regardless, the point I’ve been trying to make is don’t settle on the easy choice when assigning blame.
Be sure you’ve considered all of the options first.
If you honestly do so you may be surprised in what you find, and even more in the conclusions it delivers.

* Whether he did save the country, or lay the foundation for future catastrophe is open to debate, preferably in another blog

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