It should be no surprise we've gotten ourselves into some fine messes: the Wall Street crash that almost brought down our economy; the mine disaster with miners killed; the oil rig blowout with workers killed and with oil still pouring into the Gulf as of this writing.
What did we expect after 15 years of deregulation and under-funding of regulatory agencies?
Yet, now we blame the government for letting businesses screw up. We (mainly Republicans) wanted the government out of the way of business, saying the private sector was good and the public sector bad.
Well, we acted on those assumptions, and look what we got. Again, no surprise.
But instead of directly admitting the error of their ways, as Alan Greenspan did, the Republicans are criticizing the government for continuing Republican deregulation, or for not turning these policies around fast enough.
They are criticizing themselves but in a way that, they hope, tars the current government with their failed policies.
Conveniently for Republicans, including Tea Party folks, the current administration is Democratic. And even though the Dems are moving toward reinstituting necessary regulations, this takes time, especially with Republican congressional foot-dragging.
Wall Street is also playing the game of criticizing themselves, calling the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (HR4173) The Big Bank Bailout Bill.
The bill is what its original name implies, yet Wall Street counts on us believing their saying (through the Committee for Truth in Politics) that it is for big banks and not for consumers. They also count on us telling our representatives to defeat the bill that would re-regulate them and protect us consumers.
How smart is Wall Street and how dumb are we? We'll see by fall election time.
We'll also see if the teenager defense works for Wall Street banks, the coal mine company and the oil rig firms (BP, Transocean and, yes, Halliburton). They are blaming government regulators for not stopping them from financially ruining many investors, from killing miners and oil workers, and from polluting the Gulf.
In effect they are saying we couldn't stop ourselves from causing this damage and life-taking; profit concerns demanded that we not waste time and money by being careful and prudent. We needed more regulation.
Parents are familiar with this pattern. Usually it is only later that parents hear from their teens about how they appreciated our limit-setting and perhaps could have used a little more. At the time, though, they seemed mainly interested in pushing the limits and disregarding parental words of wisdom.
Business managers, of course, aren't teenagers. They are smart, shrewd CEOs with staffs of high-salaried attorneys and accountants, who are all good at avoiding responsibility and at blaming someone else.
This brings to mind the 1993 movie "Rising Sun," where the Sean Connery character says of America: "In our country when there is a problem, we look for someone to blame. In Japan, when there is a problem, they look for solutions. Their way is better."
That was 17 years before the recent congressional hearing that featured the BP, Transocean and Halliburton execs in a childish, finger-pointing blame game. Yes, Sir Sean, we're still blaming rather taking effective adult action.
(James Lein is a community columnistsfor The Minot Daily?News)