Posted by: Tony Carson | 20 September, 2008

The end of accountability

We occasionally hear of honourable Japanese businessmen falling on their sword as penitence for immoral business decisions. Indeed, didn’t the Japanese Prime Minister recently resign as evidence of his humility at low public favour?

So accountability does exist … in some parts of the world. But not in the West, not in the bastion of capitalism … and only capitalism.

How many men and women resigned in protest from the abysmally ineffective, oil-first George W. Bush administration? Those that left seemed like so many Colin Powells, slinking away when their positions became untenable.

How many failed corporate Goliaths have willingly stepped down from their lofty heights, even after stripping their companies of any value, without the assistance of a golden parachute? Have any?

In public life, has there been a single mia culpa? I failed and I’m sorry! The terror-boss Richard Clark uttered the words to a US congressional sub-committee and seemed genuinely contrite. But he also seemed to be grand-standing as a puritanical counterpose to the monumental administrative and intellectual sleaze of the administration he served: his was the verbal equivalent of taking a shower.

In Canada this week, the Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made an unimaginable offensive joke about the listeriosis outbreak that killed 17 people. Yes he apologized, but did he do the honourable thing and resign as appropriate accountability? Was he fired? No. He turned the page with a shrug and so did his boss, the Canadian Prime Minister.

There are no expectations of honour any more. Fuck up badly enough and you appeal to the public to pray for you then you field a few softballs on Larry King and … Bob’s your uncle.

Bush endures; ‘Dog’ the Bounty Hunter is back on TV holding hands with Beth while praying for their pert’s repentance; Don Imus pollutes the public airwaves; Mark Foley escaped prosecution after his boot from Congress — with no thoughts of leaving willingly. And no expectations.

There WAS a better day. My youth. “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” — Grantland Rice. That’s a wonderful sentiment that I took to heart on the playing field and in the rink. It should be on every dressing room wall.

It isn’t. Not these days. Instead, we get this:

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” — UCLA Bruin coach Red Sanders

“Image is Everything” — Andre Agassi

Alas, today, image has become the ONLY thing and it doesn’t do much for your image to admit you are wrong. Accountability is for pussies.

As my son used to say, “Oh, well, ah.”


  1. Oh well eh?
    I think it is important to point out that “Image is everything” comes from the tag line from a mid-nineties ad campaign for Canon cameras.

    But, accountability is the festering puss ridden wound of our society. That and it’s rival sibling “competition” can are associated in all the darker sides of our age. I have a go at unravelling this mess in this post:

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