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Monday, March 23

Responsibility - v. 2009

What a mess!
You are due to address a group of critics concerning huge decisions you will make shortly about unimaginable financial losses. Decisions that will affect all of those under you but for a select few.

How do you get to be head of such a large contingent without understanding how things work? You would think that at least more than a rudimentary knowledge of finance would be some sort of prerequisite, or at least be around enough “experts” that you’d have some idea of what can and should be done. Maybe you should have paid more attention in class, you laugh to yourself.

Maybe it’s true that the public doesn’t know much and if you bullshit them just enough, you can pull this off and your friends will make out like bandits as they did the last eight years. Eight years with no regulation on Wall Street or anywhere, for that matter. It’s been a free-for-all grab bag for those with influence.

You have a financial group under you that is headed by someone you selected because the last guy really screwed up. You’d think you’d also need to have some competent people working for you to try to keep things from getting out of hand. But what happens when the very same people you select fall prey to greed and other influences? Who gets the blame? Them? Sounds good!
You need money to keep from going under, but from where? The tax payers, of course! They’re like Mikey in the old Life Cereal commercial. Tell them this plan will be for their long range benefit and that it will work but take time. They’ll believe anything. So will other boards and committees. And then you can do what you want.

For eight years that kind of mentality existed; longer, actually. But it became almost pandemic these last eight.

Now you’re in charge and the stuff is hitting the fan. “I didn’t do it! I inherited it from my predecessor!” Yeah. That’s true, but you have to do something about it. But what?

Well for starters, how about firing those who can’t put the right interests ahead of their own?” And that finance group…get rid of the one in charge, and his buddy...and maybe even the whole department. That’ll look good to everyone outside. Who cares who hired him or them. You have to correct this problem. The public is sure they’re not part of this solution. Get rid of them. But it’s tough because they helped you get where you are, yet if you want to keep your job and that nice retirement thing you better make a decision soon.

You don’t have much time. But never fear. Here comes the bailout! Things are different. It’s like being in a bad firefight. You promise God that if you come through this alive, you’ll become a priest or do good deeds for the rest of your life or whatever bit of rationalization you can think of at the time. But now...the bailout’s here and you’re safe…for the moment! Maybe you can put off that promise to whomever. HE knows you really didn’t mean it. You see others around you that have done the same as you and failed also and you think, “Why not? It’ll work out.” You and the others will get through this and the public can cry all they want but they’ll still pay for it. So when tough questions are asked, you deflect or distort or maybe even lie…but just a little. Even if someone reminds you of promises you made, you can justify those with a glib little quip by saying what’s one more priest anyway and you’ll atone for it in another way!
Whatever you decide, you can’t let them think you’re as incompetent as your predecessor so you have to do whatever it takes. Our business is pretty resilient. There’ll be some sacrifice and some suffering even if you or your friends aren’t those who suffer. But isn’t that a fact of life, that some have to suffer so others can lead?

Just about set for those critics. Ok, you have all your talking points ready for your appearance. Suit looks great; tie’s straight; hair’s ok; teeth brushed; you popped the Binaca; and notes in front of you just in case. You’re ready to walk into that room to confront those who would question your leadership; ready to tell them what kind of leader you’ll be.

You open the door…TV cameras running...
I’m sorry. Did you think I was talking about a Wall Street CEO or Banker?

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