This is about Senator John McCain, who we are, what we need, and whether he has what it takes to help us get there.
Posted March 31 — Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Kenyatta Jones was arrested by the Tampa police for attempting to urinate on the floor of a night club’s dance floor.
And Thomas Jefferson rhetorically pondered — my guess: mostly to himself — whether we had found angels to govern us.
Mr. Jones is but easy evidence that indeed there are bad actors as well as actors who from time to time act badly among us; public sports figures, entertainment celebrities, corporate chieftains, government officials, and every family’s Crazy Uncle Morty.
Used to be, responsible adults could take alcoholic beverages to the beach, for their own responsible enjoyment. Now, because of a small minority who did and do not comport themselves responsibly, more and more public recreational facilities around the country have roundly proscribed the privilege; discarded cans and broken glass have rendered many venues unsafe.
The micro illustration of bad and irresponsible conduct is Kenyatta Jones. And his and the conduct of those who despoil our beaches and parks is micro; by and large, their trespasses negatively impact an identifiable yet relatively few: one person or a handful stub their toes and/or lacerate their feet. On the other hand, Michael Milken, Charles Keating, Neil Bush, Ken Lay, et al all the way to just yesterday’s sub-prime manipulators are examples that represent the macro. Their bad and irresponsible behaviors can bring down an entire society.
Both the micro and the macro demonstrate what everyone already knows: rules, regulations, laws and some aspect of government oversight are essential to the survival of a society.
The conundrum for any society, however, is where along the responsibility continuum government should place its heavy foot. Too much regulation, ala the Soviet Union and North Korea, is every bit as disastrous to a society as too little.
At one time in my life I owned a very small company. (Overwhelming weight on “very small.”) Once or twice during the 17 years the business was in business, the business experienced one of the state’s Employment Development random on-site audits. During the three or four days the auditors were doing their job, my clerical staff was unable to do its job: attend to the needs of our clients. Instead of typing appraisal reports for Wells Fargo, Bank of the West, Union Bank and others, they were pulling personnel files and financial records for the auditors. I understood the state had a vested interest in ensuring businesses were adhering to California’s employment laws, and, rather than resenting the intrusion, I respected what was going on in my office, and provided whatever assistance the auditors might need. All that acknowledged, if it had been an around the calendar sort of thing, as opposed to a few days every six or seven years, there is just no way I’d have been able to be in business.
I’ve always conducted my business affairs as straight-arrow as straight-arrow can ever be. The reasons for my adherence to the highest of ethical standards draw from a few wells. One, I’ve never figured I had the acute business savvy to devise an intricate scheme that would successfully provide benefits that were sufficiently superior to the risks. Next, I’ve a bit of a one-track mind, and “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive.” Certainly there’s the most consequent business calling to develop, then retain client trust. And finally, screw over someone and you engage the peril of their wrath when the victim learns of the deed.
For me, there just never could have been enough money in the pot to make the bet a bet worth making. As I said, my business was a very small business. However, as the pot grows, it’s just human nature to imagine behaviors that are not even imaginable otherwise. We all know of the ethical quizzes proffered in ethics classes: If you found a bag containing $X, would you keep it, or turn it over to the authorities who would ostensibly try to locate the actual owners? And how much X would it take before you truly played with the idea of keeping it as your good fortune?
In American big business, the temptations are commensurate to the scale defining big. Some will be unable to resist them. Again, even if it only remains as a vicarious or voyeuristic engagement, it’s just in the nature of people to think about how a successful scheme to cheat might be engineered. The box office success enjoyed by a surfeit of bank-heist movies proves my point. Tragically for the society that suffers as a result of their actions, for some, the lure of a too great a sum takes them beyond innocent imaginings.
This is precisely what made and makes the deregulate everything, monitor nothing naïveté of the Republican Party, of Ronald Reagan and of John McCain so incredibly dangerous for the economic health of both the United States and the world. The notion ignores the reality that recurring evidence clamors loud we ignore only at extraordinary peril. Regarding presidential aspirant John McCain, either an unwitting dupe or a willing participant in the duplicities of Michael Keating, his continued insistence on further deregulation of the American financial industry, in response to questions put to him concerning the current financial mess we’re facing, is puzzling to the point it’s also extraordinarily alarming. Like, just how much evidence Senator do you have to have, how much damage to everyday Americans and the greater American economy will it take, before you actually begin to suspect that just perhaps your faith in the benevolence of “the market” is at least a little misplaced?
Can we be honest and real for a moment?
John McCain’s formal academic studies are limited to those he obtained from the US Naval Academy. In 1958, he graduated 894 out of a class of 899. (As was true of George W. Bush at Yale, the only thing that prevented McCain from being kicked out of the Academy was the fact his father and grandfather were distinguished graduates of the institution, distinguished graduates who went on to distinguished naval careers as admirals.) A naval aviator during Vietnam, McCain survived two crashes and a collision with power lines. He successfully completed 22 bombing missions over the North, and was finally shot down on his 23d. He was captured by the North Vietnamese, was imprisoned for five and one-half years in horrendous conditions during which he repeatedly was a victim of torture. He retired from the Navy in 1981, and was elected to Arizona’s 1st US Congressional District in 1982. After two terms, he was elected to the US Senate, filling the seat vacated by Barry Goldwater. He served for a period as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and is currently the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
There can be no question that John McCain is a fighter and a patriot to be honored and respected. What he has never been, however is a scholar on or interested in anything academic, a businessman, or a leader of more than a handful in the senate; leadership that he secured, by the way, more by dint of his seniority in the party than by a demonstrated special expertise in any given subject area, or special leadership skills, or the GOP senate members’ desire to elevate him to a leadership position. Indeed, a general summarizing of McCain by his fellow Republicans in the senator leads to the unmistakable conclusion that John McCain’s intemperate disposition has led them not to him, but away from him.