Dana Milbank has a column that is getting a lot of play on the intertrons this weekend, it’s about lack of shame within corporate culture. He concludes:
Government should push back against a corporate culture that has lost its sense of shame.
I’m not sure I agree with the use of the word “lost” which implies that corporate culture once did have a sense of shame. What has changed, instead, is that the government no longer has the wherewithal to push back against corporate shamelessness. Tom Schaller had an interesting take on how the Reagan revolution never ended:
What’s remarkable is how we still hear the same, core arguments about the role and functions of government–and how the policy-specific debates over matters like offshore drilling persist as well. And yet here we are, 30 years later, and the tax burden is at its lowest since 1950, the regulatory state has been cowed if not captured by the industries it is supposed to oversee, and America stands as the world’s lone remaining superpower. The antipathy toward government Reagan popularized has, even if indirectly and merely in spirit, contributed to a governing approach that has led to everything from coal mine disasters to the BP oil spill.
It’s not just antipathy towards the government, though, it’s also reverence for corporate leaders. Establishment media now invariably celebrates captains of industry as Galtian geniuses who “create jobs”. Pulitzer prizer winners criticize reporters who dare to cross corporate leaders. Mockery of any sort is left now to Taiwanese animators and amateur bloggers.
It’s fun to wax nostalgiac about an imaginary past where corporate American had more of a sense of responsibility; it’s the same past where every teen-ager respected his elders, every American helped out his neighbors, and no one needed to lock the door. If people are tired of corporate misconduct, they need to vote for a government that will rein it in, not shed a tear for the end of the good old days.