Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Accountable to the People  

It's time for a change. This kind of thing cannot go on:

Mayor Ray Nagin urged people to cross a bridge leading to the dry lands of the city's suburban west bank ... [but] evacuees who tried that route ... were met by police with shotguns who refused to allow them into Gretna, a nearby town on the other side.

We're not talking about refugees from a faraway land, desperately trying to reach the land of opportunity on leaky boats. Never mind why were we trying to stop them; these are our people. And our government has locked them in a box without food and water, refused to let them leave, and refused to let anyone deliver help.

It's time for a change. It's time to throw the bums out. And I don't mean the Republicans - I mean anyone in our current government who thinks that their high position means that they're "in charge" and they get to "make the decisions".

Well, you don't. We do not live in a dictatorship; we live in a democracy. You are not the owner of the organizations you control: you are their stewards. You are accountable to the people and the situations we live in as they're actuallly happening, NOT to some idealized image of what world you'd like us to live in. We have to break the hold that "one king rule" thinking has on our publically accountable institutions.

DO as you wish with your own stuff. If this was your house, or your personal business, or your wardrobe, you'd be well within your rights to make whatever stupid decision that you wanted, and to deal with the tragedy that resulted.

But government is not personal business; heck, even business isn't business: the leader of a corporation isn't an "owner in charge" but a hired hand beholden to the shareholder's fiduciary interests. Our businesses all too often forget this, imagining that managers need only pay lip service to their duty; the leaders of our governments cannot be allowed to forget this, as lip service is not clearly not cutting it.

Leaders! Only through some magical thinking could you imagine that it's acceptable for police could turn away refugees from a disaster, or that somehow providing relief services would make things worse. And we've had quite enough of magical thinking, thank you.

We've loaned you your power.

And now we're going to take it back.

-the Centaur



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