Loss of Trust

Maybe it is just today’s news.  Maybe today is just an aberration.  But call me crazy, it certain does looks like the world’s major institutions are not worthy of much public trust.  I wonder if this is reality or just a shadow on the wall?

  • On the International scene, reports reveal the massacre of an entire Syrian village.  In the 21st century, what government could do this, and why wouldn’t other civilized countries intervene?
  • Wearing a suit means nothing.  Upon learning that just about all (if not all) major banks that participate in the Bank of England’s setting of LIBOR interest rate have cheated and lied in an effort to obtain a rate more favorable to them.  This wide spread cheating gives credibility to the defense “they were all doing it”.
  • JP Morgan Chase announced a $5 Billion quarterly gain which included a $5 Billion loss due to London based traders who left the reservation.  JP Morgan had previously claimed the losses were “insignificant”, then “significant and about $2 billion”.  There is no evidence of incompetence, just the smell of concealment and obfuscation.
  • An independent investigation of Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case confirmed suspicions that the most senior levels of Penn State’s administrators tried to keep the allegations out of the news.  They concluded that the University and its football program were more valuable to more people than the questionable lives of those suspected victims.  In the harsh rays of sunlight, these administrators cared more about the income producing football program than a dozen or so children.
  • A parallel story joined Siamese style with Sandusky is the Penn State Board of Governors.  It is clear the Board did not “govern”.  The Board preferred to sit back and watch the University grow (largely in step with a highly successful football program).  The Board consistently backed down from insisting Joe Paterno retire as any well functioning board would have concluded wise.  At 84 and 60 years of service, no man is so valuable that he should remain in charge of such a high profile position for so long.

In all of these cases, one need only think back a few years and remember the headlines.  Syria was a country at peace.  LIBOR was the interest rate of choice upon which to base most all other interest rates.  JP Morgan Chase was singled out as different in a positive way from all the other big banks who needed a Government bail out.  Jerry Sandusky was highly successful football coach and an humanitarian to boot.  And Penn State, a former small undistinguished university was now gaining renown in all sorts of sports and academics.

Now we are faced with a fuller picture of that which we praised.   When the sunshines, success is praised and no question are asked.  When the dirt is finally exposed, we see how shallow these institutions really were.

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