Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Partial Power Corrupts Partially

“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” -- Lord Acton

Schwarzenegger, Weiner, Wu; just a few of this year's poster boys for taking advantage of position to misbehave. When news breaks about a scandal involving a politician, the first thought most people have is, "What was he thinking?" (I am not being sexist here; yes, there are women who take advantage of position as well, but it seems that are not nearly as many, so I am going to stick with "he" in this thought-dump.)

The question we should ask, however, is "Was he thinking at all?" What is it with people? What part of "Think first, act later" don't they understand?

In 2011, it's all about instant gratification. "I want this and I want it now, never mind the consequences" is the mantra. I can't think of any major scandal that didn't have that at its root. Even the financial crisis is all about that.

The old adage "Give him an inch and he'll take a mile" is also apt. (Ah, those pre-metric days! Somehow, "Give him a millimeter and he'll take a meter" doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi.) We make allowances for misbehavior, and we don't think about the consequences we'll suffer. So much time and media space is taken up with all this nonsense; when are people going to get real, and serious, and deal with the big problems we have?

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