Friday, February 15, 2013

A Sewage-Laden Cruise Ship, Burning Aircraft Batteries, Neo-Nazi Factory Security - Will Jaw Dropping Cases Prompt the Public to Demand Better Leadership?

The dysfunction of modern health care likely arises from larger trends within the economy and the society.  We frequently discuss how poor leadership and governance within health care and other organizations exist in a context of focus on short-term revenue above all else (financialization); perverse incentives, particularly leading to excess executive compensation unrelated to leaders' actions or performance; deception, especially in marketing and public relations coupled to suppression of internal dissent and whistle blowinglax regulation and law enforcement, in a climate of regulatory capture and by governments afflicted with the revolving door allowing conflicts of interest and corruption, etc, etc.

I was thinking of this last weekend while like many Rhode Islanders we were shivering in an unheated house.  A big but not unprecedented snow storm had apparently caused the failure of multiple high-voltage electrical transmission lines and substations, which should be designed to resist such conditions.  (National Grid says cause still unknown for failure of high-voltage lines serving East Bay, Aquidneck Island.)

Poor leadership and governance under these circumstances likely lead to threats to public health and safety.  Focus on cost-cutting and current revenue to drive executive compensation may lead to bad design, manufacture, and maintenance of critical systems.  So maybe we should not be surprised at a recent barrage of cases involving threats to health and safety by well-known corporations:

Walmart in Supply Chain Crackdown after Bangladesh Factory Fire

Apple Vows to Eradicate Child Labour from Workforce

HSBC Got Away with Murder: the Bank Laundered Money for Drug Traffickers and Terrorist Groups...

Probe of Boeing 787 Battery Fire Expands

Sewage-laden Carnival Cruise Ship Docks in Mobile, Alabama: Passengers Finally Disembark from Vacation Vehicle Turned Smelly Nightmare

Amazon 'used neo-Nazi guards to keep immigrant workforce under control' in Germany

Those were just the cases I could easily recall.  Readers are invited to add more to the comments section.

At least, I don't think I can blame poor leadership and governance for a huge exploding meteor:

But maybe a society less dominated by top insiders skimming off more and more money would be better prepared for the next meteor strike.

One can only hope that this onslaught of increasingly jaw-dropping cases that threaten health and safety that would have been unimaginable a short time ago might lead the public to demand accountable, transparent, mission-focused, honest leadership of the big organizations, for-profit, non-profit and governmental, that now control our lives.


Judy B said...

Not holding my breath yet. I hope we will get some srutiny and reform!!

Steve Lucas said...

I have followed with interest the coverage of Dr. Carson’s comments and follow up from the National Prayer Breakfast. They have run the gamut from ignoring him entirely to condemnation for using the Breakfast as a forum for calling for reform.

Countering this is the recent interview with a young Congressman who claimed it was everyone’s patriotic duty to pay as much of their income as it takes to make sure no person in the US is hungry, per government standards.

A Senator stated in a public interview that we do not have a spending problem in the US, what we need to do is “redistribute” resources to the people.

I was very young during the 1960’s and remember the call to get “The Man.” The Man was holding us down. How come The Man was driving a big car? After all I deserve a big car. When questioned about what a person was doing to get a big car the answer was we will deal with that after we get The Man.

My personal view is that we now have a political system populated by those aging 1960’s radicals and their children. It is very easy to simply take from others and let the real problems be covered over with tax dollars. Those who question the system are pasted with such words as promoting “austerity.” This is a concept that will not benefit a permanent underclass and garner their votes.

In my small city with an average household income of $30,000 per year a couple are hired at a combined salary of $200,000 to bring government dollars back to the school system. A school system that is growing smaller every year, and while seeing a decline in teachers, has seen an increase in administrators, but no reduction in class size.

With government leading the way, gaming the system is the order of the day. We are left with defining what is the meaning of “is.”

People like Dr. Carson are left at the side of the road for asking real questions and wanting real answers.

Steve Lucas