Monday, February 23, 2009

Week of 02/23/2009

Cowardice? Or Bully’s Veto?
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine walking into a room with a baseball bat and telling the first person that you see… an obvious Red Sox fan… that the Red Sox suck. That they’re a miserable failure of a team. The Red Sox fan obviously disagrees, but the minute he starts to speak, you beat him to within an inch of his life with your baseball bat. Then you walk up to the next person, still with the bloody bat in your hand, and you ask that person if he had any objections to your conversation skills. If he says yes, then you also beat him to within an inch of his life and move on to the next person.

Now… would you call that exchange a “good and healthy debate”? Would you say that you’re “changing minds” with your conversation skills? Or is it more along the lines of giving them brain damage if they disagree with you?

Now imagine that while you’re having this “rousing debate” with people, another bystander starts tagging behind you, proclaiming that those that agree with you really are gutless cowards that refuse to deal with the “hard issues”. And of course they can’t really speak up to disagree, because if they do, you might also beat them to within an inch of their lives with your baseball bat.

Sounds a tad extreme, doesn’t it?

And yet that pretty much explains recent events when it comes to race.

We have Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American Attorney General, serving under the first African-American President of the United States, making the comment that Americans, for the most part, are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to matters of race.

This is what Mister Holder said this week at a Department of Justice meeting celebrating African-American History Month:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation's history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."

Almost on cue, though, we were given a perfect example of this. For as the new AG was whining about America being “a nation of cowards”, we were presented with a very stupid political cartoon, and one activist’s self-appointed crusade to go after everyone connected to it.

On the same day as Mr. Holder was making his comments, the New York Post published a political cartoon depicting two police officers shooting a monkey on a sidewalk. The officer without the gun then says “They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Now if you have ever encountered something called the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”, you’d know that the cartoon could have easily been a play on the idea that given an infinite time period, a monkey with a typewriter will eventually come up with a work of Shakespeare.

Or it could be a slam on the intelligence of the stimulus package. Sort of like Geico’s ad about their deals being “so simple even a caveman can understand”.

But in the age of the Obama Administration, and in the mind of people like the Reverend Al Sharpton, dead monkey plus stimulus bill can only equal one thing: RACISM!

And to hammer in that statement, the reverend has picked up his rhetorical baseball bat and hit both the media circuit and the pavement in protest over the Post’s publishing of this otherwise stupid cartoon.

It’s a rhetorical bat that the reverend has a lot of experience wielding. His biggest victim was talk show host Don Imus, after Imus’ producer called the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team a certain derogatory word. Sharpton didn’t stop until Imus was fired from both CBS and NBC. Apologies didn’t matter either. Sharpton wanted blood, he wanted lives ruined, and he got it.

And Shapton isn’t the only one wielding that rhetorical bat. There are plenty of other people that are so hypersentive on the discussion that there is only ONE view being expressed... their own. And you are not allowed to disagree with that view without being tarred and feathered with the tag of RACISM.

You’ll note that I did not use the name of a certain color when I discuss race. I used a geographic heritage. That’s because for someone like me, someone who is NOT of that geographic heritage, even using the name of a color is automatically condemned as being RACIST.

So did it ever occur to Mister Holder that perhaps one of the reasons WHY the rest of the nation is skittish on race relations is BECAUSE of people like Reverend Sharpton and his acolytes?

You may have heard about a “heckler’s veto”. That’s a legal concept whereby speech is silenced on the fear that someone might object to hearing it.

Well let’s get brutally honest here… what we are dealing with today is not a “heckler’s veto” in regards to race relations, but a BULLY’S Veto. Because for some people, like Reverend Sharpton, you can’t have a contrary view when it comes to race. You can’t respectfully disagree or offer up any kind of opposing thought without being condemned as being a racist. The only “acceptable” retort with a Bully’s Veto is one of complicity.

So the end result is precisely what our new Attorney General is complaining about. Would you really want to engage in a “frank conversation” with someone wielding a bloody baseball bat? Someone with a history of ruining jobs and ruining careers if he doesn’t like what he hears? Is it really worth losing your job over? Or would you rather just let that person ramble away and hope that they just move on and find someone else to bother?

Our new Attorney General certainly should have spoken with Mr. Imus first before making claims about American being “a nation of cowards”.

Most people don’t want to change the world. They just want to find their little corner of it where they can be themselves and be with people that they are comfortable with. Having people like Reverend Sharpton wielding that rhetorical baseball bat at anything and everything they declare “objectionable” and declaring racism to be anything that they disagree with only ensures that the problem doesn’t get resolved. It ensures that the circle of people that one can be comfortable with stays small and homogenous.

Now that idea may work to people like Reverend Sharpton, because it means job security in his role as a social activist, but that also means that you can never HAVE that “frank conversation” that is so badly needed on the subject. You cannot have a conversation with someone wielding a rhetorical baseball bat, because they’re not interested in having a conversation. They want compliance.

The truth of the matter is that the Post Cartoon was STUPID. Not racist, not a specific attack on Obama, but just plain STUPID. It took a shocking news story of the time – the police having to shoot an attacking primate – and tried to make a political statement out of it. It was STUPID. And had the reverend not used it to fuel his endless “Bonfire of the Vanities”, that’s exactly how it would have been forgotten as. Just another STUPID editorial cartoon that wasn’t even funny to begin with.

Tolerance is not one-way. You can’t expect people to tolerate you if you’re not willing to do the same. You have to accept that there are people that are bigoted, biased, and ignorant. They’re not going to change their minds when you’re threatening their jobs over the things that YOU find “offensive”. And if you want a “frank discussion” on the subject, then you have to make sure that BOTH sides first put down the rhetorical bat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week of 02/16/2009

Do They Really “Get It”?
– by David Matthews 2

For the longest time, Peanuts characters Lucy Van Pelt and Charlie Brown would have this endless test of wills over a football. Lucy would hold a football for Charlie Brown to kick, and then right at the last minute, she’d pull it away, causing Charlie Brown to go sailing into yet another pratfall. And every time Charlie Brown realized what was happening, Lucy would convince him to try again, saying that she “learned her lesson” and that the next time would be different. Of course it wouldn’t be. She’d jerk the football away and Chuck would be spiraling away… again.

The animators at Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” finally gave a solution to the age-old football tease, where Charlie Brown would once again be talked into kicking the football, only this time he would stop right as Lucy pulled the football away. He would then punt her off screen, exclaiming “That’s for years of humiliation, bitch!”

I’m sure the late Charles Schultz was spinning in his grave when that segment got aired, but in all honesty, you have to wonder how many times someone would be played before they would be tempted to do just that.

That little thought came to mind as the chief executives of eight of the major banks showed up in the not-so-hallowed halls of Congress to get their much-needed tongue-lashings this past week. All eight bank executives were summoned to Congress to answer questions about how they have spent the billions of taxpayer dollars that were given to them in bailout money. Money that they supposedly needed to restart the financial flow that stalled a few months back when the economic downturn kicked into high gear.

And they were there because the members of Congress did not like what they had heard beforehand. They heard about banks getting the bailout money and holding on to it. They heard about banks screwing over customers… the very taxpayers that are paying for the bailout in the first place… by jacking up credit card rates and slashing limits. They heard about bank execs getting bonuses and going on still more junkets to places like Las Vegas and sponsoring the Super Bowl. And they knew we didn’t like hearing that.

So these so-called “Captains of Capitalism” were summoned to Congress to get their well-deserved scolding. And they sat there as members of Congress put on their ugly faces and chewed them out for the things they did. One of them commented that he felt more like a “Corporal” after the dressing-down they all got.

And then came the promises! They all promised changes. They all promised contrition. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, already suffering egg on his face for trying to use bailout money to buy a new private jet, said that he now gets “the new reality” and he promises that his bank will as well.

But are they really serious? Do they really “get it”?

Or are they only saying what Congress WANTS to hear?

To be certain, the banks have never been seen wearing white hats when the economy is not doing too well. The image of Jimmy Stewart personally lending out money from his own pocket, as seen in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, is pretty much nothing more than Hollywood fiction. Lenders have a long history of being the bad guys when times are tough.

In fact, while the bank CEOs were getting their tongue-lashing in the House, the Deputy Director of the FBI was busy telling the Senate that they are investigating 530 active corporate fraud investigations, with 38 of them directly related to the current economic crisis. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo also accused executives at Merrill Lynch, now owned by Bank of America, of issuing themselves $3.6 billion in secret early bonuses just as the government was moving to bail them out. Not only that, but their new owners knew about the secret Christmas presents, and rather than discourage it, they only suggested that those bonuses be reduced “substantially”.

And still unaccounted for is the estimated TWO TRILLION in money issued from the previous administration to lenders prior to the October bailout. Money that we are only told was “essential” to keep the financial institutions going, but apparently it didn’t do what it was supposed to or else Wall Street wouldn’t have had to go begging again.

So the question remains… do they REALLY “get it”? Or is this yet another in a long string of promises made, much like Lucy Van Pelt’s promise to hold the football down so Charlie Brown can kick it?

Or maybe the real question that should be asked is… do WE “get it”?

Let’s get brutally honest here… a lending institution, a bank, or whatever you want to call it, is first and foremost a private enterprise. It’s a business. Above and beyond anything else in this world, it is a business.

Like any other business, that institution’s goal is to make money. Never mind what their mission statement says. Never mind what their PR statement says. They’re in this for themselves and their investors before anyone else.

And like any other business, in times of trouble, that business has only one thing on its mind: survival. They don’t care who they have to screw over to do it, or how many corners it has to cut; they will do whatever it takes to survive.

I need to mention this because this gets lost when we start talking about banks and other lending institutions. They’re not in this for a “public service”. They’re in this to make money!

So… give a bank a few billion, without conditions, without accountability… and did you REALLY think that they would do what you EXPECT them to do with that money? Or didn’t it ever occur to you that they would treat it as business as usual?

The really scary part is that WE HAVE seen this before! All you have to do is go back about twenty years to see the same pattern with the Savings and Loan lenders. Gross incompetence, lavish spending, banks collapsing… and promises from those in the government to do better. So why didn’t they?

There’s nothing “new” about this “reality”. The only thing that is “new” is the scope of gross incompetence and mismanagement and bad governance surrounding it.

What bank executives need to “get” is that the billions of taxpayer dollars that are being funneled their way are not Christmas presents. It’s WELFARE money. It’s an attempt to keep their businesses open so that they can try to keep what’s left of this deteriorating economy going. Don’t think of this as a bailout as much as it should be seen as a “buy-in”. The government is the new co-owner of your financial enterprise. Treat it accordingly.

What the legislators need to “get” is that we’re not happy with THEM either! The Republicans may be at fault for relaxing the rules five years ago that set the stage for this fiscal train wreck, but the Democrats are ones in the hot seat for needing to fix it. The only way that businesses will “get it” is if there ARE conditions to that money. Again, don’t treat this as a “bailout” but as a “buy-in”. We’re the new co-owners, and it’s high time that we paid better attention to our new investments.

And what the rest of us need to “get” is that these banks are not our friends. They’re not community institutions here to do the “public good”. They are businesses first and foremost, and their interests are no less self-serving than any other business.

The image of Charlie Brown constantly falling for Lucy’s lies and deceptions and ending up flat on his back may be funny once or twice, but in the real world it’s only a matter of time before either Charlie Brown refuses to take part in the hoax, or else he does what the “Robot Chicken” animators allowed him to do and he punts Lucy in the head. The lawmakers AND the bank executives need to know that WE are the Charlie Browns in this situation, and we’re getting sick and tired of being played for fools.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Week of 02/09/2009

I Can Live On $500,000 A Year!
– by David Matthews 2

There once was a guy that walked around wearing a chicken costume. He was handing out fliers to the nearby chicken restaurant, but he was rather dejected in doing it. Suddenly he stops what he’s doing, sits down at the street curb and starts crying. A passerby sees this and asks what is wrong.

The Chicken Guy says that he used to be a big-time stage actor. He played on all the best stages. He did Shakespeare in the Round. He performed for kings and queens and presidents one and all. Then one day his theatre troupe was bought out, and the new owners had different ideas of what the thespians should be doing. Instead of doing Shakespeare, they would be doing performance work. Instead of performing for kings and queens and presidents, they would be performing on smaller stages and using more glitz and lights and smoke and even pre-recorded techno music.

And through it all the Chicken Guy said that he and the others complained, but they did what they were told, because they were still paid the same.

But then he said that they asked him to perform wearing a pink bodysuit and tutu. It was then, he said, that he walked, because it was “beneath him” to do that, even though he was the only one that did.

Six months later, with his funds dried up and no more work for him, he found out that he wasn’t “beneath” doing anything to keep the bills paid. He said if given the choice, he would have much rather worn the pink tutu and gotten paid handsomely for doing it than to wear a chicken costume for minimum wage.

I bring this story up because it illustrates quite well the kind of economic situation that we are in and the great disconnect that exists between big corporations and the rest of the world.

I can only bring this to you as plainly as possible: the corporate executives, lenders, investors, and big money players have absolutely NO CLUE WHATSOEVER about what is going on! They don’t!

They think that this is all just business as usual. They think that driving a company to insolvency is okay because even if the company goes down and thousands of people are out of work, THEIR OWN money is okay. THEIR OWN packages are safe and secure.

Remember what happened to Enron and WorldCom? Sure you do, and so do the Wall Street elites! They all knew what was happening, and they’re using that to convince Washington that they can keep that scene from happening again. All they need is just a few billion here and a few billion there and everything will be okay again. It really won’t be okay, but they think that if they just say it a few dozen times that we’ll really start to believe it.

This is the sheer audacity of the big lenders: they spent all this time setting people up with loans that they knew would fail. They worked with realtors to convince as many people as they could to sign up with these loans. Then they sold these loans to other lenders, believing that when the time came, they would be fine because it wouldn’t be their problem anymore. And supposedly what did them in was that they were just TOO GOOD at doing this and they weren’t ready for the full weight of it all when the trap DID spring. AND THEN they come BEGGING to the federal government to give them a bailout, with money taken from the VERY PEOPLE that they have been fleecing all this time!

And not only do they EXPECT to get big stinking bailouts from us the struggling and fleeced taxpayers, but they also expect it with NO STRINGS ATTACHED! No questions, no conditions, no accountability, just give them the money and cross your fingers.

Unfortunately for them, WE ARE asking questions! Because while they’re getting bailout money from OUR tax dollars, we’re also hearing about their continued excesses. We’re hearing about the bonuses and perks that are going to the executives that are driving those businesses to the brink of insolvency. We’re hearing about posh weekend retreats at places that are so rich that we can’t even go NEAR them, much less enjoy. We’re hearing about stadium ownership and Super Bowl sponsorships and orders for new executive jets.

And now the White House is saying ENOUGH.

President Barack Obama has decided that companies that get bailout money should not be wasting it on bonuses and corporate perks. He has imposed a salary cap on those corporate executives. No bonuses and they can make no more than $500,000 a year base pay.

Wall Street executives, naturally, along with their conservative and neo-conservative friends in politics, are throwing 3-year old temper tantrums over this.

“YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” they scream. “You can’t tell US what kind of salary we can impose! WE NEED those bonuses and perks and salaries! WE DESERVE THEM! Why… why… why… if you IMPOSE those limits on us, then we won’t be able to retain the top talent! They’ll go to other companies that pay more!”

Okay let’s go over this for a minute…

First of all, if your company is in the toilet and you’re having to go to the government for a huge stinking bailout, and you’re the one running things when it DOES go to the toilet, then I would dare suggest that maybe YOU’RE NOT TOP TALENT!

It’s harsh, but it is the truth. “Top Talent” doesn’t drive a company to insolvency, begs the government to bail it out, and then buys expensive corporate jets. “Top Talent” doesn’t drive a company into the ground, forces thousands of people to be laid off, and then gets huge bonuses for doing it. That’s not “top talent”. That’s called INCOMPETENT TALENT!

Second, the decree issued by Obama only pertains to those businesses that are getting government bailout money. It’s not really a bailout as much as it is a buy-in. The federal government is essentially becoming part-owner of your business, and as such THEY get a say as to how that business is run.

Now you would think that if a company has a problem with the terms of that arrangement, then all they have to do is say NO to the bailout money. After all, THEY were the ones going to the government for money, not the other way around. If they don’t like the terms, then they should just decline the bailout money, pay back what was already given to them, and try to survive on their own. Sure the company would probably go into the toilet and all of the jobs would be gone, but at least the so-called “top talent” would still have their dignity intact!

There’s more, though.

These limitations would not even be suggested if not for the fact that these corporate executives were showing off their largesse while at the same time throwing thousands of hard-working Americans out of work and out of their homes. While they’re announcing big bonuses and lavish weekend retreats and huge corporate jets, they’re begging Washington to give them taxpayer money collected from the VERY PEOPLE that they have been fleecing! That goes way beyond adding insult to injury.

But perhaps a more pertinent question that must be asked is this…

Can you REALLY live on ONLY $500,000 a year?

Let’s get brutally honest here… I CAN! If I was offered that job and was told that I could ONLY make $500,000 a year, then I would EASILY find ways to live on ONLY that!

We have hard-working Americans that are being told that they have to make do with less money while they still have to put in the same amount of work. Hard-working Americans that are struggling to make ends meet, that have done nothing wrong, and yet they are only getting paid for 32 hours of work a week instead of 40. They’re worried about not making the mortgage payment, or not making the rent payment, or nor being able to put food on the table. They’re worried that their car or their home would be taken out from under them. They’re worried that this “temporary” setback will transform into a permanent layoff.

And you’re telling me that corporate executives, whose demonstrated mismanagement and gross incompetence actually rivals Congressional leadership, should somehow be IMMUNE to making those same kinds of sacrifices? I DON’T THINK SO!

$500,000 a year is still $100,000 more than what the President of the United States of America makes. The man that could single-handedly destroy the whole planet in an hour, and yet Wall Street elites think that they should be paid dozens of times more than him. I think that pretty much defines arrogance and pompousness right there.

Or perhaps it is because these Wall Street elites really have NO IDEA what it’s like to truly suffer and scrimp and save and try to make do with less. After all, if THEY fail, they really don’t lose as much as the hard-working Americans do. You don’t hear about people who make seven-figures who suddenly go on food stamps and unemployment benefits. You don’t hear about their mansions and BMWs being foreclosed and repossessed. I think that if they were forced to live on our incomes for a few years that they would have a better appreciation of that money.

By the way, it should be pointed out that the Americans on the OTHER end of the financial spectrum… the ones that have to live day-to-day making do and getting welfare from the government… are given conditions to that money. They are forced to undergo drug testing, document and justify their daily activities, and go through endless bureaucratic hoops just to get that money. Why should CORPORATE welfare recipients be treated any differently?

But that’s all just part of the great disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. Wall Street has lived for so very long in a delusion bubble of their own creation, surrounded by like-minded people constantly prodding and promoting their own self-important greatness, that they cannot in any clear conscience understand what true struggling is like. And the only way that they can truly understand that is that much like that seasoned actor in the chicken costume, they have to be brought down to our level. They have to learn the hard way of what would be “beneath” them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week of 02/02/2009

Scapegoating for Dummies (or for Corporate Execs)
– by David Matthews 2

(Webmaster’s note: the information presented here is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you find yourself being upset by how the subject is presented, understand that this is no different than the excuses used by other groups to deflect blame. Any and all sarcasm detected is probably intentional so be sure to treat it accordingly.)

It must suck to be a corporate executive right about now. Here it is the start of 2009, and you have all of these so-called “masters of the universe” that feel like they were pushed into the Twilight Zone.

All of the things that they USED to swear by are now under scrutiny. All of the practices and behaviors that used to be commonplace are now evil to the core. And what used to be an entitlement is now thoroughly demonized.

Take, for instance, bonuses. Bonuses used to be a matter of entitlement for executives. You worked, you got both a base pay and then you got a bonus. And it didn’t matter why you got it, because you made sure it was in your contract. You were just entitled to have it. It’s just something executives do.

Now all of a sudden bonuses are considered to be “evil”. And these guys are supposed to be living off their base pay! Now that ain’t right! These guys have to pay all the expenses for a trophy wife, an ex-wife, at least two kids, a mistress, and a couple of former nightclub girls that they knocked up a few years back. And all on their base pay? You must be joking!

Unfortunately for corporate executives, this isn’t a joke. What used to be right is now wrong, and what used to be celebrated is now reviled.

What’s worse is that pretty soon some of those “masters of the universe” will be engaging in a whole new embarrassing ritual that requires lawyers and a certain set of linked bracelets that will look like the kind of items their mistresses would have, only this one would be without the fur and without the fun.

Yes, if you’re a high-level corporate executive, you too will probably be doing the “frog march” in front of the media and have your name and face plastered all over newspapers for something OTHER than the “business” section. It’s not a joke and it’s not some horrible, horrible nightmare that will disappear in the morning.

The hard part, then, is being able to survive it all.


Understand that you’re not alone in this situation. In fact, you’re in some pretty good company. After all, you’re now walking in the same shoes worn by politicians, mob bosses, televangelists, and movie stars. If they can survive this, then you can too.

Here are a few quick steps to help all you “Masters of the Universe” get through these trying times that will probably end up with you BEING tried.

DO NOT try to fake your death! Faking your death to avoid being arrested or to avoid being vilified for your actions only serves to make you even MORE notorious. If they didn’t hate you before this, they’ll hate you after doing it, especially when they find out that you’re really not dead. Plus you now have a REAL criminal charge to worry about.

DO NOT hold a “bargain basement” sale! You may think that you’re being smart by selling your five summer homes to your ex-wife or mistress for all of ten dollars. After all, if you don’t own it, then you can’t be forced to sell it should you be sued. Unfortunately it also serves to further demonize your actions. A seemingly honest mistake is now seen as an intentionally malicious act.

Plus once you have sold your items and both the full scope of your misdeeds and your wealth are exposed to the media, then there is a really good chance that you may not get your items back afterwards. Remember televangelist Jim Bakker? He “entrusted” his ministry to a guy that he believed was his friend, only to have his “friend” take over the ministry and kick him out of it. The same thing could very easily happen to you.

DO NOT store your money at home! Keeping tens of thousands of dollars in the freezer or buried in your back yard or under your mattress may seem like a novel idea, but it doesn’t help your cause any. In fact, it makes you look cheap. Think offshore accounts; someplace where the government can’t get to it.

DO NOT blame everything on a computer virus! Computer viruses and malicious software can do so much damage to electronic items, but most viruses destroy data or transmit data to other people (i.e. account numbers, passwords, email addresses). They don’t change terms on mortgages or issue bonuses, so they really can’t be used to explain what happened.

But that does bring us to an important element to survive this newfound notoriety, and that is using a scapegoat, because let’s get brutally honest here… the difference between spending your retirement in Florida versus spending it in the Old Folks Prison will rest in how you are able to diffuse the blame for your actions.

Get your story straight first! If you haven’t gotten your story set up by now, then you need to stay silent until you do. Don’t admit to being either guilty or innocent. You have the right to remain silent and you need to aggressively exercise that right until you can explain your situation.

One of the worst things that you can do is to change your story in the middle of the game. Sure your original story sucks, but changing it halfway through will prove that it was just a scam. Then you have TWO stories that people won’t believe; your old one and your new one. Whatever story you concoct at the beginning, be sure to stick with it right to the end.

The Nuremberg Defense Still Works! No matter how high up the executive pyramid that you are, you always have someone else to report to. That gives you the perfect opportunity to say that you were just “following orders”.

Blame Non-People! As much as you would like to pin the blame on either a specific underling or a superior, don’t. In fact the worst thing that you could do is to blame a living human being for your troubles. Blaming other living humans for the things that you caused will often backfire, especially when all of the proof points to you. Plus living human beings have a really nasty habit of rejecting any attempt to be made into scapegoats.

Just be careful about what you end up blaming. Blaming the collapse of your business because of alcohol or the lust for a rare vintage sports car is one thing. Blaming it on your sofa because “it told you do to it” is a little hard for people to swallow.

Blame Policy! If you have to blame anything involved with your company, blame your policy. I know that sounds crazy, but as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details”. Nobody really reads those things anyway, so all you have to do is say that it’s “procedure” and nobody would be the wiser. All you have to do is make sure that whatever corporate abuses you long to engage in is covered somewhere in your policy.

Blame An Institution! This is one of the favorite scapegoats. Blaming an institution is perfect because you’re able to pass the buck off to an intangible organization. This is even better than blaming an inanimate object, because now you don’t have to blame anyone or anything specific. Now you can blame the whole business group for fostering “a culture of greed”. Better still, blaming an institution doesn’t require any kind of proof to back it up. Your failures and the damages that it causes are all the proof that you need to demonstrate how “the environment created” the problems.

Blame An Addiction! This is more of a desperation move, partly because you have to show incompetence on your own part, but claiming to be suffering from an addiction can be considered a valid scapegoat. Some of the most corrupt and manipulative politicians have been able to excuse their actions under the claims of being a drug or alcohol addict (even thought their own past proved otherwise) and even managed to shave some time off their prison sentences for going to treatment. The downside to this is that once you admit to having an addiction and actually using it as an explanation for your actions, you then have to go to rehab and show up at some addition group for a while to demonstrate your willingness to be “cured”. But fortunately nobody keeps track of how often that you show up to those treatments after the first few times.

Blame The Dead! This is an even bigger desperation move, but also one of the more traditional scapegoats. Blaming the dead seems callous and cruel, but it is far better than blaming things on the living. The dead can’t vigorously refute the charges made against them.

The key to this tactic is that the person that dies has to be in a position to cause the damage in question. That means that we’re talking about an executive vice-president or even a CEO. You can’t blame everything on Carl the janitor. Timing is also crucial. This has to be someone that recently died. You can’t blame your company’s current failures on an Executive VP that died five years ago.

And finally, when all else fails and your good name is destined to go down with your company, you may have to engage in the ultimate sacrifice… yes, you may actually have to…

Take One For The Team! No we’re not talking prison. We’re talking DEATH. We’re talking about taking the eternal dirt nap. We’re talking about cashing in your chips and actually BEING the dead person for everyone to blame. Start drinking and eating dangerously, take up skydiving and stock car racing, find some way to give yourself cancer or some incurable disease… you guys are rich, you have connections, you know how it can be done.

There’s actually a benefit to this depending on where you are. One CEO died after being convicted for his actions, and because he died, he wasn’t able to mount an appeal, so under Texas law, his conviction was expunged. He was actually cleared of all charges just by DYING!

There are some downsides to this. The first is that you really have to DIE. You can’t just fake your death. (Or didn’t you read the start of this article?) The other downside is that YOU get all the blame for the company’s failings. It all goes down on your name.

And perhaps the biggest downside of dying for the company is that you can’t take your wealth with you. That means that your trophy wife and your ex-wife (or ex-wives) and kids and those nightclub dancers that you knocked up a few years back will all be fighting like rabid dogs for every penny that you had in your name. Although for some rich executives the regret is more that their deaths would prevent them from SEEING that rabid dogfight.

Scapegoating is a careful balance of lies and truth. You’re avoiding accountability for your actions even though you will eagerly take the credit had the results been profitable. A good scapegoat takes time to formulate, so don’t feel pressured to come up with one quickly. Just think of it as another business challenge to overcome.