roland@equalpartners.ca
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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

Blame – III. Accountability

Accountability is used in so many different situations, it
is no longer easy to define.  It is bandied around freely in the
bureaucracy, in politics, and in the media.  So how do we pin it
down?  I gather from my dictionary that it is simply a matter of
determining who is responsible, or who should be held
responsible, for a given action, event, or development.  For
example the loss of confidential documents.  I will accept this
quasi-definition and proceed from there.

The matter becomes more involved when I bring blame into the
picture.  An individual can be held responsible, but may or may
not be blamed for her actions.  How so?  Let’s look at an
example.  Tamara (a fictitious person) starts a technology
company in 1996.  In 1998, she goes public and the price of her
shares is climbing steadily.  Investors do well until 2000 when
the technology sector goes down the drain.  As a result, the
company goes out of business and the investors lose substantial
amounts of money.  When the books of the company are audited, it
turns out that Tamara has always been honest in her business
dealings.  There was no revenue pulled out of nowhere.  This is a
case where Tamara can be held accountable (since she managed the
business) for the losses incurred but cannot be blamed.  She
could not control what happened and she never inflated her
revenue artificially to jack-up the shares’ price.

Compare and contrast the above fictional example with
existing companies who engaged in doubtful accounting practices,
and in the process ruined the lives of many of their employees
and shareholders.  Not only do we blame the managers who run
these companies, but we consider their actions criminal.  Indeed,
some of them are now in jail.

Often, it is not that simple to separate accountability from
blame.  They tend to go together.

Some 60 years ago, President Harry Truman took the most
difficult decision a president has taken before or since.  He
dropped the atom bomb on two cities in Japan.  President Truman
had a sign on his desk:  “The Buck Stops Here.”  In other words,
the final decision was his to make.  But he was certainly not
alone.  Rest assured that he consulted with his cabinet, members
of Congress, staff, military men, and above all the scientists
who developed this frightful weapon.  Japan was told what to
expect and was given a chance to sign a peace accord.  The offer
was reiterated before the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki; to
no avail.

Today the U.S. and Japan are good friends, and standing at a
distance of 60 years, we can ask our questions:  Was President
Truman accountable (responsible) for this horror?  Could he be
blamed?  I will say with absolute certainty that he was neither
accountable nor could he be blamed.  The war in the Pacific was
costing many lives, both American and Japanese.  The world was
exhausted after a long war; and the U.S. had a weapon that could
end the conflict.  It should have never come to that.  The
military in Japan should have understood that the game was up.
When they didn’t, the Americans had no other choice left.  The
decision was a common decision taken not by one man only, but
many other people both in the U.S. and Japan.

Only God can say:  “The Buck Stops Here.”  Humans can use it
if they wish.  But it is meaningless.  So many things are not
under their control.

In the early ’70s, the U.S. was rocked by the Watergate
scandal.  Put simply, President Richard Nixon and many members of
his staff has engineered a plot to ensure he will be reelected
for a second term.  For some 3 years, government, Congress, the
media, and the judiciary were busy sorting out this sordid
affair.  When the President resigned and was replaced by
President Ford, it was time to take a tally.  Many brilliant
people around Nixon were jailed.  The business of government came
to a standstill.  President Nixon was pardoned by President Ford,
probably more out of respect for the institution of the
presidency than for the man himself.  For many years thereafter,
the stench of the scandal pervaded Washington.

President Nixon earned the nickname of “Tricky Dick.”  For
example, he used to say that he was serving the silent majority.
He was serving the majority of Americans who went about their
business quietly.  Any protest therefore was the work of
hooligans, not hard-working people.  How convenient!  Since they
were silent, Nixon’s administration could make them say what they
want.  Since they were silent, we don’t know their numbers and
they can be misrepresented as the majority.  Put another way, he
equated the American people to puppets.  What they say or do is
under the control of the puppeteer.  But it didn’t work this way
at all, the American people caught up with him and his career
ended up in disgrace.

I think we have an easy verdict here.  Nixon was accountable
because it was proved that from the beginning he knew what was
going on.  He was to blame for the pain he has caused,
specifically to the people around him, and in general to the
American people.

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