George and Government Regulation

Years ago, there was a fellow working for me who frequently played the role of a hero. At the time, I was managing an Information Technology organization; in other words, a bunch of computer geeks.

The consumers of our services, whom we affectionately called “users”, would have some difficulty or other with our software or services. This fellow, let’s call him George, not his real name, would put forth a showy effort and solve the problem.

Sounds good, right?

As time passed, I gradually became aware of how George had actually sowed the seeds of the difficulty that he then rushed in and fixed. I could not accept that anyone could be doing this consciously, and perhaps even with intent.

Why did I have such a naive perspective?

Years before that, my Dad, who was a loving and quiet kinda guy, had somehow managed to imbue in me the notion of working hard for your company even when you did not own it. Work hard, do your best to do the right thing for the success of the company, and success would come your way as well.

In my early days in the big bad work world, this seem to play out pretty much as Dad had said it would.

Now, I was experiencing George, who, as a bright guy, could not, in my mind, have been unconscious of the drama which he was creating. It became so disruptive and so counter to the mission and goals that I set for the department, I had to replace him.

In the strangeness that is my brain, all of this puts me in mind of government regulation.

The recent financial debacle was in no small part caused by government functionaries both congressional and regulatory, their big financial services company collaborators and their agents the lobbyists, and the commingled crowd they all created as they shifted back and forth between these entities.

Hank Paulson ex head of Goldman Sachs becomes Bush’s treasury guy. Tim Geithner, ex head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during Bush’s administration, becomes Obama’s treasury guy, and on and on.

Thinking back to a prior blog on labels and the faulty thinking they bring forth, we now suffer from the labels that say Democrats/Liberals are in favor of regulation and Republicans/Conservatives are against them.

While this may be somewhat true or directionally true, it is not and can not logically be universally true.

I suspect that many conservatives and perhaps even liberals would have thought that the elimination in 1999 by the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act of that portion of the Glass Steagall Act of 1932 that said that banks and brokerages should not be allowed to commingle, was a bad idea. If they concerned themselves with the risks associated with such a combination, they would have said let’s keep the separation.

As regulation authored by senators Dodd and Frank (hardly innocents in the current troubles) is coming on the scene to “fix” the troubles (see the George connection?), we read chattering about how Republicans/Conservatives are against it.

Where does this leave us? I think, right where the protagonists want us, impotently bickering about labels and not having any kind of reasonable discussion about what the root causes of the troubles were and what we might do about them.

Some might even say that the upcoming regulations are politically motivated and serve the best interests of the protagonists with only a wink to all of the real folks hurt by these insane shenanigans.

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