Inspiration to blog often comes from unlikely sources.  Take Saturday afternoon for example…

Whatthe On a rare beautiful afternoon, I was playing golf with three good friends.  It was my first round in 2+ years, and I was pretty happy that I was only 7 over through 8 holes.  Not a bad comeback for a bogey golfer.  We all hit pretty good tee shots from the par 5 9th hole… probably 250 yards down the fairway but over a hill so we couldn’t see the tee box.  What we could see in front of us was an excruiciatingly slow foursome that was playing at about a 5 hour pace.

Concerned that we were out of sight of the tee box, I backed up about ten paces to stand atop the hill so the group behind us wouldn’t hit into us.  As you golfers may know, it is proper etiquette to wait until the group ahead of you hits their 2nd shot and clears ther area before teeing off.  Just then a ball lands about 10 yards from me.  I put my hands up with a "what the f***?" sort of posture and the group behind us waves.  A moment later, I go up ten paces & prepare to hit my second shot.  Then yet another ball lands probably 10 yards behind me… the group behind us hit another drive right on top of us!!


I screamed at the top of my lungs as my scream echoed around the otherwise tranquil setting.  Once is an accident… twice is at least a coincidence.

So I’m totally on tilt the rest of the hole… my 3 wood second shot goes right into some really thick rough 100 yards out, but somehow I scramble to make par.  But at this point, I’m fuming.

We get to the 10th hole and, of course, the group ahead of us is dragging themselves off the tee box to get to their 2nd shots.  So there is quite a wait.  A few minutes pass… then the showdown.  Some big roided up a-hole does most of the talking for "The Others"

Roided up a-hole:  "You guys need to let us know that you’re still there."
Us:  "Uh… We were standing on the hill so you would know we hadn’t hit our ball yet."
Them:  "It’s a blind shot.  We couldn’t see you.  You need to keep someone on lookout."

I was utterly speechless.  While we probably could have done a better job alerting them we were still there, golf etiquette is pretty clear on the subject.  You don’t hit a ball into a group ahead of you without knowing they are gone.  If there is any doubt, you hop in your cart & make sure it is clear.

I knew if I opened my mouth, things were going to get ugly.  I wasn’t really pissed off about the shot as much as I was pissed off about the roided up a-hole’s attitude and his abject inability to take any responsibility for his actions.  Here’s this guy… he sees us… he hits into us… and he’s the victim.  (Quick aside: I was pretty much on full tilt for four or five holes after that which sent my bogey round into the mid-upper 90s.  No, I am not a nutjob.  Yes I have concentration problems.)

The whole interchange made me think about other examples in the world around us… and I realized that the last 10 years have been marked by case after case of people failing to take responsibility for mistakes.  It’s a consistent fact of life in the early 21st Century:  stewards of the public trust can be counted on to do whatever it takes to maximize their gain and keep everyone else in the dark.  We’ve had tons of cases of it:  Enron, Worldcom, Tyco are old examples that have been replaced by the current iteration:

  • the NAR that keeps running commercials to tell us that now is the perfect time to buy a home (yeah right),
  • execs at certain banks, hedge funds, and finance institutions who have destabilized the economy at large by making questionable short-term decisions for additional profit,
  • recent homebuyers whose blissful ignorance about the most important purchase of their lives now want to walk away from their bad decisions or get the government to bail them out.

But the problem now is worse because there is no apparent accountability in our culture anymore.  Executives who destroyed as much or more shareholder value than Enron walk away with their golden parachute.  No jail time.  No problem.  Just cocktails on a beach far away.  Homeowners who made a conscious choice to be blissfully ignorant & buy more house than they could afford are probably going to be the recipients of a taxpayer bailout… all at the expense of the next generation of homebuyers.  Good luck beating inflation with your first home purchase… welcome to Japan!

When is anyone going to step up and say

"you know, I fu**ed up.  I made a bad decision.  I will pay the consequences and I will learn from my mistake."?

When are our leaders going to demand responsibility?

Regardless of who our next president is, I sure would like to see him/her make tough and assuredly unpopular policy decisions to ensure that we don’t continue down this path.  If people are allowed to be irresponsible with no accountability for bad decisions, we’re creating incentives that are simply unsustainable.  Maybe it is not possible to legislate morality or responsibility, but it is possible to decide not to condone it.