Again, OO is following, as best possible as we are busy, the Wall Street Reform Bill developments as they unfold. In this Press Release Update on AGREED provisions in the Bill as of this week, an Ombudsman would serve as part of yet another new agency in the Investment Advisory Committee. My immediate analysis is that once again this will NOT be effective for consumers at all because individuals called upon to serve will continue to be pulled from the ranks of the Washington “elite” in government circles of influence. What would have been closer to meeting the needs of consumers would have been the empowering and enabling of the private sector to represent consumers to the committee from local, regional, state and organized consumer interest groups nationwide. Instead, “independence” is lost and any “virtuous” alternative to really engaging in and creating fair and accountable policy for consumers is lost before it even begins. Consolidation and centralization of all decisions on the behalf of the public, consumers and constituents continues without any clear perspective from lawmakers.
As I watch Warren Buffet testify today and defend the credit rating agencies for their role in the economic meltdown, I’ve had this article in draft for awhile… it’s time; and it contains another perspective on “fault” for the crisis we are in.
I am a firm believer, that most often, change, comes from the “outside-in”. If one studies events from out in the cosmos down to and through the sub-atomic particles whipping around under electron microscopes, we notice that change is exerted by any number and types of “catalysts” operating freely and independently of structure and bodies so as to create change. I’ve written many times that the foundation for such individuals who exert change or acts as a catalyst in our profession; they need, more than technical certification by their “club”, they need to be ethical if not fully embody integrity. You can simply look back through historical biographies and pick out those who posses integrity and then determine if they were operating as part of an organization or entity (inside) or operating externally (outside) in relation to the entity they impacted.
I am passionate about this topic because I “know” ethics and integrity are in fact the key to changes in society that need to take place; especially in terms of social systems and structures including government, corporations, universities and communities in general. It is personally alarming to me the incremental steps being taken by many organizations and in government towards consolidation of power and wealth as a means to preserve the status qou at the expense of customers or constituents they are supposed to serve. You may, for yourself, want to take a moment to observe and reflect what’s really going on in America today and realize that wherever and whenever integrity is left out of the model towards developing a solution to critical problems… it fails to have the desired outcome; even if everyone seems to be well-intentioned. I’ve even recently listened to “talking heads” in the media say that if you can’t review information objectively and with ethical integrity, the cost and capacity to make informed decisions “gets lost”, to me this sounds like almost every major institution in America today. I’ll leave this here at this moment by just saying that our own profession is trending towards dangerous outcomes if it does not restore integrity as part of the standards and principles we practice by. It’s so easy to “mouth” this, do we do it or are we continuing to shore up and protect ideologies and paradigms long needing a change? Are we genuine, inclusive, enabling and empowering or are we continuing to be “self serving” and thus ignoring our very own standards and principles we apply to others?
And now for the inspiration behind this months post, Brooksley Born and The Warning PBS Frontline documentary. Once, a long time ago, a mentor of mine, when I was a young man, used to talk to me about the “disenfranchised” in society. At the time, I didn’t really understand, not like today, what he was trying to tell me. And so, I can tell him now, “I get it”. I stumbled across this PBS Frontline documentary “The Warning” about how we came to this economic meltdown, which by the way was an eye opener for me, the “meltdown” is not over and my other communications reflect this; we are in for more turmoil ahead. Brooksley Born also states this clearly and you can watch and see integrity first hand in the 55 minute The Warning documentary. We’ve all read, watched and listened to news stories about “could it have been avoided” from 9/11 to the Challenger space shuttle and now, to the current economic crisis, name it what you will, recession, depression or whatever. In my business practice and ombuds practice I am frequently pointing out “what ifs” and consequences for apathy or ill intentioned choices and even flat-out power grabs and greed… I’ve seen a lot of it and do my best to try and “temper” the situation and make a difference. In this documentary Brooksley Born “acts” from the “inside-out” in the US Government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission to try and be a change agent, a catalyst to protect and serve the American public and in the end is “disenfranchised” for it. She’s not only working correctly “inside-out” in her authority and role in service to the American public, but she embodies “inside-out” ethics and integrity as the foundation to confront “political culture” at its worst. If you are on the “outside-in” trying to do this, you would be labeled a “rogue” or even “social terrorist” or “activist” if taken to extremes, for even attempting to bring influence from outside the “red ocean elite” power structure. As you watch The Warning, there are a lot of “talking heads”, but whenever Brooksley Born is speaking, pay close attention especially towards the end, when all the context of current problems, pending financial reform legislation and our future is at stake… she knows what she’s talking about, but really… are we listening?