Culpability

Culpability, or being culpable, is a measure of the degree to which an agent, such as a person, can be held morally or legally responsible for action and inaction. I am struck by the word as well as the definition. It can call to mind pure evil as well as a much milder form in the substance of mediocrity and neglect. If you overlook something or just decide just not to address it are you culpable?

We have been witness here in Denver to a total fiasco during construction of our new Veteran’s Administration Hospital. Conceived in the early 2000’s it was to cost $328 million. It was planned to be an adjunct of a new University of Colorado campus that was started from scratch in 2004. The economies of scale were more than attractive until the VFW intervened and said veterans should have their own site and facilities. The new price tag was estimated to be $650 million.

Blame fingers were pointed everywhere but essentially the project was started without final plans. The VA said the needs were changing and the fact there were design factors that seemed over the top never seemed to be forthcoming. There is an atrium connecting several of the buildings that alone cost $100 million. They wanted vets to have a good experience walking between buildings. There were also curved walls to break down the institutional nature of the place. If you have ever been involved in construction you would know that curved walls are a huge expense. The estimated cost of completion several years from now is now $1.73 billion!

The head of project management retired with full honors after the new budget announcement and receiving several bonuses over the years. Kind of like when “W” said “great job Brownie” after the Katrina fiasco in New Orleans. Benghazi, Rummy’s tutelage of the war effort in Iraq, the $3.7 billion PATH station in lower Manhattan causes one’s eye’s to water not out of respect and nostalgia but the absolute incompetence that has been demonstrated…and rewarded.

Barney Frank who along with Bill Clinton set all the underpinnings in place for our financial disaster in 2008 by wanting everyone to own a home are all lauded as “we thank them for their service.” I wouldn’t mind if all these dudes and dudettes faded off quietly into the sunset but they continue to flaunt their arrogance as lobbyists and leaders of think tanks and foundations.

We just have had an upheaval in our sheriff’s department in Denver. The corruption, malfeasance and mismanagement go beyond the pale and we are wondering seriously if we just blow the whole thing up and start over. I wish these were rare occurrences or limited to one section of the woods or another but you and I know better.
Rigging Libor, currency manipulations, selling securities that are crap and insider don’t exactly create a mantle of virtue for our boys down at Wall and Broad. Bribery, theft, bogus charitable organizations, and pollution from all sources are sending a very bad message.Stop gap bills to keep the country running so Congress can take its break or just never ending investigations and committee hearings perpetuate the lunacy. Then again maybe it is a great message because crime or mediocracy does pay.

If you are good Catholic or Jew or Protestant you know that there is consequence in sinning. I know we have done away with fire and brimstone but there is still the thought that at the end of things we do have to meet our Maker and square things one way or another. There is a consequence to bad acting. I have the feeling the people that stole $80 billion from Medicare last year feel the odds are on their side. A team of investigators last year only recovered $4 billion.

Ethic is a system of moral value. Years ago it was assumed that this was a good one. It is interesting over the years how we have hemmed and hawed about its true definition. Fear of punishment is now paying a billion dollar fine without admitting guilt. Cops hide behind Blue Walls and the blacks can ransack  crying poverty. Corporations will tell you right to your face that the back room dealings are necessary to stay in business because after all everyone is doing it. Black and white has turned to a very vague shade of grey.

People worry non stop about Russia, China and ISIL. I worry about this. I will tell you that we and I include me have become complicit in all this. We are pros at looking the other way and rationalizing. You know TTG you have a point but I just don’t want to get involved. It’s just not my thing. Even worse is you might get a funny feeling when you watch Frontline to 60 Minutes. You become indignant about this or that and then wander off to check your tee time or see what else is on TV. Like the government, Congress and corporate America, just keep your mouth shut and maybe it will just go away.

If I sound pissed, I am. If I sound despondent I am not. There are a bunch of people out there that are decent and worried about someone else’s skin beyond their own. I am in receipt of a tribute from Notre Dame they put out in honor of Fr Ted Hesburgh. I wish I could send it to all of you. Forget the religious part although it was the most important part of his life. It told of a guy who worked to make the Golden Dome great but even moreso the world. His dedication to his fellow man and students was incredible.

Was he culpable? You bet, but in a good way. I sat and had a drink with him in his brother’s den one night in Vail. I asked him what drove him when he was then in his 80’s. He said. “every day of my life I want to to correct injustice.” I gotta stop on that note. He could not have said it better.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
The University of Colorado Campus has been in operation over 7 years now and the VA won’t be open until 2017 at the earliest. The cost per bed for the VA will be triple the cost of the university hospital. It is also assumed the hospital at completion will be 550,000 sq ft short of the necessary disciplines.

A recent article put the final tally for Wall Street from the financial crisis at $100 billion. There was a recent settlement for currency manipulation for $5 billion. The fines for the most part go into the general fund but some may used for reimbursement of injured parties.

On that note I was on a Georgetown trip with the Inspector General of Health and Human Services. I asked why they did not hire more investigators. He said they could prove a 11-12 to 1 return on investment by recouping ill gotten funds. Why don’t you do it then? Congress won’t let me was his reply because they didn’t want look like they were hiring people.

You can get 10 years to life for peddling heroin. You can get 5 years for possession with intent to sell marijuana. I don’t recall any corporate types being put in jail for the BP oil spill, bribery charges or securities violations. I am sure they are out there but few and far between.

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