Frank Rich Op-Ed: Were The “Aughties” The Age of Willful Ignorance? – One City: A Buddhist Blog for Everyone

This is rather cogent:

Frank Rich is a great writer, whether you agree with him or not. It struck me that so little notice has been paid so far to this decade coming to a close, and maybe that’s because we all want to forget it. Why dwell on the negative, after all?

So, if there was a primary klesha (mental affliction) of the aughties, what was it? My vote goes to ignorance, a willful and deep-seated habit to avoid looking truth in the face, even if the false brand creates more havoc than simple honesty ever would.

via Frank Rich Op-Ed: Were The “Aughties” The Age of Willful Ignorance? – One City: A Buddhist Blog for Everyone.

Recently, I read this blog about risk management. One of my tweeps, Lawrence MacDonald had a comment that got me thinking:

I think that’s been a common perception. Because risk management is just like any other skill: if you don’t practice it, you’ll eventually lose the ability to do it. Just look at Lehman. Or you can choose from this list if you need more examples of what not to do.

But is that all there is to it? Risk managers were just being blown off? I wonder if there was more to it. I’m inclined to believe there was a lot of ignorance going around. Largely because people just wanted to avoid facing problems.

Consider family members: how many of us have a member of our family with a chronic health condition that they must control on a hourly/daily basis, yet they refuse to do so? Ignorance and denial are very powerful if left unchecked. As an example, my family’s health history includes fun conditions like cancer (3 folks died of lung cancer, 1 had liver also), high cholesterol, Type I & II diabetes, and high blood pressure. Not pretty. But I don’t smoke, I’m not an alcoholic, and the other risks I control primarily through diet & exercise (although I did a poor job this year). I don’t bring this up to toot my horn or pat myself on the back, but the truth is, I felt it was important enough for me to know what my risks were and how to control them while I still had a choice in the matter.

And that’s the whole point behind effective risk management. Always putting yourself in position to control your response to situations – not have them dictated to you by the choices/actions of others.

I’ve said it before, I’m sure I’ll say it again: collectively, we need to get ourselves and this economy into rehab. The pain will be great as we subject ourselves to the withdrawal symptoms of breaking our habits that have been brought on by cheap liquidity and moral hazard, but we’ll be better off for it once it’s done.

Until then, I just hope we – like a junkie whose been ravaged by the availability of cheap opiates but truly sees themselves in the mirror for the first time – admit we have a problem and admit the way out of this mess will be different than the way we got into it.



Filed under About me, finance, government, Way Forward

4 responses to “Frank Rich Op-Ed: Were The “Aughties” The Age of Willful Ignorance? – One City: A Buddhist Blog for Everyone

  1. riskczar

    Thanks for reading and building on my comments. Nice post.

  2. Thanks for the post. I spend a lot of time thinking about this topic and trying to make sense out of the absence of solid risk management, especially in smaller businesses. Do people see the need for risk management and make a conscious choice to ignore risk (and risk managers)? Or is the need for risk management recognized but just assigned a lower priority? Or do people not even recognize the need?

    I tend to lean to the 3rd option. I like your analogy to substance abuse. I’m not sure that people are seeing themselves in the mirror yet, and interventions are few and far between.

    I think in many cases risk management programs are put in place just for show. Regulators and stakeholders mandate the programs’ existence but not their effectiveness so managers play the game without seeing the real need.

    The first step to recovery is to accept that there is a problem. Now how do we find the pressure point that forces that realization?

    • It’s a great question, this. There’s always a flashpoint where someone just looks at themselves or looks around them and says “this isn’t working.”

      I don’t know what it will be, but I suspect a sovereign default (Greece, Spain, or Japan) would be a good place to start.

  3. Pingback: Thomas M. Bragg on Business Risk Management » 3 Reasons Small Businesses Don’t Manage Risks

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