Sunday, February 1, 2009

The irony of lower standards for higher positions

The two tax evasion cases of Geithner and Daschle (I first brought up here), is that it shows something about how there are in a way lower standards for more prestigious positions. In looking for politicians to fill his cabinet posts, Obama is certainly going to have high standards in terms of political experience, expertise, political connections, and political views. Such high standards limits the pool of potential candidates to very few, perhaps even only one good candidate and a couple near substitutes. Because of this, Obama's standards are going to be low when it comes to other qualifications, like honesty, integrity, lack of corruption.

If any of the rest of us were found to have deliberately failed to pay so much in taxes, we would probably face a severe fine, perhaps jail time. If any potential employer found out about it, we'd probably be fired, and a prospective employer would probably be hesitant to hire us. But, that's because there are many other eligible candidates that have all the necessary skills. The pool of substitutes or near substitutes in terms of skills is large, so other considerations like ethics and integrity can become important.

Since we would be in a position of considerably less power our unethical behavior would certainly create less damage. Whereas Daschle and Geithner, both in positions of considerable power, have substantial influence in wielding their opportunistic and greedy attitudes. This is the irony. One can overlook the corruption, or the drug habits or the womanizing of a prominent politician or CEO or celebrity because they get the job done and are very hard to replace, even though their problems leave a bigger wake, but one can't overlook the small foibles of someone much lower down the totem pole, because that underling is easy to replace.

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