Friday, November 25, 2011

More on "Snakes"

I read two articles in this morning's Oregonian with great interest. One on the editorial page was about a former City employee who is accused of taking bribes from a vendor seeking a City contract (read more). The other was a short piece about a City Commissioner asking for an expert to examine the books of the local public-access TV organization (read more). Maybe I'm overly zealous after reading "Snakes in Suits" (check out my previous post), I just couldn't help thinking about the connection made by the author between traits valued in todays workplace and psychopathy.

In the case of the City employee, several co-workers registered complaints about the shady relationship between the employee and the vendor, an investigation was conducted, reprimands were added to his file, yet he kept his job by successfully accusing his accusers. A textbook case and one that reminds me of a certain library I worked for.

The misuse of funds hinted at in the other article is just the tip of the iceberg in a much broader and more subtle disfunction that pervades City government and the non-profits the City works with to provide services to citizens. The current director of the public-access TV group was allowed to resign from another mismanaged non-profit supported by City funds. The directors of these non-profits and the City employees (including the commissioners) who manage them are all friends. When there are job openings it is just a game of musical chairs with enough chairs to go around for those on the inside who want to move from one organization to another. The volunteer boards who are given the responsibility to oversee what goes on are in over their heads, don't have the time or will to investigate, and want to believe what they are told. Hmm, is there a pattern here?

It is not that I am accusing any of these people of psychopathy. That isn't for me to decide. What I am saying is this - Has our fast paced decision making, budget crunched bottom line, and politically correct litigious society made us vulnerable to a psychopathic mindset in business, non-profits, and government?


  1. Sadly after ten years in the US I would answer Yes. On the other hand I also keep encountering wonderful conscious and aware people who are forging ahead with a new American Dawning. Thank you for putting this discussion into the public domain.

  2. Yes there are those who are awake, aware, and actively seeking something more than their own selfish needs. My worry is that there may not be enough good souls to balance the energy driving us to ruin.

    Some may say time has softened the edges of my memory, but I don't believe it was always like this. I'm not saying everything in the past was perfect - some changes have corrected long overdue inequities or brought much needed healing technology. At the same time in our race to be bigger, cheaper, faster, richer we have lost our way. I can remember a time when stores didn't open at midnight to catch every possible holiday dollar; shoppers didn't mace each other to grab the best bargain on the latest gadget; workers weren't just cogs in a machine; people weren't afraid of their neighbors; and at least a few honest people in powerful positions cared about the rest of us.