occasionalmarkings

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

with “Win at any cost” – just what is the cost?

People on steroids.

The phrase conjures up a whole array of images. But the truth is simple and direct. When athletes want to win, they work hard, they lift weights, run extra laps, watch their diets… They do everything they can – and then, to take it that one step further, some of them inject themselves with a substance to give them that extra advantage.

They want to be faster, quicker, stronger. Stronger than they are without steroids; and definitely stronger than their opponents.

What about the long term effects; the side effects; the “fairness” of the approach? What about it? The goal is to win, and if you can’t win without the help (or, if you can only barely win without the help), then the risk is worth taking. Because the goal is to win at any cost. Winning is what counts. Winning is all that counts. The price tag – the long term effects – are not as important.

This is at the heart of the steroids controversy. But it also pictures a much larger societal dilemma. What happens to a civilization where “winning at any cost” becomes the dominant ethic of the day?

This is, pure and simple, the story of Enron, and other ethical collapses in the business world. People take that extra step to gain that extra advantage, regardless of the consequences. “The end justifies the means.” Going a little too far, bending rules, ignoring rules, breaking rules, are all worth the cost. Because the only thing that matters is to win.

Is this the ethic of the current political operatives in the Bush administration, and his allies?

Consider this: we see this decision from the White House (as reported by the Washington Post):
"The White House, intent on continuing to crank out 'video news releases' that look like television news stories, has told government agency heads to ignore a Government Accountability Office memo criticizing the practice as illegal propaganda."

If the Government Accountability Office calls something illegal, but the Bush White House wants to use the method (of government generated video reports), then, regardless of the appearance of impropriety, in spite of the judgment that the act is illegal, and ignoring any consequences, this White House will use the “steroids” of fake news reports.

Win at any cost. When winning is the goal, a lot of wrong, dangerous, unfair, even illegal practices become the order of the day.

With some of the Enrons, the truth seems to come out, and a price will have to be paid. But not always.

I wonder what this ethic will ultimately cost us all?

9 Comments:

  • This blog made me want to look up the source, easily found by a google search for "Government Accountability Office" followed by a search on the gao.gov site for "propaganda".

    Here's what I found at http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/304272.htm :

    Circular Letter on Prepackaged News Stories, B-304272, February 17, 2005
    signed by
    David M. Walker,Comptroller General of the United States

    Excerpts below:
    "Since 1951, Congress has enacted an annual, governmentwide prohibition on the use of appropriated funds for purposes of "publicity or propaganda."During the past year, we found that several prepackaged news stories produced and distributed by certain government agencies violated this prohibition."

    - snip -

    "In two cases this past year, the agencies commissioned and distributed prepackaged news stories and introductory scripts about their activities that were designed to be indistinguishable from news stories produced by private news broadcasters. B303495, Jan. 4, 2005; B302710, May19, 2004. In neither case did the agency include any statement or other indication in its news stories that disclosed to the television viewing audience, the target of the purported news stories, that the agency wrote and produced those news stories. In other words, television-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government . We concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition."

    - snip -

    "Statutory limits on the domestic dissemination of U.S. government-produced news reports reflect concern that allowing the government to produce domestic news broadcasts would infringe upon the freedom of the press and constitute (or at least give the appearanceof) an attempt to control public opinion."

    - end of quoted material -

    Karen again...
    So, was there any response from the government? Do we know anything about the stations that used the material?
    If this has been going on, and apparently it has, it is appalling to me.

    By Blogger KarenRinDallas, at Mon Mar 21, 10:17:00 AM  

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