Link to What's New ThisWeek $170 Million for a Ueeful Lesson Learned? Eek!

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: January 14, 2005
Latest Update: January 14, 2005

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Index of Topics on Site Scrapping the Old without Learning Much: Accountable?
We've spent the last few semesters focussing on the importance of answerability or the inclusion of the Other in the social world we live in, locally and globally. This semester I want to focus on the other side of that coin, accountability. One of the dilemmas of modernism is that in the process of industrialization and bureaucratization, with which organization charts demonstrated the hierarchical responsibilitites, we kind of lost any sense of accountability. The captain of the ship was ultimately accountable for anything that happened on her watch, but we all knew the incompetence was really lower down on the chart. And then as profit became the measure of all success, as long as the captain didn't lose profit, well, accountability was maintained.

With Enron, with the Second World War and the Nuremberg trials, with Abu Ghraib, with torture, with "death squads," profitability sucks as a measure. Time to begin reconsidering and bringing to awareness what we mean by accountability. We once thought we knew in the law. But Martha Stewart's the only one we hear about in jail. No, we can't set all this straight, certainly not in an Internet course in a small local college. But we can and must bring accountability back to awareness.

In an article in the New York Times on January 14, 2005, F.B.I. May Scrap Vital Overhaul of Its Outdated Computer System By Eric Lichtblau, reports the remarks of a senior official who insisted on not having the remarks attributed to him: " 'I did not get what I envisioned' from the project, the senior official acknowledged. But he said the F.B.I. today had a better understanding of its computer needs and limitations as a result of the effort. 'The lesson we have learned from this $170 million is invaluable,' he said. . . ."

May I suggest to my students that the parking situation at CSUDH pales by comparison. But it does seem to be run along the same lines. Governance discourse, folks. We're paying for these $500 million dollar lessons instead of for the safety nets we need. Time to develop awareness and governance discourse skills.

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