Somebody Needs To Go To Jail

An NPR story caught my ear today.  It seems one of the engineers who argued vigorously against the launch of the space shuttle Challenger in the buildup to that tragic event recently died.

In the investigation following the explosion, the evidence he and his colleagues presented showed quite clearly how his “superiors” had refused to respect the advice of experts for political pressure’s sake.  That’s how I remember it, too.

It was, as I also recall, the case that no one went to the penitentiary over it.  But anyone who was watching during that time surely knows they should have.  To so callously have disregarded safety just for political gain, which is exactly what happened there, should have been a clear case of manslaughter, if not second degree murder.  And the fact the pressure was coming from the height of the President himself should never enter into the requirement that the perpetrators be held accountable.  Perhaps even more so when he was one of the most popular Presidents in living memory

It seems accountability has become a thing of the past.  None of the bosses in the Massey mine disaster went to jail.  Nor any of the executives whose graft and fraud sent us into the current near depression.  Those who ordered torture and murder while representing us in Iraq, save the very lowest on the totem pole, have never seen any disciplinary action.  And why, to this day, has no one investigated the forgeries of the yellowcake “document” that were so vital in getting approval of Bush’s invasion of Iraq?  Thousands of our own men’s lives were lost, not to mention tens or maybe hundreds of thousands innocent Iraqis.  Someone should be in jail.  If not Bush himself, certainly Dick Chaney or–who was the guy they pardoned as soon as he was clearly caught?–Scooter Schultz.

The miscreants most often only seem to gain from their nefarious dealings–if their wig is big enough.  It’s so pervasive, and has such a long history, that one wonders if tolerating it on the part of the average person doesn’t have some evolutionary advantage.

Even the financial barons that rule this country are, apparently immune from consequence because of their aforethought in writing the laws so that they can transfer money from the coffers of government to their own privately held treasuries with impunity.  Well, okay, especially the barons.

Capitalism is blatantly a Ponzi scheme, and the pyramid is showing its instability by cracking and threatening to collapse under the stress of the current economy.  Sooner or later, it will come down around our ears.  The current Occupy Movement is no less than a lot of people getting restless because they’re beginning to realize the con game for what it really is.

Many refuse to see Occupy as being rooted in the Arab Spring.  But it is, and the threat of the public realizing just what’s been going on should be deeply feared by us all.    What’s been going on, for way too long, is that the monied class has been corrupting our government–not just ours, but all governments.  The closest thing to what may eventually come of all this may be the French Revolution.

You may recall, that didn’t go too well.   And the forthcoming revolution may be worldwide.

I don’t see this going anywhere nearly that far.  Not this time around.

But the wealthy, if they love their children and grandchildren, had better recognize the potential/eventual outcome.  If there is ever a successful uprising of the poor of the world against the rich, paying their fair share of taxes won’t be some academic point.  People will die over the perception that they haven’t borne their fair share.  And Americans would do well to realize that, on the global scale, virtually all of us are at risk of retribution.

I once knew a math professor who was a terrible capitalist, but who very clearly saw the roll of taxes and social support programs.  They are, he said, cheep, deep insurance

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One Response to Somebody Needs To Go To Jail

  1. George says:


    It’s not really my focus to get the NASA guys, if you’re referring to the engineer level, although there are NASA guys i do think should be held responsible. They would be the ones at near the top, whose complicity in the murder of the astronauts came in the form of yielding to the political pressure and passing it on down to the engineers.

    Their jobs should be protecting the engineers from the politicians. Unfortunately, because of their increased self-perception of gaining by going along, the higher you go in those ranks, the greater is their sense that the job is to pass the pressure down, not resist.

    But in no case do I think their responsibility is anything like the politicians and apparatchiks who put the pressure on in the first place.

    To wit, I think the criminals deserving the most harsh punishments in the post 9/11 period are Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, George W Bush and probably several scores of others in the Richard Pearl circle. But I’m not expecting any of them to go to jail. And, for most crimes they commit I can even see reasons the system functions better if they don’t.

    But there are lines beyond which even they should be held responsible. Murders, which is exactly what I think the Challenger was, resulting from nothing more than political greed, should bear some punishment, even if far more mild than the chair. And that punishment should fall at the top, not the bottom.

    Torture, which is the most profound assault on the American system I think I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, should warrant nothing less than full punishment for the original perpetrators. And by that I’m not talking about anyone whose hands actually turned a crank.

    I think it a shame the very top of our government got away with it in this country, and appears likely to get away with it internationally, but I think it would be better for us all if there were a war crimes investigation replete with punishment, even if only “on the books,” at the very top.

    Perhaps I’ll use the other point in your comment as a launch pad for s future post, as it’s a good topic for in depth discussion.

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