Declining Responsibility

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The responsibility market suffered yet another setback in September as acceptances of responsibility for shortcomings and outright failures fell sharply. The decline was linked to a corresponding increase in the production of irrational decisions, most of which was created by demand in the political segment.

The US Accountability Association, an official source of industry statistics, called the fall-off “a normal reaction when events requiring good judgment become plentiful.” Combine an oversupply of disasters with a severe undersupply of capable elected officials, a spokesperson says, and taking responsibility is bound to be unpopular.

However, economists who regularly monitor the USAA stats say September’s downward movement is just part of a longstanding trend. Some go so far as to predict an eventual collapse of the entire responsibility market. To support that assertion, they point to studies showing that fear of being held accountable for any decision, whether rational or not, prompts many in government to abandon the pretense of trustworthiness.

“They flee for the hills at the first whiff of responsibility,” says one expert.

Since the amount of responsibility leaders are willing to accept is considered a major indicator of a nation’s political health, the impact of a market failure could be enormous.

But political insiders say critics are missing the big picture. “Sure, the responsibility market is tanking,” says a source who prefers to remain anonymous. “But the buck-passing market is booming. Who’s responsible for that?”

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