Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Accept Full Responsibility For This Post

Timothy Geithner is the latest government official to take (or "accept") full responsibility for a mess. So much courage in the public sector! But there's always an unspoken asterisk - full responsibility, as long as there are no consequences. As long as I don't lose my job. As long as it doesn't cost me anything.

In Geithner's case, the statement is especially absurd. Of course he's fully responsible - he did his own tax returns. Does he imagine that he's taking the heat off Intuit? Were fingers pointing their way because they left the "Do you work at the IMF?" question out of Turbotax's canned Q&A?

But even when the responsibility-taker sits atop an org chart and really is talking about the mistakes of people down below, the statement is meaningless. It's easy to take full responsibility when there are no consequences. How about "I accept full responsibility for my team's mistakes, and therefore I'm resigning"? That would mean something.

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