Of Naughty Politicians and Brain-dead Bosses

Former Congressman Mark Foley. Source: Congress.gov
Jeanine Pirro, Republican nominee for New York State Attorney General in 2006. Source: jeaninepirro.com
(Wordcount: 552; Pages: 2) In current, clinical, use, psychopathy is most commonly diagnosed using Robert D. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), which states that psychopaths are, "intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs. Lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret." (1)

Coincidentally, an approximate aggregate of 54% of the members of Congress (up to 1999) fit this description (2). It would have been higher, had the opponents these elected officials ran against won; their opponents were often more psychotic (3)

Corporate CEOs undergo intensive criminal background checks before they take over. Thus, it should be no surprise that despite your boss’ apparent psychopathy, a mere 2.3% (of Fortune 500 executives and corporate officers) were indicted of crimes, and an even smaller 1.5% of the same group were convicted in 2005 (4). In fact, your bosses may actually just be incompetent, not insane (not to mention able to afford really good attorneys); the reason politicians pursue them so aggressively (and the media plays them up so widely and convincingly) when a handful screw up is very likely to hide their own inept leadership and more overt criminal behavior.

By ganging up on white-collar crime, which usually isn’t illegal until they make up the law for it post-mortem, politicians continue to raise the benchmark on corporate behavior (making it more interesting when law-breakers get caught breaking brand-spanking new tougher laws); while simultaneously, because they serve as the law-makers, elevate their own immunity to those same laws (let’s not forget, members of Congress can proclaim a certain level of immunity under the supposition that if they were elected by the people, the people must consider someone like them as a model of acceptable behavior).

Consider the case of Representative Mark Foley, whose recent pedophile antics have riled Congress. After 6 terms in office, some bored reporter dug just a little bit deeper and found out he’s been banging little boys. Well, of course it’s not his fault because he’s an alcoholic who was abused by religious leaders when he himself was a boy, revelations made only more dramatic by the fact he seemed to hide these character-building facts hidden his entire life, all 52 years of it until, well, he got caught red-handed.

Republican candidate for New York state attorney general, Jeanine F. Pirro, has apparently been subpoenaed for playing financial shenanigans. Despite her husband’s known philandering and other offenses (not least of which is being an ex-convict), she continues to stick to him like white on rice. When asked why one day, her response is their history, their children, their love. When asked another day, she recalled that she’s financially tied to his hip since she herself has never made enough money to buy a latte at the local Starbucks, let alone live the lifestyle she lives and run as Elliot Spitzer’s replacement.

Ironically, politicians’ psychopathic behavior and corporate bosses’ utter imbecility actually serve as social models for the rest of us, because if they ended up in the corner offices and leading the country behaving like psychopaths and morons, then it’s up to the rest of us to do the same.


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopath

(2) Congress: America's Criminal Class

(3) What percent of Congress have criminal records?

(4) FBI Corporate Fraud Investigations; Fortune 2006 List of Winners; respective Fortune 500 websites; al berrios & co. analysis

Al Berrios is Managing Director of al berrios & co., a pure strategy consulting firm, specializing in advising organizations + entrepreneurs on managing their enterprises in a service economy. Write or Subscribe to Consumer Strategies Report.


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