We haven’t given this a whole lot of thought, but it seems to us that the leading causes of misery in this world might be corruption and a lack of shame.
As Exhibit A, we give you Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which nine months ago capsized off the Italian island of Giglio with the loss of 32 lives. You might remember that Schettino had authorized a ‘drive by’ of the island so crew could wave to family members, was dining with a blonde at the time of the accident, was among the first to leave the ship, and despite repeated orders from the Italian Coast Guard to return to his ship to take charge — "Get back on board, for fuck’s sake!" screamed Coast Guard officer Gregorio De Falco — he stayed on the beach.
As hard as it is to believe, Schettino is suing the cruise ship company for back pay, and to get his job back. If the irresponsible Schettino had any self-respect for himself or his position, we think he would have gone down with his ship. How did he get to be captain in the first place? Family connections, not merit. In other words, classic corruption.
Lawyers will argue that Schettino has the right to press his case. Right, and by arguing his non-case, promotes the culture of people thinking that nobody is ever responsible for anything. Thanks for nothing! If we’re not mistaken, the San Francisco Bay pilot who was making like $400,000 a year, and who was aboard when the Costco Busan hit the base of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, is contemplating suing to get his license back.
Speaking of corruption and a lack of shame, did you see the San Francisco Chronicle report that James Kwon, a high-ranking Port of Oakland official, spent $4,500 in public funds for a party at a Houston strip club. If you’re paying rent to the Port of Oakland through your berth, how do you feel about that? Do you think it’s just the tip of the iceberg? And why is it that it’s taken four years for the scandal to come out?
If Kwon had any sense of shame, we think he would have resigned by now. But even if he is forced to resign, we predict he’ll get some massive legal settlement, and in a few months will quietly be appointed to some other higher-paying position at the public trough.
We might be a little more hard core than most, but we support the erecting — and frequent use — of gallows in front of every city hall in the country. When it comes to public servants — ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, who coined that term? — we believe in ‘guilty until proven innocent’, not ‘innocent until proven guilty’. If that’s too big a burden for someone, they don’t belong in public service. Greater shame, less corruption, and fewer lawyers — we think it would result in the sudden balancing of government budgets and a higher quality of life. But that’s just us.