By Dave B.
First of all, I need to say that the inspiration for this article (mini-rant) is NOT a specific person or incident. Instead, it’s a series of events that I have experienced and observed throughout my life. So, if it seems applicable to some individual or situation that you are familiar with, it’s likely because it is a cultural tendency we’ve all experienced and/or been guilty of at some point in our lives. That said:
Those in positions of power and influence should not be given greater protections that dilute their accountability. Instead, they should be subject to greater scrutiny and held to a higher standard of conduct and judgement. They are entrusted with an uncommon level of power and should work to obtain and maintain an uncommon level of trust.
The powerful are responsible to those who have entrusted them with that power and whose interests they are supposed to represent and protect. This is true from those who legislate and enforce laws, to parents, to CEOs, to managers in any organization. If you have a position of power and influence, your primary obligation must never be to yourself. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t strive to prosper. I’m saying that sustainable and widespread prosperity derives from transparently and ethically fulfilling one’s obligations and duties.
What does this mean in a practical sense? The implications are too varied for me to get into them all, but for starters, those with power shouldn’t get paid vacations while being investigated for allegedly abusing that power. There should be clear and strict punishments for violations of rules, regulations, and laws. For example, if you are an authority figure and part of your job requires your duties to be recorded at all times and you don’t do that, you should lose your job, irrespective of any incident that may or may not have occurred. You could be innocent of anything and everything else, but you failed in your duty in an important regard. If you are an elected official and you are convicted of misuse of public money, you should have to pay it all back with interest, irrespective of whatever other criminal punishments you may face. That said, those who are falsely or wrongly accused (whether powerful or not) should be compensated for material and reputational damages that they’ve suffered.
In no way am I advocating for the violation of anyone's due process rights or presumption of innocence. There always has been, and always will be, a fragile balance between individual protections and societal protections. My overall point is that I believe when those in positions of power are accused of wrongdoing, those protections probably need to be weighted more to society’s protection than they currently are. There have always been lot of people who seem believe that the powerful need more protections than the people that they are duty-bound to serve. I don’t know how long a free society can survive if that is to be how things remain.